As part of the Share Your Adventure campaign, we recently put the word out that you can earn yourself a $50 ioMerino Voucher just by sharing your adventure with us. We’ve since received a number of awesome submissions, but this month’s $50 voucher winner is Bill and Susan Hester from North Western Carolina. In fact, Bill and Susan actually came to us with a list of recent adventures including backpacking in the Havasupai Reservation along the Grand Canyon and Clingmans Dome, but it was their trip to Myanmar that really caught our attention! As massive ioMerino fans, it’s only natural they take their favorite thermal layers with them everywhere they go, so was awesome to hear of the exotic places our high performance layers have travelled! If you’ve been up to something interesting and would like to submit your adventure story, click here for more info. And if you’d just like to hear about Bill and Susan’s time in Myanmar, then continue reading!

Story and pictures by Bill & Susan Hester

“My wife and I took a few weeks to visit Myanmar this past summer. The kids are finally old enough to leave on their own and we were finally getting the opportunity to follow our passion of travel and adventuring. Myanmar was perfect for us and we wanted to take advantage of every moment. For me, that means exploring every thing I could. For my wife, that means taking advantage of what I find.

About 5 days into our trip, we found ourselves near a place alongside the mountains leading to the border with Thailand and in a town on the banks of Lake Inle. The lake is filled with floating gardens and small villages, perfect for exploring. Our plan was to take mountain bikes for the day and see what this gorgeous country had to offer. The route was suggested by our hotel and even included a map. We were to pedal south along the banks of the lake for a couple hours, hitch a ride on a ferry across the lake and then return, riding north on the opposite shore. The guy at the hotel told us the ferry would be marked with a blue sign, you can’t miss it.

Our day started off and we really enjoyed visiting a couple of small Buddhist monasteries and temples, as well as a school filled with children outside playing. A few middle school age kids were doing high jumps over a piece of rope 4 ft high and clearing it easily. A few more were playing volleyball over the smallest little badminton net ever, but their skills were on point with perfect set, pass, and spike. Anyway, after about 2 hours we started wondering where this sign was. We still had the lake in sight to our left so we kept on exploring. We shared the closing minutes of Chile vs Argentina soccer game with some construction workers on break and cheered along with them, as well as talked with some farmers clearing a piece of land for their water buffaloes.

We were having a great time, but with temperatures in the high 90 degree F and going past 3 hours, we were starting to think our map was wrong. Our sign was no where in sight and our road was supposed to end alongside the lake. We kept going in hopes that we would eventually find the end of the road and catch a boat across, or back to our starting point. Either would have been nice. At about the 5 hour point of our ride, we had just climbed our steepest hill yet. My wife was about at the end of her stamina and we both weren’t having as much fun as we hoped. Coasting down the other side, we saw a small village ahead, our first settlement of any kind in the last couple hours. Finding In Dien was such a relief.  We rolled down the dusty street, passing a herd of cows and a few shops to a small, little clean restaurant named “The Lucky Star”, and it was.  The lady who ran the place saw my wife and immediately brought a bottle of ice cold water and offered a chair to sit. She even stood beside her waving a fan to cool my wife. This was just one example of many that showed the true kindness of the people we met.

Having situated my wife comfortably, I went off to explore. Finding a large, slow moving canal through town, I was able to hire a boat and driver to bring us back to our hotel across the lake. I also discovered one of the coolest places we visited. The pagoda and temples of In Dien date back over a 1,000 years and have over 1,000 stupas (individual temple spires) in varying stages of condition. Some were overgrown and looked straight out of an Indiana Jones movie set with trees growing out of them and vines crawling everywhere, while others were obviously freshly restored. It was a highlight of our entire trip. After some lunch, more cold water and an hour or so exploring these ruins and temples, we set off to return to our hotel in style. Knowing we had a boat to bring us all the way back was such a relief.

My wife looks to that day as one of her favorite experiences. As she has told me many times, every-time I go on a trip with you, we are guaranteed to have at least one epic day of getting lost and discovering something awesome.

I have to say that a lot our adventures are pretty hard on us, but without the quality gear and clothing we have, it would be a lot harder. We love ioMerino for just that reason. I love my light weight half zip T and used it so much, I bought another.

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