Most travelers will go from Yangon to Bagan directly (or the other way around), but we did some research and found a place close to Pyay, that caught our attention. As Pyay is kind of half way, we decided to give it a try – What turned out to be an awesome decision.
We took the bus from the central bus terminal, or let’s call it bus city, to Pyay, what was about an 6h ride. As it is kind of normal in Myanmar, we arrived again at 4 in the night and were able to check in already.
Worldtrip Berlin Tip: First it seems annoying to arrive deep in the night, right?! But after some of those night bus rides, we started to really like it as all hotels and hostels are aware of the bus times and, by that, totally used to have people arriving at 3 or 4 in the night. As Myanmar people are unbelievable friendly, they will, if there is any availability, give you a room already. This gives you the chance to shower, get some more hours of good sleep and you will be fine for the day. Some places even gave us free breakfast on top of that, even we didn’t pay that “night”.
After we arrived we did exactly what is mentioned in the Worldtrip Berlin Tip, so we were fit for the day to explore Pyay and the aread by rental scooter. The main reason and destination we came to Pyay for was the Akauk Taung Pagoda near Tonbo.
Before starting the 1.5h ride to the Akauk Taung Pagoda, we decided to make a quick stop at the Shwe San Daw Pagoda in the middle of the city, which was the first big surprise of our time in Pyay.
An enjoyable 1.5h ride later we arrived in Tonbo. Tonbo is a little village at the riverside, which is the starting point of boat trips to Akauk Taung Pagoda. The boat ride itself is kind of the highlight of the hole visit, as on the way there are hundreds of buddha statues build in the hill, which Akauk Taung Pagoda is located on top of.
Worldtrip Berlin Tip: The price for a return ride is fixed at 15000 for a boat, so if you come with more people you can split those costs. Note that there will be no western tourists, so you better ask other people in your hotel/motel.
When we arrived the guys at the jetty didn’t speak a word of English, but an older guy who spoke perfect English joined the group after some minutes and told us, he is a volunteer for the Pagoda and will join us for the ride. It turned out that he was a retired university doctor who is taking care about medical problems in the village and the Pagoda. During the boat ride he explained us many things about the Pagoda, the Monks, the history of the place and the whole area, Tonbo is located in. He also mentioned, that we were the first tourists in 3 days and that there is a maximum of 30 people visit Tonbo and the Pagoda in a month.
Arrived at the pagoda he showed us around, introduced us to some of the monks and invited us for a delicious dinner.
All this made the trip to Tonbo already an incredible experience, but the very best moment was still waiting for us – The one when we arrived back at the jetty.
As visible in the pics above, a group of village kids were waiting for us at the pier and grabbed ours hands to help us reaching our motorbike safely. When the kids, the doctor and we arrived at the motorbike, it was time to say goodbye, another glorious moment. We were expecting that the doc will maybe ask us for a small donation for Pagoda as this is sadly kind of common – But not in Myanmar. The only thing he said to us after spending 3h time was: “Thank you for visiting my country.” It was mind blowing and made us feel bad thinking automatically about him asking for a donation before.
Worldtrip Berlin Tip: Due to a short time frame we couldn’t made it to the Ancient City near Pyay, but we heard it is well worth a visit and kind of a small Bagan in beautiful scenery – So if you are in Pyay, give it a try!
Please share your experiences, tips and tricks about Pyay in the comment section to help others!