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Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by Chick on the Chook, Feb 18, 2016.
bravo! You go girl!
Cool report so far... subscribed!
One thing to note: your website "chickonthechookchaser.com" shows an almost blank basic themeless wordpress thingy... not sure if it's supposed to do so. just sayin' in case something went the way of the dodo.
(and I'm only mildly envious )
It works fine for me. I can see the ocean graphic on top with navigation below.
Not sure if I've added any commentary here yet, but am really enjoying this RR! Some other folks I followed had been in some of the same places you were in, too- so it's kinda cool to get another perspective on places I've already read about (and seen photos of). I'm subscribed, and will check your website out in hopes of seeing more pix! (insert drool emoji here)
Before reading this part of my journey it’s good to know that at the moment the only way to cross Myanmar is with a tour operator, guide and government official. Everything is arranged, hotels need to be government approved etc. Although for the group of us this was a total contrast to our normal way of travelling it was a very nice change J
March 20 2016
Off we went to the border. Here we would meet the rest of the group to travel through Myanmar with. After the whole window dance on the Thai site, getting stamps, confirmations, receipts and more stamps we crossed the border to Myanmar. Our group consists of 4 bikes and one car. Kerstin and Stefan are two-up on a BMW, Leonie and Peter on the two Honda 250’s, Phil in a 30-something year old Landcruiser and me with my XT250. We lined up behind the guides van and set off into Myanmar traffic. It started off busy, but that didn’t stop the guide from overtaking, undertaking and squeezing in every possible gap. Even us on the bikes had a hard time keeping up. As we leave the city it gets all a bit less chaotic. The mountain scenery is stunning and on every hill top sits a golden pagoda. Myanmar’s public transport consists of cars with the booth open loaded up with people and trucks with a rope across the back preventing the passengers from flying off every time the truck accelerates. The curious locals on these modes transport are highly entertained by the 4 big bikes flying past them, waving and smiling. What people load on their vehicles here is more extravagant then I’ve seen before. Cars with half a house and a motorbike on top of them! And the most dangerous moment of the day, while in the middle of a serial overtaking attempt, one by one, all 4 bikes have an up close moment with the one meter long blade of a chain saw sticking out from the back of a motorbike. Luckily we all make it to our destination in one piece and we end the day with a walk through town and a nice local dinner.
March 21 2016
This morning we visited Golden rock, a rock covered in gold, balancing on the edge of a hilltop, allegedly held in place by a strand of Buddha’s hair. The rollercoaster ride up there in a truck fully loaded with people was an experience in itself. Unfortunately the rock was covered in scaffolding for maintenance so it’s gravity defying existence was hidden from us. Back at the hotel I showered of the sweat from climbing up there, only to get dressed in a smelly bike jacket…Well I guess it’s the thought that counts… We rode to the start of the highway were we waited for special permission to take the bikes on the highway (usually no bikes allowed). Somehow we weren’t allowed to get on the road there, so we took a detour and entered in a different spot. By now it was quite late. We still had 280 km to cover, on 250CC bikes with a speed of 85 km/h it was a long haul. Legs started to cramp and behinds were extremely sore after riding 230 kilometers without stopping. It got dark, cars were overtaking without any form of lights, buffaloes driven along the side of the road created a cloud of dust through which I needed to find my way still wearing my sunglasses for a nice challenge of decreased visibility. Finally with our fuel tanks verging on empty we reached Myanmar’s capital city, Naypyidaw. Rows of hotels with flashing lighting led us into the city and to our hotel. A fancy business! The staff came running with those golden trolley things to load up all our mud and dust covered belongings. We checked in in the massive, shiny lobby, me with a dust beard on my face and black smudges on my nose. After a nice dinner Phil and me decided to fully enjoy the hotel facilities and jumped in the pool (a suspicious guard came patrolling the area and we sneaked back into the hotel through the back door not to be dripping all over the shiny lobby) before taking a way too long hot luxury rain-shower and getting into the crispy white linen covered beds. The usual sleeping arrangements in let’s say Indonesia, dark room, cigarette burned sheets and a concrete water basin/ mosquito breeding ground with a hole in the floor for a bathroom seemed lifetimes away!
March 22 2016
This big and fancy hotel came with a breakfast buffet bigger and fancier than I’ve ever had before. All of us went for at least two serves. After being restricted in the food you eat both by limited availability and budget we all went a little crazy. Our bellies filled to the brim we packed the bikes. The Tourist Police was outside, greeting us and taking pictures. They escorted us out of the remarkably empty city, on to an even emptier highway. A great opportunity to play around with the GoPros. We had a lot of fun, filming, overtaking each other, hanging of the bike and out of the window of the car. The ride today went from dry sandy flats, through mountainous terrain into rolling hills. Just before we arrived at the endpoint, Inle lake, we passed a pagoda with a lot of people and music. A local festival, we got off the bikes and curiously watched as girls and women walked around the holy place offering food while the guys made music using bamboo instruments and danced. The locals were just as curious about us, as we were about them, taking as many pictures of us as we of them. The last kilometres a new Tourist Police escort safely delivered us to our hotel. When looking for a place to eat we came past a roller skating rink. The boys skating were pretty good while loud music blasted out of the speakers. Too hungry to join in now we put it on the list for tomorrow.
March 23 2016
A day off riding, a day full of being a tourist. At 8 in the morning we all gathered to get in boats and explore Inle lake. The boats were a very narrow and shaky business but we all kept our feet dry and managed to clamber aboard. An intricately designed, smoky diesel engine powered the narrow ships forward. Soon we learned about the traditional fishermen, how they paddle their boats with their legs and use a special net to fish. In the middle of the lake are the floating gardens. On a floating bed off sea grass, soil and charcoal they grow tomatoes, cucumber, cauliflower and many more vegetables in the middle of the lake. Really an inventive way of growing fresh produce, with the added benefit that you never have to water your plants. The boats took us through the village in the middle of the lake. Houses are build on stilts and the electricity cables dangle treacherously from the skewed wooden poles. It’s amazing how this town, including shops, restaurants, little supermarkets and pagodas are all build above the water. We visited a silver workshop, a traditional weaving workshop, a pagoda and a boat making place and learned how the local cigars are rolled. Also we learned how the local people use a paste of wood and water for sun protection. All over Myanmar they make it a real form of art and have the most beautiful patterns painted on their face. Back on dry land we were kept our promise and went to the roller skating rink. The young local kids had a blast just looking at these initially wobbly foreigners joining in on their favourite past time activity. It was a great way to connect with them. As it shows both motorcycles and sports are an international language in need of few words to unite us all.
March 24 2016
It should have been an easy, cruisy riding day. However things started off with a cow heading straight for Stefan’s BMW GS, in my mirror I could see the animal slide on all four legs to brake in time to avoid the machine. Then, because bikers just like to make everything an adventure we managed to lose the two cars on our way from Inle Lake to Bagan. As the tour guide was probably already worried about our whereabouts, we delayed our arrival at the meeting point even more as Peter had an up close encounter with some slippery Myanmar tarmac. He got away without much damaged but we were all a bit shaken. For the rest of the day we took it slow and kept the group together. On arrival in Bagan there was a refreshing pool awaiting us. Our cramped budgets never really allow for these kinds of luxuries so we better make the most of it now.
March 25 2016
Touristy day number two. We visited the markets, a pagoda, another pagoda, saw many more pagodas and went to see the sunset from a pagoda. It sounds monotonous and boring but is everything but that! In and around Bagan are over 2000 pagodas, big, small, very old, very very old and together they make it feel like you are in a fairy tale world. Really breathtaking, you have to go and see it for yourself, it can’t be described in words!
March 26 2016
Most of our group members like their sleep. But today the vote was unanimous. Breakfast at 6.30 and at 7 AM we left to cruise between the pagodas on our bikes. Riding your bike on sand and gravel, from one impressive monument to the next is a once in a lifetime experience and we could have continued the entire day, but more cultural highflyers were awaiting us. It was visible from multiple kilometres away, a massive golden standing Buddha was watching over the fields. As we got closer it only seemed to grow more. It’s the third highest Buddha in the world and you can climb to the top on the inside. The bottom floors represent several levels of hell, with very graphic, non-pleasant paintings, I’ll spare you the details. On the upper floors different levels of heaven are depicted. On the way to the hotel we passed by a field with thousands and thousands of Buddha statues. This country has a scale of religious display that even tops the Vatican!
March 27 2016
Today there were over 300 kilometers to cover. Some potholes to swerve around, cows to avoid and other obstacles but the main aim was to move and get close to the Indian border to cross that tomorrow morning.
March 28 2016
Our last morning in Myanmar. We had to leave but all agreed that we’d love to spend more time in this fascinating country. Crossing the border was interesting as always. More copies of paperwork needed to be supplied. This left the six of us waiting and watching a smoking, lingering immigration officer in his undershirt between slogans of nationalism, translated into broken English. Borders are always a peculiar business and this one was no different. A while later, with our passports stamped we were ready to undergo the same procedure on the other side of the border. It stood out that all of a sudden everyone spoke English. The customs officer even found it his duty to update us on the soccer results of our various countries. All paperwork finished, one of us managed to empty the ATM in the little town, the rest crossed their fingers for an ATM along the way to Imphal, the first city. The road was in need of a little fixing but leading up to high heights it provided great views of the Indian landscape. A few times we had to stop at a military checkpoint to show our passports. Once we left the mountains and entered the valley the first raindrops since Malaysia came down. The road changed into a muddy, oily business and it also turned dark very quickly now. Closer to the town the traffic got thicker and crazier. In the dark, no lights on, people were overtaking three vehicles and a cow at a time, pushing anything in their paths to the very edge of the road. At this point I was incredibly thankful to Leonie and Peter to stay together, riding, let alone finding a hotel in this weather, with crazy traffic in a town suffering of a major power outage wasn’t our idea of fun! It seemed like the town was fully booked out, we later learned there was a soccer tournament and dance festival going on and all the fans must have occupied the cheap places to stay. After an hour of going from one place to the next, and finding the smoke bellowing Landcruiser with Phil behind the wheel, Leonie managed to score us an amazing deal at the fanciest place in town. We carried in our mud dripping bags, had hotel staff running around to mop up the brownish puddles we left all over the lobby, and welcomed the hot shower like a long lost friend.
It was great to share the Myanmar experience with this group. Have a look at their journeys via the links to their websites:
Leonie & Peter: http://amsterdamtoanywhere.nl/en/
Kerstin & Stefan: http://einspurig-reisen.de/
And my own facebook for the latest photos and updates:
Brillant RR. Thanks for sharing
thanks for the story! Can I ask you with what agency you go through Myanmar? This september I cross also from India to Myanmar inschallah with my Ten!
We went with Burma senses. Our guide was great and everything was fully taken care off. Sounds like you have a nice ride ahead of you, enjoy! Let me know if you want any more info :)
OK, thanks for the answer! I will make it with OSUGA! Where you take the visa for Myanmar? I wanna make it in Kathmandu.
Since I was coming from the other side I got the visa in Kuala Lumpur. I'm sure you did your research on where to get the visa so you'll make it work :)
Thank you so much for writing all this and posting all the pictures. Really enjoying it all.
I'm taking lots of notes. I really would love to see that part of the world.
What are you using for a camera?
Just plain awesome, good for you. I'm tagging along
Sent from my SM-G920F using Tapatalk
Please do make notes,and just send a message if you want any specific info. My camera is a very simple, 5 year old compact camera, Fujifilm Finepix F500. It will actually be replaced soon as the flash doesn't work anymore... The camera is less important then what's in the pictures, the topic makes it great :)
More days, more experiences. It's awesome to travel with others for a little while. Makes for a totally different experience. It was a good first week in India, the country of which everyone says it's so crazy... It's actually very nice so far.
March 29 2016
On our way to breakfast Leonie informed us that there is an overlander couple on their way to Myanmar. She contacted them. So maybe, if they are in town we can all meet up. While filling our plates with Indian breakfast goodies we spot two more Westerners in the room, the man wearing a Moto Camp t-shirt… A case of pure travel serendipity, Maggie and Norman, the overlanders Leonie tried to get in touch with are sitting right next to us for breakfast! We shared heaps of information and stories. Such a lucky coincidence, we could have easily spend the rest of the day sharing tales from the road but decided to create some new ones. So at noon we packed the bikes and car, got our nicely showered feet into the still wet and smelly boots, and set off to Loktak Lake. Just for fun we took a muddy, slippery off road stretch that lead through some amazing landscape, as well as multiple herds of cows. The hotels Phil spotted on the map didn’t exist at all, but the locals pointed us in the right way. We found a little cottage, on the top of the hill, overlooking the lake. A perfect little house for four overlanders. It was good fun being on the adventure trail again today.
March 30 2016
Next to our cottage was a military base. At 4.30 AM the local military musician announced the arrival of the new day by playing his trumpet. It would have been a nice way to wake up, if it wasn’t at 4.30 in the morning and if you manage to ignore the false notes. At 5.30 loud music and the sound of elephants stampeding past took the trumpets place. Determined to not be woken up again I tried to ignore it. During breakfast Leonie filled us in with the facts. There were no elephants, only soldiers with big bellies and moustaches running past. While a few of them stood guard, with guns and the whole lot, right next to our peaceful little house. After this rather unusual start of the day I went to town to get some oil and wire. We all spend the day on bike/ car / website maintenance. For me this meant changing the positions of the panniers forward, to take weight of the back of the bike and changing the oil. Removing the bolt on the bottom of the engine to drain the oil turned out to be a project in itself. Last time my oil was changed was at the start of Thailand. There the mechanic must have over tightened the bolt. The bolt claimed the lives of a spanner and a simple socket before a three-headed team (Leonie holding the bike, Peter on the spanner, and me holding socket number 2 tightly on the bolt) was able to get some oil coming from the bottom of the bike. Lesson learned, don’t let anyone work on the bike when you can do it yourself! After this we needed some food. In town we found a place with just that. It had a lot of character. Read: it was a tiny wooden shack with one single lightbulb, random posters glued to the walls and a lifeless cockroach as a decorative item on the seat. Now you won’t believe it, but the food was actually really good!
March 31 2016
The morning started with the same military rituals. Initially we had planned to get on the road today but decided to stay one more day. We all had heaps of stuff to catch upon, the company was good and the cottage cute. Why would we leave!? Besides, although the food last night tasted great, the effect on my insides weren’t that positive… Now I come to think of it… cockroaches can survive a nuclear attack, if they are dead in a restaurant something must be really wrong. Maybe, from now on, avoid places with dead cockroaches!
April 1 2016
Today we did get going. First we cruised around the lake, and saw what is called: the world’s only floating national park. We headed up north, pass Imphal again. Along the way there are many many soldiers. I’ve never seen this many men with this many weapons in one day. Truck loads of them! The road starts climbing, we are treated to the most incredible views. On the way I found out that my newly designed pannier set-up will need some debugging as the drybag keeps sliding to one side, one of the panniers is about to touch the ground in the corners and the side stand get stuck on that same bag. I’m now onto set-up number six, let’s say practice will make perfect by the time I’ll reach Europe . For lunch we stop at a tea house, they serve milk tea and samosas, a big success. However what follows was in great contract to the delicious lunch, a very memorable visit to the worse toilet ever! A squat thing with 4 sheets of wood and a roof so low that you had to bend over to be inside, no water to flush, flies all over and multiple visitors prior to me left their… well signature behind. Yes that’s the downside to adventure! On the road again we made our way across hills and through little towns. There were all kinds of animals everywhere! Cows, goats, dogs, we witnessed a chicken being run over by a truck while 200 meter down the road people were slaughtering and gutting two pigs not even a meter off the main highway. We reached Kohima, one of the dirtiest, most uninspiring places I’ve ever been. The fog, rain and cold didn’t add much to the atmosphere. Apparently the locals are aware of the problem so they painted a “Wall of Hope” with a collection of inspiring celebrities at the town square. We managed to find a guesthouse and some food and spend a cosy cold night in front of the heater and later under our blankets.
April 2 2016
Kohima looked a lot better in the morning sun. A downhill ride through some roadworks got us back into the overlanding spirit straight away. The road first continued through mountains with beautiful views and later a valley and some jungle type forest where smell of eucalyptus trees reminded me of Australia. Our destination for today Kaziranga national park. A park with both rhinos and tigers! As we got closer to our endpoint there were many people riding elephants. Such impressive, massive animals! Somehow we managed to loose Phil in the Landcruiser. Keeping 3 bikes with the same size engine together is not that hard, but staying together with a car while wiggling through traffic doesn’t work. So usually we just meet again down the road as there is only one road. Today though, we somehow just missed each other and then, as those things go, no one had cell phone reception. In the end, 60 kilometers and 1.5 hours later, we were happily reunited. After all the fancy hotels we needed to get back to basic and found a cheap place to sleep just in time to enjoy the last glimpse of the sunset.
April 3 2016
Safari day! My first ever safari, we organised a proper safari vehicle, one of those little open jeeps. We wore our camouflage kaki outfits, puts some stripes on our face and sticks in our hair… Sorry I got carried away, actually all we did is change our motorbike pants for shorts and took a camera before climbing into the back of the jeepy thing. Ten minutes into the drive and there they were, rhinos, at least 10 of them, and they are massive! So big! We also saw many deer, buffaloes, birds and wild pigs. It was a great morning. Out of the wild we packed the bikes and car and headed off. After another amazing Indian lunch it was time to say goodbye to Phil. He, his positive spirit and dry humour headed to Nepal, while the three Dutch bikers started the quest for an entry permit to Aruchanal Pradesh. People in India are so shamelessly curious that when we fuelled up half the village gathered to stare at us and the bikes. Eventually we found a hotel in a typical small Indian town. While going around on a snack-crawl (the Indian tapas version of a pub-crawl) we repeatedly tripped over dogs, pigs and rubbish. But the food and the tea we found were again great.
April 4 2016
Well rested and showered with hot water we left our hotel. The plan was to cross into Aruchanal Pradesh today. Armed with a list of places to obtain the required entry permit and the GPS we were sure we’d succeed. At entry gate number one we were first laughed at, and then, after much encouragement to at least get us on the right track, send to entry gate number two, 30 km away. Once arrived there we were taken into the “foreign visitors registration office” a fancy name for a windowless room with a bare desk, 4 plastic chairs and two moustached officers. They kept asking for the permit, and didn’t quite understand that we were here to get the permit. Then one of them got on the phone and had a long conversation before putting the phone to my ear. The man on the other end would arrange our permits. All we had to do was send copies of our passports and visas, pay and wait. Only the paying part was a bit of a challenge, all the banks were closed today and since shoving notes through a phone line is no option a little creativity was required. In the end we payed to the officer at the gate, crossed our fingers and hoped we didn’t land in a massive scam. Since it was only 3PM, and the permits wouldn’t arrive until tomorrow I decided it would be a great opportunity to get a rack upgrade done. The welders took until 9 pm, rebuild the rack so the panniers sit more to the front of the bike, made a bracket for the spare fuel tank and literally bashed a bash plate out of an old car bonnet. These guys are so skilled and creative! Arriving back at the hotel I found that Leonie got me a perfect little take away meal because all the shops had already closed. Thank you Leonie!!
Regular power outages and limited cell phone reception, let alone internet connectivity, are a day to day occurrence in any off-the-beaten-track area. It’s part of what makes these areas fun and challenging. It also means that the stories come a little later than usual. Sorry!
April 5 2016
The morning was a waiting game. Full of excitement we’d packed our bags and waited for the permits to come in. Every time my phone vibrated we jumped up, but no luck before lunch. Today we planned to ride to Ziro, a ride of just over 100 km, and meet with some other overlanders. While enjoying a lunch of roti and dahl (flat bread and chickpea & potato curry sauce), considering our options if the permits would not arrive on time, the phone made a happy pingy noise to announce the arrival of the desired document. We got the all clear from the officers and rode through the concrete arch into Arunachal Pradesh. The clouds hung heavy over the mountains, but it stayed dry for the first half of the trip over brand spanking new smooth tarmac. Then after 50km the smooth tar was replaced with something not quite road but not quite off road. More on this later… Also the first raindrops started coming down. After a few hours of bumping around on the potholes we reached Ziro, then after another hour we located the resort where the other guys had already pitched their tents. We pulled out our foldable bedrooms, inflated our beds and headed to the restaurant to fill our hungry bellies. The rest of the night we spend in good overlanding spirit, sharing tales of border crossings, time spend at police stations and the pro’s and con’s of our steeds of choice.
April 6 2016
Overnight it rained a lot and the morning sky was many shades of grey. Drying the tents before taking off was a pointless exercise so we just packed the wet, muddy sheets of nylon and readied ourselves for another day on the road. Unfortunately the other overlanding motorbikers went one way, Leonie, Peter and me the other way. Just before jumping on the bike one of the locals started a conversation with Peter and offered us to stay with his family in the next city. He was going there as well and we could meet in town. As we set of to the main road we came through some traditional villages. The older women had face tattoos and impressive tree bark nose piercings and the houses were built on stilts above the rice fields. A rare insight into lives as they have been lived for thousands of years. The road to Daporijo was slow going and challenging but the views were again breathtaking. The clouds were low, hanging around the mountain tops they created a mystical atmosphere. The entire day we didn’t pass a petrol station, my fuel light was on most of the day, even when we topped up with a bit of spare fuel from Leonie it still indicated I should find a pump. The last 8 kilometers were downhill. Mostly in neutral I rolled down the hill, and in Daporijo we found a local on a Royal Enfield who showed our thirsty bikes to the petrol station. Then we met up with Cardo, our host. He took us to his family home. We all sat around the fire inside their kitchen hut. It was nice to warm up after a cold and wet day of riding. The women of the house prepared an amazing dinner. They even managed to roast an entire chicken over the open fire. We planned to sleep on our own mattresses but that was in no way allowed. We were shown to our rooms by the 7 year old boy, he proudly showed of his English and made sure that we felt perfectly at home.
April 7 2016
The family all gathered and the neighbours came around just to watch us drink tea and pack our bikes. It is perfectly normal and typical Indian behaviour to simply stand still and watch someone else (more about this topic later). We found our way out of the town and back onto the main road. I think it’s time to explain the term main road, with regards to Arunachal Pradesh. Usually we talk about off-road or road, very simple, two options, there is either a road or there isn’t. Well, here they’ve invented another category, one I would call used-to-be road. A base of potholes held together by the remaining tarmac, some loose gravel or rocks and all of this is topped with a nice coating of mud. Not road, not off-road, but used-to-be road. Today it rained the entire morning. When we arrived in a town called Basar around lunch time, we learned that the next town is not far, but the road very bad and the trip about 4 hours. Not wanting to ride in the dark we found a guesthouse. We managed to secure the last VIP room. Let me describe it: balcony with a nice view of the valley, but missing half of the railing. Lounge area with couch (yes!!!) and a massive leak in the ceiling, bedroom with a triple bed (for real, no joke!) and another leak, and a bathroom with a shower attached to the wall, but the hot water only coming from the tap under the shower… It wasn’t a five star resort, but we were pretty happy to call it home for a night, pour hot water over our muddy faces and pitch the tents in the lounge to dry.
April 8 2016
After a real travellers breakfast of oats and coffee we left Basar. Nearly took a wrong turn but then the look of the market stall style butcher, displaying an entire pig head reminded us to follow the road up the hill. There was still water falling from the sky, but the beautiful surroundings made that I couldn’t even care about it. The road went up and down, following the river through the valley. There were some sections with roadworks where the road was replaced with mud, mud and more mud. Great practice for me as I’ve never really dealt with mud. This road lead us out of the mountains, into the dry and sun. Our clothes dried while riding and we were covering double the amount of kilometres per hour. Instead of watching out for potholes we now had to deal with moving, grass eating obstacles (mainly cows but also many goats) and more traffic. We kept on riding until dark. Only stopping for fuel and a toilet. And what kind of! At the petrol station we were confronted with a urinal for ladies. Really, no joke, a ladies only urinal. How to use it? Well you stand on an elevated tile, you squad, do your thing, it runs on the floor, along the back wall, into a hole in the wall and floor. No joke, so basic, there isn’t even a gutter. I guess that only exists in India!
April 9 2016
We rode our bikes from between the boxes, out of the hotel’s storage area where they were locked in securely overnight. Before setting of I check my rear break, it’s been making weird sounds. The disk has many grooves… Then Peter suddenly notices my entire brake pad is gone, vanished! It’s metal on metal! Oops! They looked fine about 3000 km ago, but apparently the pads took a sprint to the finish! We rode about 100 km to Nameri National Park, all the time avoiding the rear brake like the plague. Here we found a place to camp at the Jungle Camp. It was nice and quiet since they were still building it, an ideal spot to do some housekeeping and bike maintenance. With the laundry drying over the fence Peter checked the bearings in his rear wheel before he helped changing the brake pads (I was so happy I carried spares all the way from Aus!). We then checked the front forks, some oil had appeared, but it all looked fine. And last we upped the preload on the rear shock to stop the bike from sagging and make it handle the bumps a bit better. Bit by bit I’m learning to take care of my bike, every time there is something wrong it’s a lesson learned. A very productive and educational day!
April 10 2016
Rain overnight prevented and early start. We dried out the tents and had breakfast. After 20 km we were entering Arunachal Pradesh again. This meant showing paperwork to the officials, giving them passport and license numbers and all that. Peter was outside keeping an eye on the bikes while Leonie and I wrote numbers in a big book. It was incredibly strange to this guy that there were 2 women, both riding their own motorbikes… Then the guard said: “Send your gentleman”. Peter went into the dark little building, only to appear again 30 seconds later. “He asked for money” Sneaky border guy doesn’t dare to ask the women for anything, no we have to send the man in so he can be bribed! Nice try but of course he wasn’t getting any money. We entered the mountains again. This part of the province was different, almost what I’d expect Tibet to look like. With the typical flags in the little towns and shrines along the curved roads. The road was good, we climbed up and descended again. While having lunch in a roadside rice hotel a white Caucasian women walked in. This was a rare site in itself, but the fact she was wearing a padded jacket and holding a helmet made us all drop our jaws, exposing the half chewed rice and veg. It must have been quite a sight for her! Then again, she also looked like she saw some ghosts! After the initial surprise Antonia joined for lunch, we exchanged stories and contact details and took pictures of each other with our bikes. She rode a 150CC bike around Arunachal Pradesh for 2.5 months to gather information and write a book about it. Such an inspiring person to meet totally unexpectedly! Unfortunately we were travelling in opposite directions and parted ways after lunch. The route continued to Dirang, past many military bases, providing an awkward contrast to the peaceful, flag filled villages. First the road was nice and smooth tar, later gravel and sand but regardless of the quality of the road, the quality of the views was outstanding.
April 11 2016
A gravel and tar road winding up the mountain provided another morning of excellent views. On the way there were many shrines and flags, providing ample photo opportunity. The top, called the Sela Pass at a height 4175 meter the highest point I’d ever been, came with views of snow capped mountains. To warm our cold hands and fill our bellies the military had conveniently placed a small cafeteria at the top. Here we indulged in a lunch of milk tea and samosas while being entertained by Bollywood ads on the big flat screen tv. Really I don’t understand why you’d need a flat screen at 4 km height when the views are this incredible… Descending on the north site of the mountain it was a little colder and we ever found snow right next to our bikes. Ongoing roadworks challenged us to ride the sand, mud and slippery bits with our wheels half a meter away from the cliff face. Daily dose of adrenaline, check! We rode past the birthplace of the 6th Dalai Lama on the way to Tawang. Here a massive Buddha statue watched over the city and us as we did some laps to find a homestay. While checking out the rooms and negotiating the price, massive storm started, rain, hail, lightning the whole lot. As we took our last bags into the building the ground was covered in a layer of hail, giving the town a white Christmas feeling in early April. Apart from the nostalgia the storm didn’t provide many benefits, it took out the electricity. No light, no hot water to shower and most restaurants closed before we could get some dinner. The place we finally found was interesting. In the back sat the local boys, busying themselves smoking some local green stuff. We chose dinner from the extensive menu painted on the wall, only for the guy to come back with a piece of paper, on which a google-translated message said they only had fried rice and fried noodles. Ah well, we’ve had worse! Back in the guest house, the power still off, no heating and ice still on the ground outside (it must be close to 0 degrees…) I created my own igloo out of two mattresses, three blankets, and 4 pillows. The cold won’t get me that easily!
April 12 2016
In the morning sun the town warms up quickly. We walk to the famous Tawang monastery in the sun. The monastery is build in 1682 in the same style as the monastery in Lhasa, Tibet. It’s beautiful, with old wood work and colorful painted decoration. We arrive just as the young monks finish school, filling the streets and squares of the complex with excited little boys in their traditional red robes. Inside the prayer building, the main building of the complex, I get to talk to a Tibetan monk, he educates me on the different Buddhist traditions as well as sharing his stories about the Chinese oppression of the Tibetans. Not a very cheerful topic, but he is positive and enjoys practicing his traditions here in more liberal India. At night the electricity is down again. We find a place to eat shining our torches around the pitch dark streets.
Love this report - thank you
Wonderful. Would love a few more pictures if you can.
Thanks for the replies. I'll be sorting pics tonight and will make sure to post some :)
Feeling so great to be able to entertain you all with my crazy adventures!
Just found your report this morning, great read.
Will check your post on Facebook.
Continued good luck and many adventures.