Overland Bus Travel In Myanmar – Scary, But Do It Anyway!
“Am I risking my life right now?”
There are many times while travelling in Asia you need to ask yourself that question.
The answer is usually yes. But, you shake it off and jump aboard the rusted out bucket of crap they call ‘bus’.
The local buses in Myanmar have all the mod-cons you would expect in this day and age – or maybe not. A floor made out of wooden planks, through which you can watch the asphalt rush past below you. Windows constantly ajar regardless of weather, because they are permanently rusted in place. The lack of understanding of the term “overcrowded”. The speeding driver steering precariously close to the edge of mountainous roads. And, of course, the Myanmar/Thai karaoke, or soap operas, being played at full volume both day and night.
Now, this might seem terrifying to most but this is pretty much an everyday occurrence for a backpacker on a budget in Myanmar. You have to get from A to B. Short of hitchhiking on top of a local’s van, bus is really the only way to get around. Yes, there is a train network as well but that’s a whole other terrifying story.
In Myanmar’s defence, there are some very modern VIP buses with reclining seats, little blankies etc available. But, for the life of us, no matter how often we asked for the VIP bus – we always ended up on the shit chicken bus. This particular day was no exception.
We had been promised we had booked the “best” bus available. But alas we once again found ourselves at the bus terminal, being directed past the shiny VIP buses we were sure we had been booked on this time. NOPE!
“The happiest people don’t have the best of everything, they just make the best of everything.”
Even though we knew we were in for hours of barely functioning air-conditioning and bellowing snores of other passengers, we didn’t actually mind too much. Because we were in Myanmar – MYANMAR! And we were loving it.
We loved the relaxed atmosphere, the new foods to discover and most of all the people. Who are all surprisingly football crazy. A basic conversation went like this:
Local: Hello, where you from? (the only English sentence people know in Myanmar)
Tom: England – Local Bursts in to shout “Manchester United!!!”
Yes you can fly from Yangon to Mandalay and skip everything in between, but if you do you’ll miss the real essence of Myanmar. Big cities are never a genuine representation, it’s always about seeing the little towns and meeting the people that live there. Overland is the ONLY way to see Myanmar.
And you know what?
We actually did score a VIP bus…..for about 30 mins. The shortest of all the trips we had to take in Burma – and it was marvellous!
Latest posts by Meagen Collins (see all)
- The Shocking Truth About Bus Travel In Myanmar – But It’s Worth It! - September 11, 2014