Pedaling north, first the ancient archaeological city of Bagan, and then to Mandalay.
Each day we are up early, riding with loaded bikes. We have been bucking the wind, and depending upon the hills, we make from 40 to 70 miles. The people along the way have been consistently helpful. At the end of the day, I wash myself, my clothes, and then sleep a solid 10 hours. Before I know it, it is time to be up and on the road again. It gets to be a habit.
The Myanmar government provides free, fresh water along all the roadsides, and Jeff and I take advantage of it. I try new food and drink along the way. Sometimes it does not agree with me, but it is thus far worth the risk. Every day has a new surprise, and it is a joy to have continuous serendipity.
A real problem we have is finding that the city we are in at the end of the day has no official guest home. The government does not permit foreigners to stay in non-sanctioned guest homes, so we must move on. There is no centralized guest house list, so this can be hit or miss. I will not ride my bike here at night for many safety issues. No road shoulders, and half the vehicles have no lights. So twice we have had to pay to have ourselves and bikes taken to the next guest house.
We arrive at Bagan: It is a city of 3000 pagodas, stupas, and payas. Most are alike, but some are incredibly ornate. This city is worth several days of visiting. I take a day trip to Mount Popa. Here, the Myanmarese do believe that 37 spirits (ghosts) reside, and that they need to make offerings to them. The climb to the top leaves me puffing.
Then Jeff and I set off for a 2-day vigorous ride to Mandalay. On the second day, we got separated. It was sunset and I was alone along a strange road. I started looking for an empty farm building where I could bivouac for the evening. I turned down a small road, but I find no suitable building. Then I see a Buddhist temple. As I pedal in, I am greeted by the monk. Before I could say anything, he says, “We wait for you,” with a twinkle in his eye. He leads me to my bed and gives me a bag of food. My I do love these Buddhist people.