The outside temperature is 42 degrees Celsius. It feels like 47 according to Accuweather, but this is not true! It feels no more than 45 degrees. Under the sun or in the shade – it does not matter. In fact it matters – when under the sun, your shadow desperately strives to hide under you.
Under the above described weather conditions we decided to do the most ordinary thing – to rent bicycles and dive into the swarm of Mandalay (second largest city with a population over one million). And we did this exercise for 2 consecutive days.
Swarm means wide streets, completely flooded by countless trucks, buses, vans and many, believe me – many motorbikes. Here and there, an old lady with her old bicycle is trying to cross the mad traffic, where rules the Asia old law – the bigger one has the priority. In other words – complete chaos, which functions well for some strange reason. Beeping is everywhere, presumably warning, but from time to time quite shocking. In the so described mad traffic, the bicycle is a little, annoying and absolutely deprived of rights vehicle according to the local rules and all other vehicles need to demonstrate their superiority by beeping. Without any idea what’s going to happen next, we leap onto two urban bikes without gears and dive in the above described traffic. In the beginning it was scary then we got used to it. Regardless of the fact that everyone shows its superiority over your vehicle, everyone protects you like the elder brother protects his sibling. After a certain moment, it even became a great fun. Once again we realized that maybe our greatest pleasure when travelling around the world is to explore the life of locals while pedaling.
It is most real in the smallest and most obscure streets. More real it becomes when you stop to drink a beer with the locals.
The next day, feeling inspired, we joined a tour in the outskirts of the city that ends at sunset at U-Bein bridge, the longest teak bridge in the world and most photographed (and photogenic) sightseeing in Burma. With bicycles, of course! Time of departure – 12:45 PM. You will say it is crazy, especially when the outside temperature is 42 degrees that feels like 47, but we have already gained experience, especially one of us that had fever the previous night. 🙂
Thoroughly smeared with sun cream protection 50, equipped with all kinds of anti-sun gadgets, absolute minimum of 2 liters of water per person and without shadow (we left it in the guesthouse to protect it from getting sunstroke) we are waiting for our guide. The small van comes at the right time (a bit of transportation assistance while we get out of the town). We are the only enthusiasts. May be because it is low season (peak of the summer), but we are content. That is the best part of the travelling outside the tourist season – you can fully dip into the local lifestyle. It was three of us, Pew – our guide and us.
And the adventure began – we rode along villages where the clock has stopped 100 years ago, we rode on dusty roads between temples and stupas built 1000 years ago and banana trees planted 1 year ago, we ate fried grass and other unidentified vegetables (I hope it was vegetables) with locals, we had a puncture, we observed how the locals make pickled green mango, bowls for the monks (in Burma there are 800 thousand monks compared to the entire population of 60 million) , we made a picnic in a boat in the middle of the lake while enjoying the photogenic bridge at sunset ..
After sunset and a large portion of pictures, after 7 hours of adventures in the oven, we finished this unforgettable day with dinner at a local restaurant with the locals. The ingredients of our forthcoming dish were exposed in a counter and after making our choice, they jumped happily on the barbecue, and a few moments later, they appeared in our plates, tasty and delicious, lavishly poured with a good quantity of local beer. The funny thing with the beer was that empty mugs are not taken away from the table, and when paying the bill, the waiter counted them. So there were tables with dozens of empty glasses and waiters continue to bring new and new, chilled in a freezer. Women usually don’t visit places like that, only one Bulgarian :). And to close the beer issue, at lunch time the same day we found even more local pub where we had one of the great dark beers forever ever. Burma really surprised us.
After the good beer experience we hopped on the bus going to a famous mountain town, where we intend to do trekking for 2-3 days. This story – in the next Travel notes.