Another week in Myanmar. After two weeks at Pa-Auk Forest Monastery it is one without a fixed daily schedule. I go to Hpa-An in the north of Mawlamyine (Moulmein) and stay with Soe Bros, a guesthouse with friendly staff offering tours to the nearby caves and lakes. There is a balcony on every floor which serves as a meeting place for travelers.
I participate in a tour with 6 others. It is truly amazing. Great group vibe. Smiling faces. Pretty cool driver named Eloy.
Impressive caves embedded in nature. We visit many caves. I lose count. And it really doesn’t matter. I tend to be precise but not too much into statistics.
The next day I rent a scooter and drive to Mt. Zwekabin. I hike up that steep mountain. Sweating hard. after one hour I give myself a short rest. (Thinking:) I was not feeling too good this morning. Tummy was upset. Still, I went for it. But I probably picked the wrong day for that trek. Stretched out on the wooden platform at the middle station I feel weak. Then I drink and continue walking. It is very steep. Shortly before the end there is a pagoda. I feel exhausted. Have to sit down. Almost throw up right there. Just wait it out, this waterfall-sweaty dizzy heart pounding nauseous feeling subsides soon.
Fifteen or so minutes afterwards I am ready for the last few steps up the mountain to Zwekabin Pagoda on the top. I cannot eat. It is noon. I take a nap in the shade. Photo session: Some Burmese girls take pictures with me. I have lunch and lie down again for another two hours of siesta. I listen to the last Dhammavidu talk indoors. (thx marko!) Outside it is burning hot. In the afternoon I go back down. I feel much better.
About the temperature, I can’t put it any better than Mr. Orwell in ‘Burmese Days’:
The heat throbbed down on one’s head with a steady, rhythmic thumping like blows from an enormous bolster. … and … The heat rolled from the earth like the breath of an oven.
Scooter takes me to the bat cave where I meet some friends from yesterday’s tour. After a beautiful sunset we watch innumerable bats coming out of the cave. It goes on for more than half an hour! Indescribable…
On the way up Mt. Zwekabin I meet a lady. She gives me a green fan. Salty waterfalls down my arms… the next day I meet a couple on the foot of Mt. Hpa Pu. It is opposite the town of Hpa-An where I stay. Across the Salween river. The man says that maybe I have sweated out all the evil spirits. I don’t know. I don’t believe in spirits. They’re just an invention to distract from what is really scary: Reality – as it is. I believe in shit. So I guess I sweated out all the shit in the system. Shit I had put into it the day before. Burping and farting and sweating out filth and surplus air and rotting hylae on the way down Mt Zwekabin. Almost on ground level I meet Noel again, a Philippine I’d met when I was with Karina (Graz) to have a great traditional dinner at Galaxy Hotel for free. She was so sad to leave Myanmar. Anicca dukkha.
I take the boat across the river and climb the stairs up Mt. Hpa Pu. Nice view. Truly amazing. No tablet with me so no landscape pictures this time. Just imagine! A short way before the peak the stairs end. From there, I have to climb. I give up when it gets too steep. Flipflops are no gear for that. Way too slippery. No grip on the gravel part. And with bare feet the rugged stones feel like sauna-stones. So both with and without footwear… all options I have to let go of. Not worth risking an injury of any kind. Humbling experience for a Capricorn. A parallel to the day before when I almost pass out and go down in a burping-farting-fashion. (Thinking:) Why am I attached to this body, or other bodies? Why give it so much importance? Just to think of the stuff which gets out of ANY orifice seems enough to be repulsed. Why identify with this loathsome bag of flesh at all? Why o why?
Maybe that is also what I meant before when I mentioned what is really scary.