Two roads diverged in a wood and I – I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference ~ Robert Frost
Everyone have an idea of fun and adventure, for me it’s driving all along that unknown route to reach the target. As an avid traveler, it has always been about the journey rather than the destination. Yes, the less travelled road has constantly acted like a magnet, pulling me towards it and enticing me with its mysterious unexplored pathway and places as I stumble upon my ultimate mark.
While tourist would prefer flying to Bangkok in less than 5 hours, we, travelers and road trip enthusiasts with a triggering travel bone would love to embark upon a road expedition. Yes, that’s exactly my idea of Perfect Road trip – Driving through Guwahati (India) to Mandalay (Myanmar) and then finally reaching Thailand and back again to India, enroute the ancient lost city of Bagan, which is home to around 2200 temples and pagodas (stupas). So, in my ideal road journey, the final destination will not be the end point but the starting point, from where we actually geared up for an astounding voyage!
For my epic voyage, constituting about 6000 km which may take nearly about 23 days, my travel companion will be my usual 4 other zealous travelers/universal rovers in their twenties who believe that life is either a daring quest, thrill and adventure or simply nothing. Our wild cohort would be 7 seater Toyota Fortuner, helping us to cover and cross three countries as we venture out in the world for our once in a life time experience.
Driving through the hilly terrain, broken turmac and dusty road, the SUV with 80 litres tank would be a great companion to cross the 45 iron bridges from the north east to reach Kalay in Myanmar. Besides, it will not only give us an access to the DVD and music system but also a rearview camera while we reverse. Music and food are the two things that let us going all through. We all are big foodies and so we tend to carry a lot of eatables along with us to munch throughout. Moreover, we do not have to worry about the smell and dampness due to the eatables. Thanks, to Ambi Pur for taking care and maintaining the scent of the car through its freshness quotient.
From Guwahati we would drive to our next destination, Dimapura (271 km) and on our way we would visit the renowned UNESCO World Heritage Site, ‘Kaziranga National Park.’ From the vulnerable one horned rhino to wild water buffalo, elephants, bison and the swamp deer, we would be able to have the glimpse and experience of a remarkable National Park that covers around 850 sq. km area of wetlands, forest and grasslands along the Brahmaputra River situated at the foothills of Himalayas in the north. You never know we would be able to even get a glimpse of the tiger. Wild beast amidst the scenic beauty and beautiful fauna – Oh, truly a photographer’s delight!
Staying overnight at Dimapura, the day 3 would be our drive to Imphal (208 km). In Imphal, the boys definitely would be eager to visit the world renowned market of Khwairamband Bazar, where all the stalls are owned and run by women. While they enjoy the company of several women and capture in their lenses, we, the girls would certainly shop our best! Girls and shopping always go hand in hand, isn’t it?
Exploring the city of Imphal in day and its culture through night, we would stay overnight only to gear up for crossing the Indian borders. Day 4 would be the day of thrill, excitement and fun as we would move from Imphal to Kalay (239 km) and also enter Myanmar through the Tamu check point. After completing the border formalities there would be nothing to stop the fanatic five explorers from their quest. The journey ahead would be more thrilling and exhilarating as we will cross a whooping 45 iron bridges on our way to Kalay in Myanmar. I already hear my friend and fellow traveler Avi and Simmi roaring in excitement. Adventure indeed!
Discussing the day’s event and pulling each other’s leg, we would then snore our best only to wake up and get set for our next aim – that is Mandalay (360 km). Passing from hills and dusty roads and having our breakfast and lunch in the places between, we would then finally reach Mandalay. All tired from a long drive, we would slurp our dinner and get into our slumbers. Taking an off from driving, the next day would be spent in exploring the mesmerizing place. Yes, from travelers we will become tourist and indulge into sightseeing, shopping and experiencing the local cuisines. It is said that the night view of the Sagaing hill and Irrawaddy River is really a feast to eyes and we would certainly love to enlighten our eyes with its pleasure.
Day 7 and we refuel ourselves as well as our SUV to hit the 8 lane Yangon Mandalay arterial highway to NayPyiDaw (277 km) the brand new capital city of the old Myanmar. Till now, I have never experienced driving through a 8 lane highway so the very thought exhilarates me. No wonder, our handy cam will surely have an itchy feeling and it is quite plausible that we may post the video on Youtube as soon as we reach the capital. I doubt whether Vickrant would even have that much patience…
Next day, our journey would be to Hpa An (463 km) and Day 9 would be to Nakhon Sawan (457 km) in Thailand. 2 days, 16 hours drive and covering more than 900 km, whoa, that’s a perfect road trip! And of course we will take the local items of food to munch in our power-packed SUV which will be fresh in spite of the constant labor. Credits to the Mini Vent Clip of AmbiPur which would maintain the freshness inside and most importantly, keep us away from the farts of our silencer in the group unlike the one in 3 Idiots.
By completing the border formalities we will finally say Hello to Thailand via the Myawaddy border through Kyon Doe and Kaw Kareik. Day 10 and I hear everyone roaring at the top of their voices, “Bangkok Calling.” Aha, Bangkok ahead 253 km. Besides, the 6 hour journey would be mesmerizing as we pass through several scenic and historic places encompassing the renowned Kanchana Bridge over the Kwai river. Finally, reaching Bangkok in the evening!
Next day, surely we will hit the salon for the Thai massage. Yes, we do deserve that after a roaller coaster journey. Besides, while the guys get busy exploring what they want in Bangkok (Nah, I won’t reveal it here), me and Simmi get busy in our favorite interest – Shoppping!
Next day, after refueling, our target would be Pattaya, just 153 km away. Pattaya, mainly because of its tranquil beaches, water-sports and hippy city life. Paragliding, yes that’s on my wish list from quite some time now and I am sure to accomplish this in my perfect road trip crossing three countries.
After having our Wow’s, Aha’s and Awesome moments in Pattaya we would then move to our next target that is Uttaradit, roughly 644 km. On the way, we will even have the glimpse of the famous Phittsanulok Chinarat Buddha statue. The pleasure of driving through South East Asian countries is that you feel the air filled with peace, tranquil and spiritualism where people are bonded with common threads and teachings of Buddhism.
Day 14 would be our drive from Uttaradit to Chiang Mai (340 km) and here we will see yet another national park. Oh yes, the Chae Son National Park. Wow. A glimpse of the amazing waterfall and several caves that comprises the park – Wow! Besides, an experience of the hot springs in the attractive setting.
Next day, we would say Bye-Bye to Thailand and loose our shoes towards Myanmar again – From Chiang Mai to Mae Sot (395 km), the end of Thailand. Long drive, we would then relax and stay overnight. On Day 16, we would head to Hpa An (171 km) once again after completing the border formalities. Indulging in the local food and life, we will spend the night there because the next day would be the most awaiting day of our lives and especially mine. Mainly because I will enter the serene place which I always wanted to visit, the ancient lost city of Bagan!
Image Source: Wikipedia
Bagan is 665 km and so it would take 12 hours of travelling. Once we reach Bagan, after watching the dawn, we would get into our slumbers so that the next day early morning we see the sunrise and set out to experience the ancient mesmerizing milieu of this glorious site built in between 11th to 15th century. I hope I get to capture all the 2200 (earlier 10,000) temples in my lenses. A spiritual paradise, my dream is to meditate there! The entire crew being spiritualist would really be lost in this ancient city which is not only influenced by Mahanaya and Tantric Buddhism but also diverse Hindu (Saivite and Vaishna) and other native animist traditions.
Day 19 after carrying with us the memories of Bagan, we will get ready to Gangaw (290 km) via Pa Kok Ku and Pauk. Following which, India will be calling us once again through the Tamu border (259 km). Tamu to Kalay and finally reaching Imphal on Day 21 after covering 112 km. Taking it easy and driving with leisure we will once again visit the beautiful city of Imphal in the heavens of North Eastern India.
Day 22 would again be scenic smooth and cozy as we travel from Imphal to Kohima (138 km) in three hours. Day 23 will be the final leg of our exciting, adventurous, beautiful and remarkable journey as we will get set to reach Guwahati once again covering 344 km only to conclude the journey with a promise to have such a memorable road trip over and over again!
The total distance of My idea of Perfect Road Trip: Approximately 6000 km
The route: Guwahati – Dimapura – Imphal – Kalya – Mandalay – NayPyiDaw – Hpa An – Nakhon Sawan – Bangkok – Pattaya – Uttaradit – Chiang Mai – Mae Sot – Hpa An – Bagan – Gangaw – Tamu – Kohima – Guwahati.
Traveler’s element: Road trip capturing hilly terrains, scenic landscape, natural habitat of animals, tranquil seas, water-sports, ancient civilization, a taste of life of the people of three different countries and of course, a roller coaster ride through 45 iron bridges and smooth drive on the 8 lane express highway.
The vehicle: Toyota’s Fortuner including the Ambi Pur Mini Vent Clip for maintaining the freshness quotient.
The Utilities: A DSLR camera borrowed from a friend, a GPS navigation system or an Android phone with Google Map.
The Companion: My close friends and also avid traveler and road trip fanatics – Avi, Simmi, Vickrant and Sameer.
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