- Distance cycled: 61km
- Terrain: Flat
Waking to another fine breakfast, I take a moment to get in touch with Rachel, daughter of a friend of my mum’s friend 🙂 Rachel and her partner Steve both work for NGOs and recently moved to Yangon. I was super happy for the opportunity to reflect on life in Yangon as an expat.
Rachel replied almost instantly and had some great suggestions for the day ahead. An international photo exhibition acted as one example of increasing access to the outside world.
Hoping to meet Rachel and Steve that evening, I visited the exhibition before heading to the Dala ferry; a short (10 minute) hop across the river. The ferry was jam packed and quite an experience in its own right. Brightly dressed ladies parade an assortment of fresh fruit atop head-mounted platters.
Leaving the ferry with bike, hundreds of tuktuk drivers hustle for business. Although Dala is just a stones throw from downtown Yangon, it is a thousand miles away in terms of its atmosphere. Here, visitors are flung back in time into Myanmar’s true authentic self.
Some 28km over broken flat terrain (good by Burmese standards) sits the canal-side town of Twante. The cycling improves greatly halfway, where village life becomes more apparent. The kilometres pass by effortlessly and I arrive after just over one hour of riding.
Twante has a thriving centre and is renowned for its pottery; but take time to explore the canalside and maze of backstreets and its true charm is revealed. Friendly people, sparse houses amongst trees and plantations, kids laughing and playing. Those familiar with the 80s show ‘The A Team’ will remember their love for building wildly conceived contraptions. Here the smell of solder and fix / craft anything approach acts as a joyful reminder.
Leaving Twante sits a gigantic but deserted, slightly dilapidated pagoda. I whizz back to Dala glad of my detour. A worthy day trip indeed.
The food so far in Yangon has not been the best. I head out with hopes of something Vegetarian and Indian in origin. Success. On Merchant Rd, 2km from the SAT hostel, sits a veggie Nepali restaurant, a welcome break from Myanmar curry. Here I meet an Indian-born / US-based NGO worker, where we chat over some rather excellent thali with paratha.
That night, weeks of limited sleep catch up, swaying an opt out of drinks with Rachel and Steve. Instead I repaired the bike ahead of tomorrow’s departure and fall fast asleep by 10pm.
Another great day here in Burma.