Few can argue that Myanmar is a gem of a destination. We explore at handle bar level this welcoming land, which until recently, has been relatively undiscovered by westerners. After flying to Mandalay, our cycling adventure starts in earnest with a ride on the outskirts before returning by boat on the Irrawaddy River. Continuing through timeless villages, we observe traditional lifestyles enroute to Bagan, home to one of the finest collection of temples in South East Asia. Exploring at a gentle pace, this magnificent region uncovers ancient pagodas and temples of a bygone era with intricate carvings, murals and astonishing architecture. At sacred Mount Popa the abode of 'Nats', known as 'Spirits of Ancient Ancestors' we leave our bikes and climb the 700 steps for stunning panoramic views from the golden temple at its summit. Last but not least, Inle Lake with its bustling local markets, handicrafts and stilted villages provides a perfect and relaxing conclusion to this inspiring adventure.
|DAY 1||Arrive Yangon|
|DAY 2||Fly to Mandalay|
|DAY 3||Cycle outskirts of Mandalay (65km)|
|DAY 4||Cycle and transfer to Meiktila (45km)|
|DAY 5||Cycle to Mt Popa (50-70km)|
|DAY 6||Mt Popa to Bagan (45km)|
|DAY 8||Fly to Heho and drive to Inle Lake cycle (35km)|
|DAY 9||In Inle Lake|
|DAY 10||Drive to Heho, fly to Yangon and visit Shwedagon Pagoda|
|DAY 11||In Yangon, trip concludes|
In my mind the trip was in 2 segments. The Yangon part at the beginning. We arrived two days before the tour which was great for us to become accustomed to....well, everything really! Yangon had a lot to offer culturally and our guide Omar was very informative and efficient. The second phase was like another Myanmar world. The riding, the villages and the smiling people, the countryside and the history.The locals all stopped to stare but we felt as though we were part of it all as we viewed from our handlebars, smelled, listened and said the obligatory 'mingalar par'. Our guide Linn was outstanding. Wise beyond his 26 years having previously been a monk, been to university and worked as a chef. He was very engaging and absolutely committed to educating us but he was also able to have fun and share a joke.
I left Myanmar fulfilled that I had tasted a little of the real place.