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Pyay, once an important trade town on the Irrawaddy River, is the second largest producer of rice. It is from this town that most boats travel north up the Irrawaddy to Bagan and Mandalay.


Shwesandaw pagoda is one of Myanmar’s biggest Buddhist pilgrimage sites where Gautama Buddha is alleged to have preached a sermon. The pagoda houses a Buddha’s hair. It is unique in having 2 umberellas (hti) at the top of the pagoda. Access is up a long flight of stairs or an elevator that goes up 6 floors. Excellent views over the town.

Looking east you can see an enormous seated Bhudda figure rising up from the treeline, called Sehtatgyi Paya.

Shwedaung, about 30 mins drive from Pyay, with its unique Buddha statue wearing gold plated glasses. It takes 9 monks to remove the sunglasses for cleaning every week. Next to the Buddha is a second pair of glasses. The sunglasses were added to the Buddha when a local nobleman decided to contribute his sunglasses in order to raise the belief of the locals through curiosity. The rumour that the Buddha could cure different diseases, especially eye disease was spread. The first pair of glasses was stolen and the second pair hidden inside the stature. A third pair was donated to the temple by a British officer whose wife had an eye disease. The woman was miraculously cured after the donation.


We then visited the local ancient library which has a good collection of ancient art. There was a pile of what appeared to be old books just dumped in the corner of the upstairs balcony.

At the entrance girls are selling small birds so you can set them free. Apparently, they are unable to fly far so the girls gather them again to resell their 'freedom'.

Pyay Gyi Temple (6th-7th AD) which is really a stupa. We were told that the Buddha visited this place and sat under the tree. The flowers open to form a 'covered seat'.

Night market