The start, Myawaddy

Myawaddy, our shortest cycling distance of this this trip. 7 kilometres from the border town of Maesot in Thailand and into Myanmar (Burma). The plan was to get up early and ride 73 km to the next town with a guest house that will allow foreigners.
We woke before the sun and pedalled 5 kilometres to friendship bridge. The border was not open so we enjoyed watching the increasing crowd as we ate a breakfast of rice noodles at a local eatery. We were not hurrying, content to watch as the first people strolled leisurely from the Myanmar side.
Today I was slightly nervous as I always am when switching passports. Being a dual national I am fortunate enough to hold both a British and Australian passport. I entered Thailand on my British passport…..I get an additional 15 days in the country with this. My visa for Myanmar is in my Aussie passport….maybe I should have thought about it earlier and used my British as I am quickly running out of pages. Visiting central Asian countries is much more economical using my Aussie passport but the official looking visas and stamps really gobble up the pages. We have met some folks having real difficulties getting new passports on the road when the pages are depleted while the document has not expired. So to save money…..and pages….I will continue to fluctuate my identity.
Anyway….we planned to cycle… problems with passport control…..for me. Li was taking a while and eventually met me where I was waiting with the somewhat famous bamboo bikes. “They may not let me back into Thailand”
Oh…oh…..we will worry about that somewhere between tomorrow and 28days. Li has had several slight delays when border control authorities become confused by her british nationality, Danish surname and having been born in Hong Kong.
We are in Myawaddy and planned to cycle west….but today the traffic goes east. There is only one road, one narrow road and to ensure it flows, the direction of traffic is changed daily. So after 7km in total we book into a guest house, the River View.
From here we view Friendship Bridge and a trickle of pedestrians, motorcycles and the occasional truck crossing the border. From here we also view a small long boat, 100 meters up river from the bridge. More people appear to be crossing from Burma into Thailand, Thailand into Burma via this boat that has no authorities, no fence, just a dusty track winding up from the bank on both sides. There are men with machine guns in sandbag bunkers under the bridge but no one seems bothered by what appears unchecked passage. Later we watch children swim and it is evident anyone could easily walk across the sandy and gently flowing short expanse.
And…just a stones throw from Thailand….already….Myanmar is a place so very, very different.

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