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

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Day 13: Ngapali to Taung-gok

Day 13: Ngapali to Taung-gok
March 3 2012

Start: 12:15pm Ngapali
Arrive: 3:30 pm Taung-gok
Total travel time: 3 hours 15 minutes
Total distance traveled (Zach): 95.2 km, 59miles
Total distance traveled (David): 94.7 km, 58.7miles

David's fuel efficiency: 52 km per liter, 122.3 mpg
Zach's fuel efficiency: 40.1 km per liter, 94.2 mpg

Max was tired of waiting for the bus
Replacing a tire before departure
We got a late start to the day because San San and Max's bus didn't leave Thandwe until 1pm. We took our time getting packed and ready. We had one last lunch at the Best Friend restaurant of seafood salad, Rakhine shrimp and tomato salad before driving the 4+ miles to Thandwe.
San San and Max's bus to Yangon was on time and they left at 1pm. Dad and I crossed the bridge out of town toward Taung-gok just before the bus.

Sending the tire out to get fixed
The road to Taung-gok was narrow but paved the entire way. There were some rough and uneven spots but overall the road was good. We had many dusty detours around old wooden bridges that were being replaced by concrete ones. I think all the bridges were being replaced on that stretch of road so that is good news here in Myanmar. I just hope for the people on the southern end of Rakhine state that they improve the road all the way down to Gwa.

Bridge repair
We actually paid our first tolls on this trip too. We paid 2 tolls at 2 separate gates of 200 kyat each. It's funny that we are almost done with our long trip and we have driven through countless tolls without paying. San San later told me a private company is doing the road construction to make the road wider so I guess they make sure they collect the tolls.

We drove along the winding inland road for about 50 miles until we got to Taung- gok.
Each map we use seems to have a different way or spelling Taung-gok so i am just going with the way my road map spells it. Taung-gok looks more like a big neighborhood than a city. There are countless houses and 2-story concrete buildings but no particular area that seems like a down town. We drove along a river and around town for a good twenty minutes before we spotted a guest house. The first place we passed looked bad so we didn't stop and the Royal Guest House next door looked ok until we saw the shabby room with only a shared bathroom. If we stayed there that would have been the worst hotel room on this far.

We drove for a little longer and thankfully came across a small but clean place called Khant Guesthouse. We checked in and walked down the street to the bus station to see if San San and Max's bus arrived yet. We got to the bus station just as San San and Max were getting off the bus. San San said that the bus was held up at many of the spots where the roads were being repaired so it took them a while to get to Taung-gok. We didn't have any problems since we could zip past the construction areas and detours on our little motorbikes.

San San and Max just stopped in Taung-gok for about 30 minutes before they got back on the bus to Yangon. They will arrive in Yangon tomorrow morning and then board another bus to Mandalay. They won't get home until tomorrow evening, about 28 hours in transit.
River view on the way to get gas
We went back to the hotel and drove the bikes out of town to get gas. There were a string of newer gas stations, none with a pump, across the river from Taung-gok. I guess the local government moved all gas sellers out of town because of a fire at one of them before. We recalculated our mileage and my efficiency was much worse than before so I think I wasn't quite full the last time I calculated. We will recalculate at the end of our trip to get a more reliable, overall, number.
Where is the fire?
We stopped at a local Internet cafe to try and get in the blog but with no luck. As we were in the cafe, the next shop had a generator fire or explosion. I didn't see any fire but there was smoke and pink dust all over the sidewalk. I went outside to see what was going on. Nothing much happened after that but when a fire truck arrived at the scene, about a hundred gawkers on motorbikes we're closely behind. The road was terribly crowded but later cleared out when people realized there was nothing much to see.
We had a big dinner, we didn't think we ordered much, at a local beer station and went back to the hotel to sleep.

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