Chiangmai Mail received notice from David Unkovich,
Chiang Mai’s eminent motorcycling authority and featured Local
Personality, that an adventurous English couple had ridden through the
military ruled Union of Myanmar, on two motorcycles. I was curious how they
were able to achieve this amazing tour of force and interviewed them during
their stay in Chiang Mai on their amazing world tour.
English couple, Suzi and Simon Harby, on their world tour.
Suzi, 43, an interior designer, and Simon Harby, 39, a
political consultant for the pharmaceutical industry, left England on two
motorcycles on 9 December 2002. The plan included catching the ferry to
Cherbourg and heading down the west coast of France and the west side of
Spain, taking the ferry across the Straits of Gibraltar to Ceuta, in North
times at Inle Lake in Shan State/Myanmar. Intha villagers are working in
front of their floating gardens.
From there, they traveled on through Morocco and on to
Mauritania, where Simon had a bad accident, hitting a donkey and smashing
his motorbike. Now ‘two-up’ they continued to Dakar in Senegal with the
one bike, later flying to Johannesburg, where they used much of their money
buying a second-hand replacement.
in Shan State.
From May to September 2003, they toured as much as
possible of South Africa, before continuing to Mozambique, then up the
African east coast from Tanzania via Uganda to Kenya, where they visited
Mombassa, Malindi and Lamu, following the wheel-tracks of Chinese Admiral
Zheng He in the 15th century!
In January 2004, they shipped the bikes from Mombassa to
Bombay in India. From there, they headed down the Malabar Coast to Goa,
Cochin in Kerala and Tamil Nadu. As the ferry in Rameswaram to Sri Lanka was
out of service, they decided to explore the inland of the Indian
Subcontinent. Heading to Madurai, Bangalore, Hampi, Poona and on to New
It was in the Indian capital in April when they applied
for visas at the embassy of the Union of Myanmar. These applications,
including a special route permit, took two months to process, so while
waiting they explored the Himalayas.
They finally received their route permit on June 17. At
the Myanmar border post of Tamu, another handwritten travel permit was
issued to them stating all their important stages on their route within
Myanmar. They followed the new UN-ESCAP projected Asian Highway through
Kalewa, where is a new bridge across the Chindwin River, to Monywa, Sagaing
and across the Irrawaddy River to Mandalay. They were harassed by the police
for not staying at local guesthouses and were told to spend their money like
bona fide tourists.
After staying in Mandalay for a week, Suzi and Simon left
to ride to the pagoda studded Bagan, passed Mount Popa in the monsoon rain
and ended up in Kalaw on the Shan Plateau. On July 15, full of expectation,
they departed to Taunggyi, the capital of Shan State, and continued by road
to Kengtung and further down to the border town of Tachilek.
It was at this stage that red tape ensnared them. After
having passed all the roadblocks for 30 kilometers after Taunggyi, they were
stopped by military personnel and escorted back to Taunggyi. There, it was
made clear that they had to fly to Kengtung but send their motorbikes by
As all the Wa driven trucks from Taunggyi to Kengtung
have to travel in convoy, so the English couple waited for six days at Inle
Lake before boarding the plane to Kengtung at Heho Airport.
They finally arrived in Kengtung, and stayed in Harry’s
Guesthouse to wait for the truck convoy to arrive. Days went by and they had
to overstay their visas by three days until the convoy arrived and they
could then ride to Tachilek.
On July 28, they exhaustedly crossed into the border town
of Mae Sai in Thailand. The whole operation had set them back financially
Despite the problems in Myanmar, Suzi and Simon are planning to continue
the amazing world tour via Laos, Cambodia, Bangkok, Malay Peninsula,
Australia, and Central America, U.S.A. and back to London to arrive in April
2005. For further information, see their web site http://mccs.co.uk/global