We checked out Lonely Planet’s tips for Hpa-an and we felt ready for it: these were the days to relax, to be active and to soak up the beautiful surroundings of the city. We also changed hotels: we thought of Soe Brothers as a nice but a bit overpriced place, and we felt like staying at a more luxurious place. Also, we somehow set our sights on a swimming pool. Well, it didn’t really get less pricy, but we end up in a 40sqm bungalow in the rather glitzy and pool-equipped Thiri Hpa-an hotel at the outskirts of Hpa-an (85 euro’s a night).
And we are happy with it, because my stomach turns out to become a significant adversity. Although I feel fine, my bowel movements prevent us from going anywhere far from some form of sanitary facilities. So, the next four days we spend at the pool, intermitted by small cycle outings to the monastery at the opposite of our hotel and -on a better day- a trip towards mount Zwekabin. Indeed, the scenery around Hpa-an is fantastic, and the close proximity to the Thai border crossing of Mae Sot makes it an attractive and accesible tourist area. We expect it to change rapidly in the coming years and the construction activities we encounter strengthens this belief.
The relative immobility we are experiencing gives us the opportunity to fulfil a mission: getting me a rear view mirror. Although initially we didn’t see any bike shops anywhere in town, we see bikes. So there must be a place somewhere where people get things fixed! We set off towards the city center and turn on our ‘bike-store’ radars. We also try our luck at the many motor scooter shops, but none of them turns out to have a mirror that fits my handlebars. But then, in the city center we come across a real bike shop that sells second hand bikes and many, many second hand parts as well. We even have choice of a collection of three different ones, but there is only one that has the right angle and the right fixation and it costs us only 1200 kyats. The owner and his helpers are so kind and patient to try them all and at the end I am so happy with my one and only, rusty and unique Myanmarese mirror!
Also, this is one of the many great encounters that happen when we try to get things done in Myanmar: people turn out to be very friendly, creative and tenacious to fix or find out. It is also a great and fun way to make communication and connection with locals: the language barrier often forces us to use hand and feet and next to it, the point-it guide turns out to be of great help.