It’s another extremely hot morning. You are sweating terribly just from the process of eating breakfast at 7.30. We plan to spend the day on exploring the area around Hpa-an using wrecked but still running relatively strong scooters. These are remote areas characterized by limestone mountains and caves. It’s easy to get lost in the maze of local traffic roads, but it is just as easy to find the right way thanks to locals. Even a 3-year-old girl could help us once by pointing with her finger the direction we were looking for.
We climb on Mt. Zwegabin, a bit less than 900 m high mountain. On the way up we reach a monastery and continue for a while upwards, but at some point the heat becomes so unbearable that we eventually turn back before the summit, literally footsteps before the extinction from overheating.
We admire limestone mountains covered with tropical vegetation. Enjoy the landscape to the sounds of insects, wind, burning sun, Buddhist religious ceremonies with loud music and about 1,150 statues of Buddha in one place!
On the way we stop at a waterfall, where dozens of local children scream and jump into the water at the same time. In the end, we find long-awaited caves. The first one, Kawgun Cave, is more like a hole in the rock rather than a proper cave, but there is a lot of sculptures and statues of the Buddha dating back to the seventh century. The more interesting one is Yathaypyan Care. It’s much larger with plenty walkways and bats sleeping on the ceiling. After a few minutes we reach a vantage point and shortly after sunset it becomes almost completely dark.
The following day we cross river Thanlyin onto a small island to climb Hpan Pu. It is another vantage point to enjoy the surrounding countryside of Hpa-an: the delta of the river, adjacent villages, rice fields and distant limestone peaks. With all that the area to look at we decide: let’s head north.