31-Jul-2004 -- This is about an attempt to reach 14N 99E located in Burma via the green border from Thailand.
It was a perfect day, but not to keep you in tenterhooks, the attempt failed…
Nevertheless, this is the short story:
It was again a long weekend in Thailand, everything was prepared to rush out of Bangkok right after work, the bike cleaned and serviced, the car fuelled, cold coke and crisps for the traffic jams. Headed north 140 km to Kanchanaburi (again ignoring this stupid bridge, what a tourist trap!) and continued 80 km to Sai-Yok. I stayed at an elephant camp, very remote and very basic accommodation, but beautifully situated at the banks of River Kwai. I have been there few times already, really enjoy sitting on their platform above River Kwai, drinking beer with the “mahouts” (elefant-guides) and going to bed 09:00 pm (and feeling like it's 03:00 am, no light, no noise, told you it's remote).
During earlier rides in this area I have been close to 14N 99E already so I thought it's worth a try to reach it via the green border from Thailand. Cycled from Sai-Yok up to Bang-Di which ist the last town before the Burmese border. Not much going on there, why should it?... You are not allowed to enter Burma from this part of Thailand, and to be honest, except from confluence points there are very little reasons to go to this part of Burma.
GPS indicated 7.5 km in southern direction, after few tries I found a nice gravel-path, perfect ride, always in the right direction. No settlements anymore and I already felt proud to contribute the second confluence in Burma. But with 3.45 km to go I spotted some huts and more frightening: Barbed wire and sandsacks. Went back a few meters, took some pictures, stuffed Thai Baht, Dollars and Euro in all pockets available (you never know, hard currency is of great help in such locations…), turned off the GPS (didn't want to risk anything in turning up with some “strange” device which shows an arrow pointing directly to Burma) and continued slowly.
Stopped at the barbed wire, dogs barking and chicken escaping. After few moments a sleepy Thai guy turned up, totally stunned and not knowing which movie he was in seeing a “falang” on a mountain bike at “his” border. He called his colleague and after short discussion they indicated I'm welcome to join them. They offered me some water and fruits and tried to find out the why I came to their place. Conversation was not really satisfying, their English was as non-existing as my Thai, so we finally agreed on Tour de France as reason for my visit.
Showed them I was eager to go a bit further, but they immediately destroyed my hopes in pointing at their guns which were leaning against one of the huts. I doubt they ever used them, but this seemed to be the point where this new friendship would end.
Asked for permission to take a picture, which they happily agreed on (please note their small gym at the left side of their “customs office”), filled my water bottles, and made my way back to Bang-Di always looking for some other way to reach the confluence, but the jungle was too dense to break through and in the end I really didn't want to risk it.
Had a nice ride back to the Elephant Camp, beer and whiskey with the guys in the evening and an easy cross-country ride on Sunday.
Time to say good-bye to Thailand soon, will go biking for 4 weeks in the North, maybe there's another confluence on the way…