It would seem that pretty much nobody apart from cycle tourists ends up in Kawkareik.
We stayed at the Smile Guest House (no address other than to keep going on the main road into town and make a left at the junction - there is a sign for it on the right and it is opposite the Hindu temple).
15,000 kyat gets you a basic room with two single beds, cold shower, and intermittent electricity. It's just about acceptable, although you'll be shocked at how little comfort you get for your money in this country compared with what you were accustomed to in Thailand. Best get used to it, it gets worse.
There is apparently another place on the main road on the left right before the junction which we missed. But other cyclists have said that it's alright. It's an alternative if Smile Guest House is full.
Our first stop post check-in was at a small teashop that also sold some grub. They weren't at all prepared for the arrival of two famished foreigners who had just ridden 70km over a mountain range fuelled by nothing but bananas, but they did their best. Amusing pointing at signs and gestures ensued, but then the girl waiting on us had the genius idea of using her enormous smartphone to call up a translation app.
Let's repeat the word "smartphone" again.
Because that's one of the biggest changes that Burma has gone through in recent years. Sim cards used to be impossible to get because mobile networks barely existed and if you did manage to find one, it was astronomically inflated, sometimes costing as much as $1,000 each.
Nowadays, you can't move for mobile phone shops. Everyone has a smartphone. Even a one-buffalo town will sell you phone credit. Telenor is the most popular so that's what we went with, but they also have Ooredoo if you so fancy. You don't need anything more than that. Coverage is decent and data speeds are mostly pretty good. If you're used to the networks in, say, the UK, you might be pleasantly surprised. It's cheap, too – our tariff was 5 kyat for a megabyte of data, which means a gigabyte will cost you less than $4.
It was just our luck that the night we got there, there was a festival in that Hindu temple across the road, plus another one at the Buddhist temple down the street, which had a fully-fledged fairground, complete with food stalls aplenty. So it was like Battle of the Temples to see which one could burst the eardrums of passers-by more. Obviously, we didn't complain about all the street food there was on offer.
We ate well that night.
Sleep is another matter entirely. Parties didn't stop until 4 AM, right before the monasteries started back up with the chanting.
Tomorrow's 100km ride should be interesting.
Man, is Burma loud.