(Axel Boer) #1







lamyine), and generations of his family were
born and bred here. Kipling’s visit was short-
er, just three days, but resulted in a few lines
of prose that turned Burma into an oriental
fantasy: ‘By the old Moulmein Pagoda, lookin’
lazy at the sea...’ The spirit of the poem ‘Man-
dalay’, from which these words arise, lives on
in Mawlamyine in the form of the golden po-
ems of Buddhist stupas sprawled across the
jungle ridge behind the town.
At the northern end of this ridge is Maha-
muni (Bahaman) Paya, the largest temple
complex and easily the most beautiful in
Mawlamyine. It’s built in the typical Mon
style with covered brick walkways linking
various shrines. The highlight is the Baha-
man Paya itself, a jewel-box chamber shim-
mering with mirrors, rubies and diamonds
and containing a century-old replica of its
namesake in Mandalay (p 208 ).
Farther south along the ridge is Kyaik-
thanlan Paya, the city’s tallest and most
visible stupa. Impressive though the paya
is, it didn’t do much for Kipling, who was
later to comment of it: ‘I should better re-
member what the pagoda was like had I not
fallen deeply and irrevocably in love with a
Burmese girl at the foot of the fi rst fl ight of

steps. Only the fact of the steamer starting
next noon prevented me from staying at
Moulmein forever.’ He was certainly not the
last to think like that...
Just below the paya, you can admire the
view over the city; it’s a favoured spot for
watching the sunset. The best way to ap-
proach the paya from town is via the long cov-
ered walkway that extends from Kyaikthan St.
Below Kyaikthanlan is the 100-year-old
Seindon Mibaya Kyaung, a monastery
where King Mindon Min’s queen, Seindon,
sought refuge after Myanmar’s last mon-
arch, King Thibaw Min, took power. On the
next rise south stands the isolated silver-
and-gold-plated Aung Theikdi Zedi.
U Khanti Paya was built to commemo-
rate the hermit architect of Mandalay Hill
fame; supposedly U Khanti spent some time
on this hill as well. It’s a rustic, airy sort of
place centred around a large buddha image.
U Zina Paya, on the southern spur of the
ridge, was named after a former monk who
dreamt of fi nding gems at this very spot,
then dug them up and used the proceeds
to build a temple on the same site. One of
the shrine buildings contains a very curvy,
sensual-looking reclining buddha; there are


I’m a Karen Christian who has lived in Mawlamyine for 12 years, but I only speak a little
bit of Mon. I work at Breeze Rest House and as a local guide.

Best Village
On Bilu Kyun (Ogre Island; p 101 ) there are many villages. Tourists can see the traditional
Mon way of life, including villages that make good-quality walking sticks and rubber bands
from local rubber. Sometimes, during a festival, tourists can see traditional kickboxing.

Best Temple
Seindon Mibaya Kyaung (p 96 ) has some artistic wooden crafts and antiques. There’s a
very old throne and some carvings from ivory donated by King Mindon’s wife.

Best Beach
Setse Beach (p 104 ) is the only beach around Mawlamyine. It’s a quiet place and not far
from Kyaikkami and the Yele Paya.

Best Day Trip
Nwa-La-Bo Pagoda (p 102 ) is a rock pagoda on the top of a hill, like the famous Golden
Rock. It’s only a half-hour drive from Mawlamyine but not many tourists go there.

Secret Spot
From a viewpoint between U Zina Paya and Kyaikthanlan Paya (p 96 ), on the high peak
looking over the town, you can see what many tourists say is the most beautiful sunset in
Southeast Asia.
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