OK I will start this from the point of camping at the river banks about 10 miles North-East of Myitta. We had had a shower in the river and retired early. At 1930 I probably dozed off.

I was woken up by some sounds I heard and as I looked thro the tent, I could see a few guys shining torches on Chris’s tent and calling out in loud voices. I thought at first, it was some of the guys from the village curious to see who we were and the idea that they could be Burmese Military didn’t occur to me (You see the last military post is in Myitta and this region is partoled by the KNU). They didnt seem like moving on and tried to wake Chris up.

When Chris got out of the tent, I checked the time, it was about 10 PM and I heard one of the guys asking him for passport. I shouted to Chris to ask for his ID. As I got out, I realized there were 3 guys in casual Lungyi and shirts. Only one of the guys could say a few words in english and all I got from them was, “No, No stay. Go Dawei”. We tried to tell them we wanted to go to Htee Hkee and they just said “No”.

When we asked who they were, one of them said he was Burma Military (He should have said Myanmar, hmmm) and he is a Major. I asked for his ID and all we got was some Burmese chatter and loud laughing. At this time chris tried to shoot a video from under his tent which seemed to make the guy angry and he grabbed the camera away. He took Chris’s Passport and held on to it so tight we had difficulty prying it from his hands. I gave him copies of both our passports and that didnt seem to help, I guess he probably didn’t know how to read the details anyway. There was a distinct pong of Alcohol in the air and we realized the 3 of them were drunk.

One of the guys shone a torch on my face and talked to me in Burmese. When I told him I dont understand and speak in English, he got annoyed and conferred with his cronies for a bit. all I could get was Burma peppered all thro the talk. I supposed that he thought I was local / spoke burmese and didn’t believe I was indeed from Singapore. This guy would keep talking to me in Burmese and when I’d say I dont understand, he’d take a couple of swings at me with his fist and once landed a punch on my stomach. Luckily not too hard.

They kept insisting we should pack and they would take us on their truck to Myitta. As we were reasoning with them on why we were there in the first place (it is dark and there are no guest houses on this road) they got more and more aggressive, with shouting and making threatening gestures. One of the guys walked to the tent nearby and came out with some chap with a gun in his hand.

Fuck, A GUN, pointed at us and 3 drunk guys shouting and threatening.

That was the end of our reasoning and we told them, ok we will pack up and go. They were pretty annoyed and one of the guys jumped into my tent and picked up my handlebar bag (which had my wallet and camera etc…) I figured this is probably an armed robbery and took out my wallet and offered him the cash in it. He didn’t take it. Instead he took all my electronics, Ipad, camera and my Spot. The other guys grabbed all my bags and spread the contents all around the tent in the sand. After emptying the contents, they tried to rip the supporting plate on my pannier apart. I had to stop him and show him that all the bags had it and we needed the bags to bike.

All this while, the gun, which looked like an air rifle with a long barrel (probably for hunting birds) was pointed at us. We packed up our tents, and I tried to look around for anything missing / hidden in the sand. The guys had Chris’s camera, My spot, iPad, a bag of cables and my passport with him. He might have had my GPS and camera, but I didn’t see it anymore. I was tempted to believe they were military (since they didn’t take the cash) and probably just unprofessional. But drunk guys with Guns is where I draw the line in attempting to rebel against.

We packed up and left the camp site, loaded up the truck they had and they drove towards Myitta.

While in the truck, one of the guys gave us our stuff back, except my camera and GPS and asked me to give the spot to him as a “present”. I had told him it was a GPS and I guess he took a fancy for it. I told him I would not give him a present, but if he wanted it, he can have it.

They drove a bit like maniacs thro the rough roads and stopped off just before Myitta for beers. They offered us beers and we weren’t taking it. They said the’d take us to the immigration and we insisted they take us to the Immigration asap and not stop off. They didn’t bother listening to us and drove on after 10 minutes, beers in hand. One of the guys dropped off at this stop and the 2 of us took us into Myitta.

They woke up some feller and the new guy took over driving the car (May be they didnt want to be driving drunk when they got to the immigration). We looped around town, by this time I was confused what these guys were up to. They had turned very friendly towards us and then turned into a grass path. Are these guys kidnapping us? Are they KNU? Are they military? Are they random drunk idiots taking the piss out of tourists? I wasn’t sure anymore.

They woke up another guy, who spoke english and told us he is the immigration officer and we could get very little info from him. The same shit about, “It is dangerous to sleep there so they brought you here”. He was talking and at times laughing with them and it was frustrating as this guy seemed genuine, sober and telling us some things, but still laughing with the cronies. We told them about the things missing and one of the guys had my GPS in his bag, which he brought out and I grabbed it. I realised my camera was missing and couldn’t find it on either of these 2 guys.

We tried to check who our abductors were and the immigration officer told us “Military Inspection team”. We told him the story and he listened to it in parts and would talk to the others in Burmese.

Now another guy came in and when asked who he was, We were informed “Governor of Myitta”. That guy joined the same conversation pattern and the talk dotted with “Burma” while pointing to me continued.

I realised we were in a town and it would be hard for them to do anything stupid and insisted we need to find a place to sleep. They finally settled on taking us to the temple and we agreed. We walked up to the temple and pitched tent to sleep, which was elusive given the day we’ve had.

The bottom line is that this part of the country is not “ready for cycle touring”. There are too many loose canons and unstructured authority present. We cannot distinguish genuine military from random guys. Everywhere else in Myanmar, we’ve had more professional behaviour from the authorities (They would politely decline us to stay here or not follow the road). Given that experience, I might say, there cronies were random guys taking piss out of us. But when authorities were informed, they were not reprimanded. Its a long way from Dawei to Htee Hkee, and is definitely a 2 days of riding. With no proper shelters around, I would say that one should not be Cycling this road.

The end point is where this incident happened.

Track Notes