A Pilgrimage Story
Our interest was to visit various sites in Myanmar that S.N. Goenka had visited during a large pilgrimage in 2004, representing the teachers important to his lineage. We received a recommendation from three other Vipassana teachers who had traveled in Myanmar with Ko Kyaw Ngwe and Ma Khaing as their guides. While we have taken other guided trips before and since then, nothing compares to the competency and care provided by Ko Kyaw Ngwe and Ma Khaing. They paid close attention to us both in a professional as well as a personal manner.
In November 2011, after spending a few days in Yangon, we flew to Mandalay where we were met at the airport by Ko Kyaw Ngwe and Ma Khaing, and began our amazing journey with them. For the next eight days, we traveled together in their van without a care, since they had made all arrangements in advance. We traveled to Monywa and visited the hundreds of sitting Buddha statutes as well as the large standing Buddha and reclining Buddha. We were invited to serve the monks before dawn in Monywa at the home of a personal friend before hitting the road towards Ingyinbin and the monastery of Webu Sayadaw. There, U Mandala (a senior monk at the monastery who spoke English) treated us with warm hospitality. Ko Kyaw Ngwe and Ma Khaing had arranged for us to stay at the monastery and visit the nearby village and the hut where Webu Sayadaw meditated. We traveled to Sagaing Hills where we stayed a few days at Parekkhamma Caves and Monastery, as well as spent time walking the hills and visiting historic sites.
Ko Kyaw Ngwe and Ma Khaing returned us to Mandalay to spend a few days, where we visited various sites and did some requisite, as well as casual, shopping. Ko Kyaw Ngwe helped us purchase a few high-quality gongs at the Mahamuni Pagoda where Mr. Goenka would go as a child with his grandfather. Ma Khaing helped the women in the group shop for cloth and danaka (a paste-like substance used for skin care and for sunscreen). They invited us into to their home for dinner with their parents and daughters. They arranged for us to stay at a local hotel nearby, and even though breakfast was included with the lodging, Ma Khaing arrived early in the morning with a full homemade breakfast. She always made sure that we were well taken care of, whether the food we ate or the places we meditated. She even arranged for matching local outfits to be tailored for the ladies in the group, including an identical one for her!
We cannot say enough about the quality of care and attention to detail performed for us on this pilgrimage. Suffice it to say, we have no reservations recommending Ma Khaing for making travel arrangements in Myanmar. In large part due to her efforts, it is one of the few places that we truly want to return for a visit.
-- Greg and Pat Calhoun, Colorado, USA