My friend Ooh Ooh and I traveled around Kayah State with her mother, aunts, and some family friends. On the first day, we were passing through a random little village, when we stumbled across this little kid who was playing with an elephant like it was his best friend on the side of the road. He let me feed it bananas and sugar cane and I watched them play in the water together. They were both just the happiest of souls and the cutest best friends ever.
Ooh Ooh took me to Kayan Lawi, which is the village where the Paduang people, known for the women who wear coils around their necks, are originally from. We communicated via my friend's translation, and the women I met were all very sweet and hard at work, making and selling handicrafts.
We did some more exploring around the area by foot as well.
We found a monastery and entered. My friends prayed, and I talked to the monk there about what life is like in the monastery.
Naung Yar Lake
My new friends took me to this lake with a colorful boardwalk. We ate dinner near here and enjoyed the view.
Tuang Kwe Zedi
After dinner, we visited this beautiful temple set into the rocks. It was a steep climb up, but the view at the top was worth it. It was especially beautiful at night because of the way the temple was lit up.
Welcomed into Our New Friends' Home
Ooh Ooh's family friends quickly became my friends as well, and invited us back to the farm where they lived. They taught me a lot about their lifestyle there, fed me delicious fresh dragonfruit, and introduced me to their 120 year old grandmother.
Their grandmother was alive before Myanmar had independence, and it was fascinating to hear her stories about what life was like during that time. I asked her what the secret to her long life was, and she told me it was meditating and her vegetarian diet. Everyone here ate almost exclusively rice and vegetables from their farm.
In the late afternoon, the women took me down to the river to bathe and wash our clothes "Burmese style." So fun!
Our friends took us to visit a nearby cave, which is supposedly inhabited by spirits. We saw big troughs made of of teak wood, which had a special spiritual importance to the people here.
Just outside of the cave is another monastery. The monk here offered us a full meal upon arrival, and he invited me to come back someday to practice English with him and learn more about his life in the monastery (maybe I will ;) ! )
Roadtrip and Picnic
On the last day here, we all loaded into the back of a pickup, packed lunch to eat on the road, and left for a visit to a park.
Along the way we stopped to buy some traditional rice-wine. The wine is made at home and put into old water bottles.... and it tastes DELICIOUS!
When we got to the park, we sat down on the ground under the shade of some big trees, and ate a picnic of rice and fresh vegetables and salads, all grown at the family's farm.