Myanmar, Day Six, Nyaung Shwe
Our daily routine is pretty set now, one person is not feeling great and stays away for breakfast and the rest of us find a ray of sunlight to sit in and eat hot pancakes and cold fruit before heading up the dusty street to the market for a wander. On the way today I picked up a multicoloured pair of loose trousers, the type you find all over South East Asia, they’ve all the colours of my suitcase, pink, turquoise, blue and beige and will double as pyjamas if we encounter anywhere else as cold as here, brr! Each day I’ve asked their price and been told a different one, today’s was higher than yesterday so I asked for that one again and the sale was finally made.
When we left Singapore we left a lot of our clothing and I did perhaps my worst packing job so far, yay me! It’s not even my lack of cold weather wear, I just stuffed it up, oh well. So in addition to the fleece, gloves, socks, sweatpants and loose trousers I’ve already bought, I picked up an Oasis long sleeved T shirt at a second hand stall for fifty pence, which will also double as a pyjama top and like my sweatpants be donated to charity when we leave Myanmar. The stall consisted of a large pile of UK charity donated long sleeved tops and jumpers being sold by a wonderfully weathered and smiling old man.
After some jewellery buying by Trish, me losing and finding my fleece and some obligatory snack purchasing we headed to a tea shop at the crossroads to people watch. Elegantly dressed women in the traditional clothing with knitted bobble hats on, laden mopeds with piles of mattresses precariousness balanced, coach loads of tourists and cyclists all passed while we sipped warm and sweet tea sat upon impossibly tiny but actually rather comfy wooden stools. They bring plates of fresh pastries to the table, shortbread like square biscuits, sweet bean filled rounds, crispy pasties filled with shredded coconut, at the end you are simply billed for all those you’ve eaten. Four cows wandered down the road merging with the traffic as they wandered along. About ten minutes after the cows passed a lone cow came trotting up, stopped at the crossroads, looking either way, made a desultory moo, started one way, stopped, headed back the wrong way, all the while the cafe crowd yelling “the other way, not that way!” Like she even speaks English 🙂 With a final moo more wail in tone she headed off in the wrong direction and we all continued with our tea.
In the afternoon we made the two kilometre or so cycle to the Red Mountain Winery which is just outside of Nyaung Shwe. Ma being cycled by a lovely man in the trishaws they have here, the three of us cycling along behind on gearless bikes. The road mostly flat and through beautiful countryside. It was all fine until the slightest incline made peddling a challenge and then as we began to rise up the chap cycling Ma got off to push and she got out to walk, great excuse for me to join her as the others cycled ahead. Bicycles parked a short distance further we walked the remaining two hundred metres up a steep hill, grape vines lining the way until we reached the winery. The view over the valley towards the lake is truly stunning, well worth the journey, the sun shining down, fires burning, the mountains in the background rising from the mist. There are tables both inside and out and we took the last outside one sitting and enjoying the wonderful breeze.
They grow four wines you can taste, three white, a Sauvignon Blanc, Muscat Dry and late harvest and a red Shiraz Cabernet. The Sauvignon was the only one that agreed with any of us, crisp, light and peculiarly vegetably. After snapping some photos and soaking up the glorious sun we headed back down the hill to Ma’s waiting driver and the cycle home. I picked up a flat almost immediately and cycled halfway back before Trish very generously swapped bikes so we could share the bum soreness. We just missed being stampeded as a herd of cows emerged from a side street to cross the main road moments after we passed, stopping to laugh as they awkwardly navigated cyclists, cars and trucks.
For dinner we returned to the Viewpoint and ordered a variety of starters for us all too share, delicious crisped fried and stuffed chicken wings, fragrant shrimp patties, tasty Shan cheese rolls, plump pumpkin dumplings, soft ripe avocado salad, juicy tofu and succulent chicken satay. This restaurant is a real find, the wooden building is beautiful, almost octagonal with wrought iron chandeliers, the service impeccable and the food divine. While we were there a large party sat outside and were served a feast of half metre long skewers of meat and vegetables they cooked over fires placed along the middle of their tables.
Tomorrow we explore a little more then travel to Mandalay and back into the warmth for the next leg of our adventure. We could have done a day or two less here and a day or two more in Yangon but it is what it is and it’s been rather lovely getting to know this little outpost Xx