The Grasshopper Adventures Bicycle tour U-bein Sunset Ride tour is a bit expensive but I thought it was really worth it. I inquired about a lot of tours in Mandalay. The hotel even helped me look for one but most of them were unavailable in the off season. Luckily, the Grasshopper Adventures were still conducting tours. There were only 2 in our group, the other one was Audrey. She was another solo female traveler from Malaysia. The cost of the tour is $60 per person. It includes hotel pick up and drop off, bike, English speaking tour guide, helmet, snacks, and drinks. You can click here for more details of our tour at the Grasshopper Adventures website. When I was making the reservation, I was asked for my height so they can set the bike according to it.
On the day of the tour, I was picked up at the hotel at 12:30pm. Then we picked up Audrey at her hotel. We were off to the back streets of a small town. According to their website, we biked 20 km for the duration of the tour. The level is from mild to moderate. We started our tour by having some traditional Burmese snacks.
They really like their fried food. Most of them are leaves, roots, and tofu dipped in batter and deep fried in oil. There is also a dish on the side that I guess you can dip it with. Some of it was good but it was really greasy.
OUR BIKES ON THE GRASSHOPPER TOUR
Then we were introduced to our bike. We were given instructions on how to operate it.
We biked through the village. Our first destination is a family home where they made the pots for Buddhist monks. It’s a long process of pounding the metal first to get it in shape. Then applying the tint and letting it dry.
Then we biked through temples. Some of them are built hundreds of years ago and they are still magnificent. Our tour guide explained to us that one of the main points of Buddhism is to give so the rich or well off would build great stupas that’s why there are so many of them. It’s not just a government project, even individuals can build one.
TEMPLES IN MANDALAY
After the temples, we veered into the field, the biking here gets a bit tricky since the roads are not really paved and really small, like there is only enough room for your bike. It was so hot. The sun was really killing me, add the effort you exert. I tried to drink the water on the bike even if it has also become hot. Good thing that we passed by some vendors. I was gonna buy a drink myself but our tour guide offered to buy one for me since he said it was part of the tour. Anyway, we went to this temple complex. It was empty, we were the only people there. It was beautiful. Maybe because it was so remote. It was nicely kept too, not a lot of overgrown grass.
The box shaped building is two levels. We went in to explore it. The ceilings were really low but it was really impressive how they could have built that at that time. Our tour guide said that it was a monastery before and a library, we even climbed up until the roof top. It was weirdly cool inside which was a welcome feeling coming from the heat. The way they built it was really nice, it had good ventilation too. From top, you can see much of the complex.
Then we went to another part of town and we saw this leaning watch tower. I think this is a popular building since we saw a few horse carts that were already there and some vendors. We also passed by the former princess’s swimming pool and it was really lovely. You can imagine the magnificence during its day but I didn’t take pictures.
CROSSING THE RIVER
We took a short break at a canteen near a temple and had some drinks. Then it was time to cross the river. There are actually time for the boats so our wonderful tour guide timed it for that. We carried our bikes to the boat and he held them until we crossed the other side.
On the other side of the river, we went to a family that weaved cloths.
After that, we biked our way through the back streets. It was really dirty and smelly, like garbage everywhere. Definitely no tourists there. I imagine that it would be dangerous to explore those parts too without a local with you. It was really a good thing to witness it too. I never would have seen that if I went on a cookie cutter tour. Of course, there was really no chance to snap some pictures as we were moving the whole time, not a place you would like to be left behind.
THE FAMED U-BEIN BRIDGE
Then we finally make our way to U-bein. Our tour guide asked us if we wanted some drinks. We did get some from the restaurants along the dock. Then he approached the boat driver. This was our boat that was awaiting us. We also had snacks. We had bread, potato chips, some kind of popcorn and watermelon. We didn’t really eat much.
It was so pretty.
We told our guide who told our boat man to let us off after the sun sets at the structure in the middle so we can walk our way back on the bridge itself.
Definitely one of the highlights of my trip to Myanmar. The U bein bridge doesn’t seem very remarkable up close or from afar in person but you can definitely see the magic when the sun sets.
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