Day 7 – Pyin Oo Lwin to Sagaging, via Gardens and Waterfalls

Woke up late (8.30am) after 7 hour bus journey and all night roomie sick fest. After repeat of great brekkie at Orchid Nan, I packed, saddled up and sauntered into town. Pyin (Myamo) is at its heart, not the prettiest of towns, however, its extensive markets are worth a mooch, if only to behold the locals’ ability to sustain 10 consecutive stalls selling rice and rice alone. The same goes for eggs, watermelons and just about any other edible artifact you can imagine here in Myanmar. Logic to us English folk is somewhat on its head and I’m all for it.
Having bumped into my roommate, a much more sprightly twenty something from London, I continued to Circular Road, home of the British colonial elite and their rather huge mansion houses, which feel somewhat out of place here in hard-up Myanmar. Amongst them, the Candacraig Hotel. Now empty, the caretaker kindly let me in for a snoop. What a grand old place it must have been. A turretted building with perfect gardens, crumbling tennis courts outside, the finest teak wood, chandeliers now barely clasping to the ceiling.
Onwards to the national botanical gardens. Actually, more forest than garden. Quite the draw for a forest boy such as myself. After paying the 5000 kyat entry fee, I pulled up in hope of ice cream. There was none. Whilst I love this country dearly, what kind of 35 degrees in Winter place has not fallen completely head over heals in love with ice cream?! Sort it out Myanmar, please 🙂
Bike locked up, I turned to find my roomate once again. My shadow for the day. A lovely man, who was a real pleasure to hang out with for a few hours. The botanical gardens were beautiful, tranquil and well worth a visit if you’re in this neck of the woods.
Time was pressing on. Time to go. Thankfully downhill.
A few miles down the road, across the highway and 3 more down a steeper pot holled track, lay the descent to Anesakhan falls, the place Chris had almost been stretchered up a mountain by 4 ladies several days earlier.
Arriving rushed at 3.30pm, hoping to avoid darkness at the end of my ride, I was immediately approached by a local girl demanding money. I didn’t there was no entry fee, but she didn’t seem to want to let me past. Foolishly I presented her with 5000 kyat. Soon after, it became apparant the money was for guiding services. Some embarassment and kind gestering later, kyat returned, minus 1000 for her troubles (in this case, terribly sorry, but in the politest possible way, please would you kindly bugger off).
The waterfall itself was 20 minutes hike down a steep track, but well worth every step. By far the most beautiful I’ve seen. After a quick chat with 2 British girls (one travelling solo aged just 17), I stumbled back up the mountain as fast as my legs would carry me.
The road back toward Mandalay was incredible…or at least the first half. Swooping off cambered descents lit by glimmering evening light, accompanied by distant mountain views. Max speed 40mph, overtaking overladen bikes carrying rice, goats, even bikes on the back of bikes. So much fun. Then came the relentless menagerie of road building, quarrying, dust and trucks, bound for who knows where.
As the sun set over the Mandalay horizon, I had 20km left to reach Sagaging, my home for the night. Some 10km later, under torchlight, a motorbike pulled alongside me. Where are you going? Dark, dimly lit and impossible to see the man behind the voice. However, generally speaking people here are so damn lovely and just want to help. Indeed this was the case. In this instance, a lovely Burmese man, who lived 6km down the track, insisted on being my escort.
Arriving late, with only 2 hotel options in Sagaging, I opted for the hotel of the same name. An expensive option at $34. Nonetheless, the owner was amazingly accomodating, having been presented with this particular sweaty but smiling heap of dust and dirt.

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