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Dala Township and its sister town of Twante are just across the Yangon River. The most pleasure to be had from Dala, Yangon’s antithesis, is simply in exploring the village at one’s own leisure and observing the daily life of the people that live there. Particularly of note is the slightly run-down pagoda in Dala, within which there is a mini Golden Rock and a crypt of a Buddhist saint, his robed and gilded body on show. One can also visit the workshop Chu Chu where plastic bags are upcycled into chic handicrafts.
The journey to Twante is enjoyable in itself, passing through a landscape of paddy fields, ambling cows and young men playing chinlone, a mix between volleyball and ‘keepy-uppy’. The main sight at Twante is the Shwesandaw Paya. This pagoda is 76 metres (249 feet) tall and is estimated to have been built by the Mon people 2, 500 years ago. At the Oh-Bo Pottery Sheds one can see some of the finest Myanmar pottery. You will be able to witness how the pots found all across the delta are created, some of these big enough for a small child to hide in.
Dala is amongst Myanmar’s poorest and plainest towns, with very little to appeal to the checklist Lonely Planet-clinging tourist. However, for the more sensitive and the more inquisitive traveller, Dala offers the opportunity to see a regular and authentic Burmese town going through its daily routine.
Dala, even more than Yangon, was ravaged by Cyclone Nargis in 2008 and the town is still recovering from the effects. When walking west along the road adjacent to the river just after disembarking in Dala, one will come to Kumakasid Monastery, a monastery which now acts as a school and home to hundreds of orphans who lost their parents in the cyclone. Inside the monastery there are a handful of classrooms where children in their smart white and green uniforms bellow out lessons.
Day Trip from Yangon
Only a ten to fifteen minute ferry trip from Pansodan Jetty in downtown Yangon will bring visitors to Dala Township just across the Yangon River. The ride offers good views of the city’s riverfront and one can enjoy the bustle from the cheery vendors on board the ferry. Screeching seagulls will flock around the craft as passengers toss away crumbs and titbits.
When travelling from Dala to Twante, Myanmar tourists can complete their day trip from Yangon with a detour to the Mwe Paya, which is situated in the middle of a large fish pond connected to the banks by four bridges. This is known as the ‘Snake Pagoda’ due to the Burmese Pythons that reside here, sleeping on the window sills and in the bowers of the tree in the centre. Nearby is a copy of the Mathabodi Pagoda in India where the Buddha is said to have gained enlightenment. The body of this pagoda is painted in rich crimson with golden summits. It looks utterly different to most of the pagodas in and around Yangon. The surrounding lawns are idyllic and spotted with tall toddy trees. Goats amble about, slumbering in the outbuildings and munching on all that they can find, including unattended sandals …
When in Twante, A short cruise on the water can offer the contrasting scenery of the chaotic activity of Yangon to the provincial calmness just beyond the city’s precincts. Time your ferry journey back to Yangon for dusk, when the setting sun infuses the Yangon river with a rich crimson.
Read more about a day trip to Dala and Twante here.