Our Bago Mawlamyine Bicycle Ride would take us around the Gulf of Martaban. The Andaman Sea stretches from Banda Ache on the tip of Indonesia's North Sumatra. Bounded on its east side by the Malay - Thai - Myanmar peninsular and in the west by the Andaman and Nicobar archipelago beyond which lies the immense Bay of Bengal.
The Gulf of Martaban lies at the top end of the Andaman Sea where it is fed by the River Yangon in the east, the River Thanlyin in the west and the River Sittang at its northernmost point. flows into it It is often referred to as the Gulf of Mottama (Moke Ta Ma on Google) after its main port city of Mottama is an arm of the Andaman Sea in the southern part of Burma. The gulf is named after the port city of Mottama. Mawlamyine are southernmost destination in Myanmar lies immediately south of Mottama across the Thanlyin River.
Whist this was only six days of cycling we experienced myriad of wonders along the way.
Getting to Bago
Our choice to start from Bago was driven by necessity rather than desire as it was an easy flight from Bagan to Yangon airport and then a taxi to our first nights accommodation in Bago.
Bagan airport is little more than a small airfield just a ten minute drive from New Bagan by taxi. For this flight we were not charged for any excess baggage. The plane left on time and in just over an hour we were at the domestic terminal in Yangon. There is no baggage carousel here, just a team of porters unloading it from the plane onto large trolleys and bringing it to the outside of the terminal building. The four of us watched helplessly as the bike bags were thrown unceremoniously out of the hold onto the tarmac below.
Once we had claimed the baggage we had to pay a porter to take it outside as there are no luggage trolleys for passengers. Booking a taxi was straightforward at the taxi desk where the official spoke good English. Then we got the taxi to drive us to the International terminal to exchange more US Dollars into Kyat.
The distance by road from the airport to Bago is about 60km and very flat so we would have had enough time to cycle there before dark. Having read a few blogs written by other cyclists we decided to go by taxi. Highway 1 between Yangon and Bago is one of the busiest roads in Myanmar. All traffic heading out of Yangon to Mandalay in the north or Mawlamyine in the south uses this route and although there is a new toll expressway, most traffic goes on this old road.
We were glad we did. The road really was very busy and appeared to have been recently widened. There were three lanes of traffic in both directions with no hard shoulder, just rough ploughed earth at the side of the concrete. The taxi was right hand drive and Kjell was quite nervous travelling in the front seat as the driver attempted some fast, risky overtaking.
Bago is another 'ex-capital' of Burma and we stayed in the San Francisco Guesthouse. It is a very basic, but clean and well managed hostel. Although it is right next to the highway our rooms were at the rear so we were not disturbed by the heavy traffic. The staff spoke good English and were very helpful and knowledgeable.
In the late afternoon we walked to Shwethalyaung Buddha, an enormous and extremely attractive Buddha image. The sun was setting. There were not many restaurants in the town centre but we had a passable Chinese just across the road from the guesthouse in a place that was not sure if it was a garage or a restaurant.
Our ride descriptions give an account of the ride that we completed. As
part of the description we also provide links to google maps and
elevation profiles based on mapping data available through the internet.
The ride profiles are smoothed to give what in our opinion is a more
beneficial view of the profile. We use paper maps, GPS and on line data
to plan and conduct our rides. We are happy for you to use our
descriptions, but be aware that we do not guarantee the accuracy of the
information provided as situations surrounding any ride change over