Gyobingauk to Pyay 96km
Pyay to Myaydo 74km
At my all boys school, we thought we were pretty lucky having a hot female Social Studies teacher. (Much better than Nobby Anderson.) Trouble is we were so distracted by her that the only part of the year I can remember are the Sex Education lessons she taught, (very appropriate considering we were all learning about lust). But apparently, unknown or unrealized, I did remember some of what she told us. We we studing SE Asia and apparently I learnt that Burma has a major river, the Irrawaddy. For the last couple of days, fourth form social studies has come alive, as I follow the Irrawaddy north.
Oh wow, it has been HOT. The water in the bottles on my carrier was so hot, it almost scolded my lips. The showers in the hotel, fed by a tank on the roof, but not heated, were too hot to stand under. We reckon it must have been close to 40°C. There was also a breeze, but in no way was it refreshing. It felt as if you were walking or cycling towards a heat pump.
So that is one reason I had a day off in Pyay. The other reason was that the mild diarrhea worsened, and I spent most the night in the little boys room. When I wasn't there, I was kept awake by the local Fire Brigade roaring around the streets. They have about five appliances, and they were all going crazy, I'm sure they couldn't find the fire. They look pretty crazy as well. The crew all have protective gear on, but in no way would you call it a uniform. Looks as if they've all visited a dressup box, found the Fireman section, and picked what ever would fit, from the 1920s till now. And they all hang off the back and side of the appliance as it slides around corners, spilling water everywhere. I won't say "reminds me of" because I don't want to offend anyone.
The roads were a lot less busy today. Monday had been a holiday, and the population of Myanmar was on the road, heading home after the long weekend. Buses, trucks, vans, tuktuks, were loaded to overflowing with very hot, tired, not looking happy travellers. I wasn't too happy either. My eyes were sore from the dust, smoke and fumes. Locals are burning the rice stalks, and many cook over open fires, and every morning they light fires to burn their sweepings, and ward off the mosquitos, so there's plenty of smoky haze about. Not so good for photos, but the scenery isn't amazing anyway, just flat landscapes, sometimes really dry, and sometimes irrigated paddy fields. The farmers are all back in the fields planting now. How the manage in the heat, I don't know.
It's the people that make Myanmar great. It's a developing country, and you keep seeing both third world and first world stuff mixed up. Like Bullock cart drivers, texting. Would that be a fine in NZ? Four years ago, a SIM card cost $500. Now it cost $5, so everyone has a mobile phone. It's hot, so you want a cold drink. They have fridges, and freezers, but no power. So they have ice deliveries, and you open the freezer to find a huge block of ice.....If you get there just after the delivery, or a pool of tepid water, if you're late. Spare blocks of ice are buried in sawdust or sand. When they're needed they're dug out, washed in tap water, smashed up, and put in your drinks.....diarrhea!
Anyway, I wasn't the only one. Fin, from Adelaide,
( Malcolm O'Neil's 25 year old douppleganger, good looking, sophisticated, and worldly), is cycling the same route as me. However, he is at the moment suffering day five of dysentery. Hopefully the antibiotics will kick in soon, and he can get back on the road. His crossing day into India is 12th March, so he may have to catch up some distance in a bus. It's not much fun being crook in a foreign country, alone, in a hot dark hotel room. Luckily, I'm pretty sure I'm sorted. I can once again "pass wind" safely.
I'm learning everyday. In Myanmar, if you want to get a waiters attention, you make kissing noises. Women should not do this.....but I'd be very interested to know how it goes down at Montieths in Hanmer. Give it a go Fletch.
It's funny, everytime you see a digger, bulldozer or similar on the back of a truck, there is always someone sitting in the appliances drivers seat. But it's scarey how locals think nothing of sitting on vehicle roofs. Lots of kids on the roof of a truck today. Just a slight braking and I'm sure they would all slide off the front. The boys with their hammocks strung up in the back of some of the big trucks, have it right. Swinging in the breeze, resting, until they have to unload by hand the 20 tonne of rice, rocks, sugarcane or timber. There was a big backlog of trucks outside the Sugarcane processing plant today. At least 100 trucks lined up along the road, in three different directions. Drivers and loaders were all just hanging out, snoozing in the shade.
Gotta go eat. Can I face oily rice and vegetables tonight? Last night I couldn't. Steamed sweet corn grapes and fudge filled the gap nicely, but tonight I'm in a much smaller town, so maybe not so much choice.