I wrote this blog a couple of weeks ago but it appears I forgot to upload it. As I am having a prob

Going back in time . . . .  by 30 minutes.
Prior to entering Myanmar I decided to take a look around the morning market in Mae Sai. The morning markets are the most fascinating. The town is coming to life and buying supplies for the day. Almost everything under the sun can be found under the market roof. In the search for breakfast I sat down at a stall and chose a stew that seemed to be popular with the locals. Chicken, Pork, Quail eggs, Bamboo shoots and Fish entrails, as well as the main ingredient in Vics vaporub, which I can't remember the name of. I could smell and taste it as soon as I bit into it. Delicious. Then it was off for a beard trim before heading for the border.
When I got to the immigration office I noticed two clocks on the wall, showing the time in Myanmar and Thailand. The clock for Myanmar was behind by 30 minutes. First thoughts regarding the international time zones would have you believe that there are 24 individual zones. There are actually 39 or 40 different time zones depending upon your reference guide, with changes occurring periodically such as when one Pacific island decided it wanted to move from one side of the international date line to the other therefore moving an hour backwards meaning that it went back a day. This was solely to benefit from it being the same day as it's main trading partner, Australia.
Why Myanmar chose to set their clocks in between their neighbours I don't know. It's not as bizzare as China though. It was Canadian Sir Sandford Fleming who proposed a worldwide system of time zones in 1879. Each time zone would cover 15 degrees of longitude. China covers what should be at least 5 time zones. But by government decree all Chinese clocks are set at Beijing time meaning that those in the west are technically at midday when the sun tells them it's only 7am. India is similar in having more than 15 degrees of longitude but opting for one unified time zone. Others such as Myanmar offset set their clocks from  their neighbours by 15, 30 or 45 minutes. That's how we have so many.
There are two options to pay for the Myanmar visa, $10 US or 500 Thai baht. Paying in dollars would cost about £6.40, paying in baht would cost about £10.90. Unfortunately the dollar doesn't appear to be as popular as it once was. I offered up my ten dollar note but was told that I had to pay in baht. A form was filled out, my photo taken for my entry permit and my passport retained. The entry permit allows you to stay for 14 days but only allows you to travel a maximum of 15 kms from the border crossing. It would have been possible to stay longer and travel more extensively but I don't have time for that so a day trip would have to suffice. Besides, I only came here in order to get a 15 day extension to my Thai visa.
There was definitely a different feel to Myanmar. The number of scooters in Thailand is amazing but in Myanmar they are even more common. And despite driving on the right hand side of the road just about all of the cars on the road are right hand drive. The only noticeable exceptions are the really old trucks that are trundling back and forth. I decided to ride as far as possible just to take a look at the countryside around Tachileik, the crossing point from Thailand. Once I reached the military check-point I was told quite bluntly by the guards to go back to town. So, off I went. Well . . . they had guns and I only have a very small knife.
The rest of the day was spent wandering around the outdoor market. Ralph Lauren and Paul Smith polo shirts were on offer for just 2 pounds. Raybans, Oakleys, D & G bags etc all from China were everywhere.
It was a pleasant few hours and the people were just as friendly as in Thailand. It's only very recently that Myanmar has relaxed its border policy, so white faces are not common enough to be ignored. I had been warned that my passport may be held to ransom for a 'present' by the border guards. Luckily this was not the case. I swapped my entry permit for my passport and met up with Martin and Goi for dinner in Mae Sai.
Luckily they were able to put my bike in the back of the pickup, saving me a ride in descending darkness, and we headed back to their place for another overnight stay. We even managed to stop into a bike shop on the way where we fitted a new bottom bracket to try and get rid of the awful noise that was coming from that area every time I turned a pedal. Unfortunately the bottom bracket that came out was in perfect working order. This can only leave the pedals as the culprits again. Back to Martins and a pedal strip found the problem. The grease that I put in just a couple of weeks ago had disappeared. Some high speed, high temperature grease was added, the locknuts adjusted and the pedals were spinning sweetly again.
You may remember that I had to buy a replacement pair of pedals a few weeks ago. I have now been able to regrease and adjust the original pair as well as the new ones. This means that I am now riding with a spare pair of pedals and a spare bottom bracket. Together with the spare spokes, brake pads and cables I am carrying I should be okay for mechanical issues. Lets just hope that everything holds up and that my maintenance issues are over for at least a few more miles.
 





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