I have been writing this post in my head for a while, but due to the busyness, it’s been delayed for a few weeks.
During my Spring break, I went back to Myanmar for 2 weeks. I was so excited to spend time with my family and friends.
I spent time mostly with my family during the first week because I knew I would be away for the second week. Thankfully, I had a chance to tour Yangon like a tourist for half a day. Click here for the post.
During Thingyan (the Burmese New Year Water Festival), I went to Anisakhan near Maymyo with my church in Yangon. For four days we were in Anisakhan which is 6 miles away from Maymyo for our church camp.Maymyo is a hill town in Mandalay Division but located in the Shan Highland; so the weather in Maymyo was amazing. I wish I could live in Maymyo. It was 100F (37 C) when I left Yangon so it was so nice to be in Maymyo where the highest temperature was 84F. The military government renamed the town to Pyi Oo Lwin but I don’t like this military government so I’m just gonna stick with the British given name May Myo which is literally May’s town in Burmese (after Colonel May).
On the Burmese New Year Day (April 17) we planned to go to Maymyo to do a bit of sightseeing before we went back to Yangon. Although the first four days at the camp was amazing, I was looking forward to tour around Maymyo because the last time I was in Maymyo was 14 years ago.
Then we headed to Peik Chin Myaung Cave, a limestone stalactite cave, 14 miles (23 km) from Maymyo. None of us expected that it’d be overcrowded at the cave. Duh! We should have known that that’s what Buddhists do on the Burmese New Year Day; starting a new year by making merits.
It was just overwhelming that I could barely walk my way to the end of the cave. Inside the cave, I was disappointed how the military government has totally ruined the cave. It could have been so nice to just reserve as a formation of limestone. But they totally destroyed the natural beauty of the cave by enshrining with many Buddhist stupas donated mostly by the military generals and their gangsters to receive merit for the bad things they have done. My recommendation is don’t go there if you are around that area unless you are curious to see how the military government destroyed the cave. So it was a big disappointment for all of us, and we headed back to the bus and we were hoping our next destination could redeem us.
Well, we were given a sad news from our bus driver that it would be impossible to go to all the places we wanted to go. All the major attractions in Maymyo were horribly overcrowded because of the New Year Day. We all knew that all the pagodas in Myanmar are overcrowded on the New Year Day but we didn’t expect it to be that overwhelming.
Another unexpected thing happened! Our bus broke down on the way back from the cave and we had to wait 3hours for another bus to come.
So what did we do while waiting for the bus to come? Well, there was nothing to do but found ourselves a shaded place to sit and wait. A few people started singing worship songs, and it was a great way not to complain about our unfortunate events but to pray that God would send a new bus soon. After all that was part of church camp so we needed to practice what we have been hearing. Live by faith but not by sight.
After three hours of waiting, our rides came. Instead of a new bus, it turned out to be two pick-up trucks. We were ready to continue our journey in a ghetto style.
It was past our lunch time so we headed back to town to get lunch. Again traffic was horrible and it took a lot longer than we thought. The water festival officially ended the day before the New Year Day, but many towns in Myanmar still throw water and Maymyo happens to be one of them. Our pick-up trucks looked exactly like other trucks going around the town for the water festival; so by the time we got to the restaurant, everyone was totally soaked and drenched in water.
After lunch (which was around 3:30) most of us decided to go back to the church we stayed at while waiting for our bus to be ready before going back to Yangon. At that point, it was not worth for sightseeing anyway with all of us totally soaking wet with really bad traffic.
Too much to see Maymyo! Well, lesson learned; don’t go anywhere on the New Year Day while you are in Myanmar unless you want to get stuck in an unexpected way. But if you do, make sure you bring yourself with a bunch of people with a good sense of humor.