Site Name: Mukyi Meditation Retreat (aka Mukyi Monastery)
Area: Mukyi, Mon State, Myanmar
This newly built meditation centre is so many things in one, a place of calm where you can come to mediate, accommodation which you can stay in whilst you meditate and the gateway to a newly discovered archaeological site.
The centre (which is still under construction) includes meditation areas, sleeping quarters (private rooms, but men and women sleep separately), a library and they’re even planning a pool a bit further down the line.
Set deep in nature, there are paths that take you on scenic walks through the Myanmar jungle and local villages. We stood on one of these paths for a while with dozens of butterflies fluttering around us. Not far from here are some rocks with ancient carvings that have been newly discovered. Nobody knows what they mean yet. There is also a cave network that they believe Japanese soldiers hid in when they retreated during World War 2. Don’t try to find these yourself as you will inevitably become lost in the jungle. There are local guides available to take you here – some of whom are currently learning English.
The man who runs this centre speaks English too, making it even more easy to stay here.
Amazingly, it is absolutely free to stay here. What’s the catch? There isn’t one. Buddhists believe in karma and that by doing good deeds they too will be rewarded. It would of course be a nice gesture if you could give karma a helping hand by donating to the centre or local causes – but that’s me speaking, not them.
You can reach here from Mawlamyine in around 30 minutes. The bus from Mawlamyine costs 1,600 kyats. A motorbike taxi here would cost 2,500. Your hotel can arrange a driver for you if you want a private option. If you prefer to drive yourself, GPS coordinates are 16.501709, 97.618309
This centre is run by Buddhists. While you don’t need to be Buddhist to stay, you should respect their ways. Don’t wear shoes inside, cover shoulders, knees and cleavage & no trying to sneak into your partner’s room at night. Alcohol is not allowed.
If you go to find the rock inscriptions wear closed in shoes and long trousers. I did not and ended up a bit scratched up. The trek is fine for anyone with a reasonable level of fitness, but is not suitable for the elderly or disabled. There are no proper paths and some slight climbing and rock scrambling is involved.