17 January – Nyaung Shwe bike ride

Breakfast at Minglarbar inn is a good one, we have a fried pastry product to start – good to soak up the wine and cocktails from the night before – then a pancake, then omelette or scrambled eggs, bowl of fruit, toast, jam and a cup of tea or coffee with a small glass of squash. All coffee and tea is in individual sachets, and you rehydrate them with the hot water that is on your table in a Thermos flask, unless you are me and you want a green tea and it comes in a half pint mug, just like the shots of whisky and rum! Burmese tea is a bit like builders tea but with evaporated milk.

Today’s plan was to follow the cycling route on the back of the hotel map for a 22km bike ride, that includes hot springs, boat trip, and vineyard…..again! So we set off on our excellent bikes, down the main road waving and smiling!

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We quickly got to the end of the tarmaced road and were on sandy, rocky paths, it was just like off roading! We followed that for about 9 km, and met a few other tourists doing the same thing, thankfully Guy’s competitive side kicked in and we were the ones in the lead, no one overtook us!! As we were cycling along we were still not immune to hawkers, a local on a motor bike rode up besides a speeding Guy and started with the usual question ‘where you from?’ He ended up saying he had a mate who had a boat and would could take us across the river for the market price of 8000 Kyats. That is the lovely thing here, everything is set price, even the taxis with no meters, so you never feel that you are being ripped off India style. Well, part from the fact the government make you pay tourist price (5 times local price) for everything!

So we rocked up at the natural spa, sweating, needing a scub down! The place was lovely, 3 pools of varying heat, the hottest was bearable for about 2 mins! We got there early, so had the place almost to ourselves. By the end of it we had go to know a couple of isrealies who lived in USA, and a Japanese guy, who was no doubt horrified at the cleanliness levels of the spa (it was a thin bug consommé), and like us, was remembering the Japanese onsens where the men bathe naked with a flannel on their heads. Swimsuits on we managed to clean and scrub up, have a chilled beer in the spa and get back on our bikes.

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We were immediately picked up by a boatman who led us to the his boat, and handed us over to 2 young lads to ferry across the lake. We navigated our way through the water hyacinths, rubbish, and peoples houses for a boat ride across the lake. It was beautiful, as the photos below show.

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We had a walk off the jetty, then another few km cycle to the vineyard, where we passed everyone that we had met that morning or in the last few days in Inle, it is a real circuit, so you keep seeing the same people around.

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We stopped for a sugar drink / shandy and then made it to the vinyard, hooray! Bottle of red was duelly ordered and drunk. And we were just contemplating the cycle ride down hill when we got talking to 3 English people, 2 of which we had already met in Mandalay! Well, it would be rude to just walk off, so we chatted away, had another bottle of red to share with them and feeling quite pissed freewheeled down the hill after sunset, obviously with no bike lights on or helmets, as is the norm here.

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We made it back into town and tried out another cocktail bar, it served decent cocktails thank goodness.

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We then wobbled off down the steet, I only cycled into one person, to go to a dim sum restaurant that we had been told about.  Again we met people we had seen biking and vineyarding today, and had some delicious dim sum, a couple more beers for the road! We made it home with no further incidents, or drinks!!!

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