At our set departure point Yan wasn’t ready yet. Shortly after, rain set in. Hoping to sit it, we had another very late start at about 1pm so we didn’t make it to Thanbyuzayat that day.
Even though the road was paved, everyone was smiling, waving, nodding or yelling hello or mulambar yar at us. We even scored food at the restaurants. Salad at a pretty run down roadside place and chicken-noodle-soup later. After a lot of pointing at uncooked noodles, hopeful “aain”s and “yes yes”, we were so amazed by the chicken soup that we even ordered a second one each.
We found an awesome campside at sunset in a rice-paddy some 20km out of Thanbyuzayat. Cycling in the dark didn’t really feel like an option due to the poor quality of the pavement. We would either have to go slow or risk falling.
I slept a lot better – we were further away from the road and the night was colder. For ages, we heard monks chanting in the woods but couldn’t make out any visual sign of them.
Dinner was an uncooked bag of noodles each – saving one to share for breakfast. What a feast! At least for the ants that managed to find the realms as well as the hole in the mesh.
Next day was Yans earliest start ever – for me, it was rather late. We were packed and ready to go at 7:30. Only to stop after about 1km. At a hut, opposite to a school, were some women selling all kinds of fried things and cut up fruits with spicy salt. We happily pointed to get a variety and weren’t disappointed. The fruit was to spicy but that was anticipated.
The rain started soon after – seriously after Thanbyuzayat all I cared about was getting to a hotel so I would be dry. We had ‘lunch’ at ten a.m. at a Chinese restaurant up the road from the memorial graveyard. So delicious and appropriate portions for cyclists. Heaven. Ordering became very easy once the owner and Yan discovered they speak the same language. She is from a villiage closer to the Chinese border, her grandparents came from Yunnan and she moved to Thanbyuzayat when she got married.
The visit to the Thanbyuzyat war memorial graveyard was very touching (even though I opted to mainly stay in the entrance area where I had a roof). It is very well maintained, 6 people were working on it while we were there and the visitor book showed that it’s only visited a couple of times in a month.
Later that day, we came past a Giant Sitting Buddha right by the road. Yan managed to miss it – he had his head down and wanted to get the k’s down. We didn’t miss the world largest Giant Reclining Buddha even though it wasn’t right by the road. We visited the insides where they have many diorames about Buddha – and are struggeling to keep it dry. It was rather uncomfortable to walk around bare-foot especially since there are dogs living there as well…
The landscape changed slowly, becoming more and more urban and wealthier. Bamboo-huts were replaced by buildings of wood, concrete and even a brick one. The road became wider, flatter and the pavement smoother so we finally started to enjoy cycling. The rain subsided and there was eventually enough sun around for me to get a slight burn before remembering reapplying sunscreen.
We opted for the most amazing hotel – Cinderella hotel – with the utmost service, really really clean and big rooms and did I mention the outstanding service yet?