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

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Trial Run Day 2: Hsipaw to Lashio
February 12th 2012

Start: 10:20am Hsipaw
Arrival: 2:50 Lashio
Travel Time: 4 hours 30 min
Total Distance Traveled (Zach): 90.3km/ 55mi
Total Distance Traveled (David): 88.7km/ 54mi
David's Efficiency: 48 km per liter / 112 mpg
Zach's Efficiency: 46 km per liter / 108 mpg

We had a great night sleep at Charles Guest House on their foam mattresses. The weather was quite cool at night, somewhere in the upper 50s (around 15 C). We woke up at 7:15 and were down for breakfast before 8am. Breakfast was simple yet good. We had a few slices of toast, a fried egg, coffee, an orange for each of us and some cut up Chinese cruller to share. After breakfast we went into the market to buy a tire tube for 2500 Kyat. We both have the same size tires so we just got 1 spare. I had trouble getting my bike started in the cool weather but Dad didn’t have a problem at all. My electric starter, which I thought was fixed before we left, is not working at all so I must still have a problem with the battery not getting charged while we drive. We got gas at the station that sells rationed gas at a lower price to the public, we didn't have a ration book so they charged the market rate but they could only sell us 1.65 liters. 
Black House Cafe 
We went back to the Black House Cafe. They have a beautiful location right on the Dot Hta Waddy River. My black coffee tasted just like Nescafe Dad got a tea. We spoke with the owner who gave us some tips on driving to Lashio on the back roads. We went back to the hotel and met a Swiss guy that Dad and I talked with at a restaurant in Mandalay a few days before. He was staying in the hotel all day because he got food poisoning the night before. I had food poisoning the last time I was in Hsipaw too so maybe it's something in the water, or he ate at the same place I did last year.
Sino-Burma Pipeline Project

We set out on the North-South road to ManSan at 10:20am. The road was mostly paved but very spotty. After about 20 minutes of driving we came across the a staging area for the Chinese pipeline project in Myanmar. There were hundreds of pies being loaded and unloaded off trucks. They also had some very nice temporary buildings for the Chinese workers. They looked nicer than the regular houses of people in the area. There were lots of official looking people around so I just tried to take a photo while driving instead of stopping. The Chinese are building a pipeline from the Bay of Bengal to Kunming China. We have been driving along the pipeline since Yadanarbon on the Mandalay-Lashio Road and now it has turned North at Hsipaw just like us.
Rock Sifters
The road was fairly level for a while until we crossed the Dot Hta Waddy River. We stopped on the banks of the river near the bridge to look at many workers collecting river rocks and sand. In this area the people use these river rocks and sand to make just about everything. They use the stones and sand for everything from making roads to building houses. After the bridge we climbed a bunch of switchbacks up the mountain. We we ascending the entire time to ManSan. Some parts of the road seemed to be unpaved. There were many pipeline trucks going up the road and the dust was very thick. It was probably 4 inches deep in many parts so we got covered in dust. We could feel the dust “splashing” on on our feet while we drove and could even slip around in it where it was deep. We passed a few small villages until we came to the junction town of BanLong.
We stopped there to get 2 coffees. There was a tour group of about 10 people, mostly from the US I think, that were on their way to another scenic town to the West. They would turn West on the other main road from here while we would continue North. Around 20km North of the junction we came to ManSan. This dusty town was mostly Chinese so I was able to ask some of the local kids directions to make sure we were on the right track. We made the turn onto the narrow paved road to Lashio with no problems. This road was probably one of the nicest roads I've been on in Myanmar. It was narrow, but paved and mostly smooth with little traffic. The pipeline trucks and pipeline must have kept going North so there were no big trucks to share the road with. After ManSan the road went down quite a bit into a valley and then up and down small mountains. We had great views the whole way so this was very relaxing. We couldn’t have been happier with this little road that weaved its way to Lashio. 
Shan Roadside Shop
There were a few small villages so we decided to stop at one for lunch at 1pm. My Burmese is really poor for someone who has lived here almost 3 years but we were able to get some instant noodles, a water, and a beer for just 1500 Kyat. Everyone in the shop spoke Shan too so I tried to speak a little Thai with them since it is quite similar. We didn't talk much because my Thai is worse than my Burmese and the 2 languages are probably only 50% similar.
The road was just as fun after the lunch break . We saw a big smoldering dump just before we caught sight of Lashio which was interesting, but very stinky. We got into Lashio at 2:50pm. I tried to take Dad to the Chinese temple I went to the last time I was here but we came across the Lashio reservoir instead. We also went to a Buddhist temple on a nearby mountain top. At the Buddhist temple some Chinese kids escorted us through a maze of residential buildings to the Quan Yin Chinese Temple overlooking the city. We left the temple at 3:50pm and started to look around for a hotel. We drove all over the place trying to get out of the residential area. When we finally got onto a main road we drover around for another half hour before we found a hotel, on the road we came into Lashio, called New Palace Hotel.
Bathers at the hot springs
We went up to the $30 room to wash up a little and get our bathing suits unpacked to go to the Lashio Hot Springs. We got to the hot springs after 5, we filled the tanks on the way.
The Lashio Hot Springs were nice and, just as the name suggests, very hot. Dad and I paid the $3 entrance fee, changed out clothes and jumped in. The water had a lot of algae in it. Dad thought the springs smelt like marshmallows but the smell was coming from the cotton candy vendor nearby. When we first got in the water it was very hot, then, when your body got used to it, it felt great. That great warm feeling soon subsided and it was too hot again after about 10 minutes. I stayed on the edge of the springs with the line of old ladies washing their hair and clothes to cool off. One last quick dip in and we left. We went back to hotel to change up and then we went to the night market. We couldn't find anything much to eat at the market that interested us so we just ate some coconut snack and look at all the vendors, most of them were selling clothing.
On the way to the hotel we found a nice beer station, outdoor BBQ restaurant, called Canopy. We met a twenty-something Chinese- Burmese student who helped us order. He said his English name used to be Kelvin but now he went by “Famous.” We sat with Famous and his friends while we enjoyed the beer and BBQ. He invited us to breakfast at 6am but we declined.
We were back at the hotel after 10pm.

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