Where do I begin? Well, it all started several years ago when these Dutch dudes stumbled across the Kobra Koral in Maesai, a few boys looking for serious adventure!
These guys were searching for a rough ride and something out of the ordinary. A friend of mine for many years, also Dutch, met them in Holland and referred them to the Golden Triangle, where the real adventure begins.
Off we rode into the sunset, with an hour and a half left before sunsets, I had to keep the young bulls at bay. What would normally take the average rough rider 2½ hours to reach, took us an hour and 15 minutes. Record breaking, neck breaking speed. Reaching our destination and only two cigarette breaks in between, they were ready for the den and stretch out for a hilltribe massage and a smoke! Dinner was roasted dog (the Akha favorite dish), little did they know! I told them that it was roast pork with some special spices from the woods! Local vegies consisted of bamboo roots, fern and anything else they could find!
We had a feast and all was devoured by the hungry little (all over 6 feet tall) rascals! If there were any leftovers, then the women and children of the household get to eat! Oops! The Akhas, it is their way of life and who am I to change them. We have gotten better over the years and bring up extra for the household.
Through the mud and rain they crashed but did not burn, thank goodness, because their’s were rental bikes which would have to be paid for! After three days of hard riding, I finally fell off my horse, my Suzuki, up until then they were not so happy. This fall made me an equal to them and I was no longer the outsider, the leader, but actually human, even though a couple of them will always be better riders than me! At least more gutsy!
These were some of the mountains on the Thai side. Living on the borderline and often looking across into Burma, that had to be the next challenge! The first attempt to venture to the road to hell but paradise, failed due to the strict Burma rules. We made it across the border only to have our request denied due to it being a small group, only 3 of us and they needed more time for approvals from the interior. Lack of communications with the interior is often the problem or a change in the authorities whereby a new officer cannot make that decision. Setting a precidence does not mean you have continuous approvals. I told them, don’t lose faith, try again next year.
Next August rolled around and had plenty of time for approvals and finally after being on the other side waiting for 3 days, they may have taken pity and pushed it through for us to proceed. It had been raining for 1 week straight, so the first 3 days we were there, we were wet, muddy and cold! Great rides, deep mud, moonshine and more!
At one point on the way to Keng Tung, it was already 9 p.m. and we were just about to cross a small bridge which I knew would take us in to a town called Yangkha. However, across the
bridge was some bamboo, an indication that the road was blocked. Standing just behind the bamboo were a couple of soldiers in panchos, who luckily asked first rather than shoot first. Could barely make them out due to the sheets of rain that pelted us. Now that we were there, we could make out the lights at a distance, we all sensed the roof over our heads, warmth, hot food and whiskey to warm our inner souls!
The guard had a different feeling about the situation, they pretty much refused us passage and told us to wait time 6 a.m. Haaaa! I could hardly wait to translate this one! Having to turn the engines off and me get off my motorized horse, put me in rather a foul mood and I was determined to win this battle! After repeating my demands, nothing made a difference, knowing the Burmese army, any lower ranking soldiers carry out their orders to the extreme, no matter how ridiculous they may be!
Finally, I had to use my last card, knowing the General in Keng Tung by name helps and the demand to see an officer finally lifted the barricade for one person only, and that had to be me! Getting in to the village, I had to take an escort with me on the back of the motorbike, and I rode hoping I could make him fall off into the mud if I could! If he fell I hoped that his automatic rifle not go off in my direction. Worse, other soldiers might think the worse case scenario!
Once there, we finally found a drunken Intelligence Officer, who I would not have known he was with intel, but his state of mind he gladly bought it out as words of caution for me! I said great, can we come an get some hot food and drinks at least! Finally, the all mighty Officer gave me a slow yes, to proceed with caution. I went back to get the fellas, who were ecstatic about it, the soldiers, well, they just lost us for company in the rain! No shelter for anyone there!
The meal was delicious, whatever it was. It could have been roadkill and it would not have mattered to us as long as it was hot! The usual moonshine was ordered and we were as happy.
Next, we contemplated spending the night or getting closer or even reaching Keng Tung that night! The rain had slowed to a drizzle, so foolishly we all said push on! It wasn’t 15 minutes later and about 1 kilometer down the road when the raindrops became buckets full of water. It was getting hard to see and steer, even after we left that outpost, they had us take an escort at least to his village. Rob had to take him, the better driver of the 4, and even then, he managed to dump the bike in the mud.
Making it finally to the next village we could not believe that we had made the next 10 kms. They seemed an eternity and at times I had to wait until poor muddy George caught up to us! Next, we had our guard to convince some village hut to open up their doors and let us in for the night. He actually proved useful after all.
Leaving our wet belongings down below, we showered in the rain first and then put on our dry clothes! We shared one last toast together before I passed out from sheer exhaustion! I don’t remember if much else went on, to me, I was a goner. Next morning, it was hard to put on our wet clothes, but we did and managed to make better time in the daylight. The rained had stopped, but the road conditions were still severe. Made it through without a real casualty, at last Keng Tung, the long awaited arrival!