Monday 20 February – Mandalay to Mt Popa

This 70 km ride began after a drive to the Irrawaddy where we and bikes were transported across the river by boat to Ava a previous capital with visible remnants of walls and temples. Lots of horse drawn vehicles were waiting for tourists to come the way we came and go across the river – one of the must do experiences of Mandalay we are told!

For the first 20 km we rode through villages but then the remainder of the ride was through desert like landscape – dry, scrappy vegetation, no shade, few villages, a large new industrial complex waiting to happen in the middle of nowhere, the Myanmar equivalent of Think Big perhaps, palm trees yielding palm sugar, cotton, tobacco, beans, and millet, and very hot, around 35 degrees. I flagged the ride at this stage because of the heat and rode in comfort in the air-conditioned van but Greg pushed himself and rode the whole distance, enjoying the challenge but feeling absolutely stuffed at the end. A highlight for me was the delicious ++ coconut doughnuts at the morning tea stop.

We transferred to van for a 100 km drive to Mt Popa Resort going through lots of road works and laborious sealing of the roads which were in poor repair. The resort is high on the side of a hill, the decor predominantly teak, with infinity pool, restaurant and some luxurious looking villas, for the rich and famous I suspect, although our unit was looking somewhat tired.

Myanmar is not a beautiful country but the way of life and the people and history are interesting. There is also a sameness about the food wherever we have been.

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