Pindaya - The heart of The Lost Tea Company!
At the heart of the Lost Tea company is the town of Pindaya, situated in southern Shan State
We are delighted to call this picturesque town home with the Lost Tea Company office based in the Elephant head quarter.
For anyone who has been lucky enough to visit will understand just how easy it was for us to fall in love with the place - the kindness of the people who live there, the steep green hillside rising out of the town, Pagodas dotted intermittently, the lake with lovely teashops/eateries surrounding it & of course the new football ground – the perfect place to spend your Sunday afternoons
We've asked our good friend and local journalist to write a quick article about Pindaya.
Take it away Sayar Kyi:
Pindaya is nestled in a valley in Southern Shan State not far from the famous Inle Lake. Tea and ginger is grown on the hills that surround the town and broad banyan trees are peppered across the festival field that leads up to the celebrated Shwe Umin “Golden Cave” Pagoda – an important pilgrimage site for Buddhists.
Pindaya is centred around a small lake. At the northeastern corner of the lake the stupas of Zay Ti Gyi twinkle. In the northwestern corner is the morning market which sprawls out on to the surrounding roads every five days when villages from the mountains come down to trade.
Situated at 3,880 feet above sea level, Pindaya is part of the Danu autonomous region in
Southern Shan State. As with the neighbouring towns of Kalaw to the southeast, Yat Saut in the north and its sister town Ywangan in the west, Pindaya is home to a variety of ethnic groups living peacefully together. The majority of the people in Pindaya are Danu. The two next most populous ethnic groups are the Taung Yoe and Pa-O. In Pindaya you will also come across people of the Palaung, Shan and Bamar.
Pindaya is made up of 12 urban districts and 29 village groups with 138 villages in total. Almost all of the population practice Theravada Buddhism and, as is common throughout Myanmar, they are notoriously generous with donations. The locals have a saying: “Have ten cents, donate one cent.”
Arriving in Pindaya, the first thing a traveller will notice is the central Pone Taloke Lake. The lake is over 84 acres wide and is indispensable for many local families. Particularly in the morning and evening you will see townsfolk using the lake to bathe themselves and to do their laundry. It is rumoured that the water of the lake turns bathers beautiful. It is frowned upon for travelers to test this out.
There are three limestone caves in the western mountain ranges of Pindaya. Scientific research estimates that the southernmost cave was naturally formed some 2 billion years ago. The cave extends for 490 feet and contains 8,094 images of Buddha as well as with inscriptions and stalagmites protruding up from the cave floor. At the entrance of the cave is the ancient Shwe U Min Pagoda. According to myth, Prince Kummabhaya (Thudana) battled a great spider that lived in the cave and had taken hostage seven princess sisters. Upon smiting the spider with his bow and arrow the prince is to have exclaimed “Pindaya!” meaning “I have captured the spider!”. The town has been known by that name ever since.
Running north of Pindaya at Yay Phyu village is the Zawgyi Creek, popular in fine weather with locals and travellers picnicking, playing football and swimming in the water. The 90-year old Shit Taung Lay Daung Pagoda and the Kone Lone Hsin San Monastery are also popular places to visit when in Pindaya. Trekking through the tea fields along the “Danu Trails” has become very popular with travellers in recent years – especially as places such as Kalaw and Inle have become busy with tourists.
The Danu, Daung Yoe, Shan, Pa-O and Palaung people of Pindaya highly value their traditional heritage. This can be seen in their everyday dress and habits as well as the many
festivals sprinkled throughout the year. The Ta Baung Buddhist religious celebration is held from the 11th day of the Ta Baung month (normally corresponding with March in the Gregorian calendar) to the first day of next Burmese month at the Shwe U Min Pagoda Cave. During the celebration the locals provide golden robes, flowers, water and oil candles to the Buddha images as well as other precious gifts so to gain merit and as a wish for health, prosperity and favorable weather conditions during harvesting season. Following the festival, they will often donate rice and food produced from their own farms to the monks at the monasteries.
Agriculture is the main business of Pindaya. The people mainly grow throughout the monsoon season (June – October) but the villagers of War Pyar and San Thee Kone are able to cultivate in the dry months relying on water from the Zawgyi River. Tea is the most commonly grown crop but others such as coffee, ginger, cauliflower, potato, garlic, onion, tomato, eggplant and other beans are also produced in the fields. Oilseeds such as groundnut, sunflower and fruits such as avocado, mango and orange are also harvested in orchards and groves throughout the region.
But for sure, the main export of Pindaya is tea – both to be dried and drunk and to be fermented for the edible and incredibly popular tea-leaf salad. Tea leaves are usually picked in June when the bush reaches three years of age. Tea leaves that are harvested during the hot season (March – May) are natively known as “Shwe Pi Oo Moe Lut” tea leaves. The shorter sprouts called “Moe Lat Phat” are picked during the monsoon. Tea leaves with thin sprouts picked in winter (November – February) are called “Hnin Tat” which can be produced as dry and raw tea leaves. These leaves can be reused up to three times with any kind of water without taking away the original taste. Pindaya tea leaves are loved by many and due to the quality of the leaf it is commonly exported abroad. Our friends at Sampan Travel regularly journey to Pindaya. You can read more about the region here: https://www.sampantravel.com/pindaya/