- By Thiha (the Traveller)
Pa-O land or Pa-O region’s Pinlaung Town was said to be very beautiful by those who were there. Those who had visited many regions of Myanmar would say that Myanmar is beautiful with its natural beauties. However the beauty of Pinlaung is somewhat in a majestic and peaceful way.
It was a region once governed by saophas (local rulers or royalties) and the region was known as Loilon region. Now it is Pa-O Self-Administered Zone. It was in southern Shan State and was about 50 miles away from Taunggyi. Sao Moe Kyaw was Pinlaung (formerly Loilon) region’s last saopha and relinquished his powers in 29 April 1959.
Situated 4,820 ft. above sea level, weather in Pinlaung Town is cool. It also rain considerably in the raining season. For a person like me who came up from hot and humid delta area, the Pinlaung weather was very nice. Sometime water became frozen during the winter time.
How to go to Pinlaung
Pinlaung was a town midway between major cities so it is quite an awkward destination. From Yangon, most will take an overnight express bus to Loikaw reaching Pinlaung at an unearthly hour of 2:30 or 3 am. From Nay Pyi Taw, it can be reached via Kintha. By air, you’ll land at Heho and then drive down to Pinlaung for about two hour.
Places to go in and near Pinlaung
There were some places to visit in Pinlaung but most drive out of town to visit villages, hike into forests or up a hill. Pinlaung was surrounded by natural greenery and there were many natural waterfalls and caves that are of interest. There were even places to go trekking or hiking or even rock climbing! As I’m not that sporty type of person, I’ll only mention places that I went to.
Pinlaung Haw or palace
The front end of Pinlaung Haw (palace) had collapsed while the back end was in a dilapidated condition looking at though it was hit recently by a strong earthquake and was on the verge of collapsing. Relatives of the saopha still lived in nearby houses and visitors can pay a visit but be sure to be respectful toward the host. Comparing the sad state at the present with its glorious past could bring tears to those who tend to be sad.
The tombs of saophas and families are in the town center near Mway Daw Pagoda. Their ancient titles and names can be examined from the cemetery record.
Mway Daw Pagoda
Mway Daw Pagoda can be seen from afar across Kan Tha Ya Lake as you enter Pinlaung Town. The lake itself was always crowded with local and foreign visitors.
Pinlaung Myoma Market
Although it is right smack in the middle of the town, it is usually busy only on the market days that were held once every five days. The market days are when exotic traditional Shan foods that were not readily available everyday even in other towns and villages were offered. Restaurants and eateries near the market also offer special dishes on the market days. It is advisable to check out when the next market day will be and time it to coincide with your visit in order to taste local Shan delicacies.
Loi Maung Taung or Loi Maung Mountain
The road beside the Mway Daw Pagoda will take you to Loi Maung Taung or Loi Maung Mountain. This is the highest peak near Pinlaung rising up to a height of 6,124 ft.
At such height, the weather at the top of the mountain is severe and changes drastically in a moment. It might be misty but can become sunny and hot within a moment or the other way round. At the summit is a monastery, a pagoda and a communication tower. The mountain is very attractive for active sports persons, mountaineers and hikers alike. As the summit can also be reached by cars or motorcycles, even non-sporty person like me can enjoy the view up there. Inle Lake as well as other peaks can be seen from the summit. Most went up to enjoy the sunset view and timed the ascent to coincide with the sunset.
There’s a strange habit of eating earth in this region. The edible earth pits were right beside the road or trek up Loi Maung Mountain. For a visitor like me, the ordinary and edible earths were undistinguishable. It is best to check out with locals. Villagers roast the edible earth and eat it as a snack.
Nam Hoo Pagoda Hill
Nam Hoo Pagoda Hill near Pinlaung Town is a place where the town can be seen closely from above. Pintale Kyaik Hti Yo Pagoda is yet another place rising up above the town and yet near the town offering a close up view of the town from above.
Lone Naga Pat Pagoda is a must visit place if you were ever in Pinlaung. The views along the way to the pagoda were breathtakingly beautiful. The history of the pagoda was too mythical and I’ll leave it for visitors to learn about it in their visit and to believe it or not! Near this pagoda is a small pond called Thitsa Khayu (snail) pond with many snails in it.
Sa Ma Kyauk Sar Pagoda
Sa Ma Kyauk Sar Pagoda or Sa Ma Stone Inscription Pagoda is right beside the path that’ll take you to Lone Naga Pat Pagoda. In my mind the stone inscriptions looks more like a fossil remains of the snails! (to be continued as part two next week).
Translated by Handytips