22.04.2016 – 25.04.2016
Hpa – An (pronounced par-ann) is a small town located in the south east corner of the country. Its on the tourist trail, as it has numerous caves, dedicated to the Buddhist religion. It is an extremely small and quiet town, with only 3 or 4 accommodation choices (we were sure we were the only guests in our hotel). In addition to this, there are only 2 places serving food outside of 5pm, and in total about 7 restaurants or shacks serving food daily.
To get to Hpa-An (pronounced par-ann), we travelled overnight via Bago (just north of Yangon). Google tells me its a total of 500 km, from Inle Lake to Hpa- An, but it took over 18 hours and 2 buses to make it to our destination. We were smashed by the time we got to our hotel. After a few hours of relaxing, we decided to walk around the town………and……..see………………not much. There is a local market along the back road and a few shacks that serve the local community for all there needs.
The next morning, we went on a day tour with the local guesthouse to see the sites around town. For $5 each, we where wizzed around with some other backpackers on the back of what can only be described as the tray of a ute attached to a motorbike. Our driver was a lunatic, he tried passing every vehicle he could, which in turn, just threw us about in the back, it was an extremely bumpy ride, as most of the roads are dirt tracks with rocks! But the day was all about seeing the six Buddhist sights, four of them caves. Each place we visited was full of Buddha statues of all shapes and sizes and bright colours. One place was a field of 1120 Buddha statues. The best part of the day was seeing the Saddan “Elephant” Cave. A giant cave, that opened up to a small lake on the otherside and a longboat ride back towards the entrance.
After the day tour we decided to hike a motorbike to go and see millions (yes millions) of bats fly out of a cave down by a river on sunset. We got there early and were able to climb to the highest point (up a ladder that wasnt attached to the top… eek that was very scary) and get a great view of the bats. They flew out of the cave on sunset, in a thick fast stream for about half an hour. The number of them was impressive, and had Bianca thinking that the bats were just doing continuous loops – flying out the front and around through the back again!
With nothing left to do we spent our final day enjoying the hideous breakfast at our hotel, booking our ticket back to Yangon and cruising around town on the motorbike to kill time.
Hpa – an although an extremely boring, hot and slow town, was worth the visit. The day tour of all the Buddhists sites was amazing and not to be missed.
OUR FAVOURITE BITS
- Taking the day tour with Soe Brothers Guesthouse.
- Seeing the bats fly out of the cave (in their millions) at sunset.
- Staying at Soe Brothers Guesthouse (in town) or United Hotel (just out of town). Both seem to be the best options for accommodation as there are literally 5 or 6 places to stay in town.
- The day tour is a must, unless you want to explore the area by motorbike yourself. There is nothing else here in the way of tourism.