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 8: Hinthada to Kanthaya

Day 8: Hinthada to Kanthaya
February 27 2012
Fried rat anyone?

Start: 8:15am
Arrival: 5:30 pm
Total Travel Time: 9 hours 15 minutes
Total distance traveled (Zach):203km, 126miles
Total distance traveled (David): 201 .5km, 125 miles

Dad's fuel efficiency: 49.4 km per liter, 116mpg
Zach's fuel efficiency: 52.6km per liter, 123.6mpg

We took our regular photo with the hotel staff at Shwe Ein See this morning before we left to find some breakfast. We drove around Hinthada and found a place with Dim Sum. We picked out some dumplings and other steamed goodies and sat at a tea shop across the street since the dim sum place was full. Dad just ate about 4 dumplings so i ate the rest and a plate of noodles too.
We drove out of town and I checked the gps, which I'm finally getting the hang of, to make sure we were on the right road and we were. I think I had to do this ten times before we got on the road to Gwa.
The road was narrow and had a bit of potholes in it. When we got close to Ngathaingchaung the road widened and was smoother than before.
Anderson Cooper's biggest fan in Myanmar.
I asked one young man on the side of the road directions to Gwa after he waved at me and said hi. This guy spoke english very well and was riding a bicycle. He had a bag of dvds and he said he runs a mobile dvd rental business from his bike. He spoke English with an American accent and he said he lived in Singapore for 6 years but now he practices English by watching CNN everyday. He was a huge fan of Anderson Cooper. I gave him my contact information and I hope to hear from him.
The land was flat and there were many bridges over what seemed to be small ponds. Our guess is that this whole area must get a lot of water in the rainy season and the ponds are just what is left over in the dry season.
Flat lands
We got gas from a small gas station since there are no pumps around here. The proprietor offered us fried rat but we declined. I never had rat and would really like to try it sometime but i felt like i didn't want to take something from someone who had so little.
We initially took a wrong turn before we got to Gua but thankfully I checked the gps just 4 km up the road so we didn't have to backtrack much. This road was narrow and washed out at the start then it turned into a smooth road slowly climbing the hills. The hills were very dry and much of the land was burned by brush fires. We passed an area with many teak logs waiting to be loaded up onto trucks just as we started up the hills.
Post apocalyptic scenery on the way to the mountains

The hills kept climbing and before we knew it we were traveling up in the mountains. The wind was very dry and felt like the air from a blow dryer. The road also started to go out too. It was stony and very bumpy. Some parts were paved and smooth by for the most part it was crumbling or crumbled away. About 2 hours after we started climbing we came to the border of Rakhine state.
View of the Eastern side of the mountains

There was a bamboo gate where we had to stop at immigration. At first immigration told us that foreigners were not allowed to drive motorbikes on this road but I told that that I checked with the government's travel agency and we were allowed. They took a long while to write down all our information. Dad also had to get his motorbike paperwork out from under his seat which took a while since the numbers on his temporary plate had completely worn away. He just has a blank white plate now.Dad had to untie his suitcase to get the seat to open. We were given the ok but didn't leave right away because there was a tea shop across the road. I took a picture of the tea shop but I wasn't allowed to get a picture of the check point. The officers also told us we just had 28 miles to go, about two hours driving time.
Dad is up there somewhere

We went up and down many mountains and each valley became greener and greener the further we got into Rakhine State. We were going up for a while and later we were mostly going down so we knew we were getting close. Many of the turns had steep cliffs on the sides of the road and we could also see many scars on the mountains from landslides. We also started to see many big trees and the area was more like a jungle. I even saw what I think was elephant poop. I go to the zoo enough with max to know what elephant poop looks like. I was excited and thought we might see an elephant but we never did. I saw one guy in this jungle area outside his hut with a homemade crossbow so I stopped to look. He cocked it and shot a bamboo arrow into the woods. Since we are not allowed to have guns here I could really use something like that at the farm.

We only passed a few motorbikes and no more than 20 trucks and on this road through the mountains. The trucks were coming from Rakhine and, by the smell of them, carrying dried fish. The road was nicer again when we came to our next checkpoint. These officers were a lot faster than the other guys on the border so we got out of there in a few minutes. They didn't even press dad to get his paperwork for the bike.
After about 1 mile we came to a T intersection in Gua. We went left to got into town but there wasn't much. We dead ended at a pier where we could see many fishing boats and people loading motorbikes onto another boat. We didn't see any hotels and we also didn't really think we wanted to stay in Gua anyway, so we turned around and left.
Kanthaya Beach Resort "EVERYBODY STAY HERE NOW"

The road north out of Gua was almost as bad as the roads yesterday to the bank of the Ayeyarwady . There were big stones so the bumping was tough on us and the bikes. We drove along the ocean for more than 20 miles to the beach at Kanthaya. My 2002 lonely planet guidebook says Kanthaya is an up and coming beach resort but this place has past its prime. We saw one hotel with worn out looking bungalows on a beautiful beach. We looked inside and the room was awful. It had worn out wooden floors with big spaces between them, rotting bamboo panels on the ceiling and a big part of the ceiling was missing so we could see all the way to the corrugated metal roof. We told the manager we would look around but he said this was the only place in Kanthaya that accepted foreigners. After we drove on the main road a woman with a restaurant/ guesthouse said she couldn't have foreigners stay at her place, it looked shabby too, and that the next guesthouse was 7 miles up the road. At the rate we've been traveling we went back and stayed in the crappy Kanthaya Beach Resort. We checked in the only guests for today, and changed into our swimsuits. We were in the ocean at sunset. The water was a little cool and were able to scrub the dust off our skin in the salty water. We shared the huge beach with just 3 puppies.
The whole beach to ourselves
We ate at the restaurant/guesthouse with dirt floors across the street. We ate sweet and sour squid, fried rice and fresh grilled fish. We were back at the hotel and ready for bed before they turned off the generator at 9:30pm

No comments:

Post a Comment