29.01.2015 - 29.01.2015
Ryan was pretty excited for breakfast and feeling better today. The buffet offered a similar spread except they had rice instead of noodles and fried veggies. We though there were no pancakes until another guest commented on it and we found out they were made and available by request.
We rented bicycles, talking to a French girl doing the same. Our first stop was the Shan Palace so Ryan could hear the story as well. I enjoyed hearing Fern's story a second time. In the discussion that followed, once we were joined by people from Singapore and the Netherlands, Aung San's role was discussed. He was as a man in charge before independence. He had to seek help from the Japanese to throw out the British during the Second World War. The Japanese occupation was quite brutal so Aung San went to the British for help and joined up with the allies. He spoke with ethnic groups after the war to try and get them on board with independence. After ten years, he told them they could re-evaluate their choice and be independent.
We also discussed the current political situation which was essentially all for show. Those in charge were the same military personnel but just without uniforms. It was all an act for international investors to get off the blacklists. Politics in place forbid Aung San Suu Kyi from participating in the upcoming (March 2016) election left people having less faith in a freer Burma. Candidates like Aung San Suu Kyi can't participate because of having foreign family members, i.e. her British born sons.
We spoke of the ethnic conflict and how its existence helped justify the military recruitment and expenditure. Currently, their army was the second largest in Southeast Asia after Vietnam and they hoped to expand from 400,000 to 500,000. Opium production and underdevelopment were theories on why foreigners were barred from entering some areas of the country. Once again, it was a wonderful opportunity to sit and chat with the woman who had so much to share.
We biked over to Little Bagan, much easier to find this time. We went inside the Bamboo Buddha Monastery, Maha Nanda Kantha, to see the Bamboo Buddha this time as well.
Since neither of us was hungry after the monster breakfast, we took a short rest then continued our ride to Nam Tok waterfall. To get there, we followed highway number 3 and turned right after a bridge. The guesthouse had given us a map to help find it as well. We biked past an impressive Chinese cemetery with hundreds if not thousands of graves ranging from Burmese cement caskets to fancy Chinese shrine ones. They continued up and down the nearby hills. A few people worked on new sites as we rode by.
Just past the cemetery where the road forked again, we saw a group of foreigners including Sven and the French guy from the last waterfall we visited in Pyin Oo Lwin. The others returning from their walk said the falls were mostly dry but the walk was nice. We locked up the bikes and set down the steep trail. The other two guys decided to turn back partly there as they'd rather just rest. We continued through fields of watermelon covered in plastic, rice and the occasional water buffalo resting. Most of the path followed a stream and we went through a couple small villages with thatched roofs rest houses, animals and transportation like motorbikes.
By the time the uphill portion started again, we were burnt out and feeling the sun's destructive heat. We made it eventually to see water trickling down the tall mossy rock walls. Thank goodness we'd made it to the ones at Pyin Oo Lwin. We rested further down in a shady pond area with our sad water supply. At least the town was close enough. The walk back was harder toward the end as thirst, hunger and exhaustion took over.
After a rest and some water, we tried Pontoon Cafe but I wasn't too big on the vegetarian menu so we went to a teahouse instead, La Wun Aung. I tried samosa salad, Shan noodle soup and Ryan had fried rice. I really enjoyed my salad as it was something different but Ryan was put off by the fried dough stick we'd had as an appetizer. We didn't do much else that night except buy bananas to serve as my vegetarian meal option for our trek as another patron said there'd be mainly rice as a non-meat option.