The original plan was to bike from Mae Sot/Myawaddy (the border with Thailand) all the way to the border with India . But. We have heard many stories, that the Indian border is not open for independent travelers. You need a special permit or even better to be a part of a organized tour. It was biginning of February, we were somewhere in Cambodia that time and we needed to make a decision soon and alternatively contact agencies. But we realized we weren’t in mood to deal with some agents. Plus the financial aspect of the matter. And also we checked the map once again and counted we would need another month to be able to cycle from the border to the indian border. Another month which we don’t have if we want to be in Himalayas before monsoom season starts. Ok, so what now? Skip Maynmar and fly from Bangkok instead? Naaah. We found flights between Yangon and Kathmandu for a reasonable price and the „problem“ was sorted. We were a litte bit sad that we were going to take a plane and not traveling overland as we promised…but…nevermind.
We crossed the border from Thailand to Myanmar on 11th March and we experienced a culture shock right behind the border. That was how I thought „small“ India might look like. More dust, more rubbish, more surprised looks of people. We still saw many Thai and people but also Indians, Chinese and Arabs. We had never seen such a diversity at one place before.
To be honest, the main reason whether I decide to like the country or not is its food. Myanmar had got some positive points in Mae Sot (the town on the Thai site of the border) where we tried some of the traditional food. But to make sure, we went to find something for dinner. We found a small restaurant, or better to say a tea house, said a magic word „Ta Ta Lo“ which means „vegetarian“ and waited. We got rice and vegetable. Then tea leaf salad lahpet, chickpeas salad and vegetable soup. And they asked approx 5USD for the lot. We fell in love.
It wasn’t difficult to plan our way to Yangon. As tourists we had to stay in officially registered hotels or guest houses (which explains why the accommodation is so expensive in Myanmar). So we opened maps, found there were hotels in every bigger city, usually 50-90km far away. And so we started. We realised pretty soon that biking on main „highways“ was no big fun. The road often was narrow, broken and bumpy. And burmese drivers love honking. We looked for smaller roads instead at least for a part of a day. It was usually longer and more dificult way but we were rewarded by smiles of people we met.
The most beloved metting was actually right the second day in town Kawkareik. We met SuSu, a local girl who loves meeting new people and specially cyclists. Together with another cyclist Jin from South Korea we had such a beautiful evening full of nice talking and delicious food. Next morning SuSu made a breakfast for us as well and showed us „Thanaka“. Something like a cream from a special kind of bark which all women and mostly men too use as a make-up and suncream. When we were leaving Kawkareik I tought that even if the rest of our way through Myanmar would be boring, this experience was extraordinery.
Fortunately, the next days weren’t boring at all. We went through big cities as well as cute villages. We had to use a ferry for several times. We visited sacred caves and saw many golden pagodas. We laughed with kids and sometimes we were a little bit nervous from strangers. Unfortunately the heat was escalating and together with long distances between cities and food which is delicious but sometimes very greasy. it was too much. In Bago, the last city before Yangon we had to stop to rest because I got some bugs and I was very weak. Luckily it wasn’t too bad and next day we could carry on.
The last stop was Yangon, the former capital of Myanmar. It took us 9 days to get there and we couldn’t wait to have a bigger break. Next 4 days we were hosted by Adriana. A girl from Slovakia who has been living and working in Yangon for two years and we couldn’t wish a better host. Thanks her we felt like at home immediately, we managed all the necessary things before the flight and we still had some time to visit sights as Sule and Shwedagon pagoda as well as rent a motorbike and explore villages around Yangon.
On Sunday 25th March we taped our two bike boxes and went to the airport. This was the day when we officially closed the chapter named South East Asia. We have experienced a lot during those 4,5 months, of course. The initial enthusiasm faded away and we were forced to deal with daily fatigue and bad mood sometimes. But we have learnt a lot. We still have been learning to recognize what is important, how to don’t stress too much or don’t underestimate the communication. But now is the time for a new chapter. Nepal, Himalayas, our dream. And then India. We are sooo excited!