Friday, November 11, 2016

Du Ya Really Want to Go Down That Road? Hinthada Adventure Part Five

This last Sunday, Jack Bartram and I headed out on our motorbikes to do a loop around the small city where we've been stationed here in Myanmar. It was quite the day.

The initial idea was to do the modest loop of about 80 miles you see pictured in the map above. It wouldn't take that long, but if we were generous with our stops along the way, we might be able to stretch it out into a full day's adventure. And after teaching 6 hours a day, 6 days straight, we were in definite need of some excitement. 

If you look at the map, you'll see a stretch of verdant green not that far west of Hinthada. This was the
forest we'd briefly visited on our last journey, and we were both excited about going back and seeing more of it. We chose the least muddy looking roads along the way which ended up being nothing but mud, and eventually just ended. 

Here we see Jack poised to go down the path we didn't take. He wanted to go down this road. Having just struggled to get my bike out of the mud of the last road, and having had a lot of experience with muddy roads in SE Asia, I knew we were looking at impassable roads. The reason there were no motorcycle tracks in the mud was because no one would be stupid enough to traverse these roads in anything short of an ox and cart. 

Then we got to the crossroads, the place on the map above with the red star. Here, we made a left to go down to the town of Nyeik Ban. The guy on the side of the road confirmed we were going the right way, but warned us, "that road very bad"  

Soon we found ourselves on a rural track which was really nothing more than an agricultural access road. We weren't complaing; this was exactly the kind of back roads experience we were looking for.

Old temple being restored or new temple being built old?
When we finally got to Nyeik Ban, the proprietor of the teahouse where we'd stopped for cold drinks told us we had to go check out Nyeik Ban's temple complex just a couple clicks out of town. 

Now, lots of expats here in SE Asia say that when you've seen one temple, you've seen them all. I couldn't disagree more.
There were lots of aspects to the pagodas at Nyeik Ban that made the place unique and an interesting place to visit. Included among them this kid at the temple teashop. 

So we found ourselves in Natmaw (see map above) and it wasn't even 2 PM yet. I looked at the Google maps on my phone and saw that although there were no roads shown linking the two places, there was
Du Ya? Sure you can get to Du Ya from here.
another town called Du Ya directly east of where we were. We were in the densely populated beginnings of the Irrawaddy Delta; there was bound to be a road connecting Natmaw to Du Ya. We made the next right and proceeded on hope. 

After reaching the end of the brick road, and crossing a river on a very harrowing bridge, we found ourselves on the tiniest possible tracks one could imagine. Yes, they were paved, but they weren't even wide enough for two motorcycles to pass one another without getting off the road. 

We passed through a lot of communities on our way to Du Ya (we also made lot of puns about the name Du Ya). One of note was a Christian village. I'm guessing these are folks who came from the Karen area of Myanmar several decades ago. Here we found an actual cathedral, albeit in a great state of disrepair. Yes, those are plants growing out of the building itself.

Eventually, we found our way to Du Ya and then back to Hinthada.

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