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Day 14. Myingyan to Bagan

Saturday, November 11, 2006 permalink [Permalink]

The road between Myingyan and Bagan was terrible. At certain times we had to push our bikes through almost knee deep sand.

First time on the trip we managed to get it all together and push off early in the morning (7:00).  The cool morning air was refreshing as it rushed past the skin. As our bodies warmed up Billy got over his early morning blues (not a morning person)

We managed to get a good 20km under the belt before the road turned difficult - any tarmac we had upon leaving Myingyan quickly changed to rubble.

From dust to dust to dust

The fine dust and sand covering the sharp rocks made steering the bikes at times impossible.  All of us took turns scrambling to unclip our pedals as the bikes fishtailed out of control on the unpredictable surface.

We passed through a number of dried up riverbeds which no doubt flow at full capacity during the wet season.  I guess that the water flow would cut off the many villages we passed through from the rest of civilization because there weren't any bridges.

Mucky was pushing it hard and always in the lead.  We all knew he would eventually blow a cylinder and be MIF (Mucky is fu#ked).

Up to our eyeballs in sand

Our progress slowed to a crawl, when on a number of occasions the road became a desert, the bikes sank up to the hubs in sand and we pushed forward on foot.  By this time the sun was starting to intensify and hydration became our preoccupation

The fine dust got into everything even taking a drink from the water bottle would deposit sand in your mouth.  Our rest stops increased in frequency as the sun, the road and the concentration required to keep the bike on track each took their toll - we were resting every 5km in the shade of a cool tree (if we could find one).

Elephant symphony

One of the villages we passed through had some sort of an elephant festival, with men wearing a huge elephant costume and two more men acting as the keepers.

They all jumped around and danced to the music - the elephant had remarkably recreated the motions and character of a live elephant, which added to the realism of their performance.  All around the small children yelled with excitement and ran for cover when the elephant charged their way - only to be pulled back in by the keepers before it could do any damage.

By 13:30 we were ecstatic because we sighted what looked to be real smooth road ahead - a couple of times I thought it might just be the sun playing tricks on me.  But sure enough the final 15km were all on perfect road, albeit slightly hilly.

Just as we suspected, the moment we hit good road MIF.  He dropped off to the back and was a hill behind us.  Dave and I had a good drag for the finish line and he beat me with his dirty cycling tricks (like running me off the road).

Through open gates into pagoda country

All around us we could already see hundreds of ancient pagodas, intricate brickwork and seductive architecture.  Tomorrow we'll be able to do it all justice.  After today’s ride and the budget hole we stayed in Mandalay, we decided to spoil ourselves to a nice hotel.  Upon entering through the walls of Old Bagan we headed for the River View Hotel.

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