To Bagan - Burma by Bike

Today Alex changed the itinerary and instead of a 4 hour midday ride along a hot open tarmac road we cycled from the hotel in Monyua along a dirt track road running along the top of a levee. Well done Alex, good call, it was a brilliant ride.
Interesting head wear
If you’re used to cycling in Europe the best thing about Myanmar (and last year in India) is cycling through intensely farmed countryside where there are lots of people.  There is just so much to see and to be honest, seeing people busy in the fields and shifting stuff up and down the roads (in this case a track) is much more interesting culturally that visiting another Buddha (standing or reclining).  The welcome from the locals is special, provides a real buzz, and it’s hard to imagine that it will be still be there in 30 years time when the they’ve all gone to work in the city and when tourists have lost their novelty value.  
Nigel and the melon pickers

Not a good posture
The friendliness was best illustrated when Alex got us off our bikes and took us into a field to meet a group of young women (women as always, seem to do all the work) who were finishing off one crop (melons) and making way the next  (beans - already growing in the shade of the melons).  They were absolutely charming and happily stopped what they were doing to pose for pictures (they took some of us as well) and explain what the crops were. The only let-down was my slightly weird pose; the picture of Nigel is much better!
The road bridge over the River Chindwin
The last 12kms of the 50km ride were spent on the road we would have followed if Alex hadn’t made the change.  Crossing the huge bridge over the River Chindwin was quite an experience, but apart from that it was a much less interesting route.

After a wonderful lunch at Pakkoku we joined a boat for a 2 hour journey along the River Irrawaddy to Bagan.  Escaping the noise of the old and completely exposed diesel engine meant sitting in the sun on the bow of the boat, but with the views it wasn’t a difficult choice.  In Myanmar there is always plenty to see on the water and watching the fishermen, the tugs working the river or our own skipper who steered the boat sitting on the canopy under an umbrella, meant the journey seemed a quick one.
Our skipper

Fishing on the River Irrawaddy
We arrived at Bagan late afternoon and stayed there for three nights before return to Rangoon.

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