Nyaung Shwe, Myanmar
Thanks to our ‘big push’ to the capital of Naypyitaw (see last entry), we were able to attack the next set of hills at a moderate pace. In fact, Soe encouraged us to go past the van if we felt the need, although we rarely did. We climbed relentlessly around the valley passing loaded lorries and buses in 1st and 2nd gear. Driving required a lot of concentration, but apparently the views were pretty amazing too.
We stopped for some lunch at a restaurant that specialised in ‘cooling your car down’ whilst you ate. This seemed to involve hosing gallons of cold water into the engine bay and brakes. Obviously this would cool things down but I couldn’t see how this would benefit the metallurgy of some rather critical parts. I made sure the hose-jockeys let Stein cool down as nature intended.
Our destination was the, oft visited, Inle Lake and its inhabitants. After our third day on the road, this was to be our first chance to shine as chauffeured and guided tourists. After a good feed (Shan buffet-style) and a night’s rest we jumped in a long boat with Soe and Htoo. Our captain guided us south to the head of the lake then we pottered our day away doing the tourist dot-to-dot. Everything was ideal because we didn’t have to think about driving the bike!
Inle lake is the second largest lake in Myanmar and is about 22km long and 10km wide. It is mostly between 2m to 4m deep and thousands of people live on, around and in it. It is responsible for a lot of food production and also local handicrafts; lotus fibre weaving, cheroot construction, puppet making, boat building (ok that isn’t really a handicraft), etc. It also produces a large proportion of Myanmar’s tomatoes on its floating gardens. Plus it is full of weird guys trying to row with one leg.
Shattered from our day of learning about and seeing stuff, we thought we’d get to kick back and relax with a beer. Soe, however, had other plans. He correctly pointed out that we had some chores to do for our BIG day tomorrow. So we ran around town trying to find a lot of American dollars and popped in to a studio to have a private photo shoot. This shit was about to get real!