Day 14 : 4th October 2019
Before starting the days log, let me capture some clarification and information provided by one of the fellow travelers. ° Bagan temples were built between 11-13th century CE and not BCE as incorrectly captured. ° The paste which the locals apply on their face comes from a tree called Pathak. Believe it’s there in India as well but never seen such usage. We might be rich enough to use Sandalwood instead of any other alternatives. We had to travel around 330 km and decided to start early. Distance is not an issue but bringing some discipline for the rest of the journey matters and also to avoid any night riding.
We all were ready to start at 7 but our escort team delayed it by 15 minutes. We took the Google map help from them (shared our live location so that they can track us) and started our ride. It’s beautiful to ride in the morning and your body (possibly because of the rest we gave it on day 13 also played a part) didn’t ask any break and we continued till 90 kms without any stop. The roads were too good and we continued the same momentum till we hit the ghats.
The ghat section was not like the earlier one and it followed the snake form. Some portion of the roads were being constructed and slowed our momentum but this is one of the best ghat section I have traveled so far. Beautiful mountains and an excellent view of the valley below that and these two things remained constant throughout the ride.
Stopped couple of times to take videos and pictures and realized that we have reached good altitude because of the cold wind. Also noticed a couple of things while on the move:° locals love duck and I can see shops selling fried ducks for the travelers along the highway. ° Saw people standing and asking donation (by shaking the collection pot) from the people who goes by the road. Believe they are building some temples or pagodas and the donation is for the same.
Noble cause and I haven’t contributed anything so far and would be doing on seeing the next one tomorrow. ° Even the street dogs looks clean and healthier. We were on time and crossed multiple “planned cities” and reached the top. India needs to learn from this planned city concept. The city on top is called “Aung Pan” and don’t miss this place during your Myanmar visit. The place was really cold (in October) and could be Myanmar’s Ooty (400ft above sea level).
Given the excellent weather, we decided to have our lunch there itself and managed to assemble the entire team in one place for the first time. Escort team took us to an Indo-Burmese food place. They placed a bowl of fresh vegetables (and that includes small but full egg plants) and a bowl of some yellow colour liquid. It was a soup but tasted like “Dal”. I told Manish on intercom about my wish to have Indian food and here we were served with a tasty bowl of Dal. Blessed the restaurant staff and starting gulping the dal with rice and vegetables.
Love they way they arrange various assortments on the table and some (chilly paste) are really good. They amazed us further by placing a plate full of Indian sweets (elongated gulab janu, Mysore pak , badshahi etc..) and I requested others to stay away from the table. Love sweets and cannot resist Indian sweets.
We started descending and the roads became 4 lane and the beautiful view and full stomach didn’t allow me to thrust the throttle to the fullest. Manish was very upset with my slow riding and kept making fun of me through the intercom. An hour ride from Aung Pan is a city called “Inle” and that’s going to be our stop for the day. Another not to miss city and it is in the middle of mountains and very pleasant weather. We crossed one of the roads and were stopped by some youngsters.
We dodged them and moved further. Manish stopped and it was a toll collecting point. Our escort told us about it and we didn’t think it to be a casual toll post. We had to pay 15000 MYT (700 Indian rupees) and believe it is used for Inle Lake area maintenance or some temple support. We reached the hotel, parked our vehicle and headed towards the lake. The entire market area leading to the lake was bubbling with action and can see some fancy giant wheels also. Seems to be some Buddhist festival tomorrow and I believe it has some connection with Navratri.
Need to check on this as well. Inle Lake is the 2nd largest lake in Myanmar and a favorite attraction for tourist and a designated biosphere reserve. Hot air balloons or long single seat boats can be used to travel through the lake. Our tour is to see some of the villages on the lake and could see many patches (each one is a village) of houses. Each village has its own entry point and a water street and you can see people living without being bothered. Each hut or house is equipped with modern facilities (like electricity, TV etc.) now but they used to be self sufficient villages in the past. They are more comfortable with the water than the land.
Villages are separated by mangroves and they used small boats to travel between the villages. Could see some engaging in farming as well. Given the tourist attraction, I did see lots of good looking resorts adjacent to the villages and beautiful monasteries built in some of the villages. Our escort team took us to a specific village and we had been stopped by black commandos and believe they are taking some VVIPs to the area (one shopkeeper told me that the PM is in town) and they were carrying some really sophisticated weapons.
Once they left the area, we reached one of the villages and it had all locally made artefacts. We also met people from Kayan community who are famous for covering their necks with brass coils. They spoke with us (hello and thank you) and posed for pictures. Gave them some donation (customary) and wondered how they live with that brass thingy throughout their life (cannot imagine myself sleeping with that) . Not only the necks, they had the same brass stuff around the calf. Interesting community but they are considered to be a minority in Myanmar. Was told that a good number of Kayan people moved to Thailand because of ill-treatment. Artefacts includes the paper umbrella (colourful and very pretty) and saw a person making one.
Nothing is brought from outside and everything is sourced within the village (including the paper and the colours). If you are interested in such unique and wonderful living style, then you need couple of days to go around the villages and understand. For sightseeing, you need less than half a day only.
We took our boat for the return ride and got stuck in water traffic. Unbelievable but it really happened. Our boatman took a detour and help of another local to clear the mangroves (learned that mangroves can be moved from one place to another without destroying them) and safely reached us to the shore. Took 30 more minutes more than the normal hour journey. So water is not a solution for the city traffic problem and that could also be misused… Tomorrow is the toughest day of the entire journey and we need to move closer to Thailand. Going to ride for close to 500 km and 50% through the ghats. Don’t know how we are going to make it but we decided to start at 6 am. Hope is the only thing we have in control now.