Sunken monastery at Hpa-An

Rainy season can be some of the best and some of the worst times. On my trip to the sunken monastery I was blessed with the best. It can rain so hard during rainy season that it isn't even possible to leave the house. But when the clouds clear what we get is incredibly blue sky's and in the jungle the richest greens imaginable. All of this plus's fresh cool air and few crowds can make for truly unimaginable experiences. Renting a beat up old scooter for five bucks I head out into the afternoon sun in search of the legendary sunken monastery.

 

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Its several kilometers from town but the weather today is amazing. Arriving at the lake the road just gradually slopes down under water into the lake as if the road was designed that way. As you get within about a kilometer from the monastery there's just no more road, it's either swim or find a boat.

 

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I meet some locals and share a hand made canoe. Our guide takes us out and around the back side of the small mountain where the monastery is situated. Our crusty old Boat is slowly leaking but I'm a great swimmer if it comes to the boat sinking and besides the sun is shining and the water is warm.

 

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Arriving at the far side of the mountain, we disembark and climb through the jungle up about 20 meters to the cave entrance where a huge amount of Buddha's are chillin looking out at the late afternoon sun reflecting off the lake and through the trees.

 

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The cave goes right into the heart of the mountain and has several large Buddhas and some really amazing natural cave formations. One of which has the actual shape of a large Buddhist stupa. At the very end of the deepest cave, having walked, called and crouched to arrive at, there are three miniature golden Buddhas sitting under a small light while several small bats fly around the chamber as we sit and give a prayer.

 

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Walking the long way back out into the sun and down the front side of the mountain as the sun slips slowly down toward the horizon illuminating the clouds and reflecting on the water. And, as the golden tops of the temples literally glisten in the sun, we walk down toward the hot spring. 

 

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At the base of the trail, our path just disappears under water. The whole main level of the monastery is under water. Statues, walls, railings, rooms gardens and trees all under water. Stripping down to our shorts we jump in the water where some child monks are practicing kung fu in and around the water. 

 

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The water is fed from the lake but heated by the hotspring so it is really quite hot. Under the fading light of the afternoon I swim out to the middle and just float there for quite a while, sun on my face, blue sky above, sounds of kung fu monk kidlets splashing faintly. In the water in the distance.  

 

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As the sun gets lover in the sky the air cools and it's time to go back. I don't want to leave and I ask if I can sleep here but it is not allowed. Back in the canoe and back to the road. On the way back to town we get the best sunset reflecting off the rice fields and stop off at a farm restaurant for some curried goat. 

Amazing! 

 

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