Hpa An Myanmar (Burma)

Lush and green, with paddy fields carpeting the plains and trees clinging to limestone cliffs, the countryside around Hpa An is not only abundantly pretty, but is also a treasure of unexpected wonders hidden in the karst topography.

Bayin Nyi hotsprings and cave

With the plentiful rains of a monsoonal climate and the soluble nature of its limestone, the landscape of Hpa An has been eroded away, leaving giant haystack towers of rock sticking out from the plains. Inside these monoliths, networks of caves have been carved out by water, with their stalactites and stalagmites still growing.

The soft limestone has also lent itself to being carved by devotees over the centuries, creating temples adorned with decorative artwork within the caves. The carvings of Kawgun date back to the 7th century.

Kawgun Cave
Ya Thay Pyan Cave
Sunset over Thanlywin river
Sunrise over Kantharyar Lake
People exercising on the bridge at sunrise

Another day dawns and we continue exploring the countryside south of Hpa An.

Sadan Cave

From the cave entrance, a 15 minute walk through the karst mountain leads you to the other side, where the cave system opens out onto a lake.

Time for a coconut!

A boat ride across the lake leads to an arched opening under the rock. Ducking as we paddled underneath, we then popped out into paddy fields on the other side.

Kaw Hnat pagoda complex

This temple complex was built by a Burmese tycoon, U Nar Auk. He earned his countrymen's respect by taking on the British and Indian businesses that were thriving on his country's resources, proving that the Burmese were perfectly capable of achieving equally great things. One of those that he competed with, was the powerful British owned Irrawaddy Flotilla Company. You can read his story here: http://www.irrawaddy.com/opinion/a-burmese-tycoon-you-cant-find-today.html

Lunch time!
Lumbini Garden

At the foot of Mount Zwegabin, 1080 Buddha images reside in Lumbini Garden.

Kyauk Ka Lat Monastery

Perhaps one of the most iconic sights of Hpa An is Kyauk Ka Lat: a pillar of limestone rising from a lake below Mount Zwegabin, with an unlikely pagoda perched on top.

Shwe Yin Myaw pagoda

Shwe Yin Myaw pagoda is on the Thanlywin river and is a popular spot to watch the sun set over the river. The following morning we took a boat from a pier near the pagoda to Mawlamyine, with beautiful views of the karst landscape along the way.

Mount Zwegabin
Arriving in Mawlymine

Explore Myanmar with us: http://www.themountaincompany.co.uk/burma/


Helen Hunter

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