I am not particularly interested in cave as I am asthmatic and I usually get eerie feelings and sense of suffocation whenever I visit inside the cave. However, my curiosity always drives me to do some venture inside the cave and I went twice to Myin Ma Hti mountain to observe the cave. Another reason I went there is the view on the way to the cave is awesome and there are lots of seasonal flowers especially sunflowers and sesame flowers ( I went there before harvest time in December , so the scenery was yellow , white , green and red , the color of soil in Shan State is red ). But if you go there other time, you will not see sunflowers.
According to the record done by a monk at the Myin Ma hti village in the year 1906, the pagodas inside the cave were first founded by King Siri Dama Thaw Ka around 2300 years ago. King Siri Dama Thawka was well known as a king who tried to spread Buddhism all over the country. He built 84000 lakes, 84000 wells and 84000 pagodas, The cave is 1028 feet long and on the walls , there were side tunnels which are linked to outside. Previously, the cave was covered with the water and it was used to be called water flowing cave. However, it was assumed that the water disappeared through some opening inside the cave and nowadays, it is dry. There are still 28 statues which was assumed to be created 2300 years ago.
After King Siri Dama Thawka , King Anawrahta took over the pagoda and did some renovation , then it was taken over by King Along sithu. According to the record, the cave has existed for thousands of years before Buddhism flourished there.
Myin Ma Hti mountain is four miles from Kalaw Town. Kalaw is 4315 feet above sea level and the summit of mountain is 1075 feet from the base.
There is a legend that four powerful and extraordinarily strong horses came out from the divine and ate the paddy field and vegetable from the village farms. The villagers could not shoo the horses away and asked help from the King Anawrahtar. The king sent his four heroes named Kyan Sit Thar, Nga Htwe Ru, Nga Lone Lat Phal and Nyaung Oo Phee. The heroes managed to tame wild horses and brought them to the palace. On the way back, Hero Kyan Sit Thar galloped on the powerful horse and jumped over the mountain. The horse could jump over it and the mountain was named Myin Ma Hti ( The mountain which the horse didn’t touch )
You could reach the cave by turning to the right after you passed the toll if you come from Kalaw. You need to drive a few miles and the cave was on the way to Pin Long .It is situated in between Kalaw and Aung Ban. It is four miles away from Kalaw and two miles from Aung Ban. The temperature inside the cave is quite low and the water drops pour out from the cave. There is a place where you can make paste from the tree bark and wear it on your face. Some old people believe it has therapeutic effect.
If you are a fan of cave, just take it as one of your destinations when you arrive Kalaw
It is so cold right now, for a woman who has lived in hot places for more than 4 decades, I still cannot cope with temperature less than 15 C. Right now, the temperature is only 9 C in Taunggyi, Southern part of Shan State. The coldest hours are from 10 pm to 6 am. I am shivering while I am typing this. However, this time is the best time to travel in Myanmar, no rain and the roads are not wet and flooded. You can see lots of flowers in Shan State. They are all wild and seasonal flowers.
Today, I went to the place where I really wanted to go for a long time. The place is called “ Ywar Ngan” , in Burmese , it means “ salty village”, I have no idea why it was named like that. Lately, the place has been having attention from all over the world because of its beautiful waterfalls, caves and the blue lake lagoon ( Yay-pyar Lake)
There are so many legends about that village and it will be a good story for the curious travelers who also can trace the history. A lot of villagers are afraid to venture inside the forests and the caves for the fear of spirits and usually, people even local do not know much about the history. The local are superstitious and even tried to stop the tourists from venturing into unknown places. One time, a tourist tried to go inside a cave in Ywar Ngan village but he had to come out finally because the cave did not end after a half day and he became worried of safety.
I will tell you how I go there from Taunggyi, the capital of Shan State. Taunggyi is in Southern part of Shan State. At first, we went to He’ Ho ( a place where there is an airport ), then Aung Ban and from there, you have to turn to right . It is the same way you go to Pin Daya. But once you reach the junction called Kyone, you need to turn left ( or go straight) , instead of turning to the right .
If you turn to the right, you will reach Pin daya. But don’t go that way because the road to Ywar Ngan from that way is very rough and only bicycle can manage well to go. May be the road will change in a few years as the villagers are repairing the road. For us, we had to turn back as we don’t want to damage our car by bumpy roads with full of rocks.
We are lucky because we came across lots of beautiful scenery on the way, the view is full of yellow, because it is the time for sunflowers and sesame flowers to blossom. To add that, there are also wild flowers which are all yellow. We can see yellow, light green , red ( the color of soil is red) , dark green and white. I was so fascinated by the view and also thankful to my friend for driving there for me.
Once you reach Kyone, you need to drive another 34 miles to reach Ywar Ngan. On the way, We see the road lined by Euclid trees. The view is beautiful because all the sunflower fields and sesame fields are surrounded by mountains. The cold breeze tickled my hair when I started to walk along the road. I even went inside the field and observed the sunflowers and cabbages carefully, I could also see some pagodas built at the summit of the mountains.
On the way to Waterfall and blue lagoon ( Mya-tha-bait lake), you can drop in at Main-ma-ye Mountain.
The mountain is called “ brave woman mountain” , in Brurmese “ Main-ma-ye-taung” ( Taung means mountain )
I did not climb the mountain because I recently had ankle sprain and didn’t want to get another injury. But I am going to post photos of my friends who hiked it. If you are patient, you can get the nice view at the summit.
After the mountain, we went to the blue water lagoon ( Mya-tha-bait-yay-pyar-aing). I believe the water is blue because of some chemical in the soil. But contrary to science, a lot of villagers believe there must be some treasure such as emerald bowl buried beneath the lake by angles. The legend is that the angels kept the emerald bowl for the purpose of donating it to New Buddha. They also believe there are a lot of spirits guarding the lake and are extremely cautious not to offend them. For that reason, they protested the idea of a tourist who came from Europe with the purpose of diving inside the lake and measuring the depth of the lake . They believe once you disturb the spirits, the villagers have to bear the wrath of super natural beings. The lake was carefully fenced and you cannot throw anything inside the water including the bread for the fish.
The water is amazingly transparent and we could see fishes swimming peacefully around the branches of trees inside the lake.
It was fascinating and I lingered at the fence without noticing that foreigners were trying to capture photos and I was obliterating their view.
Finally we moved on and went to the Forest star water fall , in Burmese ( Taw-kyal-waterfall). The waterfall as well as blue lake have been looked after by the monastery nearby and they try to clean the lanes and make sure tourists are safe. They also offer public toilets for the tourists and travelers. I would like to advice to donate for a few dollars for the monastery if you can. There is a donation box near by. We also saw a few Shan children playing on the way. They are very cute and kept on calling me ” sister”, in Burmese ” Mama”. When I approached them to have a chat, I found out that they don’t speak Burmese . They only know the word ” sister”.
I wanted to go to the caves , but it will take a lot of time and you need to go with the motor bike in the early morning . So we returned back and think of going there again. There are more photos of scenery along the way.
Now, let me tell you a brief history of it. The person who owns the business is A German guy called Bert Morsbach . As he and his friends share love for Myanmar and for wine, they decided to do the first wine production in Burma.
At first, he chose Kayar state, Loikaw with little success. Then he moved to Shan state in 1999. . The reason for choosing Aye Tharyar as a vine yard is it has excellent soil and weather condition . The winery is at the altitude of 1,200 m which is required to produce excellent white wine. It is also situated near a famous tourist attraction called Inn Lay Lake
Mr Morsbach has put tremendous effort in improving the quality of wine until it got international recognition in 2004. His goal is to produce top quality wines from carefully selected European grape varieties.
Most varieties of grapes are imported from Europe, France, Germany and Spain. Out of 50 varieties, only less than 10 can survive in tropical climate
Usually, the vine yard use a variety of grapes such as Shiraz grape ( imported from Italy ). Myanmar sparking rose, Sauvignon Blanc ( Bordeaux) , Chenin ( Loire), red Dornfelder ( Germany ), red Tempranillo ( Spain ).
Ayethaya Wines are grown at an altitude of 1,200 meters on the slopes of Taunggyi Mountains, near the village of Ayethaya, Geologically, these slopes are the Sounthern extension of the Himalayan Mountains.
The dominating soil is based on limestone which is ideal for the cultivation of wine. The famous Inle Lake, an attractive tourist destination , is very close ( 25 km )
Not only the owner, the wine makers are the best experts from Europe. They work closely together with the company . The chief wine maker is Mr Hans Leiendecker. He has been living in Myanmar for many years and married to a Burmese lady . Both of them are very nice people.
To make the wine available to distribute all year round, the company has imported wine from South Africa. As South Africa has 6,000 different types of wines which are produced by 560 wineries, the imported wine called “ Monte Vino “ is much cheaper than locally made wines. They import semi fermented grape juice and finishes the maturing process by bottling MONTE VINO in Myanmar. The result is an outstanding quality wine at an amazingly low price.
There are around 100 workers. They used to export to China but stopped because there is not enough for local market.
By the way, I saw a lot of workers are happy there. I even witnessed they were doing the meeting and some good workers were given bonuses for their hard work. I am glad that Burmese people are learning how to make wine from the company . As it’s not easy to get a job easily in Aye Tharyar, the vine yard is giving jobs to Burmese people.
here are the price of wine bottles
Red wine one bottle : 12,000 kyats or 12 USD
White wine one bottle ( normal ) 10500 kyats or 11 us D
White wine one bottle ( late harvest ): 20,000 kyats , 20 us D ( for take away price), for sit and drink 23,000 kyats or 23 us D
Red wine use all the components of grapes such as skin, seeds and fresh while white wine use only fresh and juice.
The staff called Peter explained to me that the vine yard try to use lease chemical ( 85% of fertilizers are organic ) using cow dung, branches , leaves of grapes trees, mixed with rice powder.
The harvest time is in February or March.
Before harvesting, the vine yard staff prick six grapes from different plants in a row and put the mixture or the juice on the slide to measure sugar break. Sometimes, if sugar break is not as high as expected level, the grapes are not harvested. That means the time of production will be delayed. Red white needs two times fermentation and white wine needs only one time. Red wine needs to be stored in oak barrels for a while to alter the taste and smell of wines. The oak is ordered from Europe. The whole process of crushing, pressing, fermentation, storage, re fermentation , storage, bottling, labeling takes 9 to 12 months.
I am impressed with the way Peter explained me about making wine, he described each and every step in details. It is impressive to know young people have passion for their job.
The reason I like the restaurant is they have cocktails, ( not all bars have cocktails) and I can walk along the vine yard facing the mountains. I also think they decorate the place well. You can look a few photos of the restaurant.
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If you arrive Taunggyi, you should not miss going to Aye Tharyar Vine yard.
real live experience regarding travels, meeting strangers and daily life.