This morning Sue at and I rose at 630, and after a brief breakfast we parted ways: Sue for the Market (enjoy her pictures) and I took off on a backroad bike ride down to the Ayeyarwady river.
Morning is quieter so I pedaled west through relatively light traffic until I hit the crowded market… a dead-reckoning detour south got me around it and back on to the bike tour recommended in Lonely Planet. Biking doesn’t lend itself to photography, and I know Sue’s market pictures will better than my snapshots, so I focused on the experience. The locals are pleasant and as I drifted from the city center I became more of a novelty… children shout “hello” and adults smile at the big foreigner on a bike in the back alley.
The sights, sounds and scents are a bit more exotic here, but poverty and pollution increase as I approach the river. I crossed a pretty teak footbridge over the Thinga Yarzar Canal just west of the river… it was both charming and appallingly filthy. Winding my way past temples and tea houses, I found the east bank of the lazy Ayeyarwady, with make-shift shipyards, trade docs and tourist boats, hovels, dogs and garbage scattered along its shore. I took an hour to explore the area and deliberately lose myself in alleys of western Mandalay… I enjoy the adventure and chance encounters that result from getting lost and solving the route home. Mandalay seems very safe to me, and if need be, friendly locals are happy to offer directions.