12 November 2015
Slow off the mark this morning. The excuse is a debate about the route. The route I had planned has us returning the way we had come, descending back to the plain, before turning south towards Kyaukse. But, I had also pointed out that Pyin Oo Lwin possibly sets us up for an eastern route towards Inle Lake.
We also had a good feed before departure. Chapattis, mutton curry, vegetables, lime pickle. Pyin Oo Lwin seems to have a lot of Indian influence by dint of it having been a hill station during British-run Burma.
So, we decide to head for the eastern route. We descend from Pyin Oo Lwin, looking for a turn off that will take us on back roads over to highway 43. When we find it, we manage about a kilometre before we give up and retrace our steps back to the main road. Surface was a laugh. We knew it would be dirt, but it's an especially sharp rock-strewn dirt track.
We decide to carry on east on the main road, highway 3, and then turn south on road 43 bound for Taung Kham. At the turn off, we have about 30km left to ride, and two hours of daylight in which to do it... nah, let's just crash here: Naung Khio.
Sunny today - no rain at all.
So what's Myanmar like? Green, undeveloped. Mandalay is on the Irrawaddy plain, just east of the river itself, but we've ridden up into the mountains. The mountains are not especially high, but we get occasional views across cultivated valleys. Traffic is busy, as we're on the Mandalay-Lashio road, which ultimately heads to China, which I'm guessing is Myanmar's biggest trading partner. Settlements are basic, but there's business/infrastructure even in the smaller places. Comparing with other Southeast Asian countries, it's probably most akin to Vietnam: haphazard and ramshackle, but underpinned by commerce and a large population.
65km, 3hr20, 19.3km/h