Myanmar – as Authorised

 

We need a guide to escort us through Myanmar. Aung San Suu Kyi’s party wins the elections. But the rules and regulations of the Qwasi-Military Regime are still in place. A government accredited agency will accompany foreigners that travel with their own vehicles.

Harry scouts around on the internet long before we leave home. He finds an agency that offers a government compliant service. Our original group, of 5, swells to 13. And the per person ‘guide’ cost comes down nicely.

So we have ‘company’ in Myanmar …. And ‘fantastic company’ it is!

Eleven people on 9 motorbikes. And a man and his dog Fido, in a camper van. We hail from the USA, Spain, Holland, Switzerland, Austria, and Australia and of course South Africa. Our guides are AK and Win and Choy and they do everything!

We ride along only ‘authorised roads’ to see only ‘authorised sites’ and stay in only ‘authorised hotels’. A government official rides along. This official changes as we enter difference provinces. Our AK and Win register us in and out of every overnight stop. There are 7 different authorities in every town. Realms of paperwork, follows us. Tourist police escort us out of some towns. At intermittent road checkpoints, they count down our 13 persons and 10 vehicles.

So we lose a little on the roundabouts but we gain a lot on the swings. We see only what are allowed to see. But we see it with a great bunch of people. And our guide, AK, gives deep insight in subtle ways.

Also, Harry and I, dumb down totally. With not a thought, for 3 weeks, to … How we will ride? What we will eat? Where we will sleep?

! It was Myanmarvellous !

Here is Myanmar; as Authorised!

 

Here is our group. Laura, Brennan, Jaime & Kenny in the forefront.

Here is our group. Laura, Brennan, Jaime & Kenny in the forefront.

 

00 01 P1050688 And here are Michelle & Jamie from the UK, Martin from Austria & Peter from the Netherlands.

And here are Michelle & Jamie from the UK, Martin from Austria & Peter from the Netherlands.

 

And Rein and Fido travelling together for a year in this campervan. Fido comes from a rescue centre in Serbia.

And Rein and Fido travelling together for a year in this campervan. Fido comes from a rescue centre in Serbia.

 

This is our guide Win. This lovely smile is permanently stuck to his face.

This is our guide Win. This lovely smile is permanently stuck to his face.

 

And this is AK. He is our age and shares with us his not-always-easy life in Myanmar. Here he enjoys tea with the customary assortment of nuts and seeds and spices.

And this is AK. He is our age and shares with us his not-always-easy life in Myanmar. Here he enjoys tea with the customary assortment of nuts and seeds and spices.

 

And this is Nan, one of the government officials that accompany our convoy. I didnt expect to like her so much. The other officials were very reserved.

And this is Nan, one of the government officials that accompany our convoy. I didnt expect to like her so much. The other officials were very reserved.

 

And yes .... here we found a fun loving tourist policeman! And yes again ... it is never what it seems.

And yes …. here we found a fun loving tourist policeman! And yes again … it is never what it seems.

 

01 01 P1050062 We eat together. This is a typical Myanmar meal. Rice with a wide surprise of little dishes.

We eat together. This is a typical Myanmar meal. Rice with a wide surprise of little dishes.

 

Stall food along the Irrawaddy River. Shrimp cakes and crab.

Stall food along the Irrawaddy River. Shrimp cakes and crab.

 

Breakfast - a bean and egg pancake.

Breakfast – a bean and egg pancake.

 

In this restaurant ...

In this restaurant …

 

... this kitchen cooks up a storm.

… this kitchen cooks up a storm.

 

.... we choose from one of four meat dishes (mutton, pork, chicken, deer) with dish after dish of tart and spicy Myanmar salads.

…. we choose from one of four meat dishes (mutton, pork, chicken, deer) with dish after dish of tart and spicy Myanmar salads.

 

Eight bikes on the road are bound to need fixing. Luckily many hands make light work.

Eight bikes on the road are bound to need fixing. Luckily many hands make light work.

 

Our chain jumps off .... but is luckily easily repaired.

Our chain jumps off …. but this is luckily easily repaired. An hour later the bike starts spluttering & bucking like a bronco. We limp into the next town and strip the fuel injector system. The culprit was a soot black idle sensor, probably from poor fuel

 

The spring of the shock absorber on the bike of Brennan's GS 1150 shears..It is fixed temporarily with old tyre and cable ties (psst - Harry idea)!.

The spring of the shock absorber on  Brennan’s GS 1150 shears & collapses. It is fixed temporarily with old tyre and cable ties (psst – Harry idea). Later the same day Pieters rear tyre disintegrates and a gator is fitted which gets him to the next town 80 kms away

 

 

And in single file, sometimes with a bit of a squeeze, we see amazing places in Myamnar!

And in single file, sometimes with a bit of a squeeze, we see amazing places in Myamnar!

 

Near Monywa we visit this 21 storey Buddha. The first storeys depict hell and the upper storeys Nirvana.

Near Monywa we visit this 21 storey Buddha. The first storeys depict hell and the upper storeys Nirvana.

 

At the feet of the Standing Buddha there is the slightly smaller, but still enormous, Reclining Buddha. And a temple.

At the feet of the Standing Buddha there is the slightly smaller, but still enormous, Reclining Buddha. And a temple.

 

In Mandalay, the iconic wooden footbridge - U Bein Bridge. Built in early 1800s with 1060 poles ... and only a few have been replaced since.

In Mandalay, the iconic wooden footbridge – U Bein Bridge. Built in early 1800s with 1060 poles … and only a few have been replaced since.

 

And crossed all the time, by monks ...

And crossed all the time, by monks …

 

... and girls, linked in and holding hands, beautifully, ....

… and girls, linked in and holding hands, beautifully, ….

 

... and, at last, by us.

… and, at last, by us.

 

In Bagan we all hire small electric scooters to visit the most amazing temple complex.

In Bagan we all hire small electric scooters to visit the most amazing temple complex.

 

Bagan, the first capital of Burmese Kings. Here there are more than 4000 Buddhist temples.

Bagan, the first capital of Burmese Kings. Here there are more than 4000 Buddhist temples.

 

King Anawrahta converts to Buddhism and this leads to a 230 year building frenzy up until 1287. There are no traces of palaces or mansions .... just temples!

King Anawrahta converts to Buddhism and this leads to a 230 year building frenzy up until 1287. There are no traces of palaces or mansions …. just temples!

 

Some temples are grand ...

Some temples are grand …

 

... and coated in gold leaf.

… and coated in gold leaf.

 

Other temples afford a maze of corridors ....

Other temples afford a maze of corridors ….

 

... for meditation.

… for meditation.

 

Another houses the 37 Nats (spirit beings) of Animism. These nats are very much alive in the lives of Myamnar people.

Another houses the 37 Nats (spirit beings) of Animism. These nats are very much alive in the lives of Myamnar people.

 

And we get to watch the sunset over the plains of Bagan from this temple.

And we get to watch the sunset over the plains of Bagan from this temple.

 

And here, far off to the west, another dynasty, builds in the 16th century a temple complex at Mrauk U.

And here, far off to the west, another dynasty, builds in the 16th century a temple complex at Mrauk U.

 

The amazing thing about Mrauk U is that the community still lives in and around the temples.

The amazing thing about Mrauk U is that the community still lives in and around the temples.

 

Here rice dries in the sun.

Here rice dries in the sun.

 

...

 

We find beautiful spiritual insides ...

We find beautiful spiritual insides …

 

... some that feel old ...

… some that feel old …

 

...

 

... and some that feel new.

… and some that feel new.

 

And we spend a few lazy days at Ngapali Beach. This is the Bay of Bengal.

And we spend a few lazy days at Ngapali Beach. This is the Bay of Bengal.

 

During the day, women dry fish caught the previous night.

During the day, women dry fish caught the previous night.

 

...

 

Men wait their turn ...

Men wait their turn …

 

... and as the sun sets ...

… and as the sun sets …

 

... the men head out ...

… the men head out …

 

.... to fish all night long.

…. to fish all night long.

 

We get to do some snorkelling too.

We get to do some snorkelling too, from reef at sea.

 

And we look back at Ngapali Beach ... with a Buddhist Stupa that from a rocky outcrop provides protection.

And we look back at Ngapali Beach … with a Buddhist Stupa that from a rocky outcrop provides protection.

 

Far in the east we join the queues to visit the  Golden Rock, called Mount Kyaiktiyo locally.

Far in the east we join the queues to visit the Golden Rock, called Mount Kyaiktiyo locally.

 

We board these open trucks, 50 a piece ...

We board these open trucks, 50 a piece …

 

... and after 45 minutes of fast winding bends up and up and up ...

… and after 45 minutes of fast winding bends up and up and up …

 

... with others whizzing past us on the way down ....

… with others whizzing past us on the way down ….

 

We reach the top and it is chock-a-block full.

We reach the top and it is chock-a-block full.

 

A matter of devotion for most.

A matter of devotion for most.

 

And an important pilgrimage for many.

And an important pilgrimage for many.

 

A Pagoda on a Balancing Boulder!

A Pagoda on a Balancing Boulder!

 

10 09 P1060156 When the boulder is rocked a thread can pass between it and the rock bed. It has been like this for centuries despite many violent earthquakes.

When the boulder is rocked a thread can pass between it and the rock bed. It has been like this for centuries despite many violent earthquakes.

 

The Pagoda is built on a hair relic of the Buddha. Yes - miraculous.

The Pagoda is built on a hair relic of the Buddha. Yes – miraculous.

 

 

8 Responses to Myanmar – as Authorised

  1. Stella

    Fascinating as always …! Love the pagoda on a boulder.. Unbelievable

  2. Stella

    Fascinating as always …! Love the pagoda on a boulder.. Unbelievable

  3. Wendy & Amelia

    Very interesting and fantastic pics!!

  4. Jim and Muriel

    Among all the temples the boulder tops it all——-amazing insight into this region——thanks !!

  5. Philna

    Hi, despite all the trouble it feels beautiful and peaceful. The western world have lost so much in terms of a sense of place and belonging IN this world rather than our arrogant ON TOP of the world. Loved it! Thanks you two.

  6. Ndaba Ndzombane

    wow

  7. Jan and Gail

    We can feel the sense of relaxation in the air when you two are now being “guided”, good for a change. It is all so amazing and as you put it Myanmarvellous. We liked that. Temples in abundance and the “golden temple” and the pagoda on the boulder is unbelievable

  8. M.Michiel van der Mey

    Welcome home, Linda and Harry,
    We loved your adventures in the blog.
    Now you have time again to meditate along the beach of Amsterdamhoek.
    Hopefully you will find the time to visit Amsterdam and us in Cleve.
    Some German and Belgian high quality beers are waiting for you, Harry.
    After seeking so many “New (bike) Frontiers” is the proverb “home sweet home” still valid ?

    Michiel

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