Bullets over Burma - Epic 2 week Loop

Discussion in 'Myanmar - Road Trip Reports' started by ianyonok, Nov 30, 2014.

  1. ianyonok

    ianyonok Ol'Timer

    I signed up for the North Siam Roadrunners 2014 Burma classic bike tour. I love Royal Enfield Bullets as they are so well suited to the varied road conditions in SE Asia and these are the classic original right side gear change model, which I find preferable. The low centre of gravity, tractable engine, ease of repair and ability to run on any old fuel, make them a perfect choice for a tough tour. This tour turned out to be an epic and fantastic adventure across some areas where biking groups had never been seen before.

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    Mae Sot; The explorers gather

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    ... and the adventure begins...

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    The Dawna mountains were good fun on the sure-footed Bullets, dodging the struggling overladen trucks and pickups...

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    ....descending to the central plain..

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    ..many rivers to cross..

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    ....traditional Burmese lunch, similar to a Nepali Tali meal with about 8 different sauces, some of which were certainly odd tasting..

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    I was most interested in the visible colonial history of the country and the riveted steel frame pavilion over this restored Buddha was a great example of enduring Brit engineering.

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    The flooring too was wonderful classic Victorian....

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    An ancient Mon bell-shaped stupa

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    Inside here were some carved stone 7th century Buddha statues, but too valuable to allow people inside to touch them...

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    ...alongside the Irrawaddy

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    ...bullock carts were a common sight

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    ...a land of lovely happy people indeed...

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    However, this young lad bust into tears when we arrived in their village.... scared by our arrival on big noisy machines....but apprehension was relieved with a muesli bar and a banana...

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    ..typical Burmese restaurant kitchen... all cooking with charcoal, no sign of gas.

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    In many ways the culture is closer to Indian than Thai....

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    ..Cali Tom does well..... to the amusement of all...

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    .. and Hockey Stick looks good in the face powder...

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    ...some lovely old temple murals....

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    .....This lovely ancient Buddha was no more as it had been restored to new....

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    .... in many areas the bullock carts have their own road lane...

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    ...clearly visible poverty was common...

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    ...city bicycle re-cycling business....

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    .... the Mahasakayamuni Buddha image has been growing in gold, every day for over 100 years.....

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    ... interesting attire on the images too.... with similarities to what the kings used to wear...

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    ...Brit iron...

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    ... an interesting watchtower...

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    .. King Thibaw, removed by the Brits in 1885...

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    ...touristing over and back on the road.... some points adjustment required..

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    ... the gang...

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    .... more old Brit engineering...

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    ... wonderful scenery..

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    .... and great riding...
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    The Prince of Hsipaw's palace...


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    ... and the fascinating story of Inge Sargeant as told by the Prince's niece..

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    ... the restored tractor..... wonderful...

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    ... walking meditation...

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    .... and a lovely bamboo temple...

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    .... early morning singing nuns.....

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  3. ianyonok

    ianyonok Ol'Timer

    .... riding through a shan village....

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    .... the city pillar...

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    .... and a ride across the rice fields....

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    ..... a technical section.... fortunately the team were all experienced roadrunners, most having ridden Bhutan, Tibet or Spiti Valley...

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    .... spent one night in a wonderful old colonial house...

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    ..... with more great history...

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    ..... gardens inspired by Kew in London....

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    ... with an impressive aviary...

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    ... wonderful old watch repair tools

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    ... and fantastic barber shop..

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    ... heading east still further....

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    ... essential tea stops....

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    ... our support vehicle driver, but fortunately not his vehicle...

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    ... maybe Hockey Stick will sell his Harley back home and buy an Enfield......

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    ... lunch in the middle of the Shan State....

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    ..... complete with betel nut station...

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    .... mountains & valleys...... and then mountains and valleys......

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    ... an amazing temple mountain....

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  4. ianyonok

    ianyonok Ol'Timer

    some of the countryside reminded me a bit of the rolling country of northern France.....

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    ... morning cloud in the valleys....

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    ... a chilly morning in the hills....

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    ... some high mileage days involved extra fuel stops..

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    ... detailed paperwork checks and police escorts in the more sensitive areas of the Shan state...


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    .... and more checks as we head even further east... into the higher mountains..
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    ... perfect roads for enjoying an Enfield...

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    ... just one heavy shower passed near to us on the trip...

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    ... this was an area of palaung villages..

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    ... remote indeed... but it is changing...

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    ... this was an epic day that finished with a mountain descent, bikes in close convoy, on dirt roads as the sun was setting...

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    ... rolling on east...

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    ... 2 of the Cali boys, Tom and David...

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    ... and The Helicopter Guy...

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    ... and Hockey Stick...

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    .... the CNN dude...

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    ... an interesting hilltop stupa reminiscent of Bhutan or northern India....

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    ...This pass was at about 1800m...

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    ... and down the other side...

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    ... Steve makes the sand trap...

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    ... another lovely old colonial house....

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    ... Buddha watches over the town...

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    ... the run for home....

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    ... my trusty steed, "Built like a Gun", on a truly epic ride....

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    ... bringing a new Buddha to the temple...

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    ... a shock absorber broke on the last day on Gyan's bike, so it was down to the local welding shop for a quick repair with a new top cap...

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    ... job done, stick her back on and we're good to go the final distance...

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    .... crossed back over from Tachilek into Thailand again............

    WOW, epic....... 14 days, 2,500 klms with 10 Royal Enfield 500 Bullets on all sorts of road conditions.... Only minor repairs and adjustments on the trip. Proof again of the capability of the old Brit iron...... Some wonderful and fascinating sights...... Fantastic trip of a lifetime....

    Thanks to Hockey Stick, Helicopter Guy, CNN dude and the Cali Boys, Tom, Steve and David... for the company... and Thanks to the North Siam Roadrunners team for a wonderful and well organised holiday.

    Ian

     
  5. ronwebb

    ronwebb Ol'Timer

    What a great trip that was and the bikes a highly appropraite choice for a blast into the past. Thanks for the well photo documented report with its wonderfully British flavoured narrative - most appropriate for Burma I thought. A most enjoyable read.
     
  6. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

    Bloody hell that looks absolutely awesome - a classic report, & on classic bikes; plus you've definitely got a different perspective to riding & touring than most other guys.

    So you went in at Mae Sot & exited at Tachilek - if yes that maybe a first for motorbike tours starting in Myanmar.

    Without the town names it was a bit difficult to follow; but it looks like as if you didn't sleep in Taunggyi?

    Whatever. Many thanks for the report & contribution - especially the time involved uploading the photos = you care to make an effort.
    You're definitely a star on GTR.

    Cheers.
     
  7. Daz

    Daz Member

    What a fantastic trip !!!! thanks for sharing :)
     
  8. phuketrichard

    phuketrichard Ol'Timer

    Great report, I was up in Hsipaw in July and had a great time on small 125 Chinese honda replica.

    Gortek viaduct is amazing pience of engineering isn't it?
     
  9. Ian Bungy

    Ian Bungy Ol'Timer

    Top stuff Ian. I visited some of the Places in the First part of your report when We had Our Burma Ride but all the rest was New so Great report for Me! Wonderful Photos of a Beautiful countryside. Looking very Remote and untouched! I doubt I would attempt a Ride like that with a Right Hand Gear Change! Never had a Bike with that! Thanks for Sharing.
     
  10. ianyonok

    ianyonok Ol'Timer

    Cheers Guys,
    Yes, this was a full loop of Burma; In at Mae Sot / Myawaddy back out at Tachilek / Mae Sai. Certainly in many areas in the Shan State, a touring group of bikers had probably never been seen before. In country areas in Laos etc., the kids will wave as they have seen big bikes before, but in the Shan state, the kids just stare open mouthed when you wave at them.
    When you have ridden Enfields in rough remote areas you realise why they are such great bikes. Having been lucky enough to ride across the Tibetan desert and across Bhutan on some very rough tracks and roads I know I would prefer an Enfield over any modern bike. They only do about 90 kph max but going any faster is asking for trouble in Burma. Some cities have trucks, buses, cyclos, buffalo carts, dogs and pedestrians all on the roads together, much like India, so a fast bike would not be good. With a fairly low weight, great frame geometry and low centre of gravity, the Enfields are superb off-road, that's why they won so many competitions, in their day. Being all metal, if you throw them down the road, you just kick them back into shape, no breakable plastic parts, plus they seem to keep running on dirty or contaminated fuel that would foul a modern bike. I wouldn't want to take my KLX on a trip like this; too uncomfortable and C of G is too high. Add in that Enfields look great and sound like a real bike plus you can have that satisfaction of kicking them into life each morning... much like the wife........
     
  11. David Learmonth

    David Learmonth Ol'Timer

    Enjoyed the photos & report. Looked hard work as a trip - but well worth it.
    I'm envious of the chap in Myanmar who owns the old MF 35. One of the first tractors I ever drove. Still many in India (or there were 10 years ago)
     
  12. brian_bkk

    brian_bkk Ol'Timer

    Fantastic report Ian.
    Superb photos.

    Thanks for sharing mate.

    Brian
     

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