As we left off last we were set to spend the night in a less than accomodating for the stay, whilst the cockroaches were there to keep me company I’m not a fan of doing that again. We were told that 5am the bus would come. We were woken at about 3.30am, we got ready and waited, it’s now 4.55am and no bus. I go for a walk and ask the only guy I can see, he tells me “it’s gone”……. I’m like “whaaaaa?” He quickly makes a phone call and tells me to hurry to the highway, the bus pulls up. We jump on, how ever I notice that the people who were also sleeping in the same arrangement that night were on this bus, they could hear the night before us discussing and most of it wasn’t in English and knew we were trying to get to Dawei yet never said a word……. thanks guys!
On the bright side we were finally on our way, the bus was pretty comfortable, we were at the front so had heaps of room.
One thing I have noticed was the driving.
Myanmar was a British colony until 1948. The cars had right hand steering and drove on the left side of the road.
However, in 1970, General Ne Win — who was Prime Minister from 1958 to 1960 and 1962 to 1974, and Head of State from 1962 to 1981 — decided that Myanmar would switch to driving on the right side of the road.
Why? Well, no one really knows.
However, there are a couple of theories as to why the general had this sudden change of mind, none of which make any real sense (but then again, neither do several things in this country).
One theory is that Ne Win’s wife’s astrologer told the general that it would be better for the country if people started driving on the right side. While that might sound weird to some, astrology is huge in Myanmar, so this story might very well be true.
Another popular theory is that Ne Win had a dream that the country should switch directions, and well, we did.
Ultimately, it was the general who decided that the country should start driving on the right side, and lo and behold, it happened.
Of course, it gets more confusing when you consider that most of the current cars in Myanmar are right-hand drives, mainly because they’re Japanese imports.
Anyhow, back onto the story at hand…. we finally arrived after 7 hours at close to 1pm, the plan was to then catch a train from there to Kyaikto and see the golden rock, we had told the accomodation we would be in late. After getting help from a guy who was here from Korea (south I assume) he helped get a taxi…… now so you understand, my backpack weighs 21kgs, my small pack weighs around 10kgs. Two guys on scooters pull up, I look at him and explain the bags are to heavy and I see him looking at them, I then see a switch go on in his head and if his eyes could talk they would have said “challenge accepted”. He placed the large pack in front of him, I jumped on the back with my small pack on. To put this into perspective, 21kgs plus 10kgs plus my circa 90kgs and I assume he was about 70kgs….. that’s 191kgs on a scooter!!!! And we were off to the train station. After a few Hail Marys and a couple of old our fathers we arrive at the train station….. then he explains that there is only one train a day at 6am (thanks for letting us know before the ride). So back to the bus station we go (one thing I failed to mention is when first arriving we were told the next bus is 11pm, this is why we were so keen to get the train and not wait)
We arrive back and find another bus company that is leaving at 2pm, we will grab that one.
I’m not sure if I mentioned it earlier but you really feel alone here and so disconnected from communication. The signs are not in English, there is no catering for the English language and it’s only few and far between that you find someone who can speak a few words. I thought I would finally give in and grab a SIM card. To even ask for a pin or needle was not possible (to eject the SIM card out of the phone). It took me about 20 minutes but I was finally online, by that tile it was our chance to jump on a bus again. Whilst I would look forward to a little bus ride just remember I have been non stop on bus for the last 20 hours and was set to do another 10 plus.
We drive for about an hour and pulled over to a local market, the bus is having issues
We were delayed there for about an hour, by this stage it’s around 4ish in the afternoon and back on our way.
We were running very late by the time I worked out what time we should arrive, this bus was going all the way to Yangon so I set an alarm on my phone for 1am, this should place us about 10kms from our destination to let them know to stop so I had a nap…………..
I wake up…… I look around…….. I look at my watch….. it’s flat….. I check my phone…. it’s 2am!!!!!!!!! I’m an hour past where I should be! Now remember what I said about lack of English speaking, just run a scenario through your head about trying to explain you are one hour past where you should be without the fear of them just ejecting you from the bus….. I stay quiet 🤫 and decide to keep going to Yangon.
We arrive there at around 6am in the morning, that’s 16 more hours on a bus, that’s 36 hours on a bus, I exhausted, I’m sore and I’m ready for a shower and a soft bed. I get off the bus to a crowd of taxi drivers all asking “where you go!”, I’m trying to get the bags off the bus, they keep asking, I tell them “not now”, they keep asking, I give a final attempt to be polite, this doesn’t work, I say “go away”, that doesn’t work so I just shut them out mentally and do what I need to do. The person I’m travelling with deals with them and the negotiations of money, they start at 15,000, she gets them down to 7,000 (that equates to about $6.80 AUD. The average wage here is about 30,000 a week or AUD$30.
The drive like a lot of things here was crazy, darting in and out of traffic, horns going off all around, some to signal people walking on the road that we are coming, some to tell bikes to move and others to just beep at other cars, rather than have road rules they seem to just drive by way of beeping.
The taxi driver by this stage is lost, stopping every few hundred meters asking directions, I can’t use google maps because I have run out of data.
The places are looking a bit on the shanty side and I’m thinking “oh god please let this accomodation be at least 2 stars”. We finally arrive and it’s looking good. We get in and explain we are early, we should be in tonight but came this morning, the staff can speak English!! She tells us not to worry and to have a free breakfast. Yes!!!!! I have not eaten properly in two days. And they have pork buns!!!! Yes!!!!
We are taken up to the room and it is beautiful, it is clean, nice, comfortable, air conditioned and they have hot water and a normal toilet 🚽.
From the room you can see the pagoda in the distance.
We shower and nap for a few hours.
We decide to head out and check out the pagoda, the streets are crazy, cars, horns, people, no rules. We make our way up there and it’s impressive. I have not downloaded my main photos from there yet (just what’s on my phone). Shoes come off at the start and there are kids trying to sell you plastic bags to put your shoes into, they are to the point of being aggressive.
We walk about the hundreds of stairs to the top and there is a mix of some tourists but mostly people there to pray, the structures are amazing and intricate. Gold is everywhere.
Once The Sun has gone down we start making our way back through the streets, food carts everywhere, market stalls selling food, fruit and everything in between.
We are now back at the hotel, in a comfortable bed whilst I write this enjoying some comfort. Tomorrow we are going to try and get a driver for the day to get to golden rock. Let’s see what happens. I have learnt not to expect anything and just accept everything, im thankful that I get to be in another country, experience things some people never get the chance to and I’m getting to do this for 5 weeks, creating memories to last a life time.
Day 6 tomorrow………… let’s see what happens 👍🏻