"Do not pray for an easy life; pray for a strength to endure a difficult one..."
|(1st Myanmar Bike Week)|
Date: 15 December 2014 (Monday)
Route: Mae Sai – Tachileik - Phu Chi Fa
Mileage: 186 km
Hotel: Phu Chi Fa Inn Resort
This year Myanmar is organizing their 1st Myanmar Tachileik Bike Week festival organized by the Eastern Eagle MC. Bikers all over are gathering here as this is the first bikers’ event in Myanmar history. As part of our 4-Nation Ride we had planned to enter Myanmar and visit the Bike Week site.
|(The group getting ready to cross the border)|
|(The map of Mae Sai and Tachileik)|
|(The river dividing the two border towns)|
|(Signage at the entrance to Tachileik)|
|(Feeling elated in the morning)|
|(With a few Singaporean bikers)|
|(With two Myanmar girls at the border)|
This morning we decided to enter Tachileik on foot instead of on bike to make the border entry process simpler. Earlier we met with a few Malaysian bikers who were also joining The Myanmar Bike Week in Tachileik and had the opportunity to listen to their unfortunate stories at the border. They were in a large group and were detained for almost 3 hours at the border and had their boxes opened and thoroughly checked before they were allowed to enter the border. After hearing about their biker friends’ horror stories and the hardship of border crossing, a few among us were having cold feet and reluctant to cross the border.
|(Yeay... we made it to the Bike Week's site)|
|(Colorful Red Indian Teepees)|
|(A few ape-hanger choppers on display)|
|(We had done 3 Nations, next to Laos)|
|(Awesome air brush design)|
We, on the other hand, would want to try our luck as we had good experience in 2013 while crossing Thailand/Myanmar border from Ranong with no hassle. When we entered the border with ease, we called the rest to join us. The Immigration Officer asked a few questions and the reason for entering Myanmar, we informed that we are going shopping in Tachiliek and will depart Myanmar the same day. We had our passports stamped and allowed to keep them after paying USD10 for a day entry permit. Tachiliek border is closed after 17:00 every day.
From the border we chartered a few tuk-tuks to ferry fourteen of us to and from the Bike Week site for B100 per person. The Bike Week site was not yet opened early in the morning but we managed to buy a few bike week t-shirts for B400 each from the organizers. After spending over an hour at the site we crossed back to Mae Sai.
|(Riding out of Mae Sai)|
|(Taking a new routing)|
|(A winding hilly road to Phu Chi Fa)|
|(Riding the mountainous road)|
|(Not so good road at some stretches)|
We checked out from the hotel around noon after collecting our laundry. We started riding towards Phu Chi Fa, a mountain and a national forest park at the northeastern end of the Phi Pan Nam Range bordering Thailand and Laos. It is not one of the largest peaks but its remote location, winding roads and final spectacular view makes it a journey worth making.
|(Stopping at a panoramic look-out point)|
|(A photo shot high above the clouds)|
|(The junction to the summit)|
|(Riding uphill, steep and winding road)|
|(Proud and happy to be here with the KTM)|
|(A group photo with our official banner)|
|(A photo shot with a local girl)|
|(A short ride to the parking area)|
The road is good and starts winding when we crossed the mountainous ridges. A kilometer from the summit we parked our motorbikes and started to climb to the view point with views of the elegant peaks, arrays of rolling hills and verdant valleys.
|(A row of shops selling local souvenirs)|
|(Hill tribe girls in colorful costumes)|
|(Taking a rest, more hiking to go)|
|(Beautiful scenery from the top)|
|(The Thailand/Laos border at the peak)|
|(Three ladies made it to the top)|
|(A proud moment for the group)|
|(A pose before the steep hike downhill)|
|(A friendly 'Bob Marley' with his girlfriend)|
|(Visitors waiting for sunset at the peak)|
|(Monks hiking to the summit to watch the sunset)|
The day was bright with a pleasantly cool weather. From the parking place, it was a steep climb uphill and made difficult as we were not dressed for the climb. With our riding pants and heavy boots, we climbed slowly but surely. We were encouraged by hill-tribe children wearing colorful tribal costumes, chanting songs and prayers for our safe climb while collecting donations from the hikers. And of course we took longer time than the other younger energetic riders. All except two, managed to climb up to the summit. We had a good view of the Mekong River and Laos from the summit. Tourists visit the mountain especially at dawn to catch a glimpse of the ‘sea mist’ of fog-surrounded hills.
|(Riding downhill to look for lodging)|
|(Staying the night at Phu Chi Fa Hill Resort)|
|(A view of beautiful sunset from our chalet)|
After the climb, we checked in at one of the hill resorts. Our small cozy chalet was perched up the hill. As our chalet was the top most, we had a fantastic view of the sunset.
We had seafood dinner cooked by the owner of the chalet. It was 10'c at night, the chilly windy weather was teeth-chattering but we had a free flow of steaming hot coffee and Milo to warm our bodies.