J Paing
FALAM TOWNSHIP, Chin State — Were it not for its famous heart-shaped lake, Reh Khaw Da, a small town that lies near Burma’s northwestern border with India, would have been just another frontier town ensconced in southern part of the Chin Hills. Reh Khaw Da and its beautiful surrounding hillside can be reached after a 24-hours bus ride from Rangoon, which takes one past Mandalay, through Sagaing State and into the Chin Hills. After a short motorbike ride into the hills around Reh Khaw Da, the majestic view of the one-mile-long Rih Lake and its heart-shaped outline comes into sight. The gentle rolling hills around it are sparsely populated and the area is one of the most remote and least developed parts of Burma. [irrawaddy_gallery] According to local people, Rih Lake is a source of myths. Some said a girl turned into the lake after she was rescued by a spirit when her father tried to kill her on her stepmother’s request. Another legend has it that all souls destined to heaven must pass through the lake, and that the trees surrounding the lake have souls. On a recent chilly but sunny December morning, the lake seemed a perfect holiday spot. Some local tourists walked around its shores, taking snap shots while a lone fisherman cast his net in the middle of the lake. “I wish more people come here,” said one of the restaurant owners near the lake. He said the location of the lake and the bad infrastructure in the area makes it somewhat off-limits to visitors. “We only have international tourists occasionally, like once in a month,” he said.

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