"Paffpho! Paffpho!", the toothless man exclaims.

Some 2 hours ago I've crossed from India into Myanmar, a rather hassle-free crossing - at least on Myanmar's end. In India I had to make a detour first to find the border and once more undergo one of those pointless exercises of unloading my bike and feeding all bags into an Xray machine while nobody at all pays attention to the monitor or even verifies that I do in fact present all bags.

No barriers either on Myanmar's nor on the Indian side. I present myself at the small booth where my papers are checked quickly. Another stamp in the passport, another country awaits!

All to my surprise it is now, a good bit after the border, that an old, toothless man in flip flops and an army jacket has emerged while I'm stopping at a fruit stand and demands to see my passport. As if it would help to convince me, he points at his base cap which has the word CUSTOMS* printed on it in capital letters.

Still slightly skeptic, I hand him my passport but the fruit seller doesn't seem alarmed and I'm pretty sure to catch grandpa if he really was trying to take off with my passport anyways. Meanwhile he pulls out a brand new smart phone to take photos of both, my passport and me.

So that is it then, my first encounter with the Myanmar police.

* or was it "POLICE"? I honestly don't remember anymore, writing this 8 months later.

A million bridges

Judging from the state of the "India-Myanmar friendship road" it seems that the friendship between the 2 countries is still rather fresh and needs a good bit of work. I'm glad that when I reach the section that is under actual construction, at least it isn't raining anymore, otherwise I would've been in deep trouble -- literally.

I do get in trouble regardless: The second food poisoning in a week leaves me utterly powerless and I'm more than happy to accept the invitation of a local who let's me put my tent in his shop, next to his family restaurant. A bit of a disenchantment when I find out that the meal costs me twice the price than in other shops, but I'm not hungry anyways and just have a small soup.

I'm falling asleep to the sound of the Diesel power generator that is running a few meters from my bed. Luckily it is turned off around 10 pm and when I wake up the next morning, I feel much better already.

Meanwhile my host has already been busy praying. Or at least, sort of: while he is nowhere to be seen, his phone is set up next to a small Buddha statue, meanwhile playing prayer chants from Youtube for an hour or so. Talk about efficiency!

Today is New Years Eve 2019. Another excellent opportunity to treat myself! After riding over 100 km to Monywa (I don't know how I did it, my power has just reappeared out of nowhere) I will enjoy 3 rather luxurious nights in a hotel, fine dining, beers, beers, beers and a well-deserved massage. Life is good again!

A few days later in Bagan, Myanmar's undisputed cultural highlight: Spread out over an area of 36km² are almost 2000 temple-like buildings, just perfect to explore by bicycle.

Some locals are hanging around too and I'm somewhat astonished when one of them presents me his hand made sand paintings, some of which look truly stunning. Willing to buy one I decide to overthink it for a night and upon googling the matter I'm quite disappointed to find out that those artworks are in fact mass produced and not handmade at all. Bummer!

Anyhow this is Myanmar's tourist hot spot. I should've seen that coming.

Carrying on I discover that Myanmar also sports a Swiss-railway-style clock in the middle of nowhere, has good food and Soymilk+powder coffee make for a nice start in the morning.

Camping out is always a delight when there's enough space and nobody around. Here's some shots from one of my favorite mornings

Crazy-looking shrines and temples, that is what Myanmar has to offer a lot of. The biggest standing/sitting doing-whatever Buddha statues in the world I think, too. May not look impressive on a small screen, but in real life looks... well, at least: interesting.

It's been about 18 months since I left Germany, and for my mom's 70th I have a flight booked from Bangkok to join the festivities. In order to have a bit more leeway on the last few km in Thailand I have decided to speed up my travel through Myanmar a little bit, averaging about 100 km per day of traveling.

The upcoming short break is also a good opportunity too to trade my dying phone for a new one and get again some spare parts for the bike.
Even though I feel a bit sad to "rush" through Myanmar like this and miss visiting some of its cities, but long ago on this trip I've already learned that lesson:

You cannot see everything

Last impressions of Myanmar