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 6: Mawlamyine to Bago

Day 6: Mawlamyine to Bago
February 25, 2012
Foggy Thanlwin Bridge

Start: 9:04 Mawlamyine
Arrival: 2:25pm Bago
Total Travel Time: 5 Hours 21 minutes
Total Distance Traveled (Zach): 229.8 km, 142.5 miles
Total Distance Traveled (David): 228.1 km, 141.4 miles

David's Efficiency:  49.9km per liter, 117.3mpg
Zach's Efficiency: 50.7km per liter, 119.1mpg

A heavy mist hung over Mawlamyine as we enjoyed a British breakfast of hard boiled eggs in cups, toast with jam, coffee, weak tea and bananas while sitting on an open air second floor balcony. The proprietor, a third generation Chinese gentleman, has run The Breeze rest house since the 1960's. It was licensed to accept foreigners in 1996. The once elegant house was built by an English family in 1948, sold to an Indian man in 1951, then to the proprietor's father around 1960. The view he promised yesterday: "One you will never see again" was not to be seen today. Our view was a gray river with a gray sky and nothing between.
Nothing in between a gray river, a gray sky except a truck with an ad for Hamburger King

After a seemingly long period in which he instructed the guests on the beauty, truth and miracles of Buddhism, including miracles he personally verified, we were able to politely take our leave.
Breeze Rest House
A lady worker finished ironing my laundry, in hopes of removing the remaining moisture. She did a beautiful job, ironing even undershorts and socks. The price was most reasonable, 1,600k for 3 shirts, one pair shorts, 2 undershorts and one pair socks, but they were still quite damp. Wrapped them in a plastic bag, put them in the suitcase and vowed to hang all to dry upon checking in at the next hotel.
Foggy road out of town

We headed out of town in a delightfully cool mist, getting onto the longest bridge in Myanmar, approximately 3 kilometers across the Thanlwin River. The mist collected on my sunglasses and helmet visor, making my view of the world blurry. The bridge surface became wet and slippery, making me wish for a partial return of the sun and dry air. Once over the wide river and off the bridge, the road was again dry and travel less dangerous. Within 20 minutes we stopped to dry our glasses and my visor. They were still covered with water droplets. The air was dry,yet still clean and refreshing. The road was smooth, traffic not too hectic. A nice start to the day

Palm leaves bundled up to be sold as roofing material
The trip to Bago was estimated at 230 km, more than a tank of fuel if we would drive over 70 kph for any distance, so we waited until 70 km passed before refueling. Refueling is time consuming for me, as the suitcase has to be untied from the bamboo pole, then the pole untied from the bike, to provide access to the fuel tank. It takes less than 5 minutes, yet seems longer when parked at a gas station with 3 or4 workers trying to help. The process is reversed once the tank is filled. The workers are more insistent on the retie, making it difficult to be appreciative. We thank them profusely and often end with taking group photos.
Tying the suitcase back on after a fill up

Zach saw what appeared to be a hawk fly into a tree in Kyaihto. Further investigation revealed two large trees filled with giant bats, slowly fanning themselves while hanging. They were like monochromatic ornaments on a deciduous tree. It was noon on a hot, sunny day, so there was no hint of a terror movie.

Lunch at a roadside cafe in Kyaihto, run by a small family. The dining area included a mother cat and kitten; tall, skinny chickens with unusually long legs and a traditional looking mother hen with an even dozen little chicks. Mother hen and 11 chicks left by the back door. Chick number 12 walked around chirping much louder than one would expect from a tiny being. Eventually it found its way out the back door and joined its siblings. We ordered banks rolled in a thin pastry and fried, vegetables fried in the same type of dough and coffee. It was oily and good.

The Jade Garden Hotel is a very pleasant single story masonry hotel a couple blocks off the main street of Bago. The rooms are clean,pleasant and cheap. Our room with hot shower, a large bathroom, air conditioning a d breakfast was $25. Those without hot water are $5 less.

Desperately in need of a shower
A young man of 20 cut our hair this afternoon. He and a young lady customer were quite talkative about my white hair. His English was limited, making it difficult for us to continue more than a limited discussion. He trained four years in Yangon to become a barber. I believe it was part of a specialized high school program. The haircut cost 500k, about 63 cents.
only 500 Kyat and he still complained afterward

Written by David, posted by Zach

No comments:

Post a Comment