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Published: March 26th 2018
From Inle Lake we took a taxi all the way to Mandalay. Now that might sound like something of an overindulgence but we weren't travelling directly there. Instead we wanted to visit the amazing Pindaya Caves
along the way. Doing that using public transport would have been a torturous journey taking many hours and far too many connections, and we would not have been able to achieve that in one day. It cost $130 but in the end we felt it was money well spent. If you would like to arrange a driver to do this trip, you can find Mr Fatty on his Facebook
page and he'll arrange for one of his driver friends to meet you at your hotel.
The route from Inle Lake to Mandalay via the Pindaya Caves is not for the faint of heart. The views were breathtaking and the roads were not always made. It was not an easy journey but our driver made us feel safe and secure throughout. It took a couple of hours to reach the caves where we left the driver snoozing in his car whilst we went off exploring.
Access to the caves is via some covered stairways, or a lift if you are
feeling lazy. We were definitely not feeling energetic, although we used the excuse that we had a car waiting!
Entering the caves it's hard to believe that it would be possible to cram so many statues of Buddha into such a place. The cave system is quite substantial leaving us to believe that the reports of "over 8000 images of Buddha" are woefully underestimated. If somebody said there were a million, I would not doubt them. There are Buddhas of all shapes, sizes and colours inside and many are added every year with small plaques beside them giving the name of the donor and how much money was donated for the privilege. It is a truly staggering collection of Buddha statues and no words or photos could possibly do justice to the sight of them. Inside we rubbed shoulders with tourists from around the world, but mostly from Asian countries, as well as many monks snapping selfies. Climb all the way up to the back and there is a tiny cave which you have to enter on your hands and knees. It's not one for the claustrophobes out there!
Outside of the caves there are several statues of
Buddhist scenes. They vary from the more common ones you see everywhere to a giant spider coming down the hill. There is even a very macabre scene of some carrion crows feasting on a corpse. Tasteful!!
From there it was many more hours on remote country tracks which one day will become roads. It was hot and dusty, and a little tedious at times. Along the way are several interesting looking sites which would no doubt be worthy of more exploration. In one place they are in the process of covering the hillside in giant Buddhas. It is quite a sight to behold. We stopped for lunch with our driver in a small village in the middle of nowhere. Judging by the size of the restaurants there, it is a popular stop for anyone and everyone who ventures out on this unmade road to Mandalay!
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