I have a lot of fun going around the southern east provinces with bi cycles or pick-ups. We first bike to the bus terminal in Yangon, a good hour from the city. This bus terminal is actually like a whole town, the biggest bus terminal seen so far! We take a bus to Thaton, from where we bike the next morning to the scenic Hpa-an.
We spend the rest of the day hiking the Hpa-Pu mount which offer nice view over the city and marvelous landscape aside the river! The village area around is a beautiful walk before sunset.
On Saturday the 1st of December, we start biking shortly after 7am towards Mwalamyine. We enjoy the red dirt roads and beautiful scenery. We stop to the huge Sadar cave with so many Buddha statues. It comes out on a lovely lake over rice paddies. Mwalamyine is much more active with many markets close to the river or higher under the big pagodas. Julien take the night train to Yangon because he flies the day after. I keep the bike for 2 more days.
I bike from Mwalamyine to the Nwa La Boo pagoda, 25km in the north. The pagoda is on the top of a hill and you have like 8km to get up, a 30min journey by truck. Although they say it is not possible, I do the ascent with the bike: very steeply up, but a pleasant way down hill! It takes me maybe 1 and ½ h up, from 9:30 to 11:00 so that I have 10min alone on the pagoda before the arrival of the next truck. While I am thinking to get down, a local big family invites the few foreigners around to share their lunch break on the temple! What a wonderful experience! So friendly! Tasty food and nice pictures! Downhill, I haven’t much time for picture break, the truck is coming closer. It pushes me to go faster: I stay in the front, so that I arrive a few minutes before. All the way down, it took me only 20min!
Back on the main road towards the north, after a few km, I jump into a truck which brings me in Kyatho, ca. 3hours (2-5 pm) and more than 100km (and 2000 Ks) on the roof of the pick-up: a marvelous way to enjoy the landscape. The last leg to Kinpun is under the sunset and by night!
The Golden Rock (Kyaiktiyo paya) is among the “must see” in Myanmar, and I dedicate the 3rd in the morning for it! This temple is very popular and regulated so it is not possible to go up by bike. I join the 1h truck before 1h walk up to the temple. More than the rock covered by gold, the impressive part is the masses in pilgrimage and so many touristic shops around!
By noon back in Kinpun, the buses to Bego try to double charge me because of the bike, so I prefer the less touristic way: I bike back to the junction in Kyatho and then get yet another pick-up to Bego where I arrive by 4pm! Just the time before sunset for a quick trip around the temples there, the bike being the best to do so!
The morning train brings me back to Yangon at 9:30. I arrange my ticket to Inlay, exchange some money and realize the crazy traffic jam in Yangon before giving the bike back by noon. Yangon might be the only Asian city without motorbikes (they are forbidden), so weird! And thus so many cars!