Monday, November 9, 2015

Hoàn Lão to Hpa-An (and back)

Dear CF (Chosen Family) Nephew:

I just realized that one of my favorite* CF Nephews (i.e., you) was living at just about the same latitude as one of my favorite CF Nieces, on the 17th and 16th parallels, respectively.  Moreover, you are less than 9 degrees of longitude apart, you share the same Indochinese peninsula, the same Southeast Asian land mass, the same Indomalaya and Australasian ecozone and phytogeographical floristic paleotropical region, and are thus readily accessible to each other by car, horse, tuk tuk, shank’s mare, or in your particular case, motorbike.

I have therefore taken the liberty to provide you with directions from  Hoàn Lão, Vietnam to Hpa-An, Myanmar (Burma) by road.  Should you find yourself taken with a wanderlust and some time on your hands, the trip, Google informs me, can be made in about 19 hours – two very long days, or three days of reasonable driving time, not accounting for traffic or possible tie-ups at border crossings, (i.e., better figure in some extra time.)  About 262 hours, if you make the trip on foot.

Here’s how.

Hoàn Lão
1. From Hoàn Lão, take the Ho Chi Minh highway, the TL 561, west to the Lao border.  It’s a tad over two hours, 142 km. Last rest stop before the Lao border is the Cửa khẩu Cha Lo at 12A, Quảng Bình, Vietnam, two minutes from the border.
2. Cross the border into Laos and continue on the same highway (there is only one, and from now on it is called Highway 12) to the Mekong River.  Crossing Laos should take you about two and a half hours (158 km).
3. Stay on the highway and cross the river on the Third Thai-Lao Friendship 3 Bridge into Thailand where Highway 12 continues, running concurrently, at times, with Highway 212 and Highway 22.
4. Stay on Highway 12/212/22 until you see the turn-off to Highway 2028.  Turn left onto Highway 2028 (Actually, it’s still Highway 12).
5. Just past the Artificial Insemination Station (Kusuman District, Sakon Nakhon), Highway 212 ends where it joins Highway 22. Turn right onto Highway 22 (which is actually still Highway 12).  The trip across Thailand from the Third Thai-Lao Friendship Bridge to Mae Sot (แม่สอด in Thai) , on the border of Burma, should take you about 12 hours.  It’s 858 km.
6. Stay on Highway 12 and at the Thai border town of Mae Sot, cross the Moei River into Myawaddy ( မြဝတီ in Burmesein Myanmar/Burma.  You are now in Kayin State, of which Hpa-An is the capital.
7.  From the border, it is about two hours (149km) on the AH1 to Hpa-An (ဘားအံမြို့ in Burmese).

Let me know if you have any questions, and I’ll google you an answer.

Hope your motorbike has a soft cushion.

To get back, simply retrace your steps.

Have a great ride.



*All my CF nephews and nieces carry the designator “favorite”.

P.S.  You might want to check for insurrections, revolutions and weather disturbances before starting out.  And do make sure you contact CF Favorite Niece and tell her you’re coming.  She travels a lot and it would be a shame to go all that distance and find her vacationing in Bangkok.

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