16.03.2013 - 16.03.2013 40 °C
After exploring the lake by boat yesterday, today we decided to rent some bicycles and go to see some less explored areas. We had been given an article from our friends who we met in Langkawi and then again in Yangon regarding a route that they are going to put on their website The Leaping Lemur so we decided to use this as our base.
Again for breakfast we had pancakes and honey, we are savouring it before we have to return to the dreaded eggs and then went out. We decided to go to the market and buy some food and have a picnic whilst we were out. As it was Saturday morning the market was absolutely rammed full of people. We shuffled our way around completely lost looking for the best produce. It was really quite claustrophobic with the amount of people, the tightly packed stalls and the tarpaulin over our heads meaning we had to duck. We went to a stall to by some tomatoes, Liam said he wanted 5, the lady showed 6 fingers so Liam said OK, the next thing he knew she was pilling tomatoes into a bag, it was way more than we wanted. Chelsea came to the rescue and explained we wanted 6 tomatoes not 600 kyat worth. The lady looked confused and took some out of the bag. We paid 200 kyat and still got way more than we wanted. We then bought some grapes which was far easier and went to a bakery where we managed to find a French baguette. The bakery is apparently also a café, gallery, hairdressers and salon according to the sign outside. We were happy with our baguette as we have not had real, unsweetened crusty bread in three months.
With our picnic in hand we went in the search of some bikes. We asked a place in town that had bike outside but the owner wasn’t there so we went back to our guest house as they advertise bike rentals. Chelsea asked but was told the bikes are in really bad condition so she went next door. Next door to Remember Inn a little old lady rents really good bikes for 1000Ks a day. She was really lovely and couldn’t speak a word of English but was full of smiles. We rented the bikes and headed off following the directions we had been given. We wanted to visit Maing Thauk village to see a bridge similar to U Bien that we missed due to being ill in Mandalay. It was easy enough to find just a lot further away than we expected. We excited Nyaung Shwe on the east side past a police station and took a right, then we followed this road for a good hour, at one point we stopped to ask a lady if we were going to right way has we did not expect to go this far. She said it was 16 miles further, we didn’t think this was right so carried on and it was only another fifteen minutes ride. Luckily it was all flat and we have become to really enjoy the cycling. It was through farmland with the mountains to our left. The downside been the immense heat and there was no shade on the roads so we were constantly in the sun. It was so hot at one point that the tarmac on the road had started to melt. We rode along a narrow road mostly past farmers’ fields and the occasional small village until we came to Maing Thauk. The village was beautiful set in a valley surrounded by mountains and had a section of Inle Lake running through it where the occasional boat would come past. The bridge is amazing if a little rickety. It is quite long and separates the land part of the village to the homes on the water. We walked for a while and then found a sheltered section on the bridge and sat and had our picnic. It was completely silent apart from the occasional boat and we had a great view off all the huts of the village, the mountains and the lake. We sat there for a long time admiring the view and relaxing, we ate our picnic, sharing some of the grapes with some local kids that walked past. It was picture perfect.
We only left this village as we had planned to visit a vineyard that is next to Inle Lake. We had been told about it before we got here and had been looking forward to it since. We had to ride most of the way back, luckily the midday heat had resided somewhat. The vineyard is called Red Mountain and produces several type of wine. It is sat on a hill that we were unable to climb on the bikes had to get off and push. The views from the top though were amazing; you can see the entire valley, with mountains and the lake on the left with the town on the right. It was around 3pm when we got there and it was very quiet so we got a great table at the front so we could appreciate the view, and we decided to stay until sunset.
To fill the three hours wait we decided to have a tasting of the wine. They offer a taster for 2000 kyat each where you can try four wines, Sauvignon Blanc, Inle Rose, Shiraz and sweeter white called the Last harvest. We got a small glass of each and was given a small booklet explaining the wines. Chelsea favourites were the Sauvignon Blanc and the Rose, Liam preferred the Sauvignon Blanc and the Shiraz. After the tasting we were still an hour shy of sunset so decided as it was our last real sightseeing day in Myanmar to celebrate and get a bottle, we chose the Sauvignon Blanc. We sat there until gone 6pm, talking, drinking wine and looking at the sunset over the valley; it was a great ending to the day.
Apart from the hair raising ride back in the dark the rest of the evening was uneventful. We had a meal near our hotel after returning the bikes then came back to our room. Our meal was quite nice. Chelsea had a potato curry with rice and Liam had pork noodles. We are exhausted, and a little sunburnt after today (Liam has managed to burn the back of his left hand only). Tomorrow we get an overnight bus to Yangon where we will spend the 18th before flying back to Thailand on the 19th. No plans for tomorrow apart from some relaxation and maybe a visit to the café/hairdresser/salon/bakery.