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

Friday, March 9, 2012

Day 14: Taung-gok to Pyay

Day 14: Taung-gok to Pyay
March 4, 2012
Misty mountain crossing

Start: 8:30am Taung-gok
Arrival: 3:45pm Pyay
Total travel time: 7 hours, 15 minutes
Total distance traveled (Zach): 166 km, 102.9 miles
Total distance traveled (David): 164.8 km, 102.2 miles

Dad's fuel efficiency: 43 km per liter, 101 mpg
Zach's fuel efficiency: 37.3 km per liter, 87.7 mpg

Worst sleep ever. The Khant Guest House took the prize for worst sleep on this trip. The room was tidy, clean and we fell asleep quckly. Sometime after midnight the air conditioning cut out and the room got very hot. I removed my blanket only to be eaten alive by mosquitos. I woke up the manager who told me that the power for the air conditioner would come on at 4am. The lights still worked fine. I got some bug spray for the room and started to spray around the room to at least kill the bugs. The brand was Raid and it was from Thailand because it had all Thai writing on it. After I sprayed and brought back the can I saw that the can also had English on it. It had a warning to not enter the room for at least 15 minutes after spraying. I ran back back, opened the door and used my towel to fan out the room. Dad was sleeping. The whole thing took me over an hour and I finally got back to sleep after another 30 minutes. At 4am the power for the air conditioner came on and I slept well until 7am.
We got out after 8am and ate quickly at a tea shop. There were clouds in the air that made us think it may rain. We quickly ate our banana pancakes and drove into the mountains. The mountain road was wet which made us think it might have rained or been very misty just before we came up. The road was in fair condition but we did have some long stretches of road that were ripped apart by the trucks or just not well paved at all.
The environment was great. We drove through the misty forests with steep drop offs on one side and a mountain on the other. We did see the occasional village too.
I saw many different birds that made me wish I had a bird book along. We saw jungle foul, a hornbill, parrots and other small brightly colored birds. We also saw many butterflies. The mountains we crossed were part of the Rakhine Yoma Elephant Range but I didn't see any elephant poop, or elephants, this time we crossed. Compared with our crossing on the way to Gwa, this part of the range was much more beautiful. It was much more wooded than the the road to Gwa but it was similar in parts. When we went to Gwa we started on the eastern side and worked our way west but today we were on the west and made our way east. The east side here was also very arid and dry. We saw many forest fires on the easter part of this road as well.
Leaving Rakhine
Just before we left Rakhine state we had to cross a checkpoint that took at least 30 minutes. These immigration guys were so slow but they were very glad to see us and even took our photo with their personal camera.
Dry eastern side of the mountain
The gps said we climbed to about 1000 meters before we started heading down after leaving Rakhine state. We came to another checkpoint over an hour later just as we were about to get out of the mountains. When we stopped and gave the officer our paperwork we went to the tea shop across the street to order coffee and wait for him. This guy had our paperwork done in 5 minutes so we didn't even have to get coffee but it was nice to relax for a while.
Fast and friendly Rakhine checkpoint
We crossed one more checkpoint at the bottom of the mountain but there was no officer in sight so we left quickly before he woke up or came back.
On the potholed, but otherwise ok, road to Pyay I ran out of gas. Dad also ran out of gas just as we were about to cross the Nawady bridge into Pyay. I'm glad I just used half of our old water bottle of gas on my bike.
Billboard in Pyay
When we drove across the bridge I was happy we didn't have to take a boat to cross the Ayeyarwady like we did in Hinthada.
We drove around Pyay and eventually found a great hotel on the river called the Lucky Dragon Hotel for just $35 a night. They also had wifi with information on how to set up the proxy so I could access blogger for the first time since Bago.
We had BBQ at a stage show restaurant on the river after a long walk around town. A stage, or beauty show, restaurant is like any other beer station but they have a large stage with girls who sing songs and walk up and down like its a catwalk. It is very uniquely Myanmar as I have not seen this type of restaurant anywhere else in Asia.
We went back to the hotel and talked for about 2 hours with a Flemish guy who would be taking the road to Taung-gok on his bicycle the next morning. His name was Koen which he said meant brave in Flemish. This guy had been traveling around the world on and off by bike for the past 8 years. He was quite brave since he said he planned to camp in the woods by the side of the road since there were no hotels in the mountains between Pyay and Taung-gok. It is also forbidden for foreign tourists to stay anywhere besides a hotel in myanmar so he is taking a big risk.
We went back into the room after 11pm and, after I fiddled with the blog for a while, I was in bed by 1:30 am.

1 comment:

  1. Hello dear blogger or tourist,
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    Thank you very much for reading!