Along the Myanmar Border

May 10th, 2009 by scott and becky

53 km, 2h 20 min, max temp 43 (hot!)

Since we don’t catch the boat to China until Wednesday, we decided to check out the “golden triangle” (where Thailand, Burma, and Laos meet). The masochists in us are thinking of riding up to Doi Tung which according to our map lies at 1512 m and is the tallest peak in Chiang Rai province. This will make it the highest climb we have done to date; however, we will be cheating a little by doing the ride as a day trip from Mai Sai, so we don’t need to carry all our gear up the hills. Hopefully that will make it easier when it becomes necessary to push the bikes!

The Golden Triangle turned out to be a fairly empty tourist attraction – lots of souvenir stands, western restaurants and expensive resort hotels. There are a couple of Opium museums, which we didn’t check out, and a giant seated Buddha on a tacky boat. One nice thing was that there were several places there that sold real coffee.

The ride to Mai Sai was mostly flat or gentle rolling hills, with the exception of one big climb just past the Golden Triangle. About 12 km outside of Mai Sai we deviated to take a minor more scenic route into town. After about 8 km, our GPS had us turn onto a dirt track (shown as a minor road), which we followed quite happily for 6 km. The track was right beside the Mae Sai river which marks the border between Myanmar and Thailand. Unfortunately the trees on both sides of the river meant we didn’t see much of Myanmar up close. Eventually the track deteriorated, and then we came upon a wall – literally. The wall was the protected area of the “Second Friendship Bridge” which crosses the border east of Mai Sai. We turned back and found a farm road that eventually (after several wrong turns) brought us back to the main road into Mai Sai – the GPS doesn’t always prevent us from making wrong turns, especially when the roads it shows all go into the restricted zone. At one point, we were joined by a couple of kids on a bike – we are amused at how good they are at riding double. Many of the bikes actually having a padded seat in place of a rear rack.

In Mai Sai, we are staying at the “Yeeson Hotle” (s.p.) in an air conditioned room for 400 Baht a night. It seems very clean and comfortable so far. They let us keep our bikes downstairs in the lobby / restaurant which appears to act as overnight storage for a collection of bikes, motorbikes, and wheelchairs. We wanted to check out the Monkey Island Guesthouse but it was all closed up. The Bamboo Guesthouse had AC rooms for 350 Baht, but Becky disliked the parade of black ants highlighted against the white walls in the bathroom.

For dinner we walked down to the Mai Sai Riverside Resort, where we had great views of Burmese kids playing in the river a few meters from us. This would definitely not be a hard border to cross illegally! Unfortunately, the food was pretty mediocre and expensive for what you got – we don’t recommend it.

Elevation Profile
Download GPS Track in GPX format

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