Sunday, January 4, 2015

This is Burma: It's Hpa-An-ing Again!

I've written before about the preparations I'd made for this journey. Well, getting ideas down on paper and then executing them are two different things. It is certainly harder to accomplish the latter if you forget to bring the former with you.

Particularly in a place like Myanmar where things are changing and opening up so rapidly, guidebooks are of limited value nowadays. Instead, I had been browsing various travel websites, researching the various places I wanted to visit and bookmarking the pages. Ultimately, I copied and pasted the pertinent information into a 6 page Word document: my own personalized guidebook.

Guess what I left on my desk, unpacked on that early morning while rushing to the train station? Yup. My personalized guidebook. No worries, I thought, I still had the document on my computer, which I had brought with me.

So far on the journey, you've seen my on a train, in a boat, in the back of a tuk-tuk and finally, on a motorbike. I had arrived in Hpa An, the capital of the Kayin State, and first thing after settling in, I rented a motorcycle. Out on the road, I quickly got lost even though Hpa An is a small town of only about 50,000 people or so.

Fortunately, there was one significant landmark that I could navigate by: Zwekapin Mountain. The mighty rock featured prominently on the horizon and also in my video. Perhaps the most amazing looking mountain I've ever come across.

It's limestone, and I'm confused about it's geology.  Like other mountains that just jut right out from an otherwise flat landscape, I gotta figure it's a product of erosion wearing away the earth around something harder, leaving a mountain.  But how could limestone be deposited like this, in a relatively small footprint?

After staring at the mountain (It's climbable, but it's 2000 feet up and takes about two hours of climbing), I made my way to what was labelled 'Waterfall Village' on my hand-drawn tourist map.  There were a lot of colorful characters at the village, but no waterfall (must be because it's dry season).

Back to Hpa An for sunset over the river and relaxing on Christmas Eve.

I heard the most amusing thing from my hotel room window.  Someone out on the street was singing a new Christmas carol.  "Merry Christmas to you... Merry Christmas to you... Merry CHRISTmas, merry Christmas... Merry Christmas to you," sung to tune of "Happy Birthday".

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