Saturday, June 02, 2007

Burma, VISA, and Phantoms

Just by virtue of being and American citizen (and any one of 36 other nations) and walking through immigration in Thailand, you are granted, for free, a 30 day stay in Thailand. After that period of time you must either 1) leave the country 2) pay a ton of money and renew your VISA in the country or 3) make a run to a border, cross into another nation, and come back to receive a fresh, new 30 day VISA.

Well, option one was not going to work because Jess and I were not willing to leave yet. We still have a lot to do here. Second option was out because what is the point of paying a lot money to stay in a country when there is a third option to cross international borders for hours of fun? Obviously Jess and I chose to border hop, option number three.

But again, we are faced with a decision. There are many ways to border hop. Some take a bus to the border, some pay for a border-run service to drive them in a nice air conditioned van all the way to the border to do all of this without hassles. Well, Jess and I thought, what's the point of doing all that and not having some fun along the way.

Meet Mr. Phantom. Although the Honda Phantom is one of the biggest bikes Honda sells here, it is absolutely tiny by comparison to a typical Harley Davidson or other bike of similar design. The engine is only 200 c.c., which is about 1/8 the size of my car engine, and 1/4 the size of most "cruiser" style bikes today. But you know what? After 10 months of not driving or driving only 100 c.c. scooters, it felt pretty dang nice to drive something a little bigger.

So Jess and I suited up in helmets, goggles, long sleeve shirts, and lots of sunscreen for a 260 km (161 mile) one-way drive up North to the Golden Triangle to cross into Myanmar (Burma) for an afternoon and a new VISA upon our return to Thailand.

Well, we are alive and it worked, but not without the hitches that normally make average trips into giant-fish-stories. The way up we took the highway and it was uneventful, but the way back we took a long detour to go through the mountain roads and get off the main drags. There was one rain storm that drenched us, 5 or 6 sections of the high way had been covered in land slides or had washed away, we ran out of gas once (I had to switch to the emergency reserve in the tank), we drove through a dry lightening storm, and witnessed an amazing sunset.

  • 563 km total (349 miles)
  • 17.5 liters of petrol (4.6 gallons)
  • 32 km/liter (75.6 mpg)
  • 14 hours total time
  • 6 cartons of soy milk
  • 2 sore butts
  • 4 burned legs
  • 1 case of reverse-motion sickness

All in all, it was pretty awesome, and we, though in pain today, consider our trip very worthwhile, and would contemplate doing it again... given a week or so off of our numb lower halves.

We are not certain of the existence of an internet connection where we are spending the next 2 weeks working on a farm. If you don't hear from us for a while, don't worry, we will be dirty and happy working in the fields.

Jess is kissing my neck, so I think it is time to go.


Indian Lake Papa said...

VISA's and sore butt's - now have something in common. The problem is now "behind" you!

Someday I will have to tell you my stories while riding my Lambretta 125cc scooter through southern Italy!

Indian Lake Papa

Anonymous said...

Sounds like an interesting adventure - there is no boredom with the two of you :)

Looking forward to hearing/reading more when you are able.



Shell*Belle said...

Jake and Jess,

I found your blog from my friend Mindy Spencer and I was intrigued by the title of your blog so I started reading. I cannot tell you how awesome and encouraging it has been to be reading and be apart of your journey!

My husband and I have been pursing missions for about a year now and are finally starting to get some details down. We are going to be doing overseas mission work possibly in Europe. We are really excited, but very nervous! It has been so encouraging to read your posts because it really puts things into perspective.

It's kind of funny because I feel like you guys are our close friends because we frequently talk about your posts over dinner and pray for you guys!

Well I wanted to leave you a comment because I don't know if you would be eligible for this or not but it may be worth looking into. My husband and I have been trying to figure out what to do for a vacation and since we are raising our own money for missions we know we cannot afford a very expensive one. So my mom sent me this website with a list of places that will let pastors/missionaries stay for free. When I was checking it the other day I noticed that there was a free getaway in Thailand and I think that's where you both are at. Here is the website.
I'm not sure if this will work or not, but I thought that anyone could use a free vacation! :)

Sorry about all the rambling!! My husband and I will continue to pray for you both during your journey!

God Bless!!!

In His Arms,


Shell*Belle said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Shell*Belle said...

Ok, I am going to try to post the link again...

Hopefully this one will work