Day 28 : 18th October 2019
Some relationships are built over a period of time (years or decades) and some are built stronger in a few days. My (our) relationship with Khun Tom/Darun belongs to the later one and we really become good friends and behaved like one instead of maintaining the client/agent relationship in the last few days. Probably I got to know them better or experienced that unseen thread or connection. Both started our Thailand/Cambodia leg from the beginning and they came all the way to drop us at the Mae Sot (Thailand) / Myawaddy (Myanmar) border.
They ensured every requirement of ours gets fulfilled immediately (one morning Rohit was looking for additional bungee ropes to tie his luggage and Tom disappeared to bring a bunch of ropes within minutes) and ensured that we see the best side of Thailand/Cambodia in the last 12 days. Some of the places were not even visited by Thai people (Wat Muang Golden Buddha) and they took us there.
Got VVIP treatment at all borders and our exit formalities got over in less than 5 minutes. Was thinking about spending some time with them last night but stayed back at the hotel to complete the writing. Started missing them immediately and hope to see them soon in India (would like to be the host and treat them to the best of my efforts). If you are going to Thailand, let me know and I will share their contact details and recommend using their services and am sure you would feel the same way I feel now.
Crossing country borders is not that great except for the feelings or emotions. You move from one side of the river to another (through a bridge) and that’s it. But the inner self reminds you of something special and you unconsciously celebrate that moment. If only we can practice this (celebrating every moment of our life), then life would be fantastic to live forever. Missing Thailand, it’s people, beautiful roads and my good friends. Myanmar side welcomed us with potholed roads and we got stopped at the immigration. Normally the agents wait for you and ensure your entry formalities are done smoothly and we were told to wait before the immigration point.
Saw a man in lungi and a woman accompanying him (in traditional and colorful dress) and coming towards us. Our Myanmar agent has sent a new team to welcome and receive us. They started working on the entry formalities and it took some time to complete it. Saw them covering our number plates with some temporary registration and asked them for the reason. It didn’t happen when we entered Myanmar from India and the reason made us proud. Lots of Chinese come through Thailand border and police checks are heavier this side and it’s not the case with the Indian border. They feel that India is a better friend than China.
This temporary registration would help us avoid unwanted stops and don’t need to pay any toll (for the car) and we are happy with that. We added him to the WhatsApp group and he shared the day’s destination details. It was a place called Kyaikto and around 240+ km from the border. We need to cover around 1500+ km in 3 days and doing short distance means longer ones in the next few days. When asked for a reason for such distance, he told me about the road condition and tough to do more today. Our good mood changed immediately and we started our ride after filling the tank in thousands (it used to be in hundreds in Thailand). We had to cross the ghat section for the first 60 km and it was great riding through the beautiful and dense ghat.
Not a tough ride and the roads were good and we started wondering about ” where are the Bad roads” Stopped at a tea shop (not a known brand and run by a small family) and had one of the best coffees of this journey. Met a guy and he started speaking in broken (like mine) Hindi and got to know a bunch of Indians lives nearby. Given the short distance to be covered and it was only 10 am (saved 30 minutes because of the time difference) and we spent more than the usual break time. Started moving and we got stopped by police at a checkpoint. Our agent was accompanying the car and we had to get this cleared on our own. We had a very interesting conversation with them for close to 15 minutes and the entire time spent was very meaningful and entertaining.
They kept on talking in the local language and we tried to respond back in English and not sure whether we answered their questions correctly or they managed to understand our response. How wonderful it was and finally heard a known word called “Passport”. We gave them and they asked more questions while checking it. Naren tried Google translate and even it failed to translate the statement made by the police officer. I wanted to do my “Raavan Laughter” and don’t know how I controlled it. They allowed us to move on after taking a couple of group pictures and videos even though they are not going to get a copy of it (because we used our gadgets).
Got on top of my bike and was laughing for some time. Hope no Myanmar police reads this and i was just making fun of the situation and not them (disclaimer). My laughing time got over within 5 minutes and we got welcomed by the “Bad roads”. You cannot call these as roads and it was 100% off roading for close to 60 kms. Full of potholes (did see some inches of roads in between) and had to take the dried and uneven mud path to avoid the “Roads”. Started getting all kind of sounds from the bike and don’t know where it came from. We managed to overtake vehicles even on this patch and my vehicle wouldn’t forgive me for this ill-treatment.
Will give it a kiss once I give it a proper bath on reaching India. We met our Myanmar host at some point and checked the Google for the road condition (red or amber areas). Cannot believe the blue line all the way to the destination and cross checked with him again. He said the roads are better than this for next 40 kms and best after that. We didn’t want to take any risks and went slowly for the next 50 kms and took more breaks. Finally we hit some great road and managed to reach the destination by 5 pm and that’s the first time we arrived for coffee during this journey (normally we arrive post coffee time).
There is some interesting place called Golden Rock and I wanted to see it. But the “bad roads” really damaged the spirit and we decided to rest and not go anywhere. Tomorrow is going to be another long day (perhaps the longest in terms of distance) and we would like to reach Mandalay which is around 600 km from this place. We have been told that the roads are great and we hope it to be the best. Didn’t spend much time taking pictures and sharing what I have. Though I don’t have anything to write each moment of today (and this entire journey) was an experience and reliving (trying to avoid that 60 km of bad roads for sure ) those again while writing this. Enjoy reading and feel the pain we had gone through today.