From Monywa I went to Mandalay for one night, in order to catch a shared cab to Pyin Oo Lwin the following day. As I mentioned before, this is one of the great things about Myanmar, not only do hotels arrange buses for you to go to bigger destinations, but when your destinations are smaller, they can even arrange for shared cabs. The only problem here is that you can end up getting crammed with two other people in the backseat. However, I learned that if you ask for the front seat, you can reserve it for an extra $1-2 CDN.
Pyin Oo Lwin is a small town in the mountains, famous for its pleasant gardens. It is a very quiet town with not a lot to do aside from visit some waterfalls and check out the gardens by the lake. If you’re just looking for a place to relax for a couple of days, this is a good spot. But if you want to make the most of your time, one night in this town is more than enough. From Mandalay it’s only 2.5 hours so you’ll make it into town with plenty of time to check out the city. The following day I booked my return shared cab for 11 am which gave me two hours in the morning to check out more stuff.
I stayed at a place called the Orchid Hotel which only set me back $29 CDN a night. The hotel, like most in town, is located on big private grounds so it’s an excellent place to relax. The place almost feels like an old dormitory, but my room and bathroom were pretty large and comfortable. The sleeping-portion of the hotel:
The hotel lends out bikes for free, so I took one and decided to go check out a waterfall. By the time I got to the restaurant overlooking the waterfall, it was apparent that a bike is impractical for this city. It’s just too spread out and mountainous for bikes, I would recommend shelling out the money to rent a motorbike instead.
This is The View restaurant and hotel. After checking out the view-point terrace, I had a relaxing three hour lunch outdoors looking over the valley:
Realizing that it was at least 10 km back to town and entirely uphill, I asked the restaurant to arrange for a taxi to pick me up with my bike and take me into town. I got into town near sunset, and I took a chunk of time walking around taking pictures:
The hotel is a 10 minute bike ride from the centre of town, and by the time I got back to the hotel it was nearly dark. I just put on some warmer clothing and ventured out for dinner. Again, I just didn’t realise how spread out the town is. It took me a good 20 minutes to walk to a restaurant that had good reviews called the Terrace. In part it took me so long because it was pitch black-out, there is zero street illumination out there, and although I had a flashlight, I kept missing small unmarked turn-offs. It was worth it in the end, the restaurant was pretty empty but good, and I ended up chatting with the only other people out on the terrace (it was like 12 degrees out, so imagine perhaps there were other patrons inside), a nice Aussie couple. I arranged for a taxi to take me back to the hotel, and also made arrangements with that same taxi driver to take me out to the lake and the gardens the following morning.
The taxi driver picked me up at 9:00 am the next morning so I had a good 1.5 hours to check out the lake and gardens:
Before getting picked up by the shared taxi back to Mandalay, I went outside the hotel to take a picture of the only military college in Myanmar which happened to be across the street from my hotel. I’ll leave you with a picture of the college that just screams “Military Dictatorship!”: