Bullets over Burma - Epic 2 week Loop

ianyonok

Ol'Timer
Dec 9, 2008
1,017
661
113
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.

2014-11-11%2007.30.08.jpg


Mae Sot; The explorers gather

2014-11-11%2010.48.50.jpg


... and the adventure begins...

2014-11-11%2016.20.56.jpg


2014-11-12%2007.28.22.jpg


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

2014-11-12%2008.30.29.jpg


2014-11-12%2008.31.13.jpg


2014-11-12%2008.36.20.jpg


2014-11-12%2009.13.02.jpg


....descending to the central plain..

2014-11-12%2010.59.37.jpg


..many rivers to cross..

2014-11-12%2013.34.53.jpg


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

2014-11-12%2014.58.14.jpg


2014-11-13075223.jpg


2014-11-13081452.jpg


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.

2014-11-13081414.jpg


2014-11-13081850.jpg


2014-11-13081632.jpg


The flooring too was wonderful classic Victorian....

2014-11-13082102.jpg


2014-11-13083602.jpg


2014-11-13174326.jpg


An ancient Mon bell-shaped stupa

2014-11-14073530.jpg


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

2014-11-14072018.jpg


2014-11-14071834.jpg


...alongside the Irrawaddy

2014-11-14085328.jpg


...bullock carts were a common sight

2014-11-14114906.jpg


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

2014-11-14115024.jpg


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...

2014-11-14152646.jpg


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

2014-11-14162635.jpg


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

2014-11-14162822.jpg


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

2014-11-14162926.jpg


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

2014-11-15103349.jpg


2014-11-15114914.jpg


2014-11-15115509.jpg


2014-11-15115911.jpg


2014-11-15120502.jpg


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

2014-11-15120613.jpg


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

2014-11-15124534.jpg


2014-11-15124539.jpg


2014-11-15125549.jpg


2014-11-15125637.jpg


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

2014-11-16103058.jpg


...clearly visible poverty was common...

2014-11-16153605.jpg


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

2014-11-17103604.jpg


2014-11-17104738.jpg


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

2014-11-17114615.jpg

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

2014-11-17114634.jpg


2014-11-17115033.jpg


2014-11-17135203.jpg


2014-11-17135233.jpg


2014-11-17135603.jpg


...Brit iron...

2014-11-17140109.jpg


2014-11-17141023.jpg


... an interesting watchtower...

2014-11-17141420.jpg


2014-11-17142015.jpg


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

2014-11-17142204.jpg


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

2014-11-18082422.jpg


... the gang...

2014-11-18095127.jpg


.... more old Brit engineering...

2014-11-18115002.jpg


... wonderful scenery..

2014-11-18115742.jpg


.... and great riding...
2014-11-18120706.jpg


The Prince of Hsipaw's palace...


2014-11-18171606.jpg


2014-11-18162807.jpg


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

2014-11-18163258.jpg


2014-11-18164350.jpg


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

2014-11-18171201.jpg


2014-11-18171135.jpg


... walking meditation...

2014-11-18172540.jpg


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

2014-11-18172917.jpg


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

2014-11-19084124.jpg
 

ianyonok

Ol'Timer
Dec 9, 2008
1,017
661
113
.... riding through a shan village....

2014-11-19090911.jpg


2014-11-19090855.jpg


.... the city pillar...

2014-11-19090828.jpg


2014-11-19090834.jpg


2014-11-19091053.jpg


2014-11-19091243.jpg


2014-11-19091315.jpg


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

2014-11-19092938.jpg


2014-11-19094421.jpg


2014-11-19094539.jpg


2014-11-19100030.jpg


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

2014-11-19114330.jpg


2014-11-19114847.jpg


2014-11-19115132.jpg


2014-11-19115328.jpg


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

2014-11-19133810.jpg


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

2014-11-19134513.jpg


2014-11-19140636.jpg


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

2014-11-19163217.jpg


2014-11-19162802.jpg


... with an impressive aviary...

2014-11-19162153.jpg


2014-11-19162254-2.jpg


2014-11-19172134.jpg


2014-11-19172325.jpg


2014-11-19172337.jpg


2014-11-19172430.jpg


2014-11-19172453.jpg


... wonderful old watch repair tools

2014-11-19172635.jpg


... and fantastic barber shop..

2014-11-19172750.jpg


... heading east still further....

2014-11-20072648.jpg


2014-11-20091738.jpg


... essential tea stops....

2014-11-20091754.jpg


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

2014-11-20102906.jpg


2014-11-20102942.jpg


2014-11-20105409.jpg


2014-11-20105521.jpg


2014-11-20105713.jpg


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

2014-11-20110434.jpg


2014-11-20112740.jpg


2014-11-20112945.jpg


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

2014-11-20123618.jpg


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

2014-11-20123605.jpg


2014-11-20123545.jpg


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

2014-11-20130447.jpg


2014-11-20143217.jpg


... an amazing temple mountain....

2014-11-20143743.jpg


2014-11-20144720.jpg
 

ianyonok

Ol'Timer
Dec 9, 2008
1,017
661
113
some of the countryside reminded me a bit of the rolling country of northern France.....

2014-11-20150808.jpg


2014-11-20150815.jpg


2014-11-20153104.jpg


2014-11-20162047.jpg


2014-11-20164340.jpg


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

2014-11-21074917.jpg
2014-11-21081859.jpg


2014-11-21081928.jpg


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

2014-11-21081940.jpg


2014-11-21085018.jpg


2014-11-21085146.jpg


2014-11-21090311.jpg


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

2014-11-21091653.jpg


2014-11-21095339.jpg


2014-11-21095520.jpg


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


2014-11-21102832.jpg


2014-11-21105948.jpg


2014-11-21132412.jpg


2014-11-21135647.jpg


2014-11-21142218.jpg


2014-11-21142657.jpg


.... and more checks as we head even further east... into the higher mountains..
2014-11-21153058.jpg


2014-11-22094304.jpg


... perfect roads for enjoying an Enfield...

2014-11-22095213.jpg


2014-11-22095917.jpg


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

2014-11-22100258.jpg


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

2014-11-22101047.jpg


2014-11-22101054.jpg


2014-11-22101251.jpg


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

2014-11-22103152.jpg


2014-11-22104125.jpg


2014-11-22105055.jpg


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

2014-11-22111318.jpg

... rolling on east...

2014-11-22111456.jpg


2014-11-22111851.jpg


2014-11-22113119.jpg


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

2014-11-22113452.jpg


... and The Helicopter Guy...

2014-11-22114935.jpg


... and Hockey Stick...

2014-11-22114937.jpg


2014-11-22115404.jpg


.... the CNN dude...

2014-11-22115408.jpg


2014-11-22120215.jpg


2014-11-22120230.jpg


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

2014-11-22120324.jpg


2014-11-22121515.jpg


2014-11-22122535.jpg


2014-11-22122744.jpg


2014-11-22123242.jpg


2014-11-22123554.jpg


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

2014-11-22123751.jpg


... and down the other side...

2014-11-22134057.jpg


... Steve makes the sand trap...

2014-11-22140558.jpg


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

2014-11-22171329.jpg


2014-11-22172424.jpg


... Buddha watches over the town...

2014-11-22172552.jpg


... the run for home....

2014-11-23080927.jpg


2014-11-23081134.jpg


2014-11-23081704.jpg


2014-11-23082531.jpg


2014-11-23083516.jpg


2014-11-23083603.jpg


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

2014-11-23085054.jpg


2014-11-23094537.jpg


2014-11-23100345.jpg


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

2014-11-23104124.jpg


... 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...

2014-11-23114856.jpg


2014-11-23115016.jpg


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

2014-11-23115051.jpg


2014-11-23134503.jpg


.... 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

 

ronwebb

Ol'Timer
Jul 25, 2010
505
4
18
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.
 

DavidFL

Administrator
Staff member
Jan 16, 2003
12,479
2,898
113
67
Chiang Khong
www.thegtrider.com
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.
 

phuketrichard

Ol'Timer
Dec 23, 2007
70
18
8
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?
 

Ian Bungy

Ol'Timer
Sep 19, 2006
2,302
305
83
www.chiangmai-xcentre.com
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.
 

ianyonok

Ol'Timer
Dec 9, 2008
1,017
661
113
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........
 

David Learmonth

Ol'Timer
Apr 23, 2006
513
15
18
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)