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 2: Naypyitaw to Bago

Day 2: Naypyitaw to Bago
February 21st 2012

View Myanmar Trip Day 2: Naypyitaw to Bago in a larger map (This map is a little off because we got on the expressway much further north than indicated on the map.)

Start: 9:40 Naypyitaw
Arrival: 7pm Bago
Travel Time: 9 hours 20 min
Total Distance Traveled (Zach): 341..8km / 212 miles
Total Distance Traveled (David): 340.4km / 211 miles
David's Efficiency: 35.9km per liter / 84.4 mpg
Zach's Efficiency: 33.6 per liter / 79 mpg

I had a tough time sleeping last night for some reason and woke up at 6:30am. Dad and I got dressed and out to eat breakfast in the lobby at around 8am. The buffet was nice but the servers we way too overbearing. We couldn't pull out our own chair whenever we sat down. They would always do it for us and hover around our table to whisk away our finished plates and refill our coffees. They were extremely nice but you just want to be left alone a bit while you enjoy your meal. We were back in the room, packed up and ready to leave at 9:40am.

20 lanes. 2 motorbikes
Make sure you stay in your lane Dad. You don't want to cause a traffic jam 
We had shitty start to the day after leaving the hotel. First, we went to go take a picture of the parliament building because we missed it the day before. When we got on the main road to parliament it suddenly widened into a massive 20 lane road just like what we saw near the pagoda yesterday. We weren't able to get a good shot so we went on past to try to get to the expressway. Unfortunately, the road was blocked by soldiers and police, sometimes they are really hard to tell apart, and they politely told us we couldn't pass. We asked why we couldn't pass but they didn't understand. It looked like it has always been blocked to unauthorized vehicles. We passed the parliament again so we decided to try to drive up the driveway to get a photo. Again we were stopped by police and told we couldn't get in or take a photo. This was a frustrating since our tourist map listed the parliament building as one of naypyitaw's main attractions but when we got there we are not allowed in or to even take a picture.
How do you say "1.5 Imperial gallons my ass!" in Burmese?
Afterwards, we went to get gas. The gas station we went to had the little books like before but it wasn't a MPPE station. We just wanted to top off our tanks and fill our mouthwash bottle with gas and be off. We filled up our tanks and got a little over a liter in the mouthwash bottle, maybe we got 3 liters max. The attendant then tells us we got 1.5 imperial Gallons, about 7 liters. This was not true so we got a bit upset and they kept telling us that we got 1.5 gallons. Our tanks were full and the pump had already been reset so we just accepted it and paid. I was really wishing San San was with us since we couldn't communicate with them well. We just got ripped off. As upset as we were we just left since we didn't have time to, or know how to deal with them.
I guess they blew their road budget on the 20-lane-wide road 
This is supposed to be the Diplomatic Zone
After the gas station we got a little lost and had to take some undeveloped roads. We eventually made our way back to the junction hotel, right where we started. That is also when dad realized that we lost our mouthwash bottle full of gas. I tied it onto his bike so I take full responsibility for the loss. I was upset but I guess we got a free bottle of gas from the nice guy at MPPE yesterday so we got to give our gas to whoever found it on the road.
San San later told me that the sign says " Motorcycles Forbidden"
When we finally got on the expressway we made great time again. We just cruised along at about 70kph. We hoped on at mile marker 200 and made it to mile marker 116.4 before Dad ran out of gas. We just had about a mile to go before we got to the rest stop. I carried Dad's suitcase because I couldn't stand waiting for him to tie everything up again for a mile trip where he would have to untie everything again to get at the gas tank. We got to the station, filled up without being ripped off again, then had a big lunch.
Out of gas
We got back on the expressway and made it all the way to our exit on mile marker 39 without running out of gas. We did have a lot of fun on the expressway for that trip. We would drive sitting strait up, like we normally do, then bow down to get our heads so they rested between the handlebars. It made a huge difference in our speed. My top speed went from 80kph to about 100kph.

Fast food, Myanmar style.
After our fill up at 39 mile we then took a great 2 lane concrete road, sometimes divided, to the old mandalay-Yangon highway so we could get into Bago. When we got to the old highway we knew right away where all the trucks were. I guess they are not allowed on the expressway, but we did see a few, so highway 1 is their main road. What a mess, there are so many trucks and motorcycles and cars and busses and tuolajis and people and dogs and anything else you can think of on that road. Passing is a huge pain in the ass but we did manage to get around the trucks without too much trouble. What we really had to look out for was the empty trucks and busses that would barrel up from behind us.
We made it to Bago after a very long day of driving and we stopped at the first hotel we saw. Unfortunately that place was a shit hole so we had to look on. After about 30 minutes of driving around town, we finally came across a place we passed before, the San Francisco Guest House. The place doesn't have air con, or hot water and it's a little old but it was very tidy so we took it for 15 bucks a night.

Highway 1 half the size of the expressway and 50x the traffic

We went to a little Chinese place for dinner and ordered the exact same stuff we got in Hsipaw, Kung Pao chicken, fried rice, stir fried watercress and beer. It was great. We made it back to the hotel and now I'm ready to make up the sleep I lost the night before.

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