Sunday, 28 December 2014


This morning was an early start, our taxi picked us up from Pongpicha Boutique House around 7.30am, costing 110 baht to take us to the Mae Sot - Myawaddy Friendship Bridge, our border crossing and kicking off point into Myanmar.  

It was a completely painless and fairly quick process, an apparently unusually huge line was no match for us - foreigners are directed straight to the front, don't wait to be asked, just walk on up there!  You will need a previously organized visa though before attempting to cross any overland border into Myanmar.

Once on the other side after walking the bridge, it is simply a matter of finding a car, or them finding you, to take you to Hpa-An.  It is possible to head straight to Yangon (Rangoon) apparently, but that seems like way too long to spend on the road for one day, as it was we spent around 6- 7 hours traveling from Myawaddy to Hpa-An.

There was a bus, but it is cheaper, less crowded, faster and slightly more comfortable to go by car, (once you get enough people for the driver to leave - around 6), so why bother with the bus.  We paid 10000 Kyat, or $10 US each for the journey.   

This was no ordinary 6-7 hours in the car either, the mountain pass from Myawaddy to Hpa An is something else altogether!  I have spent over half my life off-road 4 wheel driving and this was a fucken rough road, massive mountain drop off's and shitty, broken up gravel pits all the way. 

There were ute's in front of us, through some fairly gnarly roads, with 20 people hanging off the back, an all out display of 'anything goes, let's live dangerously'.  I thought I had seen nearly everything crossing outback Indonesia, but these guy's may have just  taken it to the next level!  I saw at least 2 pick-up trucks that finished the leg with big dents in their car that they never started with!

The road is so crappy and narrow that the traffic only flows one way on alternating days, one day is West to East, the next is reversed.  Plan your trip carefully or you may find yourself spending the night in Myawaddy waiting for the traffic to be going your way!

It was a hot, hard slog through the mountains, the spectacular views the only thing keeping me sane.  It really was an amazing journey aside from the rough ride, but honestly, it wasn't much worse than what we would drive through back home to go fishing or camping, just not in a sedan! 

The comfort factor was not helped by a driver that drank beer all day and thought his 1994 Corolla was a 2014 Hilux, nor his incessant Betel nut chewing which was ultimately always followed up by a disgustingly loud hacking up of red phlegm, that he felt necessary to spit into a plastic bottle all the way, mere inches from where I sat!  I can be pretty feral when out camping with the boys, but FFS, this was just disgusting.

We stopped more times than I can recall or that was ever necessary, the day just dragged on and on, he even stopped the car 30km from Hpa An for a wash?! WTF?   

  But we finally arrived here and couldn't have hoped for anywhere nicer to end up after a long day, an amazing river right through town, with nothing but a few park benches and some slight landscaping lining the edges - an incredible spot to have a beer and watch the sunset.

I would love more time here, but have to keep to a rough schedule to make sure we see as much as possible on the way round, before making back to the Thai border before our visa runs out.  We are staying at Golden Sky Guesthouse for $20 US a night inc breakfast.

  We looked at a few places, including Galaxy Motel and Tiger Hotel, the former having nice rooms also at $20 and the latter being full.  The deal breaker for Golden Sky is their amazing rooftop terrace with unbelievable views overlooking farm land and the river, easily being the deciding factor to stay here.  

A solid walk around town with quite a few cheap drinks, dinner almost next door at amazing value and we are now chilling in the room, a good size with fridge, hot water and wifi.   Typing this up on a nightly basis is going to be tough, I am so ready to just relax.

On a slightly different note, Noi and I are both back to square 1, we hate not being able to communicate in the local language anymore!  We were only a few hours into the country and already it felt like a wild adventure - bring it on!  

Visa regulations for those who might be interested...

Border mayhem

The mountain pass from Myawaddy to Hpa An

Those Thai squat toilets don't seem so bad now do they......!!

First meal in Myanmar, delicious and only $4 including beer and sprite

Running sugar cane, i think, through machine to make some local drink with lime...

View from Golden Sky terrace, just awesome!


Along the river front, one of the most incredible places to chill with sunset views that I have been to in Asia

This is what $4 buys you in Hpa An...   Bottle of local whiskey, 3 mixers and a large beer.....  I think i'm gonna like it here!!