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
mandalaymotorbike@gmail.com

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Day 16: Magwe to Mandalay

Day 16: Magwe to Mandalay
March 6 2012

Start: 8:30am Magwe
Arrive: 6:30pm Mandalay
Total travel time:10 hours
Total distance traveled (Zach): 335.6 km, 208.1 miles
Total distance traveled (David):332.1 km, 205.9 miles

David's fuel efficiency: 48.67 km per liter, 114.4 mpg
Zach's fuel efficiency: 49.02 km per liter, 115.2 mpg

Our motorcycles showed the stress of 3,500 kilometers of mostly rough
roads today. Zach noticed a strange rattling near his engine soon
after starting out today. We found a detached rubber drain hose, and
reattached it; the rattle remained. The engine oil level was within
tolerance. Zach stopped at one of the many bamboo shack repair shops
along the road. The young man, who appeared to be a teenager, found
the problem quickly. The 1/2" x 8" bolt on which the yolk that holds
the rear axle moves, snapped on the right side. It allowed the rear
wheel to move slightly left and right. He replaced the bolt, adjusted
the idle and fuel mixture to prevent stalling at low speed, and
checked the engine oil. The total charge for the part and 45 minutes
labor was 2,000k ($2.50 US).

Later Zach noticed the bolt holding the muffler on my bike was about
to come off. We  tightened it. A few hours later the bolt was gone and
there was not a village or mechanic around. We used the wire hook of a
bungee cord that was securing our suitcase to my bike. It still held
down the front of the suitcase, and also held the muffler up where it
Dad's Jerry-rigged muffler
Balancing Dad's bike to fix the muffler
belonged. The exhaust system sounded like a gasket was blown, so I
stopped at the first repair shop we saw. They replaced the bolt and
retightened the bolts connecting the exhaust system to the engine. The
price was 500k ($0.60 US). It seemed strange to us that the beating
the bikes had taken on the rough terrain had not damaged them more.

The landscape north of Magway was interesting. First it was flat, with
One lane bridge in on Highway 2
large fields that were bordered with tall, straight palm trees. It was
arid, yet cultivated for crops. Next came a hilly terrain with many
shrubs and few trees. If it was cropped, it was for some type of
fruit. There were no open fields. It was the first area in which I
noticed Yucca plants. That transitioned into an area somewhat similar
to the badlands of South Dakota. Sharp hills, deep gullies and in flat
areas. The land could not even be used for recreation.

Highway 2 was relatively smooth and lightly traveled for many miles.
Later is turned into a decent single large road, crossing several dry
Mount Popa from the road
rivers, one which had an approximate 1/4 mile bridge, yet no water.
Some of the dry rivers would flow over the highway during the wet
season. The road looked as if a snowplow was used to create a path
through the river bed. Later we had to ford rivers in four places.
River across Highway 2
Three were driving on the riverbed, on sand. One had a concrete
surface on which to drive, yet still under water. I was concerned
about one crossing because the water was covering the bottom portion
of the engine, apparently not the spark plug or the engine would have
stopped running.
Sino-Myanmar pipeline propaganda

A wrong turn resulted in us coming to the Yangon/Mandalay expressway
Dad on the Mandalay- Yangon Expressway
41 miles south of Mandalay. Our plan was to take local roads to
Mandalay. The sign was correctly pointing to Mandalay, just not on the
road e wanted. Police officers motioned for us to stop they appeared
to be writing a citation to another motorcyclist. One officer inquired
where we were going. Zach replied "Mandalay". The other officer, who
was not part of the conversation, as he was writing something for the
Coming into the outskirts of smoggy Mandalay
other motorcyclist, shouted for us to move on: we did so immediately.

We arrived at the Sein Sein Hotel in Mandalay after dark, around 6:30
pm, after refueling the bikes.


Back in Mandalay after over a week on the road and ready for a shower!
written by David, posted by Zach

3 comments:

  1. what a wonderful experience. Thanks for sharing this blog...

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  2. Hi Guys, this is a wanderful blog thanks for sharing. I am now in Myanmar an I would like to rent a bike to do a similar trip. Where did you rent your bike and how you manage to drive in different regions with the same motorbike ? Any suggestion is really appreciate. Thanks Giovanni

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  3. I forgot: this is my e-mail in case you would like to five me your feedback: g.zalloni@gmail.com

    ReplyDelete