Day 211 – 3rd November 2014 Leave 10.15am Miles rode 40 Kalaw – Nyaung Shwe

A short ride today followed by my best experience so far in Myanmar.

My bike is in need of some repairs and service, the rear sprocket is on its last legs, the chain is way past its best, my rear tyre has only a couple of mm of tread left and after the hard ‘off roading’ a few days ago it has splits and chunks in it so I’m taking it we easy for the next thousand or so kilometres into Bangkok and hopefully I’ll arrive before I break down.

In the evening we went to the balloon festival in Taunggyi, there must have been thousands of people there with the youngsters at the fun fair and the adults eating and drinking at the hundreds of food and drink sellers. Some of the food I recognised like the whole pigs head which had been boiled along with its intestines but most of the food was unrecognisable, I tried some and whilst I liked everything I had no idea what I was eating at times. Myanmar people like to drink, there were so many stalls selling alcohol.

The main attraction were the balloons. Teams had spent the last month making amazing structures, the ballon was 10 metres tall and lanterns with candles burning inside shined through the coloured plastic making detailed pictures on the outside of the ballon, under the ballon another thousand lanterns were carefully put on a bamboo structure again making a detailed picture which hung another 10 metres under the balloon. The balloon was fired by a massive structure within the balloon which was wrapped in cloth, soaked in petrol and burned ferociously.

It took up to an hour for the teams to set each balloon up ready for lift off, music was playing and people danced in a hypnotic way. Everyone there must have felt the energy and excitement. Men, women and teenagers all played their part in getting ready for lift off constructing the ballon, the crowd waited in anticipation of the great event as it unfolded in front of our eyes.

The moment the balloon took off was incredible as the balloon fire and all of the candle lanterns shone brightly as the balloon climbed way up into the clear sky. It was so bright it could been seen for maybe 30 minutes and a number of kilometres way up into the sky before it faded away.

It really was a wow event.

It’s all about the people.







2 Responses

  1. Lovely writing and photos! Really enjoyed it all. Sam Manicom posted one of your blog posts and I’m travelling by bike in Bolivia at the moment and moving south, so always enjoy reading other ride reports. Wishing you safe and happy travels!