This is the second time I’m doing the same land border from Myanmar to Thailand through Mae Sot. Just like the first time, I will go from Mawlamyine to Myawaddy, but this time I will do it alone.
It’s funny cause I also reached Mawlamyine by train, but this time from Dawei. There is actually a possible land border to Thailand near Dawei. The thing is that my destination is Mae Sot, and going to this Thai city through Myanmar would actually be easier than attempting to do it from the Thai side once in Ban Phu Nam Ron. Besides that, I love train rides in Myanmar and was more than happy with the chance of doing it one more time before leaving from Myanmar to Thailand.
The last time I was in Mawlamyine was 1 year ago, and at that time there were no hostels. But things changed and now there is one. There is one single hostel in Mawlamyine, but you have, of course, guesthouses. The hostel where I stayed was in the same place as the big Mawlamyine bus station and it was small but cozy with very nice staff.
From Mawlamyine to Myawaddy
It is still only possible to get to the border with Thailand from Mawlamyine by shared car, but it got cheaper 1000 kyats. This time I paid 10000kyats for 4 hours ride from Mawlamyine to Myawaddy. You also have the option of paying 12000kyats for the front seat as you never know how many people may end up in the back.
The journey ended up being 30 minutes shorter than told, which was great. I was curious to see if things have changed, cause as far as I remember, the street from Mawlamyine to Myawaddy was really bad, turning not such a long distance into a very long car ride. The car is supposed to pick me up at the Old Moulmein Hostel at 8 am, but it showed up at 8.30 am, which was expectable.
Luckily we were only 3 in the back, me and 2 other Burmese guys with the very unpleasant company of a fish smell that wouldn’t go away. I’m sure they were carrying some fish on the trunk as this car was so smelly. I hate the smell of fish that insisted to penetrate my nose. Anyway, I was more curious to see if the road from Myanmar to Thailand was better since the last time. We stop to fill gas and check the tires etc, etc… The street is good until halfway, but then things change, just like the last time.
But, some differences were clear. Things are not the same. The street is changing as there are street works all over. The road is not so bumpy, I can guarantee, and as there aren’t a thousand holes on the floor to avoid, the car can go much faster. And there are no holes on the street cause everything was turned into dust. Basically, I believe they are in the process of building a new street to connect Myanmar to Thailand faster, but meanwhile, this part of the path is made through dust and dirt roads. They are surely not so bumpy as one year ago, but you can’t stand that street with windows open, which actually turned the fish smell almost unnoticing. There were people riding motorbikes here, but I can’t even imagine how hard was that. The dust was so much that many times you couldn’t see more than 3 meters ahead of you.
I look at the trees and everything next to the street is red. Every single thing is covered in that typical Myanmar red dust and this is the landscape for many kilometers ahead. Impressive how far from the street things were still red. It was a red city and I call it the Dust Kingdom. I can’t even imagine how bad is this for the people that live there. It should be unbearable to live like that. I have never seen a place so covered in dirt and dust in my life and it was impressive. I have no idea for how long is the street like that, but I’m sure the next step is to put some tar, I can’t even try to guess how long such a thing will take to happen. Meanwhile, these people that have their homes here have no other chance than live under the dust. There were some trucks pouring water into the dust so the situation wasn’t so terrible.
So, I can clearly tell you that things are changing over here and that in the future, a trip from Mawlamyine to Myawaddy and consequently Thailand will be much easier and faster to do.
Here’s a video of how the street looks like:
After the Dust Kingdom, the street is turned into a very good street. I could even state that is one of the best streets in Myanmar where I have traveled, besides the ones in Naypyidaw. I don’t know if it’s because it connects Myanmar to Thailand, but they are really good. But that’s only for the last hour or less. At this point we had another passenger getting in the car. Yeah, this was being away too normal ride… This means that the last hour of the journey we were 4 people in the back, and not like the previous year, they weren’t the most skinny Burmese people, so things were pretty tight, but at least it was during the best part of the way.
From Myawaddy to Mae Sot
The car leaves me nearby the friendship gate to Thailand and this time without a bicycle and a travel partner, I cross the border sadly saying goodbye to Myanmar, but knowing that the next day I will be back to volunteer in a very remote area of the country. But, I ended up not going the next day…
Crossing the border is very easy. You head to gate number 9, fill the papers and get a stamp, or in my case pay for overstaying. Bear in mind that they don’t have an exchange in dollars and you can only pay in USD. This time I had a guy that followed me halfway the bridge from Myanmar to Thailand to get some money. I needed to be very firm and say no to him and kindly ask him to go back to his country. On the other side of the bridge is clear to see to which gate should you head- usually just follow other foreigners. Wait for your turn, fill the form, and you get your stamp into Thailand. Voilá!