I love exploring new places on my bike. Something about pedaling on unfamiliar roads, and even getting lost give you a view of a place that you can’t get from a car, train or bus. It went without saying on our honeymoon to Myanmar and Vietnam that exploring by bike was going to be a part of the itinerary.
My husband and I took two very different bike trips. The first was in Bagan, Myanmar, where we simply rented rickety, standard-issue commuter bikes and rode the dirt trails that criss-cross the town’s famous temple complex. Bagan features a nearly 2,000 temples dating back almost 1,000 years. They were kickstarted by a king, who upon being converted to Buddhism, went on a temple building craze, starting a new temple every 14 days.
These temples, some more grand than others and some crumbling with antiquity, should probably be treated like museum exhibits, much like the Egyptian pyramids. Instead, you’re free to walk in, explore (often without a soul in sight), and even climb up to the top. I felt like Indiana Jones in the Temple of Doom as we biked those dusty roads going temple to temple in the hot sun.
Our second bike trip took us through the Mai Chau Valley in northern Vietnam. Our guide Hai, wiry thin and all-business, outfitted us with hard tail mountain bikes, water and snacks and we were off for a three-day adventure. It took awhile to get away from the outskirts of the city and onto more deserted country roads. We had grand plans that first day to ride some 30 miles, but we started in the rain, and it really never stopped, so that cut the riding down some.
Still, we rode through insanely green rice patties, past bamboo homes built on stilts, and marveled at the foreign-shaped hills shrouded in layers of fog and rain. My one regret about that trip? We didn’t bring rainwear, and had to purchase makeshift “ponchos” (read: trashbags with holes) to keep from getting completely soaked, so I’m really sporting some haute couture in all our photos.
The second and third days, the rains lifted and we enjoyed some spectacular bike touring. if you haven’t included biking as an activity in some of your travels, I highly recommend it. You won’t regret it, trash bags and all!