Searching for reality
Mawlamyaing, Mawlamyine or Moulmein. Even the name sounds exotic promising. And even promising is the fact that this city is not on the “normal” route through myanmar. This is reason enough to visit this city once and find a piece of normality in Myanmar.
A city tour
After reaching the city about 270 kilometers southeast of Yangon after eleven hours, the first impression is ambiguous. In the evening I visit the Khayik Thoe Pagoda where a monk asks me for money. So again a place where tourists are seen as “dollars on legs”? But the first impression disappears relatively quickly on a tour of the city.
The colors and stories of Myanmar are also present here. Busy streets offer the great cinema of the photographer the big show. Traditional longguyis blow here to dry in the wind. Daily craft which is done with the simplest means. The young monk, whose clothes are more of a hindrance when playing football and pursuing his sport in the nearly dilapidated temple.
Mawlamyaing is the third largest city of Myanmar with a long tradition. Located directly on the banks of the Thanlwin, the city was a center of the early Mon dynasty. On the hills of the city lies the Kyaik Thanlan Pagoda and here is also my first destination.
On the hills lead stairs with a total of 203 steps. If this is to strenuous, you can use a lift for a small fee. However, this belongs to the pagoda – therefore: no shoes in the elevator.
The view from the 45 meter high pagoda is breathtaking. The sunset over the Thanlwin River on one side and the karst mountains of Hpa-an on the other side. Then a complete overview of the city. I spend hours here, as the entire range of hills is dotted with temples, pagodas, and monasteries.
Among other things, a Hindu temple is being built right on this hill chain. The obligatory bamboo scaffolding is still standing, the front already shines colorfully in the evening sun and the sculptors pursue their activity in the shade of provisional plans.
The site manager notices me and we quickly get into conversation. And soon comes the question of my origin. He knows Germany, he has also built a temple there. But he has forgotten the name of the city. And soon circumstances taking place – of course it is the Hindu temple of Hamm. My birth place.
In these moments, the world is getting smaller.
It’s hard for me to leave Mawlamyaing across the river to the north. The charm of this city has captured me. I am looking for these places – away from the “beaten path” and full of stories.
My story of Myanmar will add another chapter. A German couple, which I met the day before, shares with me the same boat randomly to Hpa-on. And Didier, a photography enthusiastic Frenchman on a six-month trip, joined us.
With this company and with the prospect of new discoveries, the farewell is easy.