Hpa An is located on the Thanlyin river and our guesthouse (Golden sky) offered an amazing view of it.
For our day there, we rented a scooter to explore the surroundings. It was gorgeous. Very green landscapes with rice fields and not too many tourists. The city is encircled by karst mountain scenery, that’s why it reminded us Ninh Binh in Vietnam.
We first visited Sadan cave. We walked through the big cave that is also a temple with lots of Buddha statues in it. At the end of the path, we took a small boat to come back to the entrance. It was amazing, peaceful, beautiful landscape.
Our second stop was at mount Zwegabin. After the entrance, thousands of Buddha statues aligned in the Lumbini garden welcomed us. We then started to climb up the mount and it took us nearly 2 hours to reach the top! We were exhausted but the view really worth it.
We probably didn’t stay enough in Hpa An and it has so much more to offer. But we kept going South to Mawlamyine. We reached this city by boat. Within 5 hours including a stop in a monastery on the way, we arrived in Mawlamyine.
The first day, we took a very small boat to reach Shampoo Island (this is where the sacred water came from to wash prince's hair!). This island is 200 meters long and we could explore it all in around one hour. It is a place for meditation for the monks and nuns who leave there. There are so many stupas and shrines in a well maintained garden. We quite liked this short trip.
To end this beautiful sunny day, we went to the Pagoda Hill where around 10 stupas/pagodas overlook the city. The golden stupas were shining, and the panoramic views were really nice.
For our last day in South Myanmar, we rented a scooter to go to see the biggest lying Buddha in the world! When we arrived, we were amazed by this 200 m long and 40 m high Buddha, lying in the mountain. The construction started in 1992 and it is still not finished! Visitors can visit inside where statues explain buddha’s life.
The crazy thing is that Myanmar has decided to build an even bigger one, just in front! It has started in 2011 and will last for a few more decades…