Once again we changed countries, and once again something unexpected happens that made us change plans completely. We knew that certain parts of the country were going to be of limits due to problems with rebels, warlords and drug dealers but we didn’t expect that we were not going to be allowed to cycle pass the first city: Tachileik.
A few days ago in Chiang Mai, at the dinner we cooked for Dell and some of his friends, there was this Uruguayan older man who could not stop asking questions. Sometimes he didn’t even wait for us to finish the answer, to ask the next one. But in one of the many things he was worried and ask about was right: It’s not possible to cycle from the border of Myanmar to central part of the country.
We thought, or at least hoped, that we could cycle from Tachilek to Keungtong, and hopefully from there we could either cycle or take a bus. Unfortunately, when we got to the border, they informed us that it was not possible to cycle to keungtong, only by bus, and once from there we could only fly or turn around … simply great!
The options where not very appealing. So we asked several times the reason of this, and after several evasive answers they told us that they were having problems with the insurgents, that it was for our safety. Maybe it’s for our safety, or just because they want to control everybody passing through there, but to continue to central Myanmar it gave us only one option: take another flight!
We really hate taking flights with the bikes. It’s one of the most annoying thing you can do. We checked and at least the flights are cheap, less than 75 $ per person including bikes and all of our extra weight. It’s not optimal, but at least it’s affordable.
We only get 28 day visa, non extendable, and for the route we want to do it’s way too few time, so we knew we had to take a bus or train, I guess this clears or doubts. At least this way we skip some really hard, high and steep mountains, and one of us (let’s say … Javi) didn’t want to climb so much. I guess it’s not that bad after all.
We had to spend the night in Tachileik and already there it’s possible to see that Myanmar is much more poor than Thailand. Buildings are quite run down, it’s very dusty (but clean of trash), and the roads are very bad. We tried our luck in one of the several pagodas, and it looks like they are as friendly as anywhere else, without problems we slept in one (without wifi though).
There were lots of really friendly young novices that even helped us prepare our dinner. They didn’t speak english but many times, especially with children, words are not needed. It was a fun evening, even if Javi played the same song over and over again with his ukulele.
In the morning it was time to go around town in search of boxes for our bikes. We found some for the bikes, but too small, so we took some square ones to build ourselves a better one with spare parts and duct tape.
It was nice strolling around the town. It’s much more how I imagined Asia before I actually got to the rest of the SE Asia. The monks actually are begging in the street for food in exchange of blessings (many times they get rejected, it’s not like in Thailand or Laos that going to the street to get food is not more than an old symbolic ritual). Women have some kind of sand color paint on their faces, not sure why, I already asked, but I didn’t understand the answer, I’ll have to ask again.
So from there we got to the airport with the boxes in a Tuktuk. As we know how stressful this can be, we got there hours before our boarding started. And for the first time in Biziklautak, and in my life as a matter of fact, we where ready before the check in even started! It was nice, because as crappy and small this airport is, they have free wifi, so no time to get bored!
It’s amazing how many controls the airport has, but not computerized at all, so after 3 times checking our passports and boarding passes and writing our names on blank pieces of paper, we walked to our plane, and … on the air again towards Heho, the closest airport and 25 km from the famous Inle lake.