This was our first stop in a big city in Myanmar. We had spent the previous night in Myawaddy after a long trip from Chiang Mai in Thailand to cross the border and couldn’t visit it properly. We could however instantly realize we were in a very different country from those we’ve visited previously in our trip. The women have their faces painted, men wear longyis (a type of sheet they roll around their waists that look like a skirt) and the streets are dirtier than any other country in southeast Asia.
Mawlamyine is located nearby the Thanlwin river and it was in the riverside that we found our room. We’ve heard of a Mr Antony that owns Breeze guest house and we didn’t take long to find it. Mr Antony, an older guy, very nice, had many suggestions for us and we ended up staying there for 3 nights.
We slept in probably the smallest room in the world, probably on the most hard bed. Our “window” (a small hole with a net) was facing the reception area, so we could hear the talks from downstairs until late at night and were woken up early in the morning with the noise of the street. The bathrooms were terrible and I think it was the personal charm of Mr Anthony that made us stay there for so long.
When we finally decided to explore by motorbike, we realized that we really were in a place with an unusual mix of cultures. In the same street it is possible to find mosques, churches, hindu temples and buddhist stupas. I thought that it must be a very tolerant place.
The smell in the streets are intense and people look like a mix of indians with the most typical asians.
Amongst the temples we visited was the Kyike Thanlan pagoda which is a landmark in the city and offers nice panoramic views over the city and the surrounding region.
While we were looking for a place to park the motorbike nearby the temple a monk approached me and said we could leave it in the monastery and so we did. When we came back another younger monk came and started talking with us. He said he likes to speak to foreigners to improve his english. We stayed and chatted with him for about 15 minutes when another kid came by, with his clothes covered in paint from some job he was doing, and I asked him: “Hey. What happened to you?” He didn’t speak any english and the monk didn’t waste a second to start mocking him. He told me: “Don’t worry him, he is a muslim.” I said:” That’s not very religious of you.” but he continued by saying he didn’t like muslims very much, not that one in particular that was his friend and was only playing with him but in general, all muslims do, is bring trouble. “Ok” I thought, “There goes the tolerance”.
Mawlamyine is not the most beautiful place on earth. Far from it. However, people welcome you genuinely and are friendly without waiting for something in return. It was a great place to start exploring the beautiful country that is Myanmar.
There are at least two places I want to recommend when you visit Mawlamyine. Win Sein Taw Ya, the biggest reclining Buddha in the world and the Ogre island that is about 1 hour distance by boat and is well worth the visit for one day.