We crossed full of desire and joy, energy and excitement, as children in an amusement park.
It was years that we were desiring it, years hearing about how special and unique is this country looking at the beauty which is not in the land but in the people. So many travelers had fall in love with this place till getting mad, the curiosity, the wish to get to know it and to be able to cross from side to side, have accompanied us patiently in the saddlebags waiting something to happen, for everything to synchronize and by that, finally, one day come to visit it.
A few months ago the unthinkable happened: they opened the borders by land in the country, and just, exactly, when we were cycling Ladakh in the very Northwest of India, perfect timing!! as if it had ordered to measure!!.
Concerning this, some other cyclist had explained all sorts of stories: for some it was not nice experience, some has been followed by the police, some others, spending so much money in hotels, some, woken up at midnight and forced to pack up and leave while they were camping, an another one said that he has been sleeping in monasteries almost all the way long.
(Pictured: police escorting us on the road: he, bored with his duty for today, I, tired of not feeling free, both, looking forward for this to end, Aitor, immortalizes the moment.)
The thing is that the problem increase by something else: population has the obligation to inform, if you are camping, if they suspect that you’re going to do it, if you ask for shelter or a space anywhere, they, by law have to call the cops, it is their duty.
We know that they always use the excuse of the “safety of the tourists” to try to give any sense to that stupid law. They say that it is not safe to camp, so we decided to use this pretext saying that: as… “it’s not safe to camp” therefore here we are: at the police station, safe place, we came to seek for shelter. And see their reaction.
Aitor had choosen a path across the country that make us able to cross the 1,750 km in the 28 days of visa, also we could escape the cities and go to Bagán, the unique tourist place that we would visit. Just first day we had found a pair of German cyclists who recommended us a change for these first kilometers and pointed us to another one saying it was much better option, so, we decided to take it… catastrophic decision for our quadriceps!.!
When we arrived to Bagán, we had already covered almost one-third of the country, we had already tasted the heat in the nights and the strong sun of the day time. We created our routine with always an stop at noon in the shade, our weapons were a pair of straw hats, and our motivation was to continue finding smiles on the way.
As an example to share with you, appears in my memory, the cry of:
-You, you, you, you, you!!!
of the Ethiopian villages, shouted as a chorus by a bunch of kids that while screaming were running close to us, as an flutter bees around a beehive, until we left the village.
-Skol´ka dollar? (how many dollars?
While they were pointing to our bicycles. They usually asked it before even to ask where we were from?, or where we were going to?, from where? or the eternal…. Are you married?.
Myanmar does not has been different in this.
Here there was a question that is has been repeating daily while riding, when a conversation starts:
The baths in rivers, canals, shops on the edge of the road or even restaurants (where sometimes the bath place is in view of everyone, on one side, just a few meters far from the tables), have been daily relief from the heat, one, two, or even three times a day.
Moisture and rice fields, trees and therefore more shadows to escape from the heat at midday.
Again are the women who wash, men at this time have a nap, like us.
We have laughed a lot, sincerely with the theme that we decided to take it as a play, no more.
In one of them, just before sleeping, we were with a couple of old monks who had been there since the age of 8, taking the last cup of tea. They spoke a very basic English. The oldest one was the head monk, the master of the monastery.
– And in all this time here, as monks – asked Aitor – what is the most important thing you have learned as human beings, about
– As Buddha asked, not to do bad things, good practice, and purify the mind.
The oldest one, with a quiet voice and the smiling gesture like a child said then:
-Live being happy in mind and body- and laughed as only a child would do.
That night we fall asleep with a smile in our face.
The last day in Myanmar broke with all the routines and plans, with everything we do and what we don’t do, we challenge ourselves doing something different, I tell you:
The night was falling, we had cycled not more than 50 kms throughout the day, because we had met in a small restaurant on road to another pair of cyclists, we started chatting and because we have a lot of histories and they had a lot of questions… We spent few hours there, chatting.
We had ridden not many kilometers that day and the road had been very plain. We are fit and still we had energy to keep cycling longer. But… it was already time to look for a place to camp and were doing so, looking here and there while we pedaled in the dark, the cool of the night and the total absence of people , of motorcycles, trucks, etc… was even more tasty the ride and we had not desire of stopping, we kept on quiet, to a soft rhythm , looking for a place to camp but without wanting to find it.
Neither of us doubt, it was the best idea of recent times!! The little tiredness we were feeling suddenly disappeared and became enthusiasm and cheerful energy:
-Here we goooooooooooooooooo!!! do not close the border that we are arrrrrriviiiiiiing!!!!
-Yuuuujujuuuuiiiii, to the infinite and… beyond it!!!.
We were screaming in the dark night while we started laughing by the idea, because we were breaking with the normality, by the challenge, becouse….everything and nothing at the same time.
Here I share with you the data that I copied from the kilometer counter, thinking about one day sending it to my father, knowing that he would enjoy it because he is a cyclist and also he likes the challenges.
At about 8 o’clock in the morning on the other side of the border, already in Thailand, at a hotel in the first town we found, and Aitor already sleeping I wrote:
Data of the last day in Myanmar:
Time on the bycicle: 11 hours : 48 minuts : 38 seconds.
(with mountains and headwind)
Last night: saved!!