Dubbed the Snake Monastery, the source of its name soon becomes apparent once visitors enter the shrine dedicated to the serpent that lives within. Slithering free in a large chamber that contains both Buddhist statues and visiting devotees is an exceedingly large Burmese python.
Thought to be the reincarnation of a former abbot, the snake is reputed to be over a century old. It was last measured at just over five meters in length and easily is as thick as an average human thigh. Should the snake need to be moved, it takes at least five monks to transport the serpent.
Given its status as a former monk, the python is often left offerings by pilgrims who come by the monastery, the offerings frequently being financial support or food. It is possible for foreigners to come close enough to touch the python, though some may settle for the safe but no less impressive option of watching it get fed, which usually involves the snake swallowing a helpless whole chicken.