Walking up the steps to the Golden rock, Max and I looked at each other and realized that sitting in a car for 6 weeks had taken a huge toll on our fitness and our muscles had wasted a lot. That wouldn’t normally be an issue, but we both need to be fairly fit for our next adventures … and didn’t realise we would become so unfit so quickly on this trip.
Max had said to me in the past couple of days that he was ready for home and he could easily head South at Mae Sot rather than north to Chiang Mai … and at that point walking up the steps to the Golden rock, we both realized that we really needed to head south straight to Bangkok instead of north.
On the drive east we discussed and checked in with each other, and we both knew it was the best decision to make…seeing we had a couple of days prior realized that we didn’t really have enough time to drive through Laos as we had originally intended to.
We sat peacefully next to the river for a beautiful lunch at Hpa An where we returned later for dinner with all our guides; Mr Tin, his to drivers, and a Government official to ensure the smooth transition of us and our cars through Myanmar.
Our last day’s drive in Myanmar started out with the worst roads we had encountered since in Manipur and Nagaland in India. For about 40km it was rough and very difficult to drive with the trucks and motorbikes; but as always I found the landscape and the Burmese way of living very interesting.
I laughed when I saw a pile of pushbikes loaded on top of a car. And when I said pile… it was like a huge nest of them… perched precariously and staked wider than the car. I thought not only in India!
Local food was always offered at every opportunity. Long dark brown shrimp with blue and red tipped claws were being sold both cooked and raw at a tollway over a bridge. Pyramids of pumelos lined the road. Once again rubber plantations covered the undulating land with the white and varying shades of gray and brown rectangular sheets of rubber drying on rails lining the road.
I spotted twice; two large black mangle type rollers which I saw were being used to flatten the sheets of rubber by hand. A father and his son were operating the machines behind their home amongst the trees; and I so wanted to stop to look at the process… but our destination was the border and then on to Bangkok.
Limestone ridges…sharp angular lines of mountains rose intermittently beside the road and in the distance, and were quite beautiful in creating a silhouette as the afternoon light changed.
Yesterday was the first day that we had any cloud in the sky. I realized I had missed looking at the clouds and the patterns in the sky. I enjoyed looking into the sky the whole afternoon driving into Bangkok… but first through a border crossing.
It was a bit chaotic. We were driving along seeing a bridge in front of us and being channeled into what seemed like a seething mass over the bridge. I couldn’t see where we were to pull over and do all the paperwork and customs declarations …but looking carefully I saw the silver van which often preceeded us..and Mr Tin gesturing that he would be back.
The officials in uniforms gestured that we were to pull over and we had the whole process of passport stamping and picture taking completed with Mr Tin’s help (he had appeared suddenly out of nowhere! Lol) … and we said goodbye to our guides …then on to the other side of the road for formal proceedings at the border into Thailand.
That was a bit of a process but no complications… then on to a weaving shop, which supported displaced and disadvantaged women… and a 7 hour drive on to Bangkok.
Fireworks splattered the horizon as we drove in the dark along this amazing 6- laned highway to Bangkok. I thought it was the Kings birthday celebrations ..and we were informed at the hotel that it was!
We were greeted as we parked by one of the concierge who remembered Max when he was here last year to travel with the other 5 cars from Bangkok to Helsinki.
So… tonight I have a flight from Bangkok and will be home tomorrow. A rather sudden end to a fabulous journey. I hope you have enjoyed my narrative and photographs of my adventures.. and will keep you updated on my next one; and thank you for being a part of my journeys.
I will be climbing with a private guide the volcano Orsono in Chile ..the last third using crampons and ice picks in February for my birthday; and then on to Antarctica…. so…. More adventures ahead.