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Willie Weir : October 31st, 2012

Photos of the Day – Oct 31

The Shwezigon pagoda is where much of the Full Moon festival activities centered around in Nyang U. As the sun began to set, the sparrows began flocking, and locals and travelers began gathering around as the candles were lit around the base. -w

Our last evening in Bagan we visited the huge gilded Shwezigon Pagoda for sunset. Nuns placed tiny oil lamps every few feet around the base and lit the pagoda by candle light. Bagan isn’t just a place Western tourists visit, there were local tourists and families making their vacation day pilgrimage as well. I watched these children lighting candles for a long time before finally capturing their beautiful light.-k

Willie Weir : October 30th, 2012

Photos of the Day — Oct 30

Full moon rising over Bagan. We are fortunate to be in Bagan during this full moon festival when thousands of local tourists come to visit as well. The big pagodas are packed with people, but we scoped out a lesser one where we could take in the spectacular sunset and harvest moon rising without hordes of people. Some temples were lit by candle light and floodlight, but only the sunset rivaled the moonrise for pure beauty. -kat

Don’t miss sunrise (or sunset) while you are in Bagan. This ancient temple complex is a panarama you will never forget. Hot air balloons take off with the sunrise. We couldn’t afford the steep fare, but we enjoyed watching them float gracefully by. -willie

Willie Weir : October 29th, 2012

Photos of the Day — Oct 29

Sunrise in Bagan is a beautiful thing to behold. Thanks to tour guides Sergai and Adrienn who met us once again in Nyaung U, we pedaled out to the middle of the plain to climb atop Pyathada Pagoda to greet the day. Soft morning light baths the temples and hot air balloons drift silently by. -kat

Portable, beautiful and elegant suncreen is available at a shop in Nyang U. -willie

Kat Marriner : October 29th, 2012

Hello! Welcome to Burma

Nothing shines brighter and is more radiant than the Burmese smile. Nothing feels as welcoming or gives comfort when the going is tough, the road is rough, the heat is intense or the way is unknown. Without a doubt, receiving that smile is the most joyful part of this adventure. We’ve been welcomed before, but I tell you, from the beautiful young girls to the gnarly, beetle-toothed old men, from the grannies crating babies on their hips to the punk-haired, brashy boys, the smile is ever present and genuine. Often it is coupled with a “hello!”, sometimes hearty and strong, sometimes timid and unsure. When the “hello!” works, when we respond, notice, wave, smile in return, the exchange is crackling with good energy. Smiles and laughter cut through cultural divides and language barriers like warm butter. I sing out my own “hello!” or “mingelaba!” and radiate back my joy at being welcomed to Burma.

Willie Weir : October 28th, 2012

Photos of the Day — Oct 28

After a long sick day in a hotel that was too expensive to want to stay longer, we decided to jump forward by taking a bus from Monywa to Nyaung U to see Bagan. We didn’t know how it would all work, but the bikes were loaded on the top of the bus along with all the other cargo. Taking a tip from other cyclists, we packed 4 of our panniers in one large poly-bag. It too went on top along with our large duffle. Not realizing just how tightly packed the inside of the bus would be, we sat sardine style with knees up to accommodate wheel wells and extra cargo below and guys squeezed in the isle to make full use of the space. -kat

This woman awaits to see if her luggage survived the bus ride from Monywa to Nyang U. Her bags, our bikes were strapped on top of the bus. All the seats filled up on the bus. Then they brought small plastic stools, so others could sit in the aisle … we would soon learn, weren’t even close to capacity. -willie

Willie Weir : October 27th, 2012

Photos of the Day — Oct 27

Lots of cyclists in Monywa. And from my count, more women on bikes than men. This group definitely knows how to have a good time on their commute. -willie

Manual labor to the exteme as I watched a crew of workers mix concrete on the side of the road. No pump truck here …they hauled it on their heads (bowl by bowl) up a wide bamboo ladder to the second story. -willie

Willie Weir : October 26th, 2012

Photos of the Day — Oct 26

After along ride to Monywa, we were once again strolling the night market in search of food. There is food everywhere, but not always something you know you want to eat. This stand makes only a green papaya, tomato, pepper, shallot salad with crispy, tasty, fiery bits all dripping with lime juice. The large clay mortar and pestle used to pound the fresh ingredients into deliciousness pose for my camera while the chef is a blur of motion. -kat

If you are going to eat street food (and we eat a lot), you want to make sure that the fire and the pan are hot. It is amazing how ingenious people can be. One woman built a hot wood fire two feet from traffic. She used an old car bumper as a heat shield. -willie

Willie Weir : October 25th, 2012

Photos of the Day — Oct 25

Many roadside restaurants at the crossroads as we pedaled to Shwebo. We stopped and pondered which we should eat at, until a smiling face and a wave from a woman drew us into this eatery. Not many touring cyclists at this intersection, I’m just going to guess. Everyone watched as we devoured fried vegetables and samosas. A young girl approached our table and I took out my camera. She pasted a huge smile on her face. It was a fun shot, but when she got distracted by someone in the restaurant, this is the image I captured. -willie

On a dinner-time stroll through Shwebo, we came upon these beautiful young women making something like crepes on an open fire at the night market. We ordered two and sat down on the tiniest chairs and watched the practiced chef confident in her craft. It was as delicious and cheap as it was fun to watch. -kat

Willie Weir : October 24th, 2012

Photos of the Day — Oct 24

Dyed silk hangs thick and luscious in the silk weaving district between Mandalay and Saraing. Our pedaling route took us down the narrow roadways in this district where we chanced to see the strands of silk before they become the cloth so admired. The clatter of weaving machines is the other side of this tale. -Kat

We stopped to have lunch before crossing over U Bain’s bridge (longest teak footbridge). The little neighborhood was a buzz with costumed locals getting ready for a festival. We walked over to the temple and watched as they lined up for the processional. Hundreds of people participating and only dozens watching. Believe it or not, this cow’s costume is understated compaired to many of the other outfits we saw. –Willie

Willie Weir : October 23rd, 2012

Photo of the Day — Oct 23

Morning over Mandalay. We love a roof top balcony and the Royal City Mandalay had a roof top garden where we watched sunrise in the cool morning air. All was quiet and peaceful. –Kat

I woke up early and took a walk around Mandalay as the sun rose. I came upon a major intersection. The light had turned red and cars began lining up, and scooters slowly filtered their way up to the front of the line. The traffic is chaotic, but surprisingly peaceful in a way. –Willie