Moreh to Kalay – 3/6/16
We left around 6.00 am to the Moreh Border. Moreh is a town located on the India-Myanmar border in the Chandel district of the Indian state of Manipur. The name literally means “I’m tired” in Burmese. The town is inhabited by Chin, Kuki & Mizo people by historic land allocation in the Kabow Valley together with a sizeable number of Tamil, Nepali, Naga, Meitei, Punjabi, Telugu, Bihari, Marwari and Pangals. Previously, Moreh was in the Kabow Valley Zone. The town is an important and rapidly developing trade point in India on the border with Myanmar, with the town of Tamu being close to the border.
We were approaching the border and we had to go through 3 army check posts before we reached the Moreh Border. The board directed us to clear the Immigration & Customs at Gate No. 1, but when we reached there we were informed that no officer was available at that gate, and we should go back to Gate No.2. We then went back and met the Immigration officer. Also the Customs official came to the same place and got our Carnet stamped while the Immigration officer stamped our passports. They were really very good and nice. Our guide was already waiting for us at the Moreh Border who showed the permissions obtained by his company for our entry into Myanmar. We then moved to the Myanmar side of the border ie Tamu. We crossed the Indo-Myanmar Friendship Bridge in Moreh which connects India to Kalewa in Myanmar’s Sagaing Division.
After crossing the Indo-Myanmar Friendship Bridge we had to clear the immigration with the Myanmar immigration officials. The official at the Immigration was so lethargic and had no information about what he required to do or what documents he required to stamp our passports with the entry stamp. After about more than 2 hours he stamped the passport with great reluctance. We even had to tell him that he would be reported to the seniors. Our guide had to get the Minister of Tourism to speak to him.
We were on the Indo-Myanmar Friendship Highway constructed by Indian Government.
The highway was narrow but the road was very good. There were no pot holes. We could drive at a speed of 60 – 70 kms an hour. The right hand vehicles were driving on the right hand side of the road.
We reached around 6.30 pm at Hotel Majesty, Kalay, where we checked in for the night. We had dinner and then retired for the night.
Kaley to Monywa 4/6/16
After breakfast we all left for Monywa, situated on the banks of the Chindwin River 136 kilometres west of Mandalay. It was supposed to be a long drive of 9 hours. The roads were absolutely narrow, winding, etc. We reached Monywa around 7.00 pm with a short break for lunch. Enroute we visited HPO WIN DAUNG CAVES pronounced as Po Win Taunton. These caves were 25 kilometres west of Monywa, on the western bank of the Chindwin River. The 947 caves that make up the complex were built between the 14th and 18th centuries, and contain ornate mural paintings and hundreds of Buddha statues.
5/6/16 Monywa to Mandalay
We left Monywa for Mandalay around 9.00 am after breakfast. After about 20 kms drive, we stopped at Thanboddhay Pagoda the most unusual Buddhist temple complex on 37 acres of land which is part of the Mohnyin Forest Monastery retreat. The pagoda we understand was started on 20th June 1939 and completed on 2nd March 1952. It is a modern place of worship, well maintained and with interesting samples of modern Buddhist art. There are many different Buddha images. row upon row in ascending tiers in niches along the walls: the total number is 582,257 – an amazing figure! The entrance is guarded by statues of a pair of magnificant white elephants which are sacred and auspicious in Buddhist symbolism.
Thanboddhay is the only pagoda with this unique shape in the whole country. The square temple base (each side about 166 feet) which worshippers can enter is topped by receding terraces, with myriads of small stupas (864 in number) surrounding the central golden chedi. 132 feet in height.
We met a few Monks who had also come to visit this temple.
Laykyun Setkyar Standing Buddha Image was built by Bodhi Tahtaung Sayadaw (venerable monk). It is the second tallest Buddha Image in the world at 116 meters. It is also located on Po Khaung Taung just behind the reclining Buddha image. It was built the hollow type. Can climb by stairs inside the structure to see the panoramic view. It took 11 years to finish.
After a long drive we stopped over for lunch at a local restaurant and had local food. It wasn’t a very good restaurant but we ate there. We then left to see the wooden bridge known as U Bein Bridge – a crossing that spans the Taungthaman Lake near Amarapura in Myanmar. The 1.2-kilometre bridge was built around 1850 and is believed to be the oldest and longest teakwood bridge in the world. It is used as an important passageway for the local people and has also become a tourist attraction and therefore a significant source of income for souvenir sellers.
The bridge was built from wood reclaimed from the former royal palace in Inwa. It features 1,086 pillars that stretch out of the water, some of which have been replaced with concrete. Though the bridge largely remains intact, there are fears that an increasing number of the pillars are becoming dangerously decayed. Some have become entirely detached from their bases and only remain in place because of the lateral bars holding them together.
We then after a cup of instant coffee left for Hotel Mandalay where we were staying for the night.
After check in and a quick shower we rushed to the Church today being Sunday to fulfill our Sunday obligation. We met the Parish Priest after mass and then came back to the hotel where we met Susanne and Michael for dinner.
6/6/16 Mandalay to Lashio
We were ready for a long drive today to Lashio. After breakfast at 9.00 am we left Mandalay Hotel. The roads were steep climbs with pencil curves betweenHills and valleys. The view was absolutely enchanting.
We stopped over at a Coffee Estate and met the officials and got to know from them how they produce coffee. Michael shared his experiences with them and provided useful tips to yield more fruit. He even invited them to visit India to his Coffee Estate. The next stop was for a cup of coffee.
There was a lot of heavy traffic on this road. But the traffic was so systematic and driving on these roads was such a pleasure. The truck drivers were so good and considerate to the other vehicles on the road. They would indicate to the vehicle approaching from behind by blinking the right light to caution not to overtake. The left light indicated that it was now safe to overtake and that you may go ahead. They would even move to the extreme end of the road allowing sufficient space for overtaking since the roads were very narrow throughout. Wish this system would be followed in India where the truck drivers and all other heavy vehicles drive only from the first/fast lane making it difficult for other vehicles to pass by.
— The Lifetime Journey (@thelifetime2016) June 7, 2016
We stopped over at a local restaurant for lunch. Had a lovely satisfying lunch after which began our journey again.
We reached Lashio at 6.00 pm and checked into Golden Hill Hotel.
Tomorrow we have a long day trying to reach Muse from which we cross over to China.
7/6/16 Lashio (Myanmar) to Ruili (China)
We left at 6.00 am this morning with packed breakfast and our guide and the government official.
The road was a long drive again through Hills and mountain ranges with curves and sharp turns. The road was under construction of a four lane highway hence it was mucky and dirty. It also drizzled in between which made the road more muckier.
At 9.00 we stopped over for breakfast and coffee and then began our journey again for the Chinese border.
We reached Muse around 11.30 and completed our exit formalities at the Myanmar side at Muse. Our cars badly required a cleansing hence we got them shampooed and washed at as little as Rs.250/- per car.
We then hurried to the Ruili border for our immigration, Customs, Driving Licene, No. Plates, Currency Exchange etc. Our Guide, Sofie from Navy Tours was already waiting for us. The entire exercise took about 3 hours. We reached Customs almost at 5.00 when they were about to close, but our guide managed to get the paper work done and we were now free to move around in China with our cars.
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We then went for lunch and fortunately the guide was with us so she could order food for us. It was a good meal after which we straight went to the Star World Hotel already booked by our guide, Sofie. After check we relaxed for a few hours after which went for a stroll. On our way we found small restaurants where everyone was having Pot soups and we too decided to try out some Chinese stuff. We had to decide on what we would like to have with the soup, so we picked up a couple of green veggies, mushrooms, sprouts etc and then dipped in the hot boiling soup and enjoyed it, except it was too spicy for everyone.