I found two very good reasons to stop and explore the little town of Pindaya. It’s in the picturesque Shan State in Myanmar, on the edge of a beautiful lake in a valley.
There is always something endlessly fascinating to me about a true local market. One that has nothing to do with tourism. The market (held every five days) in Pindaya is one of those markets, so we just had to stop and explore for a few hours. The variety of food stuffs was fascinating, from deep fried tofu to multicoloured rice crackers of many shapes, from fresh fish and fruit to dozens of varieties of dried fish.
My favourite though was what I called the “coconut crumpets”, being freshly made in front of us on a table that seemed filthy with splattered pancake mix, but the cooking pans themselves were very clean. The pancake batter included shredded coconut, and when they came out of the pan they were warm and light and full of holes like a crumpet, and absolutely delicious. Sadly we never found them anywhere else in Myanmar. If anyone has a recipe please let me know!
Browsing through the rest of the market was like having a nosy through a local home, there was clothing, bedding, electronics and plastics, music, a hairdresser, flowers and bicycles.
The Buddha Caves.
On a hill just outside Pindaya is the Shwe U Min pagoda, commonly know as the Buddha Caves. We drove part way up the hill to the entry hall to the pagoda. Bizarrely there is a giant fake spider guarding the entrance, based on a very old (pre buddhist) local fable. From there it’s about 300 steps up to the main part of the pagoda, which extends into the mountainside through numerous caves.
There are reputed to be 8000 buddha images in these caves – 4000 are “miniatures” forming a few larger sculptures, the other 4000 are from inches to metres in height, and a multiple of styles and ages. In one cave there is a maze, in other caves there are hidden meditation chambers. And being in caves is pleasantly cool compared to the temperature outside in the sun.
There’s a great sign at the entrance to the cave, which clearly meant to remind visitors to remove their shoes, proudly announcing “Foot-Wearing Prohibited”
We then walked the longer set of steps right to the bottom of the hill so that we could avoid walking out past the legs of the giant spider. At the bottom of the hill is also a shop selling homemade paper, beautifully made with petals and leaves scattered through it, a nice souvenir.