Mae Sot to Kawkareik 75km
I was very excited to be going to a new country, and during the day of resting, had been reading some background on Myanmar or Burma. That wasn't a great idea, as it really just emphasized just how unstable the whole country still is. But I was up early, and had to wake the caretaker to let me out the locked gate.
The border crossing was only 5km down the road, and I was there by 6.30am....but no Departure Card.Turns out it's not too much of a problem....and I'm cycling across another "friendship" bridge. Caught the Burma officer still putting his medals on. But still not a problem. I'm stamped and in Myanmar.
I'm back on the right hand side of the road. But something is strange.....then I spot it. Most of the vehicles are right hand drive, but everyone drives on the right, so the drivers are next to the footpath. Also, most of the guys are wearing skirts...
I've got no local money, and can't find an ATM. No banks either. Stop into a hotel, but they won't help, but a rickshaw driver helps out, and exchanges a few bhart. I've heard that you're possibly meant to register with the police, but there's no obvious police station, and no uniforms about. In fact a couple of military bases seem deserted as well.
I've also heard that the road is one way. East one day, West the next, but I haven't been able to find anyone to ask about today's direction, so head off. There's also a "new" road some cyclists have been shown, and ridden, but it's not open yet, and I'm looking forward to the old road.
I was talking to a couple of French people who came across the road in a bus yesterday. The told me it was horrendous.
There is a bit of traffic, but it's all coming towards me. Trucks mainly. Then I start passing a long line of stopped trucks, and ooops, a police stop. They look at my passport, and wave me through.
We start gently climbing, through small villages, and native forest. More and more trucks are coming down the hill. Some are stopping at the villages and being washed. I'm definitely going against the flow of traffic. Noone else is going west. But the road is getting narrow, and I'm happy to have the traffic coming towards me, rather than sneaking up behind. I do have to stop a few times to let some of the big guys squeeze past.
The road is getting really rough, with thick layers of dust. Fiona reminds me she has road slicks on, by sliding sideways, and throwing me off. I'm covered in dust, stuck to my wet sweaty clothes. And this being an adventure, there's blood. A gashed knee and elbow.
I've reached the summit, and suddenly there are cars in the mix. They are trying to pass the trucks and buses on the inside of the corners, but these are really rough, and most are not four wheel drives, and are sliding everywhere. I have to be very careful on the blind corners.
I'm so glad I'm not in one of the many buses. I would be absolutely sick as a dog, the road is so windy, rough and up and down. Vomit city for me, a ride from hell. Instead, on a bike, this would have to be the most fun day of riding I've had in Asia. I feel sorry for those who will ride the new road. If you can, cyclists, take the old road.
Another Police stop, just before the village. They are really helpful, and tell me where to find a guesthouse. But there's no bank or ATM. I make a deal with the guesthouse, and I've finally got local money.
Then I meet Su Su. She's a Warmshowers member,but cannot host. She is really keen to meet foreigners, and shows me around the village. Lovely lady. Get in touch Warmshowers people.