In the Hostel where I’m staying in Mandalay, Myanmar, I meet Krzysztof, a very nice Polish guy with whom I end up visiting some places. One of them was U-Bein Bridge, a 30 min ride away from our Hostel. That’s when I took my first Myanmar bus ride. This is the longest and oldest teakwood bridge in the world. It’s a beautiful place to watch the sunset.
But, before going there in the evening, I rode a bike alone through more pagodas. I also rode a bike for hours on this day… I decided to go to the river, as it is one of my favorite things to do. I ride until Irrawaddy river. In Myanmar isn’t possible to ride hills on the top of a bicycle, even if it isn’t a big one. The bicycle is the most basic possible, so in every biggest hill, you need to carry yourself and the bike. But the land is pretty plane. You will not face this problem a lot.
I reach the river and I see a very big golden bird just next to it. Just when I approach I realized that it a huge boat, looking very luxurious. That’s my spot. I sit there for more than 1 hour just watching as there were a lot of Burmese people in that place. There is a staircase to the river and a lot is going on. There are children playing naked, taking a bath while women are also taking a bath and washing clothes; a woman approaches with her dog and washes him next to them. Another woman is putting the clothes to dry on several ropes. Some boys are sliding the hill with an improved sliding base and having a blast. Everyone looks very happy, very smiley. I just stay there and look with a smile on my face too. It’s a place full of life and happiness. How can these people look so happy when they don’t have much? -It’s a life lesson. – I’m sitting there when this little girl heads the stairs with her hands full of wet washed clothes. She is climbing the stairs with much struggle so I go help her and I carry those clothes up those tiring stairs. Even for me, those clothes were very heavy, imagine for this little girl. She climbs the stairs with me without any weight in her arms, I deliver her the clothes and there she goes putting them to dry on the road splitters.
I need to go and meet Krysztof so we can go to U-Bein bridge for the sunset. Has he has a Burmese friend in Mandalay. His friend leads us to a bus in Myanmar to U-Bein bridge. Well, the Myanmar bus concept is not exactly what you are thinking. It looks more like an open back van and people can also ride the top. It was a 20 cents 30 min ride and I loved it. The bus in Myanmar was full so we asked to go to the top. They didn’t want us to go on the top. I feel like they think foreigners are all rich and can’t do this kind of thing so they were laughing. – I haven’t seen a foreigner on the top of a bus on my 1 month stay in Myanmar– But most of all they didn’t want me to go on the top because I’m a girl. I needed to insist several times so they let me go to the top too. It was the funniest ride ever so far. We could still see the smile on peoples faces while we’re crossing them on the top of that Myanmar bus. It really feels like they had never seen a tourist doing that. For them, I think it’s not supposed to happen. It was so much fun. You have 360º top view and the wind on your face feels so good. You just need to be aware of the trees or you can have a tree branch on your face.
They tell us our stop and leave the Myanmar bus, but we still needed to walk for 15 min through tight roads. We reach the bridge and it is super crowded. It’s full of tourists and Burmese. We weren’t much lucky as the sky was super cloudy so we couldn’t watch the sunset. Still, it is a very pleasant place to visit. The bridge has some really old wood sticks that sometimes make you doubt the safety of it… We crossed it to the end and came back. It’s such a nice place!!! I loved it!
It’s totally dark and we are almost the last ones leaving the place.-Meanwhile, we witness a wedding photoshoot in a famous tree on the lake. – We walk to the place the “bus” left us, but how do we know now what bus is going to Mandalay? They don’t have any sign at all and 99% of people don’t speak English. We need to ask for help. We approach this guy next door with an open store and ask him for help. He stayed there with us for 15 min checking if the Myanmar bus was passing through. This Myanmar bus is never coming and he his going to Mandalay, so he says: I take you there. At this moment I’m like: How will you take us there if you are going on a motorbike and we are 3? :O
Yes, that’s it. We were 3 riding a motorbike for 30 min and it’s wasn’t the most comfortable ride ever, but it was surely the most fun one. -I now know that comfort is boring. The most fun things are the most uncomfortable ones. –I just remember to ride that motorbike with the biggest smile on my face, thinking OMG what if we fall, but I wasn’t feeling unsafe at all. I just could laugh and enjoy this precious moment a lot. This guy was the coolest guy ever. He gave us a free ride and didn’t accept any money even though we insisted. People in Myanmar are so genuinely nice people!! It was my first Hitchhiking experience, an English word I never heard before in my life.
And so it was one of the funniest days of the whole trip. I’m loving Myanmar so far and I’m not even 1 week in this country. What a unique and remarkable country!
Krzysztof made a video for his project with some of these moments: