(Axel Boer) #1




 1 Sights & Activities
Nwa-la-bo Pagoda BUDDHIST TEMPLE
In the jungle-cloaked hills to the north of
Mawlamyine the Tolkienesque side of the
country comes to life in an extraordinary
fashion at the Nwa-la-bo Pagoda. A local
pilgrimage site, Nwa-la-bo is still relatively
unknown outside Mon State and, currently,
very few foreigners make it out here. This is
surprising because the pagoda is a smaller
but, geologically at least, far more aston-
ishing version of Kyaiktiyo. Unlike at that
shrine, where just one huge boulder perches
on the cliff ledge, Nwa-la-bo consists of three
sausage-shaped gold boulders piled pre-
cariously atop one another and surmounted
by a stupa. The result is lifted straight from
the fairytale world of Middle Earth or could
it possibly be that Middle Earth is actually
lifted straight from the fairytale world of the
Burma of old?

8 Getting There & Away
Getting to Nwa-la-bo is fairly easy (except during
the rainy season when it can’t be reached) and
makes a perfect half-day trip from town. Try to go
on a weekend when pilgrims will add more fl air to
the scene and transport is a little more regular.

 Bus & Pick Up Truck
From Mawlamyine you’ll have to wait at the
roundabout before the bridge for a northbound
bus or pick-up to Kyonka village (K600), located
around 12 miles north of town. From here clam-
ber into the back of one of the pick-up trucks
that crawl slowly up to the summit of the moun-
tain (K1600 return) in 45 minutes. Allow plenty
of time as the trucks don’t leave until beyond
full, and don’t leave your descent too late in the
day as transport becomes scarcer after 3pm.
Alternatively, motorcycle taxis will do the trip
for K7000.


 1 Sights & Activities
(%22853; http://www.paauk.org) Only 9 miles south
of Mawlamyine, the monastery teaches sati-
patthana vipassana (insight-awareness
meditation) and, at 500 acres, is one of the
largest meditation centres in Myanmar.
Foreigners can visit for the night or several
days; sleeping and eating is gratis.

Win Sein Taw Ya BUDDHA
If you thought you’d seen some big old bud-
dhas, just wait till you get a load of this one.
Draped across a couple of green hillsides at
Yadana Taung, and surrounded by a forest
of other pagodas and shrines, is this recently
constructed, 560ft-long reclining buddha.
It’s easily one of the largest such images in
the world.
Many other stupas and standing buddhas
dot the area, including 500 statues lining the
road to the Win Sein Taw Ya. Aside from in-
fl ated buddhas, the area aff ords some gentle
walks with wonderful panoramas.
Every year around the fi rst couple of days
of February a crazy coloured festival takes
place here to celebrate the birthday of the
monk who constructed the buddha. As well
as a host of itinerant traders, monks and
nuns, magic men and the odd hermit or two,
the festival often hosts a major kickboxing
tournament, which leads to the slightly sur-
real sight of hundreds of cheering monks
baying for blood in the ring!

Kyauktalon Taung is a strangely shaped,
sheer-sided crag rising out of the surround-
ing agricultural land and crowned with
stupas. It’s a sticky 20-minute climb to the
summit. On the opposite side of the road is a
similar but smaller outcropping surmount-
ed by a Hindu temple.

Kandawgyi LAKE
This lake formed by Azin Dam (a water
storage and fl ood-control facility that’s also
used to irrigate local rubber plantations)
also boasts a tidy recreation area and is a
favourite picnic spot with locals – don’t miss
the buthi kyaw, tasty deep-fried gourd, sold
here. At the northern end of the lake stands
the gilded stupa of Kandawgyi Paya.

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Thanbyuzayat (Tin Shelter), 40 miles south
of Mawlamyine, was the western termi-
nus of the infamous Burma–Siam Railway,
dubbed the ‘Death Railway’ by the thou-
sands of Allied prisoners of war (POWs) and
Asian coolies who were forced by the Japa-
nese military to build it.
About a mile south of the town centre’s
clock tower, a locomotive and piece of track
commemorating the railway are on display.