– The adventures of a solo round the world cyclist –

Day 544 (Myanmar Day 32)

When sussing out potential cycling routes through the next country you are going to visit, it’s impossible to resist the temptation of slowly zooming out beyond the country in question, and begin to trace a line along the route you think you might take around the entire planet. You try to imagine the feeling of riding such a great distance and achieving such a big dream. You get excited by the idea and daunted by it at the same time. Then something brings you back to the present. You have to return to the tiny dot on the map where you currently are. You are reminded of the day’s ride you are about to have, to the next hill you have to climb, to the road surface beneath your tyres (or the bed you’re lying in as you recover from a tropical infection). You can dream of the future all you like, but there is no escaping the present. To miss the present is to forgo a future you once had and a past you can remember. You realise you need to embrace the present. You realise you are lucky to be where you are. You become energised to make the most of now. Then you realise you’re still stuck in a bed with an infected knee…

Day 544 (pic)

Distant goals

Accommodation $ Guesthouse
Distance ridden today 0km
Total distance ridden 14,339km
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Day 543 (Myanmar Day 31)

I made the decision to book a flight out of Myanmar for this Friday. This’ll mean I will have overstayed my visa for five days. Besides heading downtown to the Air India office to organise my new flight, I did very little else today. I’m getting pretty good at moping around the guesthouse willing my knee to get better.

Day 543 (pic)

Back into town

Accommodation $ Guesthouse
Distance ridden today 0km
Total distance ridden 14,339km
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Day 542 (Myanmar Day 30)

As if to tell me it was a good decision to stay beyond Monday, the wound on my knee split open slightly as I climbed the stairs to the breakfast dining room. I continued feeling down as I pottered around my room tending to Instagram, changing the thumbnails on my YouTube videos (adding a banner to the side so all the videos are easily identified as mine), and reorganising my data storage system (as I need to free up space on one of my hard drives to let me edit a new video). I met an interesting lady who was visiting the Jeff and Soe Soe. She was a filmmaker who is currently working for a commercial advertisement production company and has previously worked on various TV series.  She is seeking funding to create a feature film she has written, which would become Myanmar’s first internationally released feature film. Inspiring stuff.

Day 542 (pic)

Home away from home

Accommodation $ Guesthouse
Distance ridden today 0km
Total distance ridden 14,339km
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Day 541 (Myanmar Day 29)

My knee improved slightly overnight but my mindset did not. I have felt a little depressed all day. I was meant to wake up in India but instead I’m still in Yangon. I was going to head downtown to re-book a flight, but I wasn’t sure whether to book it for a Monday, book it for Friday (the only other day the flight runs), or give myself a bit more time to learn the rate at which my knee will heal. In the end I never made it downtown and have decided to wait until all signs of infection is gone and the wound is fully healed before I leave Myanmar. It’s the best decision but not the easiest one to make. I’m sick of sitting around, yet I can’t be too active as I don’t want the gash in my knee to split open and I don’t want to expose it to too much dirt and dust. Consequently, I went for just a small adventure today, wandering down the smallest lane-ways I could find in the local neighbourhood.

Day 541 (pic)

Inya Lakeside

Accommodation $ Guesthouse
Distance ridden today 0km
Total distance ridden 14,339km
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Day 540 (Myanmar Day 28)

‘The infection is returning’. The thought occurred to me last night just before bed and it was confirmed this morning when I woke up and investigated the state of my knee. A layer of yellow pus had formed. I knew I wasn’t fit to throw myself into India, but I still had to make the choice. Do I go anyway and just deal with it there? Or do I stay here where I have good reliable support? The only motivation I really have for going is that it would make me feel as if my journey was progressing. Here in Yangon I have support from Jeff and Soe Soe, and I also have a doctor familiar with my condition. I decided the risk was too great. I cancelled the taxi I had booked. I would miss my flight. I would overstay my Myanmar visa.

I still thought I could change my flight rather than cancel it altogether, so Jeff and I raced into the city to the Air India office. Unfortunately, I discovered that it was too late to get a refund on the flight. The best deal I could get was to get charged for being a no-show (US$70), but be able to reschedule the flight without further payment. After dealing with the airline, Jeff and I revisited the doctor and I was advised to start another course of antibiotics. I then faced the saddening prospect of unpacking my stuff and resettling back into my room. 

Day 540 (pic)

Still here

Accommodation $ Guesthouse
Distance ridden today 0km
Total distance ridden 14,339km
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Day 539 (Myanmar Day 27)

My bike is boxed. My panniers are bagged. I have checked the exchange rate for Indian Rupees and I have worked out what I can expect to pay for taxi ride from the airport. Physically, I am ready to go. Mentally, I’m not so sure. I haven’t really spent any time thinking about the fact that tomorrow I will be experiencing India for the first time. I’m getting used to taking life as it comes. I have thought that it will be sad leaving Jeff and Soe Soe. Bike World and their company has been a wonderful home away from home. I definitely feel like I have unfinished business in Myanmar and know that one day I will return.

Day 539 (pic)

Packed

Accommodation $ Guesthouse
Distance ridden today 0km
Total distance ridden 14,339km
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Day 538 (Myanmar Day 26)

I had a really nice half-day out with Jeff today. We had one chore each to complete downtown. Jeff purchased a camera strap and I purchased a picture frame. Fortunately, Jeff didn’t ask me why I was buying a picture frame so I didn’t have to dodge explaining it was for a picture that I drew for him and Soe Soe. Tasks completed, we visited various shops where Jeff had friends. Jeff hadn’t been downtown for a while so he enjoyed assessing the changes in the city and touching base with old friends. We explored Bogyoke Markets and I ended up buying a necklace with a jade pendant attached. I’m not one to buy souvenirs but when I was told the pendants are a symbol of good luck, I was struck with the thought that maybe if I wore such a pendant I would not be inflicted with another injury/illness and I could finally make some smooth progress in my cycling trip. I have been stalled too many times in the last six months and I would love to put an end to delays. Here’s hoping the necklace works!

Day 538 (pic)

Into the city

Accommodation $ Guesthouse
Distance ridden today 0km
Total distance ridden 14,339km
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Day 537 (Myanmar Day 25)

No more doctor for me. My knee is healing well and I can now manage it myself. I celebrated by going out for an evening stroll along Inya Lake. I can finally walk with almost no pain. I’ll be back on my pedals in no time! The doctor still says two weeks but I reckon I’ll get going sooner than that. In the meantime I will continue staying at Bike World, which is proving to be a great hangout to meet inspiring people – Paul is in Yangon to attend a conference about the protection of an endangered bird species inhabiting southwest Myanmar; Hugh was working with the Burmese government to develop a forestry management plan for the country; and James helps social enterprises and non-profit organisations strive for social justice in the developing world. And that’s just a few of the individuals I’ve met. All the while I keep getting beaten by Jeff at Words with Friends

Day 537 (pic)

Inya Lake

Accommodation $ Guesthouse
Distance ridden today 0km
Total distance ridden 14,339km
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Day 536 (Myanmar Day 24)

The video file took just under 24 hours to process. Being a perfectionist, I will probably make a few small changes and repeat the process. I can’t make it perfect by any means, but I can fix the few niggles I have with it. I spent some time today drawing a picture for Jeff and Soe Soe, to thank them for their kind hospitality.

Day 536 (pic)

Making use of my time

Accommodation $ Guesthouse
Distance ridden today 0km
Total distance ridden 14,339km
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Day 535 (Myanmar Day 23)

Good news: The infection has all but cleared up and I no longer need daily injections of antibiotics. Bad news: I was advised that it will be at least two weeks before I should consider riding again, to give the wound enough time to seal up and heal. I think I will leave Myanmar as planned and spend the healing time in Kolkata while its biggest festival (Durga Puja) is on. I finished editing Episode 3 of my cycle touring series today, but I have to wait 24 hours for it to process into file. Let’s hope this is the first time I get a video right the first time. 

Day 534 (pic)

Nice place to recover

Accommodation $ Guesthouse
Distance ridden today 0km
Total distance ridden 14,339km
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