Tuesday, February 24: At about 2:30, we finally arrive at Inthein, after our 8km-long cruise through the jungle-like Inn Thein Creek, a narrow canal. My boat driver drops me without giving much direction, so I’m not exactly sure where to go or what I’m supposed to be looking for. After wandering aimlessly for a bit, I fall into line with some Australian tourists. We first stumble upon a group of crumbling stupas, much like those found at the Angkor temples in Cambodia.
The Nyaung Ohak stupas are smothered in greenery, but we can still spy some ornate stucco carvings of animals, devas (types of non-human beings who share the godlike characteristics of being more powerful, longer-lived, and, in general, happier than humans), and chinthe (lion-like creatures that are often seen at the entrances of pagodas and temples in southeast Asia). Nyaung Ohak translates to “group of banyan trees,” according to Renown Travel.
I make a restroom stop at this cinderblock building with a corrugated metal roof. From the outside, it doesn’t look like much, but it’s actually quite civilized and upscale. Inside it has full (& clean) Western toilets with bidets! This is a rare thing to find in most of Asia. Myanmar never ceases to surprise me.
I climb up what seems like an endless (700m) covered walkway. The local vendors are lounging about with their souvenirs. There isn’t much business today and many of them are napping.
At the top of the covered stairway, I find Shwe Inn Thein Paya, a complex of 1,054 weather-beaten zedi (stupas). Most of them were constructed in the 17th and 18th centuries, according to Lonely Planet Myanmar.
I am awestruck by this place with all of its stoic and leaning and ruined zedi.
On my return down the long walkway, I buy a few things from the souvenir stalls: an enamel tray, cotton pants, a royal blue striped scarf, an enamel jewelry box and a Buddha head. When I try to buy the Buddha head for 15,000 kyat, one corner of my bill is ripped and the vendor doesn’t want to take it. I am willing to walk away from the sale, so, after much hemming and hawing, she goes ahead and takes my money. Little do I know how much trouble this Buddha head will cause me later.
By nearly 4:00, I’m back at the creek and ready to board my boat.
Back on the creek again, we begin our long journey back to Nyaungshwe.