Destinations

Motorcycle trip from India to Singapore – Part 1

Over a year back, my friend Vish had made a casual mention of wanting to do at trip on a motorcycle from India to Singapore. Doing such a trip at that time seemed far fetched for me to even consider and so forgot about it. The official land route from India to Singapore also came in the news. Meanwhile, little did I know that Vish was serious about it back then and had already done his homework and gathered information to make it happen. In October 2018, he put it forward again and this time Kiran too was excited to join in. I was still being skeptical about confirming. Why? well, I had enquired about this with other biker friends who are familiar and/or who have done such similar trip/s before and gathered that this will be an expensive proposition that could very well go upto 6 lakhs per person. Neither do I have a well-paying job nor have I inherited large sums of money / property to back me up. All I have is my then earned salary savings from employee provident fund (EPF). Besides, I also had my home loan EMI that just doesn’t seem to come to an end. I had to give it some serious thought.

Having discussed with Kiran, he said… “this opportunity comes once in a lifetime, maga”. Now, ‘Maga’ here refers to a casual connotation to ‘Bro’ in the local dialect (Kannada language). Vish’s company Beaux Adventures‘ motto – “One life, One chance” came to mind. Vish also reassured me that the trip should be around the budget of 2 lakhs (which I still had my doubts on). Thought to myself – life is running out and am not getting any younger. It’s now or maybe never. I gave in.

The trip was planned for the month of January 2019. We were stoked about doing this trip for real. In November 2018, we started out with Preparations. You could read about it below or simply skip the details. For those interested in wanting to do something similar, the Documentation part would be of interest, else just go directly to the section that covers our Journey in brief along with pictures to entice you.

This trip here is split in two parts – first part is from Bengaluru (India) until Myanmar and the second part will cover from Myanmar, Thailand, Malaysia until Singapore.


Preparations in December 2018

Preparations comprised of preparing our motorcycles, setting aside our riding gear, packing our luggage that goes on on our respective motorcycles and finally the most important part – documentation. By the end of November 2018, Vish had already planned out the entire trip itenary, hotel bookings and even managed to get a 5 Days / 4 Nights travel package through Myanmar. We even got our Visas for Myanmar and Malaysia online.

By the mid of December 2018, we had collated all the required documents to get Carnet – the permit required for our respective motorcycles to exit India, travel through various countries and then re-enter back into India. Contacted the office of Automobile Association of South India (AASI) in Bangalore. Was directed to contact their Head Office in Chennai. That didn’t go so well for that required a good hold in Tamil – the state language of Tamil Nadu. Was suggested by Aditya and Abijith to approach Western India Automobile Association (WIAA) office at Mumbai. (These seasoned motorcycle travellers who are part of Motorcycle Travellers Meet (MTM) were most helpful.) So booked an early flight to Mumbai, met the concerned person who handles the permits for vehicles doing International travel. She was most helpful and the formalities were done by noon. She even arranged for help to have me get onto the right local train (which is faster and yet an extremely challenging effort) instead of a taxi to the airport to board my return flight back to Bengaluru. The documents were couriered to me the following day. Kiran and I submitted our passport, a copy of carnet along with other documents at the VFS office to get the Thailand Visa. Meanwhile, packing of gear and luggage was ongoing till the last day.

So the initial plan was to ship our three motorcycles to Siliguri and start the trip from there. Kiran and I decided to start riding from Bengaluru while Vish would start with us in Siliguri, for he still had work to finish up. Our bikes were given for service. Vish resides / works in the US while his motorcycle was at Mysore. Being ununsed for months since its last service, the bike wasn’t in good shape. Got his bike towed to Bengaluru and had it dropped off at the authorized service centre. Unfortunately, his bike was not ready in due time to be transported (via truck) to Siliguri which would require 14-15 days. The only option was for someone to ride it along with us upto Siliguri. So, I checked with my friends and my childhood friend Riyaz agreed to ride with us. The last time Riyaz and I rode together was back in the school days (in the early 1990s) on his 50cc TVS XL moped. Was very happy that he could join us.

The due date was closing in and I still had not got back my Passport from VFS with the Thailand visa. So, I requested my friend Pramod to pick it up on my behalf from the VFS office and hand it over to Vish, who would bring it along when he takes a flight directly to Siliguri. Here’s the important part. Pramod would need a letter from me, addressed to the VFS office authorizing him to receive my passport on my behalf. He would need to take along his ID proof and the token slip (given at the time of handing over passport for visa at VFS).


Riders, motocycles, riding gear and luggage for the trip

Riders and Ride

  • Vish > Steady rider, level-headed & methodical, rides his Triumph Tiger XRX (800cc)
  • Kiran > Cautious rider, fun, easy-going & mindful, rides his new BMW G310 GS (310cc)
  • Pavan > Fast rider, pragmatic & organised, ride my KTM Duke 390 (373cc)

Riding Gear

  • Vish > Helmet – Schuberth, Gear – BMW, Boots – Gearne, Luggage – Wolfman
  • Kiran > Helmet – MT, Gear – Rynox, Boots – Falco, Luggage – Rynox & Decathlon bag
  • Riyaz > Helmet – HJC, Gear – Triumph, Boots – Sketchers, Luggage – Triumph
  • Pavan > Helmet – Kranos, Gear – Rynox, Boots – Buse, Luggage – Wolfman & Viaterra

If the following details pertaining specifically to my gear and luggage doesn’t interest you, do skip over to Documentation or to our Journey.

My Riding Gear in detail

My Luggage in detail

Tail bag – Wolfman Expedition

A fully waterproof roll top 40 litre medium sized duffel bag this. To be used as a tail bag on the motorcycle pillion seat. Priced at $166.99. Bit expensive. There are better options to consider. Good for packing clothing, electronic devices, paperwork/documents. Not a good idea to keep any sharp pointy objects inside this one. Below is the list of items carried within, for this trip :-

Saddle bags – Viaterra Velox

This is a saddle bag meant to go over the pillion seat and onto the sides of the motorcycle (made specifically for the KTM Duke 390 – prior to 2017). It comes as a pair with 18 litre capacity each. Priced at Rs.3999/-. It’s made of durable polyester fabric material that’s held well so far. It now comes with a inner rain protective liner besides the outer rain cover (which isn’t entirely effective as the exposed side faces the wheel and to the elements). Good for packing camping gear, spares, tools, etc. Upside to the Velox is that in the event of a fall, these panniers take the beating and softens the impact on the bike. Downside to the Velox is that one can’t lean the bike too much at corners when on the move . Below is the list of items carried within, for this trip :-

  • KTM Duke 390 motorcycle spares (cables, levers, shift lever linkage, spark plug, head bulb, filters)
  • KTM Duke 390 motorcycle basic tools
  • Tubeless type punchure repair kit + ResQTech tyre inflator = Rs.200/- + Rs.999/-
  • Motul C1 chain clean (150ml) + Motul C2 chain lube (400ml) = Rs.198/- + Rs.560/-
  • Aspida Ares full gauntlet leather gloves (black) = Rs.3825/-
  • MotoJack motorcycle rear wheel paddock stand = Rs.1399/- (Didn’t use it)
    (As Kiran had brought along the Groller + chain cleaning kit for Rs.1699/-, which was compact.)
  • Clothes line + wooden pegs (set of 20) = Rs.128/- + Rs.85/-
  • Steel saucepan (handle removed) & strainer + small cutting board & parring knife (Not used during trip)
  • Spices, oil, tea powder & sugar in small food-grade plastic air-tight containers (Didn’t use much during trip)
  • Rubber gloves (large) + old tooth brushes + cleaning cloth
  • Mototech flexi hook bungee net = Rs.450/-
  • Gorilla strong tape (grey) & zip-ties
  • Slip-on walking shoes
  • Decathlon cotton socks (black) (3 pairs) = Rs.149/-
  • Decathlon men flip-flops (rubber slippers) = Rs.199/-
  • Decathlon airplane bag transport cover = Rs.1299/-
  • Decathlon transport straps = Rs.1199/-
  • Decathlon cable locks (2 nos.) = Rs.199/- each
  • Decathlon rain coat + rain pant (discontinued model) (5 year old)

Tank bag – Viaterra Fly

This is a non-magnetic version tank bag that also works as a tail bag if/when required. It has a 20 litre capacity and is priced at Rs.2749/-. It’s made of durable polyester fabric material and has held well so far. This tank bag comes with removable semi rigid fabric divider for camera and lens. Works well. Additional use is that when in use as a tank bag, the top surface works well as a counter to rest your head on for a quick snooze. Downside is that one needs to undo the buckles and move the bag aside to uncover the tank fuel lid to fill fuel and then clip the buckles back on when done every single time and with this tank bag it’s not convenient but rather frustrating. The rain cover that comes with it is not effective as it only covers on the top side – the water seeps in from the bottom. Use a waterproof liner inside or ditch this tank bag for a better one. Else find another solution altogether. Below is the list of items carried within, for this trip :-


Documentation

  • Passport (at least six months validity) + Photocopies
  • Passport size photographs (45mm x 35mm, 1 set of 8 x 2 = 16 nos.)
  • Aadhaar card + Photocopy (required only within India)
  • PAN card + Photocopy (required only for Thailand visa)
  • Proof of current employment / Employee ID (required only for Thailand visa) (Don’t have one so Not Applicable to me)
  • Credit card statement attested by bank officer (required only for Thailand visa) (Don’t have one so Not Applicable to me)
  • Bank statement attested by bank officer (required only for Thailand visa)
    Recent six months, personal savings account should have minimum of Rs.50,000/-
  • Hotel booking confirmations (for every country visiting / travelling through) + Photocopies
  • Driving license (at least six months validity) + Photocopies
  • International Driving Permit (IDP) (valid for one year from date of issue) + Photocopy
    [ Can be procured either at local RTO for Rs.1000/- (takes minimum 6 working days) or at Automobile Associations of India for Rs.1700/- ]
  • Carnet De Passages En Douane (CPD) (in short known as Carnet, pronounced car-nay) (valid for one year from date of issue)
    [ From Automobile Associations in India. Fees of Rs.1lakh + 1lakh (refundable) is the norm in India. We got ours from WIAA, Mumbai. Membership entrance fees Rs.590/-]
  • Vehicle registration certificate (RC) + Photocopies
  • Vehicle tax invoice (Bill of vehicle purchase) + Photocopies
  • Vehicle insurance (Valid through the period of travel) + Photocopies
  • Vehicle photos (front, rear, left side, right side) + Photocopy (required when applying for Myanmar permit & Thailand Visa)
  • Vehicle photo with owner / rider (required only for Myanmar permit)
  • Vehicle pollution certificate + Photocopy
  • Myanmar Visa (online visa) + Photocopy
  • Myanmar permits, guide, hotel stay package (From a Myanmar government affiliated travel agency)
  • Thailand Visa via VFS Global from Thai Embassy, Chennai (takes about 6 working days) + Photocopy
  • Malaysia Visa (online eNTRI visa) + Photocopy
  • For Malaysia, there’s the vehicle insurance and ICP that is required. Details of which is listed in Part 2 – Day 22.
  • Singapore Visa (via local/sponsor residing in the country) + Photocopy
  • For Singapore, there’s lots more documentation/permits. Details of which is listed in Part 2 – Day 23.

Note : It’s ideal if the person travelling / holder’s Passport, DL, IDP, RC, Vehicle Insurance & Carnet has the full name, DOB and residential address that matches up identical. This is to avoid any hazzles / delays, reason to doubt by any person of authority at borders, customs, police and/or any pvt. / govt. office when approached for permits or otherwise. It’s also a good idea to keep soft copies of all documents stored in your smart phone (for quick access) besides in either one or all of – Dropbox, Google Drive, Email or any other cloud based online service (as backup).


Journey in January 2019

Day 1 : Sun 06 Jan – Bengaluru to Hyderabad

With barely few hours of sleep the previous night, started by 4:45am. Met up point was at Esteem mall (on route to the Bengaluru International Airport) at 6am. Vish had reached there to see us off. Riyaz and Kiran reached there too and we set out by 7am. On Google maps, the shortest route to Siliguri shows via Nellore – Vijayawada, but we decided to opt for the route via Hyderabad – Vijayawada for the roads are far better with the difference between the two routes was a mere 190 km. Reached Hyderabad by 5pm and checked in to the prior booked hotel.

We spent some time by the cafe in front of the hotel to have some tea and local snacks. Parked our motorcycles in the hotel basement to which we had to go around / behind the hotel to get to. As we parked our motorcycles side by side is when I observed that my KTM Duke 390 was small in size compared to both – Triumph Tiger XRX and BMW G310GS. Considering me being 5’11” (180cm) in height, I was aware that the KTM Duke 390 wasn’t right for my height but its sheer power-weight ratio, agile & nimble character and it being just good value for money is what I was actually drawn to when purchasing it 3 years ago. Perhaps, it’s time for an upgrade. Hope the KTM 390 Adventure gets launched. Better yet if Honda releases a 300-400cc off-road capable motorcycle in India in the near future.

Distance covered : 565 km
Average speed : 76 km/hr
Road : Tarred and good
Stay : Hotel Nova Pride, Hyderabad 4/5

Day 2 : Mon 07 Jan – Hyderabad to Vishakapatnam (Vizag)

Started at 7:30am and reached Vijaywada by 1am. There was a time delay due to traffic pile up in the city of Vijaywada. Riyaz rode to the Triumph showroom to fix some minor issues on the Tiger. Kiran and I head on, informing Riyaz to catch up with us. We stopped to refuel at a small town called Tanaku. Here’s where Google map showed wrong info of Riyaz’s location and with respect to directions onwards. It showed a shorter route off the highway when the highway was little longer but much better. After a little discussion, we decided to stick to the highway.

We reached Rajamundry by 8pm. Kiran wasn’t keeping well and not keen on riding at night. Riyaz was ahead and so told him to go ahead stay at Vizag while we stop over at Rajamundry. We searched but there were no hotels on the highway. Didn’t want to enter the city and so we rode on slowly. Ended up riding all the way to reach Vizag by 1am. Riyaz had checked into the hotel that was booked earlier in Encore Inn. Tried booking again for same hotel but was sold out. So looked for the closest hotel and found/booked Hotel Ginger and checked in there.

Distance covered : 630 km
Average speed : 74 km/hr
Road : Tarred and good
Stay : Hotel Encore Inn, Vizag 2/5
Stay : Hotel Ginger, Vizag 4/5

Day 3 : Tue 08 Jan – Vizag to Bhubaneswar

We were up by 7am. Riyaz checked out from his hotel (which he wasn’t happy with) and joined us at our hotel of stay for breakfast. The Tiger still had issues to be sorted and so decided to get to the Triumph service centre in Bhubaneshwar (as suggested by biker friends Vinayaka and Preetham from the bikers group – The Kriegers). Started out at 11am and reached Bhubaneshwar by 7pm. We got to the Triumph showroom but they were closing for the day so we related the problem and were asked to come the following morning. Go back to hotel, freshened up, had dinner at the restaurant closeby – Mainland China. Later, retired for the night.

Distance covered : 429 km
Average speed : 63 km/hr
Road : Mostly good. Road widening work going on.
Stay : Hotel Siddharth, Bhubaneswar 4/5

Day 4 : Wed 09 Jan – Bhubaneswar to Howrah

We got to the Triumph Service center in the morning and the Tiger motorcycle got fixed by 2:30pm. Got back to the hotel, checked out and started by 3:30pm. On the road, we realised there was an All India fuel strike and so most fuel stations remained closed for the day. I needed fuel for my bike. Fortunately, one small fuel station on the highway was selling fuel. Fueled up and continued on. Somewhere along the way, we changed our plan of riding to Howrah instead of Asansol. We had got used to the practice of not having our mid-day meal – this is just so we don’t feel sleepy while riding. Stopped for tea break. Next stop was for refuel. Later at 9pm we stopped for dinner, about 74km before Howrah.

As we neared the city, Kiran searched for hotels closeby and booked online the closest hotel available on the highway. We needed to catch up on sleep. Got to the hotel which didn’t seem inviting from the outside – hotel facade looked like that of a shady bar with stinky footpath, dirty roads. We were running out of time, so I quickly went to check it out. Climbed up the narrow staircase leading to the first floor. Was surprisingly just fine. The hotel didn’t have a parking space but they arranged for a secured parking space at the marriage hall close by for Rs.30/- per bike. Checked in at 2:30am. Meanwhile, Vish had reached the hotel at Siliguri in the evening.

Distance covered : 420 km
Average speed : 56 km/hr
Road : Mostly good but for few rough patches.
Stay : Nu Blue Moon Guesthouse, Howrah 3/5

Day 5 : Thu 10 Jan – Howrah to Malda

Woke up by 9am. Freshened up and checked out by 11am. Got several inputs about the road ahead and which routes to take and which to avoid. Long day ahead. Plan was to ride till Panagarh and decide which route to take. As we neared Bardhaman, I stopped to fuel up. At 2:20pm little further on route we stopped at Cafe Coffee Day for snacks and coffee. Here, we decided to take the Panagarh, Dubrajpur, Suri, Rampurhat, Farrakha, Malda onwards to Siliguri. At Farakkha, one section of the roads were blocked by lorries and goods carrier vans for over 2km or so, due to the fuel strike. We had to ride on the opposite side of the road to get past the long chain of lorries. It was about 7pm and we had to have tea before we proceed on. We stopped at a small tea stall in the small town of Chatra. The local men folk gathered around intrigued with our motorcycles. Some of them took selfies with the motorbikes. Interacted with some of them and it felt good. We continued on and two hours later, we stopped at a fuel station to refuel. It was getting chilly. The guys at the station offered us tea in little mud cups. Took pictures with them and continued on.

By the time we got to Farakkha barrage it was 10:20pm. By 11pm, we reached a restaurant at Malda and stopped to have dinner. Continued to ride slowly and carefully in the cold and dense fog with visibility barely upto 5 feet. Riyaz let the way for the Tiger motorcycle had fog lamps. Followed by Kiran and then me. We both had just visibility of red tail light and a faint silhouette of the motorcycle ahead of us. Occasionally, there were these goods lorries along the way. We had to be extra careful, so we don’t collide. Its was cold. I was cursing for having got the Rynox AIR GT riding jacket for this trip. Even with its inner rain liner and thermal liner on, it was pretty much useless and I was shaking like a leaf (metaphorically speaking ofcourse), firmly holding onto my motorcycle handlebars.

Distance covered : 350 km
Average speed : 46 km/hr
Road : Mostly good but for few rough patches.
Stay : Short nap on the bike by the road side

Day 6 : Fri 11 Jan – Malda to Siliguri

We were sleep deprived and was getting the better of us. We had to stop somewhere and take rest but where on this highway? At about 6am, we stopped by this little shrine to the side of the road. Didnt get off the bike. Put on the side stand and just slept on the bike. Here’s the only time I thanked myself for having my tank bag on the motorcycle to rest my head on. Half hour later, rode on until next HP fuel station to refuel my bike. By 8am, we reached the hotel where Vish came out to greet us. Rested for a few hours. Riyaz was to take the evening flight back to Bengaluru. By 3pm, we took a taxi for the airport to drop and see off Riyaz. Got back, relaxed and later went out for a quick snack.

Distance covered : 350km + 278km = 628 km
Average speed : 45 km/hr
Road : Mostly good but for few patchwork.
Stay : The Loft Hotel 4/5 (Friendly staff and very good hotel)

Day 7 : Sat 12 Jan – Siliguri to Shillong

Today’s stopover was scheduled for Gauhati. However, Riyaz had earlier on suggested that we skip Gauhati (Assam) and go to Shillong (Meghalaya) instead. Shillong was just 99km further from Gauhati and this was okay by us. We took his advice. It was 5pm, when we reached the town of Guwahati, once a serene hill station but now commecialized and packed with people / vehicles. We had to get out of there. As we neared Shillong the roads were superb. It was nightfall but that didn’t perturb me. I thoroughly enjoyed banking my motorcycle on the curvy roads. We reached the hotel by about 8pm and checked in. The hotel is located on the highway route. Food here is decent. Staff were courteous and helpful.

Distance covered : 530 km
Average speed : 63 km/hr
Road : Good roads
Stay : Meera Holiday Villa, Shillong 3/5 (Good place to stay. Food was good. Helpful staff)

Day 8 : Sun 13 Jan – Shillong to Jiribam

Started from hotel by about 9am. 2 fuel stops and 2 chai stops on route. Roads were good with lots of curves initially. Got into part of Assam again. As we rode through the hilly sections, there was a long traffic pile up of lorries and jam at Lakhicherra Khasia Punjee, Assam. At some point we had to carefully ride on the narrow concrete footpath to get past the huge trucks and lorries that had blocked the movement of vehicle movement. Further on, there was this side walk passage on the bridge that helped us finally get past the jam.

Reached Silchar by 2:30pm. Heavy traffic in the town main road which we had to ride through. Thought we would halt here but there was nothing much in this small town. Roads had goats and ducks walking across with the least of worry. Some local folk led their cattle along the road. We stopped at a nearby shop for tea before continuing on. Vish searched for a hotel online and found one. We continued on and crossed over into the state of Manipur. Reached the hotel (probably the only hotel around) located in the small town of there by 5pm. The guy there David by name was helpful in giving us information regarding the border crossing. Unloaded the luggage off our bikes and up into the alloted room for us. Then, cleaned and lubricated our motorcycle chains. Dinner done by 9pm having decided to start early tomorrow morning.

Distance covered : 295 km
Average speed : 55 km/hr
Road : Good but for few patchwork.
Stay : Hotel Leibakleim, Jiribam 3/5 (Fairly new and decent hotel run by a family. Home cooked food. Reasonably priced)

Day 9 : Mon 14 Jan – Jiribam to Moreh

Had to fill petrol and bunk was 4km other way. By about 7:30am, we filled up full tank and started onwards to Imphal with lots of curvy roads for 200km. Here we rode through a good variety of terrain with road quality from nea roads to rocky and muddy surfaces. Stopped midway just past a bridge to have a quick tea break. Next 13km to Imphal city was good. Filled in fuel.

We had to get to the border in time else we would have to turn back and return the next day early morning. On route, I had stopped to a side to take picture of the landscape when a car stopped by and the gentleman seated in it asked as to which part in Karnataka state I was from. He happened to be a Major in the army travelling in civilian clothes and from Karnataka too. Got to the 1st checkpoint at Tengnoupal to make entry and get token to pass the second checkpoint at Khudengthabi. Note that checkpoint entry/exit closes by 4:30pm. Had tea and some biscuits at the small market at the border village Moreh (India). Reached the hotel Elora (best in the area) by about 6pm. We were just 900 meters from the Myanmar border. Freshened up, dinner and bed.

Distance covered : 316 km
Average speed : 46 km/hr
Road : Average with few bad stretches.
Stay : Hotel Elora, Moreh 4/5 (Courteous staff and good food but no lift and no help with luggage)

Total distance covered in India (Bengaluru to Moreh) : 3900km (approx.)

Day 10 : Tue 15 Jan – Moreh (India) to Gangaw (Myanmar)

We got to the Indian border by 8am and met the other overland travellers who were to be travelling with us through Myanmar. A French couple in their 30+ year old Volkswagen van and motorcyclists – lone rider (didn’t get his name) on his KTM 690 and a couple – Jack on his KTM 790 Adventure R and his lady friend on her BMW 650 GS. We got our passport, visa and carnet stamped. Got to the Myanmar side and had our passport stamped. Traffic lane direction switches to right hand side as in US. For carnet stamping, the office was a bit further. We rode for a few kilometers to realise something was amiss and turned back to the border. We were directed to the office that was in fact just a few meters from the border, on the left. Got our carnet stamped. The temperatures during the day was high and stayed that way till Singapore. From here on, I just loved my Rynox riding jacket for it was a mesh textile jacket that provided for lots of ventilation and air-circulation to keep me cool.

Back at the customs office, we met our designated local guide – Mr.Min Katay, a friendly young chap in his mid-twenties who was fluent in English. He gave a quick run-down of the schedule, some basic do’s and dont’s and then handed to each one of us a brochure, a T-shirt, small Myanmar flag and a local sim card with 180gb of data (to communicate on a WhatApp group). Took a group photo and headed onwards to stop next at a eating joint for a quick lunch. Here we met the Russian couple who were travelling in their four-wheel drive semi-trailer pickup and they also part of the same group we were in. The guide directed / helped us to the nearby ATM to withdraw some local currency which is required as there aren’t many places that accept card transactions. Filled up fuel at the nearest fuel station and continued on.

Next stop was at a place called Gangaw. Vish led the way as he had the mobile (to show directions) held firmly on the Quadlock case handlebar mount (no, not the popular RAM mount). We rode for several hours until sunset. On the way, Kiran had a fall with uneven road surface and rail tracks on road. He had mild impact on the lower side abdomen area. His bike’s handlebar and left footrest got a slight bend besides the light scratches. Fortunately nothing serious. We continued to ride on carefully. Reached hotel at Gangaw by 9pm. Dinner and beer to end the day.

Distance covered : 280 km
Average speed : 51 km/hr
Road : Tarred roads but uneven with few bad stretches.
Stay : Hotel Gangaw, Gangaw 4/5

Day 11 : Wed 16 Jan – Gangaw to Bagan (Myanmar)

Up early by 6am. Started by 8am. Filled fuel. Stopped at 10: 30am for a tea break. 160km/3 hrs more to reach Bagan. Reached hotel at 3:05pm. Snacks and beer by the pool. Vish sends details to rep in Thailand to get us local motorcycle insurance.

We were supposed to exit the country and cross over into Thailand at the Mae Sot border point, South of Myanmar. However, we got information that we were to head eastwards and enter Thailand from its the North border point at Tachileik.

Distance covered : 257 km
Average speed : 48 km/hr
Road : Good but with some uneven stretches
Stay : Royal House Resort, Bagan 4/5 (Lovely resort and rooms. Kitchen 7:30am – 9pm)

Day 12 : Thu 17 Jan – Bagan to Kalaw (Myanmar)

Up by 7am. Breakfast by 8:30am. We stopped to refuel our bikes at 11:25am (95Ron/Octane fuel – 7400kyats for 8.6 ltrs of fuel). 2 thirds of distance was mostly and dry vegetation. Stopped at Power Cafe for tea break. Tea make with milkmaid. Not to my liking. Continued on till we later climbed up a hill. Road widening work going on for trucks. Reached hotel by 5pm and freshened up. We get information about getting Thai vehicle insurance. Vish’s wasn’t feeling too good. At 7:30pm, Kiran and I stepped out for dinner as this hotel didn’t have a restaurant. We walked 350mts/5mins to Adora Hotel – A restaurant with outdoor seating that served very tasty food.

Distance covered : 263 km
Average speed : 48 km/hr
Road : Tarred roads but uneven with few bad stretches.
Stay : Junction Rose Resort, Kalaw 4/5

Day 13 : Fri 18 Jan – Kalaw to Loilem (Myanmar)

Up by 6am. Started to ride by 9:30am. Lovely scenic route going through curvy roads up and down several hills. Had a fall trying to corner on the uneven road curve. Stupid of me. Gear shift foot lever broke away. Fortunately, I carried a spare. Fixed it up in 10 minutes (thanks to Aditya for the lesson). There was 64km more to go. Stopped by a small shop for coffee break. 22 km to go. Got to hotel by 4:45pm. Rest of the group turned up with many others on their motorcycles and so did a German speaking family (from Switzerland) in their stationwagon for a caravan. Had a late lunch. Not so good. Hand-washed my innerwears (had to be done). Relaxed rest of what was left of the day. The hotel was like a homestay. Food though was not so great though.

Distance covered : 186 km
Average speed : 45 km/hr
Road : Uneven but fully tarred roads
Stay : Pineland hotel, Loilem 3/5

Day 14 : Sat 19 Jan – Loilem to Keng Tung (Myanmar)

Started at 7:30am. 9am coffee break opposite fuel station where we filled fuel near Kun Hing. Numerous ups and downs over several mountain ranges. 1km before Mong Ping, we stopped for lunch by the road turning downhill. Next short stop was 22km before the town of Keng Tung. Reached hotel by 6:15pm. Strange hotel for it had all its doors and windows with metal grill work for added security. Had dinner+beer at a place that was 5 minutes walking distance away.

Distance covered : 339 km
Average speed : 30 km/hr
Road : Uneven but fully tarred roads
Stay : Golden Star Hotel, Keng Tung 3/5

Day 15 : Sun 20 Jan – Keng Tung (Myanmar) to Pong Nham (Thailand)

Start by 7:30am. Returned back a short distance to take right to the border. Filled fuel on the way 7.5 ltrs of 92octane. Short coffee break at small town named Tarlay. 45km more to Tachileik town. Distance to cover 156km. Reached the border by 11:30am. The traffic direction switches here back to as in India – to drive on the left side of the road. Passport cleared. Carnet clearance was delayed as there were several other bikers who turned up at the border. A good no. of them were from Malaysia and Singapore. Customs cleared finally by 3pm.

Vish booked hotel One Resort but couldn’t find it, so booked Ban Naam Resort at Pong Nham that happened be close to the One Resort. Had lunch at 4pm. Sky had a white full moon. Went out for a walk later on and back to relax rest of what’s left of the day.

Distance covered : 171 km
Average speed : 50 km/hr
Road : Good roads
Stay : Ban Naam Resort, Pong Nham 4/5

Total distance covered in Myanmar (Moreh to Tachileik) : 1500km (approx.)


Myanmar (formerly Burma)

Famous for its numerous Pagodas that contains Buddhist relics and some of which dates back to the 6th century. Currency is Burmese Kyat. Beautiful country with friendly sweet people who have a happy smiling face. They lead simple and yet content lives. An observation and something hard to miss is that the ladies and infants have a of-white coloured paste applied onto their cheeks. It is derived from the Thanaka tree and is a form of devotional practice besides it acting as a form of UV protection from the glaring heat of the sun.

Traffic on the road is drive on the right side – an opposite to that of India. Most of the vehicles that ply on the road are either of Korean or Chinese make. A majority of people travel on their two wheelers scooter/moped/motorcycle that is no more than a 135cc. Most common being the scooter. Everybody rides at a speed not more that 35-40km per hour – comfortable, easy going with nobody seemingly to be in any hurry to get anywhere (something that is otherwise more common in developed countries). All of Myanmar have tarred roads. No speed breakers or potholes, but uneven surfaces and loose gravel on few road turnings that can be tricky if not dangerous. Keep an eye out for animals unexpectedly getting onto the road.

Strange thing through all of Myanmar was that when it was tea or coffee that we asked for, besides the tea/coffee powder and sugar, it was always milk powder/dairy whitener sachets and never fresh milk.

Myanmar doesn’t recognize Carnet. So after stamping the passport along with the eVisa, one can simply ride into Myanmar in your vehicle. Similar situation when leaving the country. However, if the Carnet is asked for and is stamped on entry, make sure to stamp out at the border crossing when exiting Myanmar.


…to be continued in Motorcycle trip from India to Singapore – Part 2

9 Comments

  • March 15, 2019 - 4:43 am | Permalink

    Bhai bhai… This is really awesome. Extremely informative. Definitely useful for me when I do a similar ride. Thanks & God Speed.

  • Prakhar Krishan
    March 15, 2019 - 4:52 am | Permalink

    wonderful and adventurous journey ..inspiring will try to do some road travel in this lifetime..waiting for reading it further..

  • Anunay Vatsal
    March 15, 2019 - 9:39 am | Permalink

    Really nice read.

    • Zubin
      March 15, 2019 - 6:26 pm | Permalink

      Weldone guys. Looking forward to try an expeditions this.

  • Atul
    March 15, 2019 - 10:18 am | Permalink

    Bro, Life time adventure, cheers
    How much was the expenses per person inclusive of everything ?

    Thanks

    • pavan
      March 15, 2019 - 4:33 pm | Permalink

      Would be nearing to about INR 3 lakhs per person. Check the second part for more info that will be up soon. Thank you.

  • Shreyes
    March 15, 2019 - 10:35 am | Permalink

    Did you buy an insurance that covers your bike in other countries too? What about insurance for yourself ?

    • pavan
      March 15, 2019 - 4:29 pm | Permalink

      Yes, Shreyas. For the countries we covered, local vehicle insurance was required for Malaysia and Singapore only. Personal insurance not required.

  • Nikhil
    March 15, 2019 - 6:01 pm | Permalink

    Great guys that’s also my one of the dreams ..
    Hope it comes true ..
    Good luck n best wishes for future ride
    Thank you

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