Travel vlogger Su Wai Phyo recently went to Kayah State for 7Day TV program Authentic Travel. Here she shares her experiences.
How did you get from Yangon and back?
I took the plane there, a 60-minute journey that costs about 70,000 kyats for locals. On the way back I went by express bus, which you board from Kayah capital Loikaw at 6am for between 10,000-15,000 kyats. On the bus journey is breathtaking scenery: mountains, morning dew evaporating into the sky during sunrise, blooming cherry flowers. I even saw frozen water at Pinlon Road. For breakfast, I ate pin laung Shan noodles, rice salad with
bamboo roots, and hinn htote (Myanmar dumplings) before singing and watching movies with my fellow passengers.
How about the accommodation?
Options range from 30,000 kyats to over 1 lakh. I planned to stay at Kayah Resort but as there was no room I went to Golden Hill Hotel near Taung Kwal Pagoda, priced at 45,000-55,000 kyats. I loved it. The hotel had a variety of dishes: fried rice, noodles,
vermicelli, breads, fruit, mohingya and more. My room was surrounded with mirrors and views of the city and lake.
Di Mos Market
I left my hotel at 5.30am to visit Di Mos Market, about 20 minutes from Loikaw. At this beautiful market were meat, fish, vegetables, fruits, Kayah pork sausages, jackets, gloves, khoung yay—a local alcohol—and other traditional things. The locals were friendly and happy to answer questions patiently and with a giggle. The place has a great atmosphere and is perfect for souvenir hunting. It opens Monday, Wednesday and Saturday but it also sells items inclusively on certain days, like pork sausage and the local moonshine.
Pan Pat village
Kayah State has many ethnicities but perhaps the most recognizable is the ‘long-necked’ Padaung women who wear stacks of bronze neck coils. Some live in Pan Pat village, where, at the entrance, I admired the traditional clothes they produced. One of the women, Ma Muu Pa Yite, kindly agreed to let us use her home to cook snails that we bought for our video we were shooting. She was really kind and allowed us to take photos in her house.
Ma Muu Pa Yite poured us some khoung pu (warm alcohol) and we had a chat. The women are very strong there—not because they carry these weights around their necks, but because they maintain their culture and tradition. Some have been driven to live in
‘human zoos’ in Thailand to earn a better living. If you visit them in Myanmar, buy their clothes and products, and don’t bargain for them. The looming clothes take a day to finish, and the jewellery is beautiful.
Seven Stages Lake
These lakes are the source of a popular childhood story in Myanmar involving seven angels who each bathed in one of the seven lakes. One day a prince captured one of the angels and put her in chains, which is why they say Padaung women wear the brass coils. I visited the sixth lake, which is surrounded by trees and grass, a great picnic spot. I was also happy to see trash cans everywhere. If people take care of this kind of beautiful place by
throwing rubbish away accordingly, our country would surely be able to sustain our environment for a long time.
Htay Khoe village
We left Loikaw early again to reach this village, nestled on a mountain in Pha Yuu Soe town. It took about two and a half hours of driving through winding mountain roads, and when we reached the peak of the mountain there were mist and clouds under us.
Among the houses lining the slope of the mountain were pigs and dogs playing around. There was a nearly century-old Catholic church in Htay Khoe. As we were there on a Sunday, people lined up to exit the church, with the mesmerizing backdrop of a purple sky and a mountain adorned with blooming flowers. Almost all of the women were in traditional dress and had bronze rings on their legs and huge earrings. They were happy to show me the village—some of them had previously migrated to Thailand but returned under a community-based tourism initiative.
Community-based tourism was new in the village; it had just got a tourist map. Tourists can enjoy local music, food, dances, and even rice-making techniques. Through the community-based tourism project it costs 3,000 kyats to visit each house, and the money goes straight back into the village.
Htee Sae Kharr waterfall and Taung Kwe Pagoda
After visiting Htay Khoe, we went to Htee Sae Kharr waterfall, a famous and beautiful spot between the Kayah and Shan border. Finally, there’s Taung Kwe Pagoda, which offers stunning views of Loikaw and is a great place for sunset. There are plenty other attractions in the state, too, and the region has proper seasons and a chilly winter.