Today’s ride is a distance of approx 120km from Imphal to Moesot, Myanmar. Where we shall meet up with our official tour guide and start our tour.
We left Imphal at 08:10am and made our way east through winding roads and climbing several hundred metres as we progressed. There were many landslides that had occurred in recent weeks and at a couple of points were had to wait briefly while the earth movers did their thing.
Unfortunately Steve dropped his bike on a muddy incline, causing some damage to his left pannier and also bruising his chest from an impact with the widescreen and also his left heal as he got tangled up under the big BMW. We got the bike upright again and Steve set about repairing the pannier box while I re aligned mirrors and levers on the bike. We were soon back underway, albeit at a slightly more cautious rate due to Steve feeling rather sore.
Along the route we came across many foot patrol army soldiers and also armed convoys of soldiers with turret mounted machine guns. the funny thing is we were pretty relaxed with this as in the past couple of months the site of military with heavy armour and guns had sort of become a normal site. Something to make us realise how lucky we are in Australia.
along our journey today we also had to stop at about 5 military posts to present our passports which were logged before we could progress.
We we had been warned about Moreh and the reports were pretty accurate. Moreh is a dirty, fairly disorganised town with a very large military presence. As we approached the boarder crossing yet another military check point. Steve was asking for immigration, however the responses were in very basic English and confusing to say the least. Fortunately our guides (Bargyi & Ye) appeared and introduced themselves, also sorting the army official out as well.
Thankfully our guides our new friends Bargyi & Ye were there to assist as the process of clearing the Indian and entering the
Following our discussion with the two “Aussie blokes” that arrived last night from Myanmar we had decided not to move onto Moreh (Indian Boarder town) as it was pretty horrible by all accounts and we should make the run to the boarder (100km) in good time on Monday morning which is when we actually need to cross the boarder.
This morning when we woke we read newspaper reports of more civil unrest in the Manipur region which is the area we are currently in and runs to the boarder of Myanmar. This is another reason to stay put for the day in Imphal.
The bikes required fuel which was proving an issue due to the unrest as deliveries were not happening to the petrol stations we had to buy fuel on the black market at approx 2.5 times the normal rate. The fuel was delivered to us in 1 litre mineral water bottles by some chap on a scooter. We find the hotels always have a “fixer” guy who knows people who know people when things need to happen.
So today is an easy day to collect our thoughts and we are research trying to understand the various requirements to allow us to ride our bikes in Singapore. We have been advised it may be an expensive and bureaucratic exercise to do so. We shall keep you posted.
Trying to do business with freight forwarding companies via email is also proving to be a major issue. We are trying to arrange flying (if possible) the bikes from Singapore to Darwin and getting a response to email enquirers we have sent off is proving rather hopeless!
Distance traveled for the week: 1,020km
Average speed to date: 45.4km/h
Average Fuel Consumption to Date: 4.8 litre per 100km
We had a day off riding today as we are now only 100km from the Myanmar boarder that we need to cross on Monday as that is when we have arranged to meet our guide (Myanmar requirement for travel). We also needed to do a bit of house keeping before we move on.
First on the list was to have our clothes washed. The riding gear was filthy and the weather has been so humid nothing dries properly, which leads to “odd smells”. Typically the hotels offer a same day cleaning service which is really cheap ($5AU for our typical load, including riding gear).
Following Steve’s top box (Tourtech) mount completely failing we needed to have a new bracket fabricated by a local metal working shop. Thanks to a hotel staff member who came with us we were able to explain the issue to the shop and they kindly dropped what they were doing and set to work fabricating the required bracket. This time we should not have any additional issues with this troublesome bracket as we have eliminated the original point that failed.
Next it was off to wash the bikes as they had been swimming in mud and brown water on our ride the previous day so they deserved a clean. No hose and car wash soap with nice sponge around here, just a bucket, rag and the local pond and elbow grease which made the work somewhat more difficult. Steve was lucky and two local boys must have taken pity on him as they soon got involved and worked like troupers to clean his bike.
As the evening approached a couple of other bikers pulled into the hotel car park. It was a pleasant surprise as they were two Australian brothers (Dylan & Lawson Reid) from Brisbane who are riding their Suzuki DR650 motorbikes around the world over the next 3 of years. We wish them all the best on their travel’s as they are couple of lovely blokes.
They were travelling in the reverse direction to us so we took the opportunity to swap stories and information about boarder crossings and local situations etc over dinner. It was strange talking to other people with a similar accent and not have to slow it all down.
The ride today from Kohima to Imphal was to be a relatively short ride by distance (totalling only 187km’s) however the difficulty due to raod conditions made it very difficult.
We were forced to take a diversion due to a major landslide blocking the main road not far out of town. The problems started in trying to navigate out of Kohima with us doing a lap of the town 3 times after following directions form locals.
We were finally escorted out to the correct by a friendly police officer allowing us to make some kind of progress. due to these being back roads we were taking and a complete lack of signage we were having to ask locals and double check at every junction as we progressed.
Any mistake would have cost us hours which would have caused issues with us arriving at our destination that evening.
The weather improved, however the road deteriorated to a dirt track which consisted of massive pot holes, large washed out sections of road and huge puddles making for very slow progress. Finally Steve’s top box called it a day with the mounting bracket failing completely. This meant a 1hr stop while we rigged a temporary fix, strapping the box down in order to get to the destination.
We continued on with Steve unfortunately dropping his bike in mud along side a bunch of Indian soldiers who were on foot patrol in the area. The friendly soldier quickly helped Steve get his bike upright once more. The left pannier required repairs as it had yet again had a hit, however we waited till we reached a local town before the box was repaired.
Eventually we made the highway (very loose definition) which is where a couple of local chaps helped Steve repair the damaged Pannier.
Once back underway traffic was all but non existent due to the local strike once more. At one point we came across a vandalized truck in the middle of the road which we later read had been shot at the evening before as the driver tried to avoid the strike with him paying the price of his truck being smashed. When you see things like that it gives you an idea that all is not well in these parts and we should tread carefully ourselves.
We finally made it to Imphal at 6.00pm to the hotel we had booked earlier which allowed us to relax fr the evening after such a challenging day.
We stayed in Kohima for an additional day instead of moving on due to the very heady rain that had occurred over night and continued through the day and we needed to get a bit of washing sorted.
The hotel we stayed at was lovely as it was an old English colonial house with various tradional “Nagaland people’s” artifacts displayed. Oh, there was also a lovely little dog that made us feel very welcome.
Kohima town itself is basically built on the side of a mountain with roads and property clinging onto the hillside, making navigation very difficult (even on foot) and due to land slide in the wet season, roads fall apart which the locals just work around.
We struggled finding the correct route out of the city as our GPS maps had finished which limited our ability to navigate using electronics.
Luckily there was only light traffic due to a bun (strike) which meant all traffic was meant to be off the roads, fortunately tourists are generally allowed to travel without obstruction.
At one point we came across a picket line of women blocking the road. The police saw us through although they were reluctant to disclose what the reason for the protest was about. We were told it was something to do with the women asking for more money from the government?
Once through the picket line we were set upon by the press that were reporting on the protest as the seamed to find our ride more interesting that the protest. After several questions we made our way off.
Due to the strike the traffic became none existent which was a very odd experience in India and the temps cooled with very light showers travelling alongside forests and national parks which certainly made for a lovely ride.
AS we approached Kohima which involved traversing many hills and working around the mountain sides the road conditions deteriorated terribly and the last 40km’s appeared to take forever, what didn’t help was the light was quickly fading and cloud was low due to our 1,700m altitude.
Traffic in Kohima was at a standstill and the hotels located in the town centre were dumps. We were kindly escorted to our hotel that we had previously checked out on TripAdvisor which thankfully was far nicer than the other options we had seen.
P.s. Nagaland (province of India) is a dry state meaning we lucked out again with the beer.l
We bid farewell to our lovely hosts from the hotel we stayed at last night in order to make our way to Guwahati . The riding however went from bad to worse as the morning progressed as the road conditions deteriorated and at one point we found a traffic jam that went for kilometers in each direction due to a muddy restricted section of road where we had to get off and mad handle the bikes through the blocked vehicles in ankle high mud. Thankfully we were on bikes and could get through, unlike the trucks and cars and luckily it was not raining which would have added an additional hassle.
After 80km’s we eventually hit a dual carriage way and the road improved, however vehicle persisted in driving the wrong way down the carriage way heading directly in your path.
As we approached Guwahati we approached a couple of local lads asking them where the hotels were. They kindly escorted us to the Radison, however with the room rate over $200AU per night we did not stay. Fortunately the concierge gave us direction to a couple of alternate cheaper hotels nearby.
We found an alternative hotel however the smoke detectors beeped all night and the service list door (located next to our room) was crashing shut at all hours. Needless to say the review on TripAdvisor reflected our experience.
P.s. Guwahati has two alcohol free days per month, the first and last days of each month; we lucked out!
The overall distance for the day was 380km’s getting us that little bit closer to home.