Working out in Pyin Oo Lwin (guest post by Kyla)

Trip Start Apr 18, 2012
Trip End Jun 12, 2012

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Flag of Myanmar  , Mandalay Region,
Sunday, April 29, 2012

After a week of sweltering Myanmar heat, we decided to head to the mountains (as the British colonials did and city-dwellers from Yangon and Mandalay still do) of Pyin Oo Lwin to cool off.

As we had spent the previous couple of nights at a cozy, quaint - but spare - family guesthouse, and the next portion of our journey will be village home stays along trekking routes, we figured we'd splurge a little and stay at a more 'upscale' resort.

I was particularly pleased, on check-in, to see that "Exercise Room" was listed as an amenity. The food here has been great, though a little oily, and I was starting to feel overdue for some physical activity to balance out the meals. Turns out the "Exercise Room" is basically a closet with a single stationary bike. Not exactly Healthworks. (I forgot to take a photo, so Valerie agreed to an artist's rendition - see below). And too bleak and depressing to consider.

Thankfully, one of the attractions about 10 minutes outside of the town is a huge waterfall that the Lonely Planet guide says can be reached by a gradually sloping 45 minute trek down a path (with, presumably, a gradual hike back up). I figured that would fit the bill for some moderately strenuous activity - I'm not looking for a 10k or anything: I am on vacation, after all (and I did suffer that previously-described Boston marathon injury).

When we asked at our hotel about arranging a taxi to get there, the hotel manager offered that he's planning on opening a new hotel soon overlooking the falls. He arranged for a driver to take us to the hotel (with the hope that we'd be impressed and write a great 'preview' on TripAdvisor) and said there was a private path we could use to hike down to the waterfall.

From the top of the gorge where the hotel sat, the views were stunning. But we quickly realized that, rather than the meandering 45 minute stroll that we had anticipated, the private path was a direct shot down the steep gorge. And would be followed by a direct shot up the steep gorge. "Oy," I heard Valerie think.

We made it down easily enough. And the waterfall was beautiful. From the bottom, only the lower quarter of the falls was actually visible - so we were very thankful for the views we had from the top.

As we set off for the uphill climb, I was wishing that I had done some warm-up on that lone stationary bike. I could definitely feel the effects of a more sedentary lifestyle over the last couple of weeks (if you don't count running around O'Hare trying to reschedule our cancelled connecting flight). And it is just so much harder to get excited for hiking up a mountain when the 'pay off view' was just at the bottom.

The hike up was certainly a good work out, though we counteracted any effects of getting out of the plains' heat - we were sweaty messes by the top. Jenn and Steph will be happy to hear that Valerie made it up to the top 'without registering a single complaint,' encouraged by my constant refrain of, "We're almost there - only 0.2 miles to go!" Post-hike reward: mochaccino floats and orange-pineapple smoothies at an outdoor cafe #roughingit

P.S. For those of you who saw my fb post about Justin Bieber being the ambassador for Canadian culture, the update is that Nickelback is the other known Canadian export in Myanmar. And as if that alone weren't bad enough, the Burmese-language soft pop cover song that we heard was in the company of similar covers by Lionel Ritchie and Chris DeBurgh as the only western music we've heard played. I had lasted over a week without craving my iPod (a feat for those of you who know me), but this aural assault led me to dig it out of my pack - along with the awesome mini mp3 travel speaker that Nancy and Gena got me! - to listen to some CBC Radio 3 as a reminder that excellent Canadian music exists.

P.P.S. Valerie and I have determined that I'm the Andy Rooney to her 60 Minutes as far as this blog is concerned - she produces the substantial documentary reporting, analysis, heft and humor for which people tune in; I sweep in periodically for distracting grumpy fluff pieces. Next up: a series of "did you ever notice that...?" or "do you ever wonder why...?" segments.
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Mik Reklaw on

As a Canadian mother of a nine year old girl, I take exception to your disestablishmentbierberarianism, Alyk. But I'm glad your trip sounds like it's "the best". I've noticed you "lookin on" in a couple of pictures. I hope you remember to yawp once or twice. Have a care, girls! PS. Val, you so have to write children's books!

Sandra on

Thanks Andy.

And I think you should just go with the Bieber thing, claim he's your cousin and enjoy the adoration. You've got the hair ....

Zach would be impressed

Liz on

Justin Bieber's Canadian?

eggie on

i love you kyla!

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