Bay Of Bengal On A Cbr150

Discussion in 'Myanmar - Motorcycle Trip Report Forums' started by Tarquin Ferrets, Feb 25, 2019.

  1. Tarquin Ferrets

    Tarquin Ferrets Active Member

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    #1 Tarquin Ferrets, Feb 25, 2019
    Last edited: Feb 25, 2019
    Bay of Bengal and Northern Rakhine on a CBR150. Rides in Burma.

    Since I was working in a relatively busy project between 2013 and 2016 I couldn't just take couple weeks off and get on the road. Instead, every long weekend and public holiday I would fly to different parts of the country. Preferably slightly off the beaten track and see the country before tourism gets too popular. And ride whatever I could get my hands on. This third part is in of Rakhine State.

    It was time to kick-off our project in Rakhine State and in a way I was looking forward to it. However, given the sensitive political situation in northern parts of the state our engineers weren't exactly queuing up to work in there. So I decided to check the place first myself before sending our guys up there. Just to see there are adequate hotels for them to lodge in and if there are any restrictions on travel along the main roads. I knew certain townships right on the Bangladesh border were off limits to foreigners anyway. But operating along the main road out of capital Sittwe should be fine - and what a better way to check it out than on a motorcycle. Last but not least the company would pay for the trip :)

    I knew one of our local engineers had worked there before and had contacts there. So I asked if he could help me get a motorcycle for the weekend. So he did and a Japanese made step-through was supposed to be available for me there.

    Downtown Sittwe

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    Northern part of Rakhine State bordering Bangladesh

    24. Map of Northern part of Rakhine State.JPG

    Sittwe market area

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    July 2015 and my Mann Yatanarpon Airlines flight landed in Sittwe Airport. They're clearly not that used to tourists because as soon as I got off the aircraft I was approached by someone asking which organization I belonged. UN ? NGO this NGO that ? No no I'm just a tourist..... Same story inside the airport immigration - which organization do you belong ?

    When you travel inside Burma (Myanmar) but to a State such as Rakhine State, Shan State and so on there is an immigration booth at the airport. And you are required to show your passport and tell them where you plan to stay. If you travel to different divisions then usually not. If the population of certain region is predominantly Burmese (Bamar) the area is referred to as 'division' or 'region'. Such as Yangon, Bago, Ayeyarwaddy, Mandalay, Sagaing, Magway and Thanintharyi. If the population predominantly belongs to another ethnic group the region is referred to as State. Such as Kachin, Shan, Chin, Rakhine, Kayin (Karen), Mon and Kayah (Karenni) State.

    Sittwe, capital of Rakhine State

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    So the next morning I met my Rakhine contact. And not only my motorcycle had been 'upgraded' to CBR150 he wanted to join me for those rides with his step-through. Perfect. So the first day was just riding along the main highway out of Sittwe and visiting some of the work sites along the way. Later we headed to The Point, which is the Sittwe beach, for late afternoon beers. It was here I got the idea that why don't we ride all the way to Mrauk-U historical park the following day. That way I really get the picture about traveling northern part of Rakhine State, road conditions and get to see the historical park. He told me nobody ever does that on the motorcycle. Too far. The tourists always take the boat/ferry along the river there and locals drive a car. So I said why not try with a motorcycle then. Suddenly he was on board and actually quite excited about it. So we agreed to meet the following day early in the morning.

    Better section of the road outside Sittwe

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    The Point and Bay of Bengal

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    Couple Rakhine lasses out for a drink at The Point

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    The road from Sittwe to Mrauk-U via Kyauktaw is a really mixed bag. Some sections are concrete and new whereas others are in shocking state full of potholes. Not a fun road for CBR type sporty bike. I think my riding buddy had been smart and kept the step-through so he could sit with his back straight :) Took us 4 hours and 15 minutes to get to Mrauk-U and another 4 hours plus to get back. To my pleasant surprise I did not see a single check-point nor were we stopped or questioned once (this may change depending on political situation). For any temple-head Mrauk-U would be a wonderful place to visit.

    A temple compound along the Sittwe - Kyauktaw section of the highway

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    Main highway out of Sittwe and connecting it to the rest of the State and Burma

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    The main highway through Rakhine state just before arriving to Kyauktaw

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    At Mrauk-U Historical Park

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    I did not intend to copy Michael Jackson's style in any shape or form. But after roasting my hands under Bengal heat for 4-5 hours those white gardener's gloves seemed like a good idea at the time.

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    Nine hours on the road that day and my shoulders were in agony as i wasn't used to a CBR style bike. You know that red little devil perched on your shoulder pushing that long needle into the centre-right section of your back. Once back in Sittwe we headed straight to The Point, taking in the Bay of Bengal sunset and enjoy numerous Myanmar beers by the beach.

    An ambitious little rider

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    The main highway between Kyauktaw and Mrauk-U

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    At Kyauktaw junction

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    Main highway between Kyauktaw and Mrauk-U

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    The Point, Sittwe Beach and Bay of Bengal

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    Rakhine youth out for few drinks over the weekend at the beach

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    Rakhine countryside outside Sittwe

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    Rough section of the main highway outside Sittwe

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    Northern parts of Rakhine State

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  2. GTR-Admin

    GTR-Admin Administrator
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    That's a fascinating look into the reality of travel and life in the country next door. The "main highways" look more like KLX / CRF terrain to me! :)

    You've obviously got a highly developed sense of adventure, excellent write-up and glorious photos.
    - the old temples over that way are significantly different to northern Thailand, really interesting to see that aspect too

    Thanks for the efforts you've put into these trip reports, greatly appreciated and enjoyed!
     
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  3. Tarquin Ferrets

    Tarquin Ferrets Active Member

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    The old temples of Mrauk-U are indeed very different to those of Thailand. They are also somewhat different to other temple sites in Burma. For example most of Mrauk-U temples have been constructed out of hewn stone bricks. Unlike the mud and clay bricks used in Bagan. Although I have never been to Borobudur Indonesia, somehow some of the Mrauk-U temples reminded me of Borobudur style ?

    Mrauk-U was established 1433 and it served as the capital of the Mrauk-U kingdom until the conquest by Burmese Konbaung Dynasty in 1784. Mrauk-U was the most influential of the Arakanese (Rakhine) kingdoms.

    Unfortunately during my visit it was a very humid and hot overcast day and none of the photos taken came out particularly well.

    Shite-thaung Temple

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    Htukkanthein Temple

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    Htukkanthein Temple

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    Ratana-pon Temple

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    Le Myet Hna Temple

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    Koe-thaung Temple

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    Koe-thaung Temple

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  4. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator
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    Bloody hell another treasure of a report..Myanmar really is a fascinating country with great diversity. The variety of peoples and temple styles in incredible, you could never get bored traveling there, although it maybe a bit demanding at times,...

    the main highway 55
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    This scene at the beach is something - so peaceful & "idyllic." A super friendly family scene, with everyone just doing their thing at the beach.
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    These couple of wats look amazing with contrasting styles
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    I reckon you've been super lucky to get out ride & see these places when you did.
    Do you ever think about going back for a few short trips to different areas?
     
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  5. Tarquin Ferrets

    Tarquin Ferrets Active Member

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    I do think about going back and quite often actually, but I just need to put my money where my mouth is. Some of my favourite areas are close to conflict zones which makes it difficult to make a loop as you often have to stick to the main road. So you end up riding the same road up and down.

    I do have a one loop idea which would include renting a bike from Mandalay. Ride from Mandalay to southeast to Kalaw and continue to enjoy Inle Lake and the cool towns of Nyaung Shwe and Shan capital Taunggyi. Now one would need confirmation which of the highways connecting Taunggyi area to national highway 3 and northern Shan State are open for foreigners. If possible you could ride up to Kyaukme and Hsipaw area to chillax. Even visit Lashio (and Burma road if allowed). From Hsipaw one could return to Mandalay along national highway 3 via Pyin Oo Lwin which is apparently gorgeous and full of colonial history with descendants of retired Gurkhas running coffee shops and the like. I've even entertained the idea of buying a cheap Chinese Jianling 150cc dirt bike, ride it for a month and sell it half the price at the end of it. Thought not familiar yet with the paperwork required to own it.
    When I arrived to Burma I made a decision quite early on that I would see the country every opportunity before the tourists arrive in large numbers no matter what the cost. And the cost was relatively high as domestic flights back then were very expensive, often much more than international ones. But I never regretted any of them not for a second.
     
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