A journey into the hills
After leaving the banks of Inle Lake we headed up into the hills of Shan State.
On the steady climb up winding roads to the limestone caves of Pintaya we passed through some of the densest farmland in Myanmar. We passed small family farms growing cauliflower, pumpkin, potatoes, beans and cabbage all grown organically to be sold at local markets or if lucky, regional wholesalers.
Pintaya limestone caves, just like every other caves I encountered in Myanmar, have been converted to a Temple with every surface and grotto adorned with Buddhist imagery.
The real highlight of Pintaya is the legend that surrounds the cave. Allegedly in mythical times, a number of princesses sheltered in the cave to escape a storm.
Little did they know a Nat [pre-Buddhist spirits] in the form of a giant spider was in the cave and proceeded to hold them hostage. A huntsman (a hunter, not of the spider variety) was nearby and heard the princesses’ screams. He used his bow and arrow to kill the spider. Why princesses were roaming the country unprotected the myth does not say.
To remind all and sundry of the story there is a reenactment in Disney style large stone characters at the entrance to the cave.
From Pintaya we stopped and had lunch at the lake where Kainnari & Kainnara (the flying lover gods as previously mentioned ) were rumoured to live.
Not a bad place to spend a day.
Onward, ever onward we moved to Kalaw – if the English gardens at Pyin Oo Lwin was freakish the English cottages and large homes of Kalaw are other worldly, topped off with Pine trees make this place look like an English village deposited in the Myanmar hills.
A true highlight for me included a visit to the Kalaw markets during Market Day! All the farmers were out selling their wares – from veggies to batteries, dried fish to clothes - it was all there. We spent most of the morning wandering around the stalls and looking at odd parts of animals.