Our rally is called Vietnam to Myanmar and back. Well, we have now done the first part and arrived in Myanmar. We have finished road book one and at 4,400km have driven just over half the distance of the total rally.
The day started with an easy drive on good Thai roads. First on the flat then a brand-new highway climbing up through the mountains heading west towards the border. They are still working on the last part, but it was still an easy and quick drive to our pre-border rendezvous point at a beautiful garden restaurant in Mae Sot. The border itself was very busy with a long queue of trucks but we got through quickly thanks to great organisation from the Thai and Myanmar agents.
We were all excited about arriving in Myanmar. Even in the border town of Myawaddy, there was a different feel to the country and the people. Gone is the emerging affluence of Thailand. Life here is simple and based on the land. We took the new road through the mountains, built in 2015 but already starting to show subsidence. However we had no complaints about it when we then reached 80 km of roadwork over the next section. What little road surface was left was in poor condition and we frequently had to drive off the side to make space for trucks coming the other way. There were also many diversions of the road through dusty and bumpy tracks. We had not been expecting this section to be like this and although the cars are all well prepared, the drivers were not!
On arrival at the hotel, in Hpa An, however, all was forgiven as we were given the most special welcome of music and dance, a cold towel and a welcome drink. We all started to relax and exchange stories of the sights along the road in this very special country. The excitement was mounting and in a rash moment over dinner we made a pact with David and Debbi to set off at 5.30 a.m. the next day to visit the Golden Rock just off our route.