Day 165: Bus to Lashio, SUPNovember 28, 2016 in Myanmar
Alarm at 6:15, upstairs for breakfast at 6:30. As we were eating, Mr Shin told us they'd spoken to the driver and the bus wouldn't be leaving until 7:45, so we had plenty of time. Very helpful, but we would've loved that information a bit earlier for a sleep in! Regardless, we were ready to go so they took us to their other hotel where they switched drivers.
Out to the bus station, where it turned out we were getting a local bus rather than a coach. No air-con, people sitting in the aisle or standing, spitting out the windows and so on. We grabbed some seats and the bus headed off. Unfortunately the seat in front of Shandos was broken and kept on reclining, so after about 10 minutes on the road the granny sitting there was practically in Shandos's lap! Got her to sit up but we basically had to manually hold the seat in place.
Thankfully the trip wasn't that long, about 2 hours, and halfway through a bunch of people got off so Shandos moved into the seat in the aisle. Arrived in Lashio around 10am, where we got a trike to our hotel (again more expensive than the bus), and checked in. Nothing flash - most of the hotels around here are basically built for Chinese business people, as the main road is the main highway between Myanmar and China. Lashio is the last major town before the Chinese border (though it's still several hours away).
We dumped our bags and organised some washing, then headed over to see Byron, the manager of Myanmar Adventure Outfitters and the main reason we'd come up to Lashio. He's a Canadian guy and runs an adventure tourism company up here, doing treks, biking, paddleboarding and so on.
We'd arranged to do some stand-up paddleboarding in the afternoon, but we dropped by just to introduce ourselves and see if anything was needed. After a good chat (it was nice to have a fellow English speaker to chat with - something we hadn't had since our daytrips in Coron) we headed back to the hotel to relax, and grab a bite to eat at a local bakery. Lots of people staring, as Lashio is well off the tourist trail and Westerners are a very uncommon sight here.
At 1:30pm we went back to Byron's house where we met the Dutch couple who were joining us, then we all piled into his ute and off we went. The lake for SUP was about 20 minutes out of town, and was the main reservoir for town water - not for drinking, just bathing and so on.
Having never done SUP before, I was a bit nervous and started off on my knees which was manageable. After 20 minutes or so I was in agony - my toes getting crushed against the board, my knees pushing on the board, and my thighs hurting too as they were already sore from all the biking and hill climbing a couple of days earlier. So I stood up.
It took me about a minute to go between kneeling and standing, but I managed it without falling off!! Once it was up it was so much easier - the paddle makes more sense, you don't get as wet, and it's just a much more natural position all round. The Dutch couple were a fair bit more active and could switch between kneeling sitting and standing, as could Byron. Shandos has better balance than me and could go between kneeling and standing without much difficulty, though she did topple over and fall in once! Sadly lost her sunglasses though, a $40 pair she'd bought in Manila at a fancy shop.
We were out on the boards for about 2 hours, paddling around the lake and enjoying the serenity. Nobody else was around, as expected, since it's a pretty isolated spot! Back to the car as the sun was setting, then we headed back to Byron's house where his housekeepers (or his wife, I wasn't quite sure) had cooked a big meal for us - Burmese Mexican food! Basically just Mexican food except with sweet & sour pork Burmese style for meat.
Stayed until about 7:30 just chatting, as again it was nice to speak English with someone other than Shandos. Byron's been coming to Myanmar since 2003, and lived in Thailand for several years as well before setting up this company earlier in the year. He's very keen on helping develop this region for tourism as it's completely unknown at this point - hardly any tourists come here at all. Lots of challenges but he thinks he's slowly making a difference.
Back to our hotel for the evening ahead of a semi-early start. Tomorrow morning we have a waterfall trek, followed by a hike out into a Shan tribal village where we'll stay the night!Read more