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The Days 12-14 in Yangon

We’ve spent the last 3 days resting, relaxing and eating! We were both pretty shattered and it showed as Nick had a stomach bug and I got a bit of a cold.

We did some shopping, spent some time by the pool and visited the Shwedagon Pagoda.

For the last night we moved out of the Park Royal hotel to a great B&B called Bike World, who have been able to provide us with bike boxes for the trip home.

It’s been an amazing trip and it’s not really sunk in yet what we did. So many great memories 😀

Photos of Shwedagon Pagoda

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  Photos of Bike World

   

Day 11 – Hinthada to ….

We had a nice breakfast at the bus stand in Hinthada and then set off around 8am. The plan was to get to Nyaungdon.

 The hotel manager was helpful in showing us the road to Nyuangdon and the road out of Hinthada was nice and flat and we zipped along all set for a relatively easy day…

 

        
After 20miles or so we looked at the map and realised we’d taken the wrong road. We decided on a cross country off road track that looked like it would take us back on track. The road started off ok and the bikes and racks seemed to cope with it ok, but the road soon got worse. The best way to describe it is rocks covered in several inches of dust, so it was slow going.

 

Nick was navigating using a pre-downloaded Google map and I had a GPS Burma map on my phone but missed a turning and got a bit lost. It took us a while to slowly pick our way through a series of narrow dirt tracks and roads, but we got to do a couple of fun bridge crossings

  

 

  

 

By this time the sun was baking. We had a quick break in the shade and after what was around 20miles of off-road we finally hit Tarmac again. We found a shady place by a pagoda for the midday sun stop and devoured a whole fresh pineapple for lunch.

One thing we’ve seen a lot is teams of road workers laying new road, pretty much by hand with very little equipment. It’s been shocking to see that almost all the workers are young girls around the age of 10-15. It seems to us like child labour.

Edit on 26 Jan 2016 : See here for a good article on the situation

http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2016/jan/25/on-the-road-with-the-women-building-myanmar


 We plodded on, crossed back over the Ayerawaddy and then made the final stretch to Nyaungdon. Neither of us were too happy by this point, so we’re looking forward to a shower and some food.

 We did a loop of the town but only found one guest house which was full. We were about to leave when a guy turned up saying he was a policeman and asked us lots of questions. It was all a bit strange. He was dressed as a police man, seemed very young and was a mixture of helpful and dismissive of our situation. After a while he concluded that we would need to go to Yangon 50 miles away…which seemed a bit extreme. By this time it was dark so we decided to get some food (more rice and chicken) and decided we had 3 options (a) go to the police station and ask for help finding a room (b) get a taxi to Yangon (c) ride to Yangon.

We decided on (a) but on our way we were approached by another guy on a motorcycle who spoke decent English and offering to find a guesthouse. Nowhere had space and we ended up back at the original guesthouse! At this point this guy ( said his name was Vin Thi – but I probably have that wrong) also concluded that we should go to Yangon and that the police would tell us the same…so we decided to do it…we stocked up on Coke, red bull, biscuits and peanuts and set off with Vin Thi leading the way on his bike, as he insisted he show us the first junction.

We both had really good lights but it was a bit crazy riding 50miles through the Burmese countryside at night! We stopped a few times at garages.

When we got to Yangoon it took a while to find our hotel and we were glad they had rooms as were a day early.

It was 12.30pm and 200km and the longest day I’ve ever spent on the bike! We showered changed and had beer and room service 😀

Day 9 – Pyay to Myanaung

We got up early to get ahead of the heat and had a big breakfast. When we set off it was very cool and it was nice riding. We crossed the Ayerawaddy for the first time on the bridge just south of Pyay. The road was a bit hilly for a while but nothing too bad. When it flattened out we made good progress, although there was little shade and it became quite a slog in the late morning

   

  

 Myanaung is a tiny place. We found a basic guest house (called MMO) and got some food at a bar across the road and then got some rest. 
Sleeping was not so easy! Some of the temples seem to insist on broadcasting recordings of monks praying over loud speaker. Sometimes it’s just during the day, but this one kept going ALL night. It’s like the call to prayer that you get in Muslim countries but constantly! So I got about 1-2 hours sleep…which obviously not the best recovery during a bike trip. But things like this are pretty common on bike trips in my experience. Always one night where sleep doesn’t happen for one reason or another…

Day 10 – Myanaung to Hinthada 

Writing this at 5am from my comfortable bed after a full 8 hours sleep in a guest house in Hinthada (called The Lucky guest house). The loud speaker monk prayers have started up but thankfully they were not all night!!

Yesterday was a bit of a slog due to lack of sleep. We set off early again and made really good progress on flat and beautiful roads. We had a fun bridge crossing, a fun lunch at a road side place and a break from the sun in the middle of the day. Didn’t have much energy though.

  

We rolled into Hinthada mid afternoon and were searching for guest houses when a very kind man stopped on his motorbike and gave us each a bottle of cold water, and then helped us find a nice guest house 😀 we’ve generally found Burmese people to be very kind and generous.

  After some clothes washing we went and had a monster meal at a local restaurant and were in bed by 8pm…..Zzzzz

Day 7 – Aunglan to Pyay (90km)

We started with breakfast at a road side cafe with a bowl of Monhinga (which is a national dish of rice noodles in a spicy fish sauce with fried fritters)  
We then hit the road and made really good progress due to the flat road. We got really close to the river at points and the views were great

We arrived at Pyay around 1pm, and after a bit of searching found out hotel (The Lucky Dragon). We were both pretty hot and tired and very pleased to be done for the day. We had a great lunch with lots of beer and then rested all afternoon before a nice dinner at a Japanese restaurant.  

Looking forward to a relaxing rest day tomorrow 😀

Day 6 – Yenangyaung to Aunglan (~170km)

We started the day with a wonderful breakfast overlooking the river

Last night Eric told us that there was a new tarmaced road on our route that could save us some time. It would mean we could get to Aunglan in 1 day rather than 2, but would be a long day on the bike…and it was. We were on the road for over 12 hours with a 2 hour rest from 1-3pm to avoid the sun. ~170km in total we think.

 Our road side rest stop

The road was brutal. Constantly up and down, so it was slow going. The last 3 hours were in the dark, which was kinda fun, but since lorries travel at night here, was a little bit disconcerting. We have lights that mean we were lit up like Christmas trees though.

We are staying at the Win Lite guest house which is nice. What is not nice is the Buddist monk prayer that is being broadcast over load speaker continuously somewhere close. Luckily things all quietened down around 11.30pm


We had a nice dinner of chicken fried rice and beer across the road.

I’m hoping tomorrow will be a bit flatter and then as we’ve saved a day, we might have a rest day at Pyay 😀

Day 5 – Bagan to Yenangyaung (100km)

We had breakfast at 6am and were on the road just after 7am. It was cool enough that I put my fleece on. The road was flat as we headed out East towards Kuaukpadang and we made good progress. Then the road started to climb which slowed us down a bit.

After about 2hrs Nick remembered that he’d left his passport at the hotel. We pulled over at a small roadside shop and decided what to do. We phoned the hotel and after a while they said they would send a driver to our next hotel in Yenangyaung with the passport. My phone has 3G connection almost everywhere so we were able to email them the hotel details. It all seemed good so off we set once more.

Road side stop deciding what to do about the passport

 Nick calling the hotel about his passport

 Little friend we made at the stop

We had a brief rest at a shaded place further along the way and just as we were setting off we met 4 other cyclists doing the same route, so we chatted with them and cycled with them for a bit.

Pit stop

We had a chicken curry lunch and then found a lovely spot for our roadside rest from the midday sun, watching rural Burma go by. It was just across the road from a primary school so I went and had a look which caused a bit of commotion. Not sure many of the kids had seen a 6ft white man with red mirrored shades and cycling Lycra before…


Midday rest stop in the shade

The road to Yenangyaung was wonderful. Almost all tree lined shade, flat and with the temperature dropping we made good speed.

 

Took us a little while to find the guest house. One kind man got on his motorbike and showed us the way.

Lei Thar Gone guesthouse is amazing. It’s perched on a ridge overlooking the river and the sunset was lovely.

http://www.leithargone-guesthouse.com/

 Room at Lei Thar Gone guest house

Nick’s passport was waiting for him when he arrived (this would not happen in any western country I can think of). All due to the efforts of Eric at Lei Thar Gone and the staff at Zfreeti Hotel.

We had a lovely dinner at Lei That Gone and chatted with the owner Eric. The guesthouse supports a school for orphans and is a very impressive and worthwhile achievement.

For the first time I got 7 hours sleep all in a row!
 Sunset from Lei Thar Gone guest house

Day 4 – sightseeing in Bagan

We started the day with a sunrise hot air balloon ride over the temples of Bagan. We got picked up at 6am and driven to a field nearby where we had coffee and cakes, before the flight with a company called Oriental Ballooning.

Richard, our pilot, was a British guy, who spends half his year in Bagan flying balloons everyday in perfect weather. He did a great job of explaining the art of ballooning.

There were 21 balloons all taking off at the same time which was quite a sight once we were all up.

Filling the balloon with hot air

 
Taking off with all the other balloons

Unlike any other form of transport the balloon was super smooth. There was almost no sense of acceleration or wind.

  
  
  
The views were spectacular. There are literally thousands of temples (with doors) and pagodas (without doors) to see. And all flanked by the Ayerawaddy River.

Landing was quite fun. With 21 balloons all heading for the same field it was amazing how precisely the pilots were able to land them up in a line ( although a few got it wrong, with one landing in a tree…). After we landed we had champagne and fresh fruit…before heading back to the hotel where we had a huge breakfast 😀

We then hired a couple of electric bikes to scout round on to visit lots of temples, which was great fun. We had a chicken curry lunch at a nice place by the river.

 Nick found a place to get a massage on his back and I sat by the hotel pool for a while. We had dinner at a nice place called The Black Bamboo.

Warm up is now over. Contemplating the 8 days straight now on the bike. Getting in the miles before the sun gets hot is going to be key I think. We aim to leave by 6.30am. Shouldn’t be a problem as I’m writing this at 2am, having been woken up by some noisy hotel guests….