Day 16 : 6th October 2019
It takes time to post the blog and pictures (because of poor Wi-Fi connection) and posting the night itself gave me an hour more of sleep. Enjoyed the extra precious hours of sleep and the morning started leisurely. Lots of people asked about Myanmar food. I am not a foodie and don’t have the luxury of enjoying food during riding days (resting completely on non-riding days). We eat what’s provided and don’t even know the name of the food we have been having.
But I assure you that Myanmar would give you the best of food and I haven’t tasted anything bad so far. Language is a problem but they get you what you want to be provided you manage to communicate that to them. One of the fellow travelers used a Google translate application to convey “he wants vegetarian food” and they gave him the best of food and service. Don’t even hesitate to visit Myanmar because of food uncertainty and there is no such thing. Forgot to mention about the weather during our day 14 ghat section ride. We crossed many mountains and ascended 5000 ft and the weather was really pleasant (barring an hour in the afternoon).
It was really cold between 6 – 8:30 and was a cold breeze after that. The same feeling in the evening and the last mountain we crossed was cold and our fingers became numb inside the gloves. Lookalike I might take a longer time to recover from day 14 ride. Another thing I noticed is about the Kengtong town. Something different from the other Myanmar places and I saw people wishing each other in Thai (sawasdikop). The dressing was also different and I couldn’t find a single “Lungi” around. Did Google and the place is very close to the border and the place used to be part of Thailand.
Hope they don’t fight for independence like other such places we read about regularly. Google showed us a route and it was off-roading for close to 5 kms. When we reached the point to take a right, it was only a mud road and became super soft after some rains. One of the riders (who rides alone most of the time) tried it and came back to the starting point. As per him, it’s not possible to travel that stretch by bike and we should find another route. Google won’t listen to it and we took directions from the locals. Google continued its efforts and tried to convince us to take a U turn and get back to the off-roading. After getting directions from lots of people, we took a smooth road towards the border.
But Google stuck to its principle (asking us to take turn and go back) and I like that attitude. The road from Kengtong to the border was too good to ride. It was through the mountains except it was long and the turns were not that quick and sharp. Also the road was built at the bottom of the mountain and no ascending or descending. I loved it and we could cover the 150 kms in 3 hours time. Stopped for short breaks and a roaring river was passing next to us and followed us almost the entire stretch. Reached the “Golden Triangle city” and our escort team arranged for an easy exit from Myanmar. Customs or immigration officials took selfies with the aliens (that’s us) and I felt like a “foreigner” finally.
A very active city at the border and could see lots of vehicles moving from this side of Myanmar to the other side of Thailand and the other way around. A small bridge/river separates Thailand and Myanmar. We crossed the border (Tachileik/Myanmar-Maesai/Thailand) and the Thai officials allowed us to get in to their land without any immigration. Wondering why buy realized that they don’t want our vehicle to be parked in a busy area and found one of the officials was coming behind us. It was so hot and I was sweating like a shower. Our Thailand escort team sent their representative and she (very nice lady and I sent her Facebook friends request immediately) welcomed us and completed all our paper work.
We just had to sign and she got the alien immigration completed in few seconds. But the customs or immigration clearance of the “Alien Vehicle” took really long time. They want to confirm my vehicle by crossing checking the engine number and I didn’t know where it was. I told them that it could be at the bottom of the engine and very difficult to check. Gave my registration certificate but they insisted to check the vehicle for the number. Finally one of the group members showed me the engine number which was very close to the handle and vehicle immigration or customs check got completed.
Finally we got into Thailand officially and the entire area (10 meters from the border post) was buzzing with action and business. Can’t imagine it to happen near Attari border. Don’t know but our bags were not checked at any of the borders we crossed so far and that includes our motherland. I was praying for that (removing the bungee ropes and saddle bags is a strenuous activity and it was also scorching heat at that time) and it got answered positively. But how will they prevent anything from smuggling even though we are not doing any such activity. Might to have check with my customs friends on this.Thailand roads are like butter and I am so happy to see that. Proper Lanes, street lights and disciplined people who give signals while changing lanes. You can fly your vehicle (as long as you adhere to lane discipline) on these roads.
It was really late in the afternoon and we headed directly towards a restaurant. This one was in the middle of a Paddy field and the heavy cross winds made us feel better. To add to the happiness, we got some known food (red curry with rice) and everyone gulped whatever was kept on the table. It was close to 5:30 pm and we decided to check one place before moving towards our destination. It’s the golden triangle and the place from where you can see the land of Myanmar, Thailand and laos from a single point. Believe 3 rivers from these countries merges and separates the land. The river width was not that great and each country was separated by less than a Km distance.
Met a Malaysian tamil family and they insisted us to go to the hill top to see the 3 rivers coming separately and then joining but we had to move forward to our night halt place. I had been to Thailand multiple times (used to manage this as part of my portfolio during my professional days) and I had also done a 15-18 day road trip with Sonal in 2009. We started our road trip from Chiang Rai that time and I am doing the same.
In fact, I used to call my Grand nephew and grand niece as “Chiang Rai and Chiang Mai” and these two places are very close to my heart.A 70 Km ride from Golden triangle to Chiang Rai got completed under street and bike lights in less than an hour and parked our vehicle at the hotel. Got a quick shower and headed to the night market in a large tuk tuk. A Total of 11 people (including the driver and escort person) got into it and me/Naren were hanging or standing at the rear. Reminded me of a police van and I imagined those who were sitting inside as “convicts” and us as “guards”. With my tummy, I look like a Maharashtrian police only. Ignorance is bliss and imagination is what we all do when we were kids.
Good to know my imagination skills are not dead. Chiang Rai night market was a happening place (at 8 pm on a Sunday night) and crowded. I showed off my Thai knowledge and skills and treated everyone with Mangosteen. They all loved that fruit and we went around the area. You can resist anything but not the shopping urge. Some of us bought something and then we rested our bums in the open area which acts like a huge community dining area. Ordered our beverage (I love Singha) and food and spent an hour talking. Very good time I would say.
The same tuk tuk took us Back to the hotel and thought of writing in the evening itself but decided to push it to the morning.I embraced the bed with a tight hug and went into transcendental meditation immediately. Note : ° Those who are reading my travelogue using “Incredible India by Road – 2018”, please check out my Instagram or Facebook personal profile. ° Wi-Fi speed is not great and I am not sending lots of videos and pictures. Will start a YouTube channel later and add the unseen ones to it.