We had a hell of a night in the Sangai Guest House in Moreh ….our very budget room at only 500INR spoke for itself…..no air conditioning, no hot water, squat toilet, bed that had no real mattress to speak of so we were really just laying on wood, no fly screens and only a mozi net for protection! The other residents could only be described as feral animals and after the 9.30pm curfew the military roamed the streets! We were kept up all night by our neighbours so when the alarm went at 5.15am we were already awake.
Our merry band was soon on its way towards the boarder at 6.00am. However, we soon found ourselves being redirected back into Moreh to get our passports stamped at the police outpost and then onto Customs for our Carnet stamps. It was all done quite promptly and was actually one of the more relaxed border experiences we have had. Back at the border, this time with the correctly stamped documents, the police officers processed us in their register…..thankfully they just checked over our luggage ….without us having to empty everything out or even open things up! Around 7.30am we were met by Win and Nyi from Burma Senses (our tour guides) but two of the 4×4 vehicles that were due to join us had not yet arrived. Claire made us some porridge to share (Vince and I had bought a large container and donated it for group use) while we waited. Eventually they arrived but it had put us around an hour behind schedule.
Through the border we entered Myanmar on the other side…..leaving India behind. It took some time with 10 people and 6 vehicles to be processed at the Myanmar Passports building and then a little further on we needed to have the vehicles checked by customs…..Win assured us we don’t need the carnet stamped in Myanmar….I hope he’s right! (NB He was!) It was well after 11.00am by the time we finally got on the road…and then there seemed to be a bit of back and forward as the support vehicle dropped people off and picked people up. We stopped at the local bazar and a man siting on a chair with a small table in the middle of the street was exchanging Indian Rupees for Myanmar currency (Kyet) I changed 5500INR and got 101,750 Kyet in return.
Finally on the road, we travelled around 280km from Tamu to Gangaw at around 7.00pm…..so we had been travelling basically for almost 13 hours! We did stop for lunch, which costs us 3000 Kyet per person….there were lots of little bowls with lots of different things……most of which was unrecognisable….Vince and I had steamed rice with goat …which was delicious…..but I was not so keen on the other offerings….one that tasted like old socks and another that was very fishy! The riding was great…and the countryside was beautiful. People were friendly and waving and smiling as we passed. It rained at one point…and although we got wet….we saw a beautiful rainbow which made up for it.
Unfortunately, due to the late start we ended up having to ride at night……I was not happy about it…..as when I raised concerns around 11.00am (when we were still at the border), Win, our guide , had assured us this would not happen and we would be at the hotel around 4.00pm …..well before dark at 5.30pm. It is very dangerous for everyone, especially the motorbike riders with the unfamiliarity and poor quality of the roads, animals, traffic etc….and driver/rider fatigue. Vince was very careful but it was still a nerve racking experience for us both….Aad (Art) and Mike were furious about it. Some of us spoke directly to Win and he apologised and assured us this will not happen again. It has caused some disharmony within the overall group….. but I hope this can be resolved and everyone can just have a good time….that’s what we are here for after all!
Tomorrow is another day!