Today we take highway 85 towards Hpa-an. We’ve read it is a friendly city with beautiful surroundings and we’re planning to stay a few days there. Highway 85 is a breeze! Rice fields and karst mountains are lining our route and since it is a short distance today, we can take our time to enjoy the surroundings.
We visit the Bayin Nyi Cave just off the road. We see lots of monkeys, many domestic tourists and feel like popstars! It starts with two young girls that are accompanying me, and as soon as I greet them point at their mobiles with camera’s. I offer to take a picture of them but that doesn’t make them very enthusiastic. It is me they want on their photo’s! This ends in a ten minute session with several families taking pictures of Juul and me and I even get two babies overhanded to pose with.
We arrive at Hpa-an by boat. Road 85 loops right to cross the bridge over the Thanlyin (also called the Salween) river, but we decide to visit Hpa-Pu hill on the left hand first and confide that somewhere we will find a boat that will help us cross the river directly into Hpa-an. We don’t climb Hpa-Pu hill but it is nice to see life in small villages and to explore smaller roads. They’re a bit bumpy, but it’s fine!
Locals are pointing us our way to the point from where small boats leave the river bank to the other side. We arrive very close at the city center, at a rather barren bank that is situated much lower than street level. There is no jetty or anything, although it seems to be an often-used spot to unload passengers and goods and simultaneously functions as a dumping ground for plastic and other waste. Boatmen swiftly carry our bikes and bags up to street level, and we’re off to stay our first night at Soe Brothers II guesthouse (40 euro’s).