BootsnAll Travel Network



Breaking into Burma…Western Thailand

It really wasn’t a major priority to visit Burma/Myanmar (I’m not sure which is politically correct, but Burma has less letters so that is what I will use). The only things that I knew about Burma were about the lady being held in house arrest and a guy named Steve swimming across a lake to see her which in the end caused more years to be added to her sentence. The other info came from the last installment of Rambo, enough said. So in general, I did not have much descriptive information to go by.

My first attempts to visit Burma actually started back when I was in India. As Burma is an overland connection between India and South East Asia it would have made a great bike trip not to mention cutting out an expensive flight. It would have been kick ass to have old Schwinn to cruise around Asia. The problem though is that the government is not only oppressive to the people, but also to motorcycles. Taking your own transport and freely wandering the country was just not allowed

My next attempt was in the south at Ranong when I was going to go for a visa run. I got as close as making it to the port immigration office but ended up not going when in front of the immigration officer I noticed that the visa I had was good for an additional month.

Cruising north up the narrow pan handle from the south, I came pretty close again just south of Prachap Khiri Kahn, but that border crossing was only for the locals.

In the far north, at Mae Sai, the northernmost point of Thailand it was possible to cross over for the day, but as I had just gotten a new Visa, I would have lost it and only gotten a two week one when I came back.

After Chiang Mai, I had the option of heading straight south to Bangkok, but the draw of making it into Burma was too much. I decided to detour west to the border and then spot check the border points to see if I could get in.

The first border crossing was at the town of Mae Sariang in the Mae Hong Son Province. This was in the heart of the Karen tribe as well as many other indigenous groups. I stayed at a riverside guesthouse which could have been a good fishing hole right off the deck, but I just wasn’t in the mood. It was mushroom season so I had a very memorable pork and mushroom stir fry. There was an informal border crossing around 50 kms to the west, but it wasn’t useful to foreigners.

Heading south again I cruised along the 105 which was one of the best drives that I had taken in SE Asia. There were very little inhabitants along the 200 km stretch and the road curved, climbed, and dived down the mountainous range that separated the two countries. Although a large portion of the freeway ran right along the border, the mountains created a natural border, and with very few people, I didn’t see one turnoff that might have connected the two countries. Finally I arrived in the border town of Mae Sot which was another legal crossing. The town was home to a bunch of NGO agencies as there were a few refugee camps housing the many Burmese who have fled to Thailand. I thought I was in luck when I saw an office for temporary passes to Burma, but it turned out to be only for truckers and business men from Thailand. At the border crossing I got the same bad news about being able to cross, but having to forego my two month visa. Foiled again.

It just seemed like it was not going to happen as the road cut back inland and no connecting roads to the south, I had to give up on the dream.



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