With Oscar having left for Bagan by night, Carlo and I retired to our pre-booked room that looked way too nice for the price ($7.50 per night). We instantly drifted off to sleep, lulled by the warmth of the blankets in the heat of the guesthouse. Even better, the shower had the hottest and highest pressured water that we had used in Myanmar so far. I almost burned myself using it the first time, in awe that I really had access to warm and powerful water again.
In the morning, I woke up early to grab the included breakfast on the rooftop: two pieces of toast, jam, a melon, tea, and an omelette. But, as I ate, Carlo stayed in bed and remained there when I went out to explore town later. He still wasn’t feeling well.
On my solo day out, I observed several matches of football and volleyball at a nearby sports field, unaware of their significance. I later learned that I had attended Nyaung Shwe’s first ever “Sports Day” which gathered the men’s football and women’s volleyball teams of regional high schools to compete. Supposedly prior to the country’s political change only months before, hosting an event of this nature was illegal. The extremely ecstatic cheers from spectators suddenly made more sense.
Walking around the rest of town, it was immediately apparent that the place catered to tourists. Authentic Italian, Japanese, Indian, and other culture cuisine restaurants lined street after street.
Since my guesthome had rented out all of their bicycles for the day I decided to hitch to the Red Mountain Winery (one of the country’s most well-known and visited wineries) since it was so nearby. I knew that hitching in Myanmar was supposed to be easy, but also bound to be interesting since the typical thumb-up gesture wasn’t recognized. Instead, I found my ride by frantically waving back and forth until an eighteen-wheeler truck picked me up. The driver couldn’t speak much English and I couldn’t speak much Myanmar, but in the end I learned that he worked for resorts, transporting construction materials back and forth between them and warehouses. He dropped me off right at the entrance of the winery and I began my ascent alongside two others who had biked past me while I waited for my ride earlier.
Two hours later, the two others (a friendly Australian couple) and I had tried four wines for the equivalent of $3.00 and snacked on an assortment of cheeses that we struggled to order through the language gap. We parted ways as they biked and I hitched back to town, meeting Carlo for a light dinner.
The next morning, I grabbed the included breakfast again as Carlo remained in the room. Although he skipped eating, a few hours later he was feeling lively enough to venture outside the guesthouse and joined me on another hitching adventure to the winery so he could also try the wines. He wasn’t a fan of any of them but enjoyed the views from the tasting area. While we drank, we met two guys from Michigan and Bulgaria who we talked to for several hours before hitching back to town with them in another monstrous eighteen-wheeler.
With Carlo clearly feeling much better, we booked a bus ticket for the next morning to Mandalay, our next destination on our U-shaped tour of the country. We were very excited to get out of one of Myanmar’s most touristic towns and instead spend our remaining time uncovering more of the country’s mysterious beauty.