To Myawaddy, Myanmar Week 153 March 4th 2014
We leave Hpa-an on the way to the Thai border, at Myawaddy.

An interesting bit of navigation through the town as the main roads don't seem to meet on our gps.

Early enough to see the monks.

Myanmar has been a surprise to us in so many ways. This is just one.

And we didn't expect topiary.

Nor the different role for women defined by religion and society in general.

The obvious limestone seems to be  in the area around Hpa-an.

We haven't sorted out the rest of the geology of Myanmar. Apart from a series of wide, sandy, north south river valleys.

After the dryness of the centre, particularly the part of the Irrawaddy River Valley we saw, the vegetation has become more lush.
We cross the Gyaing River before climbing over the hills to Myawaddy.
We've been surprised by the tidiness and bustle of the towns, particularly after India.

We'd expected an under developed poor country.

Certainly there are vast gulfs between people but there's a reasonable general impression of an ordered operating society.

Gulfs symbolised by golf clubs (which I forgot to previously mention) and an under utilised lavish new capital, woven bamboo housing, ox carts, ox ploughing, and (unnecessarily) labour intensive road building. 

The road was a bit rough, and a bit tortuous.

Around 10 km/hr average.

Apart from the motorway between Mandalay and Yangon the roads have varied.

The use of manual labour to break and lay the road bed makes for a very bumpy, slow for us, ride.

The road was made slower by impassable trucks.

There's a "one way system" operating to and from Myawaddy. Alternate days.

We've averaged 169 km/day in Myanmar.  With some sight seeing days. A challenging itinerary given the road conditions (and my health).

For comparison we averaged 99 km/day in the north and west of India

One of the French motorhomes following us up the hill.
And nearing Thai standard roads as we reach Myawaddy.

We weren't sure what to expect of Myanmar people.

Whether they would be difficult to approach like the eastern Europeans or good natured like the Cambodians, both after years of political oppression.

The smiles and welcomes we've experienced have been wonderful.

We stopped to let a funeral procession cross our path in Myawaddy.

We expected a more obvious military presence than we've encountered.

Obviously there is still discontent somewhere, after years of civil war, insurgency, and military dictatorship. But we've seen none of it.

We haven't of course seen the north of Myanmar, or the Irrawaddy delta.

We were surprised at the organised industrial scale of tourism at Inle and the Golden Rock.

Camped in the crowded car park of the Myawaddy Hotel we'll be sad to leave Myanmar tomorrow. Our timetable has been the result of tight government control and the associated costs of guides and ministry officials.

Sokhuthai, Thailand Week 153 March 5th - 6th 2014

Ian C Wed, 05 Mar 14 01:04:58 +1100
It would be great to get some more info on logistics and costs for the Myanmar crossing.



Ian & Jan Wed, 05 Mar 14 18:07:22 +1100
Hi Folks!
While we hope your health improves Julian (But my left shoulder & neck have come out in sympathy with you at the moment!)the pictures from your latest part Myanmar have been wonderful and we are sure will provide some very nice lasting memories.

Interestingly the funeral you saw on the small flat bed truck was very similar to one we saw in Morocco. While the deceased was only wrapped in a thick blanket, the truck had no cover and the rest of the procession, all men walked behind the truck. As it went along the road everyone on the sidewalk stopped and paid their respects.

Best wishes for a safe trip.
Ian & Jan

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