Friday, January 8, 2016

Myanmar Motorcycle Journey 7 - Pinlaung to Loikaw

Cold. Oh, I was so cold. I thought I had been cold a few days previous, up in Kalaw, but this was a kind of coldness I had not experienced since leaving America.  I should point out that the town I was leaving, Pinlaung, has an elevation of 4800 feet (1460m). The temperature on the thermometer was all of 55F (13C), but I was moving on my motorbike, the air was thick with fog, and the sun had not yet risen over the ridge of the mountains. And I was wearing shorts. I didn't bring pants with me on the journey. Now, Pinlaung to Loikaw was another short stage, only 90km (55 miles); I could have just holed up in a tea house or someplace and waited it out until the air got warmer. No, with the help of some cold weather gear I bought along the way, I kept going.

In the town of Pekon, my breakfast was a bowl of Mohingga, the traditional Myanmar morning soup. My eyes and camera were open, looking for anything I could that I remembered from reading The Land a Green Ghosts, a remarkable and award-winning memoir by Pascal Khoo Thwe about growing up as a hill tribesman and the political upheaval in Myanmar in the late 80's and 90's. Much of the book is set in Pekon, and it was a real thrill for me to be visiting the town that had fascinated me so much in print. Literary tourism is a real thing, but it hasn't come to Pekon as of yet. There were no big signs saying "FORMER HOME OF PASCAL KHOO THWE THIS WAY!", but I did find one building mentioned quite a bit in the book, the town's main Catholic Church; most of the Padaung tribe are Catholic, not Buddhist.

Soon after leaving Pekon, I found myself in Loikaw, the capital of the state of Kayah. I found Loikaw to be a town of two halves. The north part of town had big, wide streets, sidewalks, landscaping, smooth flowing traffic and lots of beautiful buildings and monuments. Cross a one-lane bridge to the south part of town and you're in a crowded, chaotic, dusty Myanmar city.

As you'll see in the video, my activities in Loikaw included finding a hotel, visiting the amazing Taung Kwel Zaydi pagodas and having a dinner I'll never forget. Continuing the theme of my favorite ukulele music in the background, enjoy!

Road Report:
Distance: 89 km
Travel time: 3 hours
Road conditions (see the key): Excellent 2%, Good 83%, Fair 15%


  1. Fascinating! -- J. Sea.

  2. Was the temperature a surprise at 4800 feet? Did it get warmer during the day?

    1. By the numbers, it wasn't that cold. I think I just felt it more because I'm thin-skinned after living in the tropics for 3 years.

    2. And yes, it got warmer. I didn't shed the jacket until the afternoon, though.

  3. I have been following your video presentations and found you have been getting quite professional with that. Wonder whether you could offer this to a Travel TV Channel for some good pay. It all reminds me a bit of "Lonely Planet".

  4. I was shocked at what you ordered to eat! I think I might starve. I'm happy you helped yourself warm up. I truly like your videos, and music... as I've said in the past. I like what Peter + Beatrix said! Thank you for doing all you do. Truly, you make me feel like I should go somewhere to teach English and a Second Language (ESL)! Blessings...

  5. Oops... sorry for the typo... I meant English as a Second Language (ESL) or even... teach English as a Second Language (TESL)! :)

  6. Investigate the garments you wear on your Motorcycle in the hot summer month. This short article talks about the right kind of attire you ought to use amid the late spring. mc-bukser


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