Travelreport No. 66 - 20.11.2015 to 25.1.2016 - Laos, Thailand, Myanmar, Thailand - Total cycled Kilometer (inkl. China) 4420km und 72580 Altitude difference

(Laos) - Mohan - Luang Namta
(Thailand) - Chiang Khong - Chiang Rai - Mae Sai - A.Phrao - Pai - Mae Hong Son - Mae Sot
(Myanmar) - Moulmein - Ye - Dawei - Myeik - Thanithary - Lenya - Bokpin - Kawthaung
(Thailand) - Ranong - Ko Payam - Chumphon - Hua Hin - Bangkok

Laos / Thailand
It is only a small trip through northern Laos, 3 days later we pass the border to Thailand. At the departure the Lao officer asks for 2 dollar overtime money, earning a astonished look (but no dollars).
Thailand excites with its beautiful goldglittering Wats (buddhist temple), Chedis (Stupa) and uncountable Buddhas. Landscape wise it offers a lot of diversification. The north is very hilly and the many steep up to 20% ascents and the many altitude differences make us sweat, because it is also is a tropical climate, hot and damp.
Living in the area are many different ethnic groups, nowadays it seems difficult to distinguish the differences for us because most of them wear western clothes. But the markets are still interesting to see. The town of Pai then we would call the Kao San road of the north, very touristy and at weekends a huge hype. Further towards Myanmar-Thai border it is getting tranquil. The karst mountains are covered with jungle where not cleared and a lot of teakwood forest and beautiful villages. Along the border-road lies also one of the 7 refugee camps where now still 30'000 Burmese live who fled their country to escape the brutal opression of the military regime. Over all, Thailand has still about 110'000 refugees living in camps along the border. It still seems difficult for them to return home, where they lost everything and people live in extreme poverty.

The entry to Myanmar is uncomplicated and within minutes we find ourself cycling on the friendship bridge, changing from the left road side to the right side. Myanmar (formerly Burma) was a British colony until 1948, and drove on the left until 1970, when it changed sides. It is said that in 1970 the dictator of the country at that time, General Ne Win, ordered everyone to start driving immediately on the right side of the road, on the advice of a monk to avoid an accident of superstitious Ne Win. In the border town Myawaddy is a hustle and bustle. The very quiet old road takes us then up the hill with great views across the flat land towards the border to Thailand. But when crossing into Burma you know immediately you are in this because of all the golden Stupas on every hill.
Moulmein is a town where different cultures have influenced life, a strong Indian influence is obvious. And one can find next to Buddhist also Hindu-tempels, mosques and an old baptist church. The town lies at the Salween river which has its source on the tibetean platau. Visiting the world wide largest lying Buddha - 180m long and 30m high - was not really a highlight, the way to get there is beautiful so.
The ricefields and betelnut palms get replaced by rubber tree plantations further south. A rewarding stay is the town of Dawei with a very nice pagoda and a lively market and a beautiful beach, 17km away.
We wonder who will chew all these tons of planted betelnuts while pedalling further south. We meet Andrew - - an Australien cyclist whom the immigration officer put on a bus in Kawthaung as far as Myeik. He was told that it is too dangerous to cycle because of wild elefants; we think the goverment has to hide something.
There were no problems as far as Myeik, but meeting the very friendly and hospitable people greeting with bye bye or mingalaba calls and waving, is fantastic. Infrastructure is none inbetween the larger towns, so we were happy to have the tent. Often we take the food for dinner with us when eating lunch in a restaurant. Once we chose what looked like chicken, but when opening the box in the evening, it turned out to be maggots. Well, the dog who visited us in the rubber plantation while camping, did get some protein. Myeik itself is our favorite town with a very lively harbour, hundreds of small boats and the big wooden fishing boats loaded with barrels and looking like pirate boats.
A river ferry takes us to Thanithary, a nice town with old wooden houses. We experience a lot of great encounters cycling further south. Then we reach the check-point in Lenya. And to our surprise they look at our passports, write down the details and then wish us a good trip. Later we realize, that the police is escorting us, and this for the next three days. (see also - This means for us to conquer every day at least 100km and a lot of altitude diff., which is a lot in view of the heat and the construction on the road. In Bokpin there is a Guesthouse and in Po Kaung we can camp at the police station. Kawthaung has several hotels. The govermental regulations stipulate that tourists have to stay in approved hotels or guesthouses, so there was no way with the escorting police to put up the tent somewhere in the woods. We seem to be the first cyclists which got the permission to cycle the very south of Myanmar.
What impressed us most, is how men, women and children are building roads simply by hand. And we wonder how little money the people get for their hard work in the heat. The people in the south of Myanmar are very poor, the poverty is really apparent here in this undeveloped part of the country. We hope for the people of Myanmar that things change after the election in November 2015 and life gets easier for them.

The borders on both sides are very well organized, so we reach Ranong without problems. A slow boat takes us to the island of Ko Phayam where we spend some well-deserved holidays. Sun, sand, sea and fantastic food as well as meeting great people ( In Chumphon we meet our cycling friend Fritz who had some health problems. Then riding up the east-coast with beautiful deserted beaches and small roads without traffic. From Hua Hin taking the train to Bangkok.

Hier durften wir zelten und wurden noch mit Dessert beschenkt

Ein Traumplatz zum campieren

Ein Traumausblick

nicht immer einfach die Brücken zu überqueren

etwas holperig


Eine seltene Begegnung