In February-March of 2012 I took a motorbike trip with my 68 year old father around Myanmar (Burma) as a way to explore the country on 2 wheels. I live in Mandalay and Pyin Oo Lwin with my wife, who grew up here, and son, who was born here.I never much rode far outside of the Mandalay area so when my Dad came to visit I had the perfect excuse. We wrote a trip report and posted pictures for our family but it has now become a bit of a guide for anyone else who is interested in these areas or, more specifically, to anyone who wants to travel Myanmar on a motorcycle. If you are interested in doing a trip like this, read this blog, ask around on the travel forums, check with the Myanmar Travels and Tours website to see which areas are off limits and read the news. Our trip worked for us but things change and roads open up or close so please seek out updated information.
Zach B

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Day 1: Mandalay to Naypyidaw

Day 1: Mandalay to Naypyitaw
February 20th 2012

View Myanmar Trip Day 1: Mandalay to Naypyitaw in a larger map

Start: 8am
Arrival: 2:30pm Naypyidaw
Travel Time: 7 hours 30 min
Total Distance Traveled (Zach): 324.3km / 201 miles
Total Distance Traveled (David): 322.7km/ 200 miles
David's Efficiency: 39km per liter / 91.8 mpg
Zach's Efficiency: 35.6km per liter / 83.4 mpg
Let's Roll

We had a 4 day break from driving so we were able to relax and prepare for the next 2 weeks. We stayed at the farm until the the 18th (San San's birthday) then we drove down to Mandalay. Dad tested out his new bamboo pole that he tied to the back of the bike to help hold his suitcase. It held up very well, too well. The next day, When Dad had his bike parked next to mine at the hotel I backed out and broke off a piece of my plastic fairing on his bamboo pole. We just got the bikes washed that day too so I was a little upset with my misfortune. I also got my battery replaced with my mechanic neighbor. I didn't have my receipt from last month so he had to talk with them to make sure they would change my battery. They think it is defective, I hope so because I like using the electric starter.
We had an early start to this first day of our big trip down south from Mandalay. I was really wanting to leave earlier but I know my limitations so we got out at 8am. I had a very small bag just like before because I could put a few pants in dad's big suitcase. San San saw us off and Max was still upstairs. I didn't want him to see me off because he would be very upset to see me leave without taking him to the bouncy castle (inflatable playground) at the shopping mall.
Mandalay Traffic

Entrance to the Yangon- Mandalay Expressway
We had a hectic ride through the Mandalay morning rush hour to the expressway south of town. We didn't think we could get onto the expressway since everyone we spoke to said motorbikes were not allowed. When we hit the tollbooth about a mile down the road we were just waved right through. Taking the new expressway saved us tons of time. We traveled further today than we have planned for the rest of the trip. We were able to cruise at about 70kpm for very long distances. The road was smooth and empty. We saw mostly private cars and motorbikes but we did see a few trucks.
Since this expressway is so new, a few years old, there are only 2 rest stops the whole 366 miles to Yangon.
My bike was running on empty after an hour on the road. We stopped at a small shack off the road to get some gas from private seller. I got 2 1-liter bottles of gas that were mostly full for 1200 kyat each. Dad was able to make it All the way to the rest stop, over 140km from Mandalay, before he filled up. We used a lot of gas today because we were cruising faster than usual. The places to buy gas are also far and few between so we had a few nervous spots during our drive. We bought an extra liter at one of the shops to hang off Dad's bamboo pole. I got to the use that gas about a mile from our hotel in Naypyitaw when I ran out of gas. Dad just made it to the hotel without running out.

DIY gas station
Royal treatment at the rest stop

Naypyitaw is the new capital of Myanmar since 2005 (I think). All the roads And most of the buildings are nice and new. Our hotel is very nice for 40,000 kyat. The roads are wide and there is a lot of space so you need a car or motorcycle to get anywhere. The Internet here is fast too so that is a nice change from the rest of Myanmar. After a quick shower and change 2 employees at the hotel escorted us to the gas station nearby. They took us to the main road where they asked some girls to sell us some 1 liter bottles of gas. We refused because we wanted to fill our bikes at a real gas station. We drove toward the nearest station on the map. We got to the MPPE gas station driveway when Dad ran out of gas.

I pushed his back peg with my foot while driving to push him the rest of the way. MPPE is the government's gas station that sells subsidized gas at a low rate. Since Dad and I didn't have a ration book, they refused to give us any gas. We showed them that dad was totally out of gas but they still said no. We pushed the bikes to the side so dad could get some plastic twine out of his bag so I could tow him to the next gas station. When we were about to leave, the government worker came up with a liter bottle of gas. He poured it into Dad's tank and walked away before we could pay him. We tried to pay but he just kept walking and refusing our payment. We were very appreciative and happy to have met such a nice fellow.
We drove to the next station, filled up our thirsty bikes and drove on to the waterfall park.
The waterfall park is more like a fountain park and only cost 200 kyat each for the entrance fee. There was also a motorbike entrance fee of 100 kyat per bike, a motorcycle parking fee of 200 kyat per bike and a camera fee of 1000 kyat for my camera. Dad was lucky and the attendant didn't see his camera.
Run down waterfall park
Youch! Youch! Youch! Youch! Youch!

We got receipts for all these fees too so we received more paper than we gave them. The waterfall park is more a park of fountains with just a few artificial waterfalls so we left that place soon after we got a few pictures. We were able to get some pictures of city hall from the park which was funny since I was stopped by a policeman from taking a picture of it from the entrance when we passed on the main road.
So why couldn't I take a photo from the entrance? Maybe the cop knew I'd get a better shot from inside the park
Burmese are getting pretty good at making these things

We went to see the Ouparta Thandi Zedi a few miles away from the park at sundown. It looks just like Shwedagon Pagoda, only slightly smaller. It was very beautiful so we got a lot of pictures from the road around it and the massive main road,with 10 lanes on each side, that runs past. We didn't go in since we got so many good pictures from the road.
The Junction Hotel ain't bad
We ate at a cheap noodle shop in the junction shopping center in front of our hotel before calling it a night.


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