musings on music, travel, books, and life from Southeast Asia

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Greetings from Nyaunghswe in Myanmar’s Shan State. I’m here for a few days to rest, reconnect with friends, and maybe, just maybe, attend a temple festival in Hat Ein village this weekend. I’m scheduled to return to Mandalay on Sunday, but that’s the same day as this festival, so I may postpone my departure and stay for the event. I’ve been invited for lunch in the village today, at which time I’ll try and give some more details about what sort of temple festival, a paya pwe, this is going to be. Some are very colorful and festival events with games and food, but others can consist of nothing much more than monks chanting.

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I dropped by Shan Yan Pyay monastery in Nyaungshwe yesterday and met with some of the monks to give them photos of the trip we took together to Kakku last year. I also gave Pyinya Sawda, one of the novice monks in residence, a copy of the book that has him pictured on the cover. I also passed out photos to the kids and novice monks in Tat Ein village, a task which is always a bit … chaotic. But fun. The monk population has dropped considerably, with only about 20 novices currently at the monastery. But as always they were a charming bunch.

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I actually arrived here four days ago with a group of children and fathers from 90th Street in Mandalay. On the way here we stopped at a mammoth cave about an hour outside of Taunggyi, then saw a few places in that town, and finally arrived in Nyaungshwe. I stayed at a hotel in town while the rest of group shacked up at a local monastery. My friend Ma Ma Aye had made arrangements for the group to stay at the roomy Yangon Kyaung monastery, but one of the drivers knew someone with connections at yet another monastery, so that’s where they stayed. And to file under the “It’s a Small World” bin, they stayed at … Tat Ein Monastery. Too bizarre of a coincidence!

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With the group from Mandalay  I also spent a full day touring spots around Inle Lake. I’d been there many times, but this was the first time that most of of the kids, or the adults, had seen the lake so it was fun to gauge their reactions to everything. Now if I can just get rid of this cold that I caught, life will be wonderful again!

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