Instant Smiles, Kalimeyo to Monywa, Myanmar Week 151 February 22nd 2014
About 330 km to go to Monywa we set off just before dawn.

About 6am.

We are taking the long way round, south, then east.
All driving at our own pace.
Sunrise across a wide, flat valley.

Myanmar is a north south sort of country.

We'll follow the valley south, then across a few ridges to travel east.

We haven't quite left the Christian influence behind.
It looked and felt spontaneous. Not like the efforts of the Montenegran (?) school children.

As we approached road workers and villagers there were instant smiles and lots of enthusiastic waves.

Reports from the rest of the travelers suggested the first people through took them by surprise a bit, later it was as if they were waiting for us.

Last saw a bridge like this on the New Zealand west coast.
Wide slow, sandy, rivers.
Almost a "Queenslander".
We haven't seen a tractor for days.

These guys have stopped for a rest.


The climate, the soil, the agriculture, the methods, have all changed.


At last.

Something un-Christian.

The stones are laid by hand.

We suspect in blocks so they can be measured (at least we saw someone with a tape).

A way of payment ...?


Our first puncture.

A sidewall. A bit peculiar as we'd spotted the split a week or more ago.

We'd barely heard a periodic "tap" with every revolution for a few days.

Today a "pop" then the "tap" became louder.

Even then when we stopped there was nothing. Until we rolled forward a quarter wheel turn .... then "hisssssssssssssss".

First vehicle full of Myanmarians (?) stopped to help - we would have struggled without them.

We do like this country.

We failed totally to photograph the waves and smiles.

We really don't like putting a camera in people's faces.

I think some stresses of the last few weeks must have built up a bit.

Almost brought tears to my eyes.

Its really a privilege to be here, yet we are apparently thanked.

One vehicle at a time.

The weight limit is typically 13 tonnes.

Lots of signs of logging.
We've left the flat valley and are crossing the hills.
A bit steep in places.

This logging truck had lost traction on the dusty road.

I guess its better than the mud that would have been here in the rain.

The two front wheel drive motor homes had to wait a bit so they could maintain momentum up the incline.

Occasionally larger villages.

A grinding halt.

We've caught up with everyone else.

The road is apparently blocked by a truck.

I walked about a km for a look.

Lost traction on its right side wheels. The left side rear was suspended over the ditch.

Our party figured it wouldn't be cleared easily so we opened up the roadworks to drive a different road.

As it turned out a digger lifted the rear onto the road about 15 minutes after we left.

The front wheel drive struggled a bit.

Ali persuaded people to move some of the stones off the road.

eh, voila, a bit of slip but through.

Of course having taken an unknown road we began to lose daylight.

Even the sunflowers closing down for the day.

The last couple of hours were at 30 km/hr in the dark.

We spotted a couple of our group going the other way.

After a pow-wow, and a bit of convincing as they had already had a look and not found it, they followed our limited gps to find our way to the bridge across the river.

All's well that end's well.

Mandalay, Myanmar Week 152 February 23rd - 24th 2014

Doug Thu, 27 Feb 14 10:39:52 +1100
Hi Julian and Ali
I am a little surprised that your Myanmar convoy has front wheel drive vehicles at all. They must have done very well to get to where they are, presumably from Europe.

Good to see that you are mobile again.


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