Monday, September 1st 2014

Saddar Cave or Hell on Earth

 “Hell on Earth” according to Lonely Planet ;-)

After coming back from the monastery on Mt Zwegabin to our guest house in Hpa An we were pretty tired but we had still almost full day ahead of us, and I decided to pay a visit the Saddan cave. Other sights around include temples, monasteries, stupas and nat, by that time I have had enough of those.

I took a pick up to a nearby village travelling on its roof with local people. Some of them were seriously fucked up by betel and kept asking me If i did not want to join the frenzy club yet. Look into his eyes….horror ;-)))

travelling on a roof of a pick up

travelling on a roof of a pick up

The ride was windy, dusty & a bit rainy, but it was fun to be on the roof. Next – to get a moto taxi to the cave. Once I got off the pick up, i got surrounded by drivers. Price? – 5 000Ks, both ways plus waiting time. What??? The guy at the hotel said – 2 000Ks….After negotiations, the price dropped down only to 4 000Ks…no way, i just walked away. Surprisingly i started walking in the direction of the cave but did not know that yet. One of the drivers chased me and offered 3 000Ks, i continued walking. He chased me again and we agreed upon 2 000Ks, both way plus waiting time. Happily having arrived to the cave I faced two white elephants and staircase leading inside.

The main entrance to Saddan Cave

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The entrance to the cave itself if occupied by buddhas, stupas and golden frescoes. The are already buildings next to the entrance which look like a monastery, here I met a couple of monks. I wonder whether they are going to introduce payment to enter this “holy cave”.

Buddhas at the entrance to Saddan cave

Buddhas at the entrance to Saddan cave

Buddhas at the entrance to Saddan cave

Buddhas at the entrance to Saddan cave

Wall frescoes

Wall frescoes

Stupa in the cave

Stupa in the cave

100 meters away from the stupa it became pitch dark and I had to use my head lamp. The cave is quite damp, its floor is wet slippery mud. I had to be quite careful while walking as my feet were “dancing away” in different directions in the darkness. The cave is quite huge. There are some “rooms” which are the size of a medium sized church with the ceiling hiding in the dark. The light from my head lamp could not reach it in some places.

Stairs into the abyss

Stairs into the abyss

As I came alone, i had to find my way alone.  I saw lamps hanging along the way but they were off. I learn later that the lamps will be on, if you come with a guide or a tour. It might be easier, but definitively not so fun as walking alone in the darkness of this creepy place. The cave is full of stalagmites and stalactites standing and hanging around.

Stalactites

Stalactites

Stalagmites

Stalagmites

cave walls

other cave structures

Two thirds of the way through the cave there is an opening with some light. From here it will take you another 10-15 minutes to reach the end of the cave, which leads to a small lake.

A ray of light in the dark

A ray of light in the dark

Not far from the end you will come to this so called “Hell on Earth”. It is a hall with high ceiling full of bats which scream like crazy somewhere up in the darkness. It is quite creepy. But once you get used to the sound it does not seem so scary. I have made a video just to record the sound of these screaming creature for you to feel the atmosphere of complete darkness and this sound.


YouTube Direkt

A bit of walking and you will arrive at the lake. When I came there were several people with boats and decided to take a boat ride for 500Ks.

Exit to the lake

Exit to the lake

The captain of the boat was a smiling old man with a towel on his head ;-) No wonder he was so smiley because he was chewing on betel.

Boat ride on the lake

Boat ride on the lake

The boat took me through a cave(see the video below) to the other part of the lake where met a couple of fishermen. A father and a son. When we were floating out of the cave I caught on my camera the moment when the father was throwing his net into the water. We greeted each other, they were smiley as well. Betel or just being friendly? You never know in Burma.

Fishermen - father and son

Fishermen – father and son

 


YouTube Direkt

After the boat trip we returned to the cave and headed back.


YouTube Direkt

 On the way back the cave was already lit. All the lamp I had seen before were on and it was much easier to walk. I even did not  need my head lamp anymore. First I could not understand, but then started meeting groups of tourists with guides. I met at least three different groups. The cave was not that scary dark inferno full of screaming bats, it was full of tourists.

Strangely all these people were barefoot. I could not understand why the hell all of them were walking in wet slippery mud without shoes.  At some point a guy told me that I could not be there (in the dirty cave) in my shoes. I was puzzled. Once I left the cave and was walking down the stairs I saw dozens of pairs of shoes….Now it dawned on me, that this is a “holy” cave and I was supposed to be barefoot. Wait a minute – this is not a temple or a monastery? And do I really have to walk in wet mud? Besides I met two monks upon entering the cave, they said nothing about my shoes…

I still don’t understand why would they require visitors to walk barefoot in the mud. But if you decide to go there with a guide or without you should be ready to this.

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6 Comments on “Saddar Cave or Hell on Earth”

  1. I think people being smiley and friendly do not relate to betel. Without chewing betel our people will smile to tourist or greet to them with “hello”. I have never been to this cave and even no knowledge of this cave until i read your post. Shame on me as a Myanmar citizen. I will definitely check this out if i have chance in future.

    1. Yes, it was mostly a joke about the guy on the picture. But I know that many people are genuinely friendly and many greeted us with a smile or hello. Just too many people chew betel in my opinion.
      You should visit the cave, it is quite interesting. There are some other caves around Hpa An, which I missed to visit. I am sure they must be interesting as well.

      1. How did you know about this cave? Recently one of my photographer friend uploaded the cave photo as well. I think he won the award for the picture.

        1. Soi brothers from Hpa An have info about all the sights around. They have a big map of sights on a wall.

  2. [...] and this is what most come for. We visited the monastery on Zwegabin mountain & I visited Saddar Cave. We hiked to the monastery from 5.30 am to 8.00 am in strong heat, but it was worth it. Views at [...]

  3. [...] to walk around a temple in shoes, or make people take off shoes and walk in dirt. I went to visit Saddar cave close to Hpa An, and tourists were requested to take off their shoes and walk some 700m in wet [...]

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