Day 5. Bago (Pegu) to Taungoo
Getting directions and making our way to Bago was somwhat of a trip on the back of the truck. However we managed to get there in one piece.
Sleeping in seems to be getting habitual in these parts of the world.
Overnight we had a power cut and my camera didn't charge - let's hope I have enough juice for tomorrow.
At breakfast we found out that it will be next to impossible to find any accommodation in Phyu and we will need to continue further onto Taungoo. The problem was that it was about 134km to Taungoo and there was no way we could do it in these conditions. Our only options were to use the train (which we missed because we slept in), a bus which wouldn't be arriving till 2pm (getting us there past night fall) or to hire a taxi truck. We decided to hire a taxi truck to get us to Phyu and we would cycle the remainder.
Real men wear make-up
While checking out of the hotel, we noticed that the women behind the counter were applying Thanakha. They grind the bark of the Thanakha tree into a fine powder on a stone and then mix it with water. It doubles as a sunscreen and make up for women. We found out later that some men apply it before going to bed and it acts as a repairing agent for sun damaged skin.
Billy and Dave got their fix, when the kind clerk offered to show them how to apply it.
The taxi truck cost $55 - next destination: Phyu (Pyu). We departed at 8:30, had one stop for lunch and arrived in Phyu by 2pm.
It was a fantastic experience - until now these noisy trucks screamed past us loaded with people on the sides, roof and tray; now it was our turn.
As we held on for dear life the truck rattled over the bumpy roads and whizzed past local villages and towns. We witnessed life in Burma the local way. With our knees bent to absorb the shock of the uneven road surface. Every now and then Mucky would yelp like a little girl when the car bounced more than usual. Billy was in the cab with the driver, no doubt wanted front row seats with a cushion under his backside.
On the sides of the road we passed houses made of teak and constructed atop stilts, buffalo cooling off in the ponds lining the roads and rice fields in various stages of maturity stretching towards the horizon on the right and mountains to the left.
Hard Yakka: At gunpoint
What was hard to take in were the young boys and girls who were used to sort, grade and fit gravel stones into potholes by hand.
An armed guard would always stay close by supervising the group - extremely harsh conditions, in the middle of the day and seated on the heat absorbing black road. Their hands and faces black from the still hot tar-covered gravel.
We didn't believe that we'd arrived almost an hour earlier than expected. Someone on the side of the road mentioned that it may be around 35miles to Taungoo - so it looks like another good ride.
Mucks behaving badly
We were worried about Mucks and how he would cope with the hot conditions. We stuck to 19km/hr but even this was hard at places. Forming a peloton was exhausting and almost impossible because we scattered in all directions when the road became unpredictable. We took frequent stops, to rehydrate and rest.
Mucks: It's just all too much today
As the evening cooled we were able to make good time and arrived in Taungoo just after sunset. Sunsets here seem to take forever, so even though it was 30 mins past sunset (5:30 sunset) we were able to find the Myanmar Beauty Hotel.
The hotel is run by a doctor and his wife who took great care of us. The hotel is actually divided into four parts with the first section being built in 1995 and last in 2004. The whole structure is built in beautiful Teak and polished to perfection.
Travel plans change for the better
The good doctor divulged some current travel information about new roads and his recommendations of where to visit. He was quite enthusiastic that we visit the coast if we had time because not many tourists get a chance to explore those areas.
Dinner again, was fantastic - with desert being a smorgasbord of local fruits followed by some more local recon.