There is a postscript to this day and you should read it here.
This day started quietly and we had plans to meet up with Mario, Olya and Steve. Mario and Olya had to head to the bus station early and we met up with steve and had a quick b’fast before hittimg up the road. Steve had a wealth of information about the road heading out of Dawei and told us about the bad condition of up to Myitta and tough terrain afterwards. It was going to be 150 km and we braced for a couple of big days.
Riding out of Dawei was a quiet affair on reasonable but narrow roads. there would be frequent sections of reconstruction and we’d have to ride on rubble. My hands are still strained (very slow recovery, this) and the road buzz didn’t help much. We stopped off after a couple of hours of riding and had some sugarcane juice. There have been occasional villages here, bust quieter for longer stretches, very unlike the North were it was packed with houses / villages every inch of the way. I can see the vastly different conditions Sophie & Ingo have faced compared to us. I could imagine rocking up to a monastery here and easily getting permission to camp out.
As we rode out of town, we met Mario and Olya a few times. Their bus was stopping and starting in a few villages and we caught up with them, we were joking that we’d get to the border town of Hteehkee (or Teekee or Tiki) before they would. Around noon, we stopped again for a drink and in the warm sun, I dozed off for 30 minutes or so. The villagers were cool and offered us some food to eat. I was stuffed, but chris could stuff some in. One of the locals spoke english and gave us similar scoop on the condition of roads as Steve did.
The roads did get worse, but still very manageable. There were sections with big stoned laid out end to end, but they were rolled in and wasn’t too difficult to ride on. About 3 pm or so, we reached the town of Myitta and we had planned to reel in a few more km before sundown so that the next day we’d have lesser distance on the more difficult terrain. After getting some food supplies, we started off again. Myitta is the last town before we hit Htehkee. The story is that the last Army post is here and from here on, it used to be trails until a few years before. Recently, Thai-Myanmar border was opened to support goods transport from the Deep sea port in Dawei into Myanmar. Thailand is helping in the construction of the roads from Myitta to the Border. The area is patrolled and technically monitored by the KNU (or KNLA) which is a rebel army. There has been a peace settlement between KNU and Myanmar Army and been open for trade for a while. The border is actively open for foreigners since September 2013 and we might be the first foreign cyclists to overland thro here in, pretty much, forever.
The moment we left Myitta, the roads widened to 2 lanes. Its still under construction and the asphalt has not been laid. This meant we were on compacted stone / dirt road with heavy dust and marbles on the hills. In addition, this section is designed and Myilt by thailand, so we are back into the crazy Thailand Mountain roads. They seriously have never heard of switchbacks, all they do is go straight up a hill with the slope ever increasing near the crest. The ride was really slow going and by the end of the next couple of hours, we had barely done 18 km or so.
We met a Myanmar guy who had recently returned from the Americas and told us of a small settlement at the bottom the hill and we decided to check the place out as a potential camp site. It was a good spot indeed, right next to the river with a few makeshift houses. We recon’d this was the gold mining monnunity that Steve told us about. We asked one of the guys if its ok for us to camp there. He said it was fine and we camped out, took a shower on a small stream, settled down ate my apple and went to sleep.
And then, Shit happened…
Route: Dawei to Myitta (and a few miles to a gold mining spot.)
Distance: 68 km
Ascent: 2900 ft
Descent: 2350 ft
Time in saddle: 9:00 hrs
Expenses: Sg$ 5.00
Comments: road from Dawei towards Tikki is still a work in progress. Route till Myitta is narrow, full of potholes and frequent rebuilding works. Bit of a work to ride. After Myitta, the road is being built by Thai! it’s wide! but unfinished. Dusty and tons of marbles with Thai style steep ascents all along. Bummer.