Beautiful natural painting in Ngway Taung (Silver Mountain Land)
Updated: May 7
In the end days of last years I could have taken a visit to a state that is known as Ngway Tawng (literally means Silver Mountain) from Kayah State where a well told romantic fairy-tale took place. That was my second time to that lovely place. The first time I was there was by the time my late father was on duty in the state and I just had my Matriculation exam; we stayed in Loikaw for two months at that time. But after ten years, all have already changed and looked different. Long before the state was said to be a brown area which means not safe for visitors. I still remember that we used to hear the sound of arsenals in the midnights. But now it seems all have fairly been fine. And I notice also many tourists are coming to the state.
Though I visited to Kayah State, my former plan was a trip to Kalaw – Inle – Taunggyi – Loikaw, so we went up to Inle (Nyaung Shwe) by a small car. After visiting to Inle, we continued going up to Taunggyi. And from Taunggyi, we took a short-cut way to Loikaw passing Htantsan, Muaidaw Kakku and Loi Lin. We thought to visit around Loikaw and Demawso in Kayah State. That road is a good way as well, the villages and the sights along the road are really beautiful. Small cars take that read most. Before we got to Loikaw, we could visit to Htiseekha waterfall.
Kayah State is the smallest state in Myanmar, covers only 4500 square-miles. You could reach to Loikaw from Yangon within an hour of flight. But if you take a express bus, it will take you around 12 hours. That is also because the read are good now. Before I went there it took one day and one night totally. At that time there were no upgraded express buses just as today, so the transportation by that time was a bit difficult. Though we came by this time according to our own plan with a car, we don’t feel any uncomfortable. The highway is good and along the road there are a lot of places to look around and visit, so the trip is really exciting.
Htiseekha, a natural waterfall for a recreation place
As we came passing Loi Lin short-cut road, it was more appropriate to have a visit to Htiseekha waterfall, so we went to it located at Htiseekha village. I was thinking to swim before but because of the strong current, left swimming, I even dared not dip my feet into the water. Some forbids not to swim. It is said that if you are not a local man, you aren’t supposed to swim for every year at least one visitor usually die in the water. So a lot of people worry about swimming. What important to visitors is to know the situation of the water and be familiar to it first. Swimming after drunk in the place which isn’t familiar to you would be like inviting the angel of death.
Summing or playing in the suggested area of water is like you keep your life from any possible dangers. The waterfall has step after another, yet the steps aren’t high. Even now it is beautiful naturally. I wish the people in charge should systematically have projects and protections for more attractions. To get to the waterfall which is located at the boundaries of Shan state and Kayah State meet, you would need to go along the burgundy road. If the rain would have been heavy, I think, the road might be a bit muddy for cars. Even though I didn’t play in the water, as I heard the sweet and gentle sound of the streaming water I could feel refresh in mind which had been a bit dizzy for a long ride. As we continued, there await a big wishing best signboard of Shan State and a big welcoming signboard ahead of us. From there we straightly drove to Taung Kwe Pagoda, the most significant place of Nguway Taung State (Kayah State).
Naturally Nine separated Mountains – Taung Kwe or Thirimingalar mountain
Taung Kwe Pagoda, this is a must place out of many places to go and visit if you are there in Loikaw. I myself know this place as Taung Kwe Pagoda. But the original name of this sacred mountain is Thirimingalar mountain. Staring from 1895 to 1950 the local people started to build each pagoda on each top of the naturally nine separated mountains. The tallest mountain’s high is 387 feet. In 1895, 22 cubits height of Shweyetsawng Pagoda, in 1913, 9 cubits height of Shweyinaye Pagod, in 1914, 9 cubits height of Kyauktanban Pagoda, in 1929, 24 cubits height of Pyilonechanthar Pagoda and 9 cubits height of lower Kyaikthiyo pagoda, in 1934 12 cubits height of upper Kyaikthiyo Pagod and in 1950 cubits height of Shewpyiaye Pagoda were built accordingly. Out of those pagodas, the highest pagoda, Pyiloncahnthar is the main site for worshiping.
Each pagoda is bridged to one another and there are also steps to climb, so it is easy to give homage to all of the pagodas. “When couples come to this place, they would break up thereafter” is also a saying with this place. The sight of Loikaw city from this Taungkwe Pagoda is as beautiful as a painting. You can climb up the mountain by foot or you can have elevator. I prefer climbing by foot. As we arrived there by the dawn, we could the beautiful evening sight of Loikaw and its night view as well. From there we went to Loikaw City Kyay Oh and BBQ House for our dinner, after that we moved on to the Kantharyar Hotel where we would stay. Service at the hotel is normal. Though breakfast is included, but you can’t expect much. Rooms are clean and neat. The price for one night staying is around 25000 kyats, so it is well to me. The sights around are also nice. The location is a litter bit far from the city and it is like in a corner. But this is not a problem at all to me for I always prefer to stay without noises.
Would you have a visit to a near place, Naung Yar Lake
In Loikaw city, there are not a lot of places to visit and look around. Not far from the Hotel we stay, there is a lake called Naung Yar Lake. There are no special things to talk about this lake but it is naturally a nice place. The weather in Loikaw is cold and has a lot of rain. Naung Yar lake is like a park and most of the visitors are youth. In the noon times, families are seen and in the evening youth couples are mostly seen. A wood bridge is built over that wide lake from the other side to another side. On the bridge is a very nice place to take pictures. It is a good place to walk and have sight early in the morning.
The city of Loikaw isn’t crowded, roads in the city aren’t also trafficked. The city is quite almost always. So those who have come from crowded cities would feel different, yet it is sure they would quietly feel peaceful.
Ngway Taung Dam - A must place to visit
Ngway Taung Dam which I came to be familiar along with my favorite actors and actress in some policies movies in my young age, is a must place to visit in this part of the country. It is in Demawso township. To reach to this place where Ngway Taung Pyi (Sliver Mountain Nation) is thought to be located, it takes around 45 minutes by bus. For me personally Ngway Taung Dam is just like a lake into which Ngway Taung stream flows. Around the dam are mountains, so the sight is beautiful. There are also steps down to the water. I went down after the steps and saw a lot of snails. It is said they are eatable. This dam provides the water for agriculture in that region and the local people use this water for drinking water.
Demawso Bazaar Day
Fortunately it was Demawso Bazaar day. I have been familiar to bazaar days in Shan state already. Now also I would like to know what new different things would be seen in Kaya state. Although Demawso Public Bazaar is said to be more crowded than other days, for me, I don’t think so. I make sure if that day was their Bazaar day. By the time we arrived was 10 am, so it was possible that the bazaar had been dismissed for that day. I didn’t find any interesting things to buy in bazaar, but I had to confess I was indeed interested in those who sold Khawng Yi (traditional alcohol drink). I saw Kayah women pouring the Khawng Yi out from the Yellow Plastic containers into bottles and selling Khawng Yi in cups. There are a lot of Khawng Yi sellers. Another interesting person was Kayan woman (Padawng Tribe). She was all dressed with her traditional dress; around her neck was her traditional copper loop and selling some honey in bottles, some firs and couples of traditional towels on a simple wood table. The things she sold were nothing special. A lady from our team liked to take picture with that woman and asked her to do so. But the woman asked money to take picture with her. Another one from our team would like to buy something from that woman, but when asked the prices of the towels, they were so expensive. Therefore we didn’t buy anything. Actually her real economy was to sell things very expensive to the visitors as a person comes from the country side or villages and ask money from those who like to take pictures with her.
Various sets of Life
In Kayah State, you would see mansions (buildings constructed of bricks) in the cities such as Loikaw, but throughout the road sides most of the houses are built of woods. Houses styles are mostly high-feet house style. People stay in the upper room and lower part of the building is usually left empty and uncovered. They usually use that lower part of the building for work space or hosting the guests to their home. Kitchen and toilet are built around the house on the ground. In the compound they grow mostly banana plants, gourd and corn plants. Banana plants are some places grown as their fence. There are also some Buddhists, yet majority in number is Christianity. Many church buildings could be found both in the cities and in the villages.
Panpet Village with Kayan beauty which is a place not to miss visiting at all
After having come to Kaya state, we have to go to Kaya state’s significant village where Kayan ladies live. Panpet village is a new village. Kayan ladies are the ones who earned a lot of foreign money for Thailand. It has been many years that Thailand has prepared them a village for showing these interesting Kayan women to the foreigners. But now some Kayan women have returned to their home land. To get to that village from Loikaw, it would take around 2 hours by car. Just right in the entrance way of the village, there is a place prepared for the visitors to be able to see and know Kayan traditional ways of life, even if the visitors don’t have time to come into the real village itself. Sometimes women with coils (made from brass and gold alloy) around their necks from the village are already there, so visitors sometimes don’t need to go into the village to see them. It is also said that it is sometimes possible that you may not happen to see those women in the village.
Kayan ladies usually start having their coils around their necks by the age of 5 years. At the beginning, they start wearing a set of two or three coils. When they grow to 10 years of age, they take the old set off and put on a new set of ten coils on the necks again. Accordingly when they become 20 years old, they will have another set of 15 to 20 coils. And there is a controlling brass up from down through the coils. When I was young I used to hear that they would put a coil after every year. But that isn’t like that; they put on a set of coils at once. In these later days Kayan women rarely do this traditional custom. On that day, at the entrance way to Panpet village, traditional clothes, some beautiful paintings, hand-made things were display for sell. You could take pictures with them as you buy things from their shops. Even though things are a little bit expensive, I buy some of them as I think that will be helpful for their economy. Some kayan women do not speak Burmese, so people around the shops help them to understand the visitors. And some of kayan women know well how to attract the visitors while some don’t know how sitting in front of their particular shops. The place is a bit crowed with visiting men and women and also with their cars coming and going back one after another.
Why an umbrella shape appears in Htee Pwint Kan (literally Blooming Umbrella Shape Lake)
Some visitors don’t have chance to see this. But for some they are lucky to see two or three shapes of umbrella at one time. When I went there and stood by the side stirring at, I happened to see a big umbrella shape. I was so curious to know why and how it happened. At that time I didn’t know why for there was no one who was able to explain. But later sometimes I come to know that Htee Pwint Kan is an old volcano top, thus the sends are still buffed upward in a umbrella shape. It is 227 feet long and 115 feet wide. And some people say that this is lake where Dwemenaw sisters (myth) used to come and take bath. Additionally I knew that not so far from this Htee Pwint Kan, there were aslo Thit Sar Kan and Net well which naturally pour up water. But I wasn’t there by that time. It is also known as a lake where Dwemenaw and prince Thudanuh had vowed one another. This is an interesting place for the water never dry up around the seasons.
To seven mythical lakes (Kan Khun Hna Sint)
I think it is because of the myth of Prince Thudanuh and Dwemenaw Kayan people are made known to throughout the country. It is said that including Dwemenaw and the seven Kaingnayi sister used to take bath at one of the seven lakes in the forest every day. On his way back from learning, prince Thudanuh went across that forest and saw those ladies. He was interested in them and tried catch them with a dragon net. As he did that way, he caught the youngest sister, Dwemenaw, out of the seven. After that the prince brought her to the royal palace and got her as a princess. And so the princess missed this place and longed for it. It is said that these seven lakes are the lakes where the mythical seven sister usually take their bath. It is 14 miles far from Loikaw. Starting from the mountain foot, the lakes are located naturally one after another. There are also very nice restaurants near by the lakes for the visitors to rest. As you look those wide lakes you would surely be refreshed. This is the place where you can truly enjoy the natural beauty of a forest. I thought if the people are in charge could make this place as more than a place to feel and see just the lake and the nature, it will become a sure place to attract more visitors. If there are some more interesting tour programs than just seeing the mythical lake, I am sure; there will be more people than now.
Scary Kyat Cave inside a lot of wooden coffins
Another well-known place to visit around city Loikaw is Kyat Cave. You can’t just continue to this place after you have visited to the places mentioned above. You have to come back to Loikaw because each location differs east to west. As we planned to look around different place within a day, only had our lunch only when it struck 1 pm. We had our lunch at Shweletyar which had really testy foods. From there we continued to Kyat Cave which was located 10 miles away in East of Loikaw. Kyat Cave is a limestone cave located at 1990 feet above sea level. It is called Yasukhu in Kaya. Inside the cave we saw a lot of coffins made of wood. Some of the coffins are 15 feet long. The shortest coffins are 2 feet long. Some of them are found just on the ground whereas some are hanged up 20 to 30 feet high at the surface of the cave. It is said that 70 years ago some bones could be found in those coffins. Until this day they said that they have found around 120 coffins in the cave, yet we didn’t see them all for we did not get into the cave until the end.
Even though it is a natural cave, yet because of some traditional religious beliefs, slippers are not allowed to put on as you enter into the cave. Also being drunk, throwing the used things without disciplines are strictly forbidden around the cave. It is reminded to bring with us torches as we enter into the cave. And there is schedule set for visiting into the cave. It is allowed within 9 am to 4 pm.
To enter into Kyat Cave, we climbed up to a very big limestone first. The steps made of bricks up the way help the visitors walk easily. It was not really fine to leave our slippers in car. The cars are to park outside the campus where Kyat Cave is, and visitors have to walk into the campus.
And from the steps we need to walk up until we get to around 100 feet high. Here it is not really ok without slippers. You can leave your slippers near by a small pagada at the entrance hole of the cave. From there you walk down by the wooden bridge into the cave. Inside the cave there are a lot of stalagmites and stalactites everywhere. For ease of the visitors, there is the eclectic light supply until 1800 feet inside, but the light is a bit dim and doesn’t light up enough in such a thick dark cave. As we didn’t bring torches, we switch on our smart phone flesh light to see the path clearly. It is really interesting. At first we were a bit frightened. But after sometimes we got used to and felt really free. Sometimes inside the cave, it happened that we couldn’t have enough breath. Inside the cave, I noticed that pagodas are also built. From the end of the electric supply, it isn’t easy to continue. But it is said that some people, with their own plans, continue walking down into the cave and observe more inside even after where the electric supply ends. Some people assume that there will be more interesting stories and things inside the cave for they traditionally believe there will be coffins of a historical king and his servants. It is also said that some people indeed made adventure for searching all those they believed. For us, we turned back after we got until where the limitation was set for the visitors. I noticed a long big and straight pole called Dakhuntain was straightly and vertically grounded (their traditional religion custom). This part of the country they worship Dakhuntain. They believe that Dakhuntain refers the nature and is grounded with prayer for the sake to balance the whole universe and the four fundamental elements.
Food and drink in Kayah region
When you chance to get to Kayah state, there are different kinds of food that you should not miss to try.
Please do try the followings –
(1) Traditional Kayah Sausage
You need to order it ahead and it doesn’t last for along time, so you have to eat them within two days. So you would need order according to your schedule for going home. And they would prepare only when it is pre-ordered. It is really yummy. It outward long appearance feels strange, yet when you try, the taste is so good to speechless. The reason why it doesn’t last is it isn’t mixed chemical flavors for long lasting. It is prepared with a lot of meat and some hot components. It is to be taken with chilies powders or traditional hot powders (Mitkhathi). If you fry it, the taste is also good. When I was there, my friend Thawzin (Loikaw) who is a very good writer ordered it for me. I was truly thankful to him for his help. Without his help I would not be able to order for I did where and how to order it. His help has been wonderful to me.
(2) Kayah Hinthote
There are hinthotes prepared with pork and chicken or no meat at all. U Tun Hla Mingalar Hinthote which is located in Khantkaw Street, Mingalar quarter is well known place and the taste is also really good. You will be able to eat only if you go earlier. A lot of customers are there, they sell them out fast even in early morning. Porkmeat-ball at that shop is tasty.
(3) Fried bamboo worm
(4) Fried big ants eggs
(5) Kaya traditional khawngye
If you plan to have Myanmar traditional foods in this Kayah region, I would like to recommend “Shewletyer” restaurant in Taung Kwe Pagoda Street to you. The foods are really delicious and the waiters are also so friendly. I think the menu changes every day. It is written ‘Today Menu’ and hanged up. On the day I ate; different kinds of Myanmar traditional foods were available such as fried pork, pork pongyekyi, pork soup, Myanmar traditional chicken curry, chicken potatoes, chicken gwayhtawgt , hot chilies goat curry, oily fish curry, gwayti eel, fried sturgeon and oily fried prawn. Of course I didn’t eat all of them. I tried chicken gwayhtawgt, pork pongyekyi, Myanmar traditional chicken curry, goat innards and fried sturgeon. That was an awesome meal. Additional different kinds of salads were also served. A bowl of soup was also provided. It was a real fresh and tasty meal. After meal they served pineapple. Candies or sweets were also served. And the price is around 3000 kyats for each person, so we can say it is a worth giving for such a special meal. I have once written about this restaurant in Foodaholic Myanmar Page.
If you plan to have you dinner with Beer and BBQ, Loikaw City Kyay Oh and BBQ is a good place for that. It has an extended one in another place. The one in the city has more things to choose said a regional person. At that restaurant, Kayah traditional sausage is also available with hot Mitkhathi powders. This is a place where you can also have Yangon styled foods.
A trip to Loikaw has truly made me to recall most of my life memory. I firstly miss my late Dad. And I do miss the free time of a young teenager with a mind to search everything ahead of his life who recently finished his matriculation exam. Since at that time the state was known and restricted as a brown territory politically, the time; things to do were supposed to be done before 6 pm (no one was allowed to get out into the street by 6 pm) is unforgettable to me. The feeling of searching Yangon style food for the whole city and found a burger shop and its taste is felt still. I can’t satisfactorily visit and see around in this region. So I do want to go again if I have one more chance to go there. As I believe there are more places to visit and look around, I just like to keep this natural silver painting in Ngway Taung in my heart always.
Thiha Lu Lin @ Thiha, the Traveller