We arrived in Taunggyi early, the provincial capital, to pick up our required Pa-O Guide and permit because our destination for the day, Kakku, lies in Pa-O tribal territory. With luck it was market day so Jin Jin gave us a mini tour and answered all of our dumb questions about the identity of exotic items on display. We picked up some tasty cooked sweet potatoes (yellow variety) and some awesome local apples.
Pa-O traditional dress
42 km and 1.5 hours later we were in Kakku, an ancient pagoda complex that is the most important Bhuddist site in Shan state. Our young Pa-O guide had deeply introverted tendencies so we were glad that Jin Jin came along, our uber-guide from Nyaung Shwe. We chilled at the overlook restaurant upon arrival for a briefing from our guides and then set out walking in a clock-wise direction around the 1 km square complex. It was explained to us that the clockwise path increases the power of our visitation good deed.
Kakku is a Pagoda complex encompassing 2478 stupas from the 9th century onward. The stupas are built in 3 principal styles, including solid, pagoda, and monument. It is possible to sponsor a stupa renovation for about $2000 with your name on a corresponding plaque. The umbrellas that tinkle delightfully in the wind among the stupas are seen in 2 styles at Kekku, Shan and Myanmar. The Shan umbrellas are black and tightly textured while the Myanmar umbrellas are rust-brown and more ornate.
LOVE some wine please
We saw Athaya Winery on the way up the mountain to Taunggyi and stopped on the way back at 4:00 PM for a quick tasting. Jin Jin described it as the German style winery, as opposed to the French style winery at Red Mountain (previous post.) Not being one to take sides, we of course had to give the Germans a chance so we stopped in to see how the latest wines were shaping up. We had the place to ourselves overlooking the Inle Lake valley and enjoyed some Sauvignon Blanc, Rose, Shiraz, and a red wine from the Cinsault grape. Nothing quite worth taking home with us (the cheapest are $10) but tasty nonetheless.
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