1 DEC. 2013 38,671km Run for 880 road days.
17/11 From Phyu to Yedashe 75km stop in Moa guesthouse. Took full advantage of escort and ran really strong!!
18/11 was a bad 25km day as it was v v hot. So I stopped to sleep on the side decking of a restaurant for transition to running nights. The police officers didn’t seem to mind, they spend the afternoon talking. Later that evening after my rest I ran like a man possessed clocking up a record distance for the run, a whopping 82km to Khit Aye.
The police talked a lot on radio phones almost non stop. Crazy control, the even photographed my Indian and Thai visas!
Then at the end of that day I had to endure a commute forward 13 miles took 40 mins on the back of a motorbike so even small commutes are time consuming. 38,000km have been run:)
Next day I planned to start at 6pm but the tourist police captain (and earlier the immigration officer) and me had a screaming match when he wouldn’t let me run nights, so it turned out to be a rest day.
He said I could start next morn and had to move from Myanmar guest house to a nice place called Yadanar Shwe Pyi motel. They stayed in the hotel too! The tourist police officers had driven from Mandalay a couple hundred kilometres away.
Next day 21st I was angry about this and ran 72km almost non stop! When officer Kyaw asked me if I was stopping for lunch I said ” I will have lunch in India! india was about 650km away!
That night Lieutenant Kyaw managed to get us rooms in a nice resort called the Sakhantha motel. He told me it was courtesy of the tourist police. I wondered if it belonged to the ruling generals who like to corral tourists into their hotels. I was assured it was a private hotel. Lots people out cheering on the road today.
22/11 61km run, and a tough day it was too.
Then hassle as when we went to police station to sleep. At first we were welcomed then went out for some supplies was told about 4 hrs later we couldn’t, so took about a 2 hr commute first in car and then 3 on a bike to an approved motel, they paid, still pissed off! Ran with lieutenant Kyaw Bed at 1.30am.
Lt. Kyaw told me Myanmar police work 10 hours a day, every day of the year. Other officers confirmed this. To me this means if they are transferred they have family upheaval yet I am told no that is not the case, can’t really understand this as if they have to move far away to another station and never have a day off?
23rd Nov. Saw a commute back to the previous days finish at the police station we were kicked out of. I wonder if the ttourist police are the most popular police among their colleagues. Then a 51km day saw me shattered due to little sleep from the previous nights disruption, I am caught between pissed off with the control, the commutes and yet enjoy the serious progress not to mention my historic run through this here-to-fore uncharted territory, well runner-wise that is.
It is still hot/humid and a memorable breakfast stop I was surprised and delighted to see a mug with Aung San Su Kui and Pres Obama on my table!
Aung San Suu Kyi mug with US president Obama
Continuing on the Aung san Suu Kei theme…
In 2009 the United Nations declared that Suu Kyi’s detention was illegal, under Myanmar law. In August, however, Suu Kyi went to trial, and was convicted and sentenced to three years in prison. The sentence was reduced to 18 months, however, and she was allowed to serve it as a continuation of her house arrest. Those within Myanmar and the concerned international community believed that the ruling was simply brought down to prevent Suu Kyi from participating in the multiparty parliamentary elections scheduled for the following year (the first since 1990). These fears were realized when a series of new election laws were put in place in March 2010: One law prohibited convicted criminals from participating in elections, and another barred anyone married to a foreign national from running for office (Suu Kyi’s husband was English).
In support of Suu Kyi, the NLD refused to re-register the party under these new laws and was disbanded. The government parties ran virtually unopposed in the 2010 election and easily won a vast majority of legislative seats, with charges of fraud following in their wake. Suu Kyi was released from house arrest six days after the election.
In November 2011, the NLD announced that it would re-register as a political party, and in January 2012, Suu Kyi formally registered to run for a seat in parliament. On April 1, 2012, following a grueling and exhausting campaign, the NLD announced that Suu Kyi had won her election. A news broadcast on state-run MRTV confirmed her victory, and on May 2, 2012, Suu Kyi took her oath and took office.!
At the end of that day another commute to Mandalay over 2 hrs, seems its the tourist police are definitely not too popular as other police not have same hassles I got with these guys. Got ripped off by The Great wall Hotel in Mandalay. I was assured my stay there would be sponsored by the local police force. I didn’t even fancy staying there for it looked like a hotel the generals would be proud to own.. Money straight to their pockets.. The bastards! I had asked Lt. Kyaw to stay at a more modest place but he told me it was a waste of time trying as hotels have to be registered for tourists. He ignored me when I told him I have managed to stay in some squalor dollar places here in Myanmar and the very first time he met me in Yadanar when I had that screaming match with his boss. The sponsors of my stay here withdrew their offer overnight and I was obliged to stump up US 70 dollars but in fact cost me 75 as I paid in Myanmar kyats
Nov. 24th Late start after above row with the hotel management and long commute back to my finish. However I ran 47km Changing of the guards in Saging saw me finish with Lt. Kyaw after four days. He seems to think I owe him and he spent a while complaining about his high blood pressure. I said try running through Myanmar and find out about high blood pressure! he gave me back my passport, the only police officers to insist I surrender it to them. Think it may have had something to do with the screaming match with the captain when I asked him if Myanmar was a ‘ real democracy ‘ The captain screamed back asking me if I had a passport and to show him immediately otherwise he would arrest me!! Not possible to travel far without a passport in your oppressive country, I shouted back, yes I know I am pushing the proverbial boat out into very deep water.
After this long wait and new escort I ran about 20km and commuted back as police put me up in nice hotel in this same village.
About 440km to India and got 10 days on visa so these big days making things easier by the day. I wonder if I would have made it without them for the road was to deteriorate to a shambles over the next days.
65km today great day, ran nice and steady with short breaks and wonderful escort. It seems less passport hassle now as someone got my details visa number etc printed out and they pass that around and don’t bother with my passport. Perhaps someone reading this blog in govt as often my complaints are reacted to!
When I ask are my details not on their system they laugh as villages very rarely have electricity let alone an internet connection! The internet is a huge problem for an oppressive government as on one hand they need to progress and on the other they need to control the flow of information to it’s citizens. The Myanmar government responded by reducing the speed of the internet service, having internet cafes pay a substantial licence while threatening them if they don’t co-operate they will lose their licence, and face who knows what consequences.
I got a nice reception in Schwebo when the local cops bought me sachets of electrolyte and 5 cokes! I sat and drank one Coke sitting on a chair someone pulled out for me while I talked to people!
I met Russell an English biker, a tall lad on a small 125cc bike he rented from an American who is married to a Myanmar woman. Russell says he is the only person who will rent out bikes to foreigners.
We chatted as I ran and he rode slowly. later I got an email from him to say the cops chased him down saying they questioned him to see if we had met before. Paranoia!
Once again a nice hotel and dinner, sponsored by who knows who, I was told the Myanmar Home Office had told local police to help me on my charge through their country. They even had a body guard stand outside my room. The hotel manager even asked me if I had a special permit from my government so as I could travel for so long. Just goes to show how many people are so ignorant about how a democracy works. He could not understand when I laughed and told him it was none of my governments business as in a democracy a person canm leave ones country and if they so wanted to could travel for 50 years and return to the country not being obliged to answer a question to anyone, well a couple in fairness, I concede!
A 69km day from Schwebo to Taze The most amazing day of the run as previously mentioned in picture blog. People everywhere like a bike race was peddling through!. In Taze I was put up in squalor dollar place, no real prob here when it suits them. Immigration officer sat at my dinner table asking through interpreter what my plans were for next few days! I got 3 body guards tonight. 2 in the other bed in my room, the third slept outside the room on a mattress. Lots of flying insects as no window so I used my bivy as the bed clothes were full of these insects. Ah Yes I wondered what the Tourist Police, and Lt. Kyaw would have made of this!
Pushing big distances now over more rural roads. They bringing me down alternate roads and say they are shorter, got to trust them. I don’t bother with a gps as that takes from the fun of getting lost
A smart phone would be handy now, so many people want to make running high tech, I resist, running should be simple, the simplest sport, if not the easiest!
Today 27th I ran over sand roads intercepted by small stretches of potholed broken up tarmac, Not much traffic. Am running in very hilly terrain. Finished in Pyinnkying police station. No electricity, just a generator and later candles, not sure how effective the cops are in tracking down criminals as everything is low tech, like me I guess!
I have been told I was checked out by Interpol. 79km today. That night I was offered fruit, bread and butter by the nice cops in the police station. I also buy my own tea and coffee sachets and drink lots of that too. I do this because when staying in a place I feel its too much to ask for a luxury like coffee but when I got my own all I require is hot water.
That day I also felt very strong and there were lots of stops again for talking with the lovely people in the interesting villages I ran through. However I tired very dramatically towards the end. I had a feeling that I was reported to a senior police or immigration officer who I spoke to over a satellite radio system the very next morning.
Their communications office was based in a local grocery store. All equipment, about 10 metal boxes were battery operated, which were charged by a generator.
The bossman said he was ‘ worried about my health ‘ I told him I was pushing big, big distances and over such rugged terrain, sand dunes over mountain roads. But you been running for 3 years now Mr. Mangan, should it not be easy now!!
Ah! yes.. Time to keep any tiredness or discomfort to myself. My paranoia wants me to keep the distance up and get out as quickly as possible and into India.
Another tough, tough 71km day over similar terrain followed Towards the end of the day we went by a drunk man on the side of the road, my escort wanted me to keep on going but I insisted on stopping as he could be run over by a passing vehicle in the dark. Eventually a villager promised to remove the man from the side of the road.
Nov 29th was a 60km day, I am very tired now, it’s been a tough year. People continue to stop me with offerings by the side of the road. Today I stopped for tea and sweets. Later I made a short stop and sat at the side of the road on a wall with two officers We were talking to a woman, suddenly a man went by on his motorcycle and seemed to crash into one of three cows walking across the road. The cows just ran into a field. We jumped up I could see India about 1km behind me as I am running parallel to the border for a couple of days. Just as well it didn’t happen there!
The officer said he needed to get a photo and as I am so used to this request dozens of times a day with camera phones etc, absentmindedly I posed beside the man down on the ground. He was not wearing a helmet and thankfully was still moving even slightly. The police officer then said
” No Tony I need to take a photo of the man lying on the road that crashed his bike, not you!!! “
talk about feeling like an idiot!
That night we finished in a village called Mile 51. I heard the man who crashed his bike was recovering, just badly bruised and shook up. I wondered if he was a gawker looking back at me sitting on the wall I was on. Perhaps he fell off his bike.
It is amusing watching bikers that do wear helmets lift their visors and rub their eyes as I run towards them.
The officers in this village called Mile 51 knew a man who owned a restaurant and I was made feel welcome. The owner fed me, let me shower and allowed me to wash my clothes. I was given a mattress on a floor with a mosquito net to cover me.
Nov 30th A great day. Yesterday I picked up a sore right leg and managed to hide it, Hide it because of the reasons mentioned a couple of days ago. I had been dragging my left leg for over 20km, at times the pain was unbearable, guess I am never going to be brave enough to give birth, that pain is supposed to be most excruciating!
Today that pain was only minimal. As always nice people everywhere. I really love Myanmar, even with the control, it’s an experience I will remember till my dying days. Some countries like Mexico, Australia I did not really relish how great they were till I had departed, weeks later. A bit like a departed lost love, Ah! She was wonderful, I didn’t appreciate her till it was all over!
For some reason as we approach the Indian border an officer has an AK47 strapped over his shoulder, My camera is once again on the blink and I cant get a photo of this. I ran by a child sitting out the road and had to stop and ask the officers to notify the child’s parents. Yes I know I am their main priority but this is ridiculous. Later two buffalo carts wander down the middle of the road in the early evening darkness with no riders in tow!
I make it to a village called Hho Muwnom. The officers seemed prepared for me to run all night but after 69km I have had enough! I stopped in a village and go to a tea shop, I have three officers and buy them tea and biscuits. I ask for somewhere to stay and a man says I can stay in his house. The officers seem to have no problem with this but I changed my mind when he started asking me what my mams name is, whats your dads name, He became a bit repetitive and just told him I had changed my mind as he seemed a bit drunk and weird. People seemed to be surprised and eventually the ‘ village chief ‘ was found, it seems many villages have such a person just like in Indonesia.
these people made me feel so welcome also, what wonderful people. Another mosquito net was provided over the bed in the curtained off room in a corner of the door and windowless house they lived in.
Sunday 1st Dec left only 19km to run to the Indian border. On arrival I was optimistic I could cross as the border guards greeted me, clapping their hands louder and louder as I approached them, I also did my last of countless photo shoots in Myanmar. Inside I went, a couple of English speaking locals had been recruited to communicate with me. I had been told that my run across Myanmar ” Had been good for Myanmar “
I ate fruit and snacks and drank coffee while waiting for an hour to cross. It seemed something was wrong for the tone changed. I was told I could not cross to India without border permits for my next two states in India Manipur and Nagaland. The irony is that talks were due to start in the morning about opening this border up to foreigners without the further need to have a permit. These permits are issued in India and seem to be impossible to get outside of India. My research also told me they are only issued to tour groups on a strict tour and the group must number four persons.
To cut a long story short I sat there in that immigration office for four hours and waited and waited as the officers phoned various senior officials. It seems the Myanmar immigration officer had no problem letting me proceed but couldn’t as they are legally obliged to honor agreements with the Indian immigration including making sure these permits are in order. I was told the problem was with the Indian officials.
So there was no option for me but to return the couple of kilometres to Tamu and stay in the hotel there.
I had a flight booked from Mandalay to Bangkok as a precaution as I knew there could be a problem here and with little or no or hard to come by internet service in Myanmar might be difficult to get out before my visa ran out.
My head in a spin, with the pressure of the visa running out I decided to take the flight to Bangkok and then fly to India and see about the permit there, that way I could return to the border and continue running from there across India.
well Tamu immigration turned up to see if I was on the mini bus to Mandalay and I was met in Mandalay after an excruciating ‘ bus rodeo ‘ nightmare 14 hour ride over the roads I had just run.
The Myanmar government are instant that their country is on a road towards democracy. There is a presidential election in 2015. Currently Aung San Suu Kei the leader of the opposition who has declared her intent to run as a presidential candidate but cant as the charter, a clause conveniently inserted into the Myanmar constitution prohibits candidates from running for president if they have any foreign relatives. Suu Kei can’t run under these conditions as she married the now deceased Michael Aris an English scholar of Tibetan culture. They had two English born children. She is seeking a change to the Myanmar constitution in advance of this election, I await these changes but am not holding my breath.