December 3 – 4:
I don’t have enought time to ride my bike from Bangkok to Mandalay (Birmanie). It would be impossible t ride such distance in a very short period of time or…I don’t want to rush. I want to see and enjoy Myanmar. This trips is nothing about how many Km I’m doing. I need to be in the Dhamma Center for December 16 for 14 hrs. This is where I will be introduced for the first time to the vipassana’s meditation. In Thailand, from Bangkok, I took a train and a bus to get to Tak. This town is located 100 km from the Myanmar’s border. I have arrived at Tak around 18 hrs. It was already pitch dark. I’m always a bit nervous to find a place to stay when it’s already dark. I could go in a hotel but I don’t like to pay just for sleeping. If I pay for a night, usually, I got the room around lunch’s time so I really enjoy it and I can visit around. I had few options in minds. I have decided to go straight to a temple. In my prevous trip in 2007, this is where I was sleeping with my ex-partner. However, been solo, I had no idea if they would allowed me to sleep there (women). The head monk warmly welcome me to stay for the night. I sleep in my tent near where the monks were sleeping. In the morning, the monk gave me for breakfast what the monks had just collected from the villagers.The monks are living from the villager’s donations. In the morning, I took another bus to reach the Myanmar’s border. Because the king’s borthday was on december 5, I was afraid that the Thai’s border would be close on that day. Before the mediation, I do not have to much days so, I wanted to enjoy Myanmar as much as possible.
After my mediation, which will end on dece,ber 28, I’ll have to exit the country on January 1. I’ll have only 4 days. My first plan was to ride to the northern border to Tachileik trhu the Shan province. However, after having done some researches on the internet, I found it was necessary to have a special permit to travel overland to this areas. This permit was not cheap…100 $. Plus, I had to cover more than 600 km in 5 days in mountain area. I was not too confident about it. Unfortuanatly, this is not my first choice but I’ll have to take a bus back south and exit from my entry point.
I reach Mae sot late in the afternnon (Thai’s border). My first concern was to find a money changer. Some people had warn me it may be imposible to change my Thai money in Myanmar. The guy at the money changer gave me 60 $ extra. I told him he had done a mistake but because of the language barrier, he pushed me again the money back to me. Then, I took it…wandering it was maybe me who was wrong…
As usually, it always take some time to get confortable in a new country. Plus here, few others challenges. I knew In Myanmar, foreigners were usually not allowed to stay with locals at night. They have to go to designated hotels and guesshouses (only for foreigners) which are of course, more expensive. I would not be able to stay in police station and someone had told me I was not allowed to stay in temple (only man can or couple). Thoses were usually my options. Would I be able to find places to pitch my tent. Plus, I knew camping was not allowed too !!!
The Thai’s officer at the immigration ask me where I was inteended to go in Myanmar. He then told me that the Myanmar’s immigration would not allowed me to cross the border with my bike. I had to be in a group. What *&%& ! I told him: I have a visa and I know other cyclists went trhu on their own. I think it was because I was alone (women) and my final destination was far away (about 900 km). He called the Myanmar’s immigration and confirmed me that they would not let me cross. WHAT ! This is impossible ! What is that ! I have a visa ! I was so hangry. Of course, you must keep your calm in such kind of situation and place. After a short discussion, the Thai’s officer has suggest me to try but…If I could not go, I could always come back in Thailand. Of course, I will try ! I was so nervous.. I have to cross, I have to ! I could not believe I would not seen this country. I wanted to do so bad my meditation ! This was my chance. I knew I would not do it at home. When I reach the Myanmar’s immigration, I have tried to hide my bike on the side of the building. I had no idea to who the Thai’s officer had talk and I though I had a chance to go trhu if I was doing fast and stay out of sight. I was so nervous and focus… I almost did not notice the other group of cyclists behind me. I even did not went to see them. I had to do this as fast as possible ! When I meet the Myanmar’s officer, I told him another story. I told him I was going to Yagoon (the capital) and that I was inteeded to take a bus for part of the road. They are expecting me to be weak, I will told them what they want to hear ! He seems satisfied with this answer and he gave me my stamp. I ran out the building, could not believce I had it. Unfortunatly, all the cyclists were now out of sight. I was so sad. I had not seen any cyclists since few months. It was 17 hrs. I had to find a place to sleep. Then, on my way out of town, a local point me the other side of the road. The cyclists (2 Thai’s, a couple from Netherland and a guy from France (Bastien) ! I shared a room with the french guy.
Before dinner, we went for a beer in the hotel’s lobby. Suddently, I heard behind me: IMMIGRATION, you are from Canada. I told myself: there we go ! They found I had lyied and now, I’m going back toThailand. He said: I’m so sorry to disturb your night. I had a call from the bank in Thailand. The guy just across the border, where you have changed some money has done a mistake. He gave you too much money. I’m here to take it back. I know it is not your fault. OMG !!!! Yes, take the money back ! I don’t care ! Just let me alone 😉
To get to next town, you need to cross a range. This morning, I was a little bit nevous that the police would not let me cross the range because this is a one way road. The road is very narrow and one day the traffic is going one way and the next day, the other way. Today, I was the opposite side of the traffic. I was not so confident because, my friend had been in the same situation yesterday and they had to argu for more than 5 minutes with the police. They have only let them go because their visa was finishing today. With what happen to me yesterday, would they really let me go alone. I had not really any good reasons as they had. I told myself: I can also have a good reason ! I told the police I was meeting my husband in 2 days in Yagoon. Again, he seems satisfied with this answer, told be to be careful and he let me go. Ouffffffffff OMG, so much stress in Myanmar !
I have really enjoy the road that cross this range. The road was not as bad as my friend told me but yes, it was in poor condition. However, this 15 km uphill seem so easy compare to all thoses hills I have climb in Indonesia. After about 2 hours, I was already on my way down. But yes, I had to be very careful because the trucks and cars were not really expecting a cyclist to go down.
Both days, I went trhu a lot of police controls (checkpoint): Passeport, passeport, where do you go, where will you sleep. Always gave the answer they were looking for 😉 Going to Yagoon meeting my husband ! I think this area is unstable. Once in a while, they have civil war. Sometimes, the border i went trhu yesterday is close. But today, I felt very safe. No signs of any civil war. If it would have been the case, they would have close this border. At one of the checkpoint, the polices were very nice and some gave me something to drink. They have also allowed me to take them in photo. This would not happen home.
For my first night in Myanmar, a girl from a village has invited me for the night. I was really surprise but so happy. I was a little bit stress…did not know if she was allowed too. At night, many people came to visit me. Many girls today me: I’m happy. This make me so happy ! They are so happy to have the chance to meet a foreigner.
Myanmar is a beautiful country. I’m always surprise how each country is different from his neighbour. Until now, Myanmar make me remember Cambodia, Vientam and India. Myanmar is adjacent to Bengladesh and India and they are a lot of Indian people living here. There are also muslim.
The food is absolutly divine. I would say its a mix of chineese and India food. Most of the time, all the food is coming in many separated plates. Its always a surprise and I’m rarely eating twice the same thing.
This is what you get for 1$ to 1.5 $.
This is a typical breakfast that cost .40$.
For fashion beauty, most of Myanmar’s womens are covering their faces with a brown cream (kid too). This is very unique. I had never seen this. I think you can buy this cream in shop but I have also meet women who are doing the cream by themself. They rub a piece of log of a piece of wood and by adding a little bit of water, they get a cream.
Myanmar people are really nice, social, respectful and helpful. Something interresting to know when you are travelling in Myanmar. When you give something or receive something, you should always hold you elbow with opposite hand. This is the polite way to do.
I had to hide in the wood at night. None of the families I have ask have been allowed to help me. The village’s administration told them I had to go in a hotel. Every time, they were so sorry. I knew they were not agreeing with this. At least. Myanmar is not as crowded as Indonesia. Most of the times, there are plenty of places to pitch my tent.
The cyclist had suggest me to take the old road to get to Mandalay and not to take the express way (main road). Today, when I ask for my direction, I could not believe when the guy has point me this road. It has been a fantastic ride into very rural villages. I loved it !! Some people gave me lunch because they had no restaurents on this road.
Today, I was a bit worry where I would be able to sleep a place to eat. I could not see so may good spot. Before sunset, I stopped for a last drink and ask permission to sleep in the village (you never know). A old men came to me. He was speaking a little bit in english. He then ask me what could he do for helping me. I told him I had a tent and was looking for a place to sleep. He told me I was welcome to sleep in his house but he had to request the administration’s permission. He went and came back with a positive answer, Ye !!!!
Funny story: no so easy to use past tence when you are trying to communicate with sign langguage. As usual, they gave me a bucket to was my clothes and a sarong (they usually wash themself in open air so their are wearing a sarong). I went quickly in the designated area and did everything quiclky. I then went to see her to know where I could hang out my clothe…she brough me back in, gave me a soap and told me not to worry for my clothe. She would done it. Then , I tried to explain her and finally start to laught because we would not understand each other…Then I told myself: let do it again ! Why not. We both were laught so loud….knowing we could not understand each other. I love those very special moments ! This is why I’m using i’m travelling !
At night, at meet some of my friend’s host. It has been a honor to meet them. They were all ex political’s prisonniers (including my friend). It was a honor to meet such strong persons. I told Canada was a democratic country and everyone has the right to speak out. In a low tone voice but very confident, they told me democraty was not existing here and gouvernement was doing only little for the people. Now, I understand why foreigners must stay in hotel in Myanmar and most of the time, they are not allowed to stay with local. They are afraid that we influence the people. In the morning, they all came back to my friend house so we could have breakfats together. We took some pictures..but you understand that I’m not going to post them on my blog…This is serious…They have been release in 2013, after been in jail for 4 years. They had been supported by international organisation. This is what travelling on your bike is about. Meeting so interesting people. Thoses are very rich experiences !!!
Today, I have connected on the old road. The road I have ride yesterday was the wrong one lolol. I have not bought any Myanmar’s map. I’m only using my google map’s app on apple tablet. I was dissapointed to go back on a paved and busy road. I enjoyed so much the dirt road. At night, I’m very surprise, I found a place to sleep with a nice family.
I’m really sick. I caught bad cold from hotel’s AC at the Myanmar’s border.
I don’t enjoy riding at all the old road. This road is looking like any other busy road in Asia. There is no point to be there. Been in such a rush, better to enjoy every Km and see the countryside. I have heard from other cyclists that the road that is connecting Bagan (famous town, as many temples as Angkor wat in Temple), which is located west of the old road is in dirt road. Seems to be just what I’m looking for. However, because I’m running out of time, I don’t have time to get there by bike. It would add some miles. This is why today I took a bus for 300 km that brough me further north on the old road. From there, I’ll bike toward east to join this road. This will also allowed me to rest because I’m not feeling so good (cold).
After 8 hrs, I finally reach my destination. Crazy ride !!! Much prefer to use my bike than using any public trasnportations. I got there at 18 hrs, after sunset. When I went out of the bus, a local brought me to an hotel. Other cyclists were staying too. Nice ! It was 25 dollars per night ! There is no way I will pay this price for one night ! I can live for a week ! The guy who brought me to the hotel has nescorted me out of the town. I found a place, just out of town in spiky bushes. At less, I knew no body would went around. Can be challenging to find a good place when its pitch dark. I don’t like it too much but, this is adventure.
Such good day of riding. This morning, It was chilly and I had a fresh breeze almost all day. Many flashbcak from my previous trip in China are coming back into my mind. I can feel I’m getting closer. I’m so excited I’m going back in China. Its time for me to escape the heat and finally have an autunm !
I’m very happy I have left the old road.The road that is connecting both road is far more quiet and most of the time, the road was going trhu deserted places. It felt like a nice fresh breath of air, been usually surronded by people and going trhu villages. Today, it was only me and nature.
Just got a confirmation on Facebook that my good friend Martine is joining me for a second time. We will be riding together for 4 weeks in north Laos and south China (Yunnan province).
Spend some times in beautiful Bagan. I’m about 150 km away from Mandalay. Thoses pictures talk for themself. Bagan make me remeber Angkor Wat in Cambodia. However, here, those temples are right in the town. A 15 US fee is charged to anyone who he’s travelling trhu Bagan.
Feeling ready for my mediation. I’m riding solo but, I’m never alone. Always busy, feeling I have not got too much time for myself yet 😉 Cannot wait for those 10 days of silence. This will be a amazing exerience ! Hope I will get better before the retreat.