Mandalay, and Myanmar (Burma) in general, It’s not a very touristic place, but you still see some. Myanmar opened its borders to the world in 2012, maybe that’s the reason why it stills so untouched and unique. From the few tourists you see, some of them are riding bicycle in Mandalay. I did the same. I rented a bike in the hostel and went on my own.
This is how I find that riding bicycle is one of my favorite things to do in Myanmar. I feel so free, so happy. It’s overwhelming. You are riding a bike in the middle of another 10 or 20 motorbikes around you. Sometimes it’s kind of stressful, you need to be very careful and I was sometimes thinking what if I fall here in the middle of them, but it was totally ok. For the next 3 days, I will be riding a bicycle freely in this chilling land. Many times I’m the only person on that street and that is such a good feeling. You can assimilate everything around you so easily. It feels like you belong there, that you are part of the sounds.
I rode a bicycle all day long. It’s tiring but is so recomforting. My ass is hurting a lot but I don’t care. Next day I will ride it again.
On this day I visited Mandalay Hill. I leave my flip-flops on the bottom and climb up for 30 min those stairs leading to the top. (Flip-flops are the best option in Myanmar, you can never get inside a Pagoda with shoes or socks so they are the most practical footwear). I climb up those stairs totally alone. I just cross a few Burmese people on the way. It was tuff and tiring but I loved the way up. You get the total view of the city, and what a view, a golden view!
When you reach the top the place is much more crowded, so I conclude that I’m the only one climbing the stairs from the bottom, that’s why I saw almost no one else. You can ride a street almost to the top, and I bet that’s what most part of the people do. Anyway, I don’t regret at all.
Almost all the Pagodas in Myanmar area free entrance, so I got surprised that I have to pay for reaching the top. There is a sign stating that foreigners need to pay. It’s ok, it’s not that much and the view it’s totally worth it. There is a lot of people here, and not only tourists. There are a lot of young monks here and young Burmese people too. I was at the top chilling when a young girl approaches me. She is asking me to help her with the English homework with the brightest smile on her face. How can I say no? There were more students there looking for foreigners to help them practice English. I found it so fun. I sit on the floor with her, read her text and help her get it better. She invites me to visit her school and to take a picture. Camilla was such a sweet girl. I’m sad I never got her email with the school address, so I couldn’t see her again and her friends.
This is Camilla
The sun is going down so I need to start going down those stairs. Riding bicycle in Mandalay without any luminous sign in the night doesn’t look like such a good idea as there are so many motorbikes riding along with you and many streets barely have illumination. I’m going down when I realize there are several directions of stares. How didn’t I noticed that on the way up? Now I have no idea which direction I took up, and I have my shoes and Bicycle down there. I reach a not expected way out. It’s getting dark and I need help getting there. Here I am walking on the concrete streets barefoot but I’m not feeling stressed at all. I don’t know why but stress can’t hit me in this country. Maybe it’s the surrounding ambiance. I ask a guy with a moto to help me out and he takes me there. There are my bike and shoes! I thank him and I ride my bike for my 20 min ride ahead until I reach the Hostel.
I’m loving the free feeling of riding bicycle in Myanmar.