Wednesday, 14 January 2015


It was time again to make the harrowing journey through the mountains, on our way to Bagan, a bus would take us to Magwe where we would spend the night before getting a local bus the rest of the way.  Once again we got screwed on the bus tickets, this time a staggering $35 each.

It also turned out to be the most insanely terrifying bus ride… scratch that… the most insanely terrifying experience of all my travels, the first time I have ever seriously been concerned for my safety. The road to Magwe is a tight, twisting, shitty road right across the mountain peaks, laden with other buses and trucks also driving like fucken lunatics. 

This road doesn’t take you through the mountains, you drive right over the top of them and although the scenery is stunning, it is hard to enjoy it while been thrown around like a rag doll inside a bus, hurtling along at ridiculous speeds through ‘defcon level 5 dangerous’ conditions, all the while anticipating the moment your driver does actually steer everybody right off the cliff and you plummet thousands of feet down the mountain to certain death.

One slight hiccup - a flat tyre, breaks failing, slight loss of concentration for a split second, the other traffic, a dog/cow/person on the road – and we were all dead, no doubt.

 If it weren’t for the arm rest, I would have been thrown clear out of my seat for most of the journey, every muscle aching as you used your whole body to keep yourself in the chair.  Coupled with everybody around me either hacking up betel nut phlegm out the window or puking in plastic bags, it was quickly turning into the bus trip from hell.

At one point we were left teetering so dangerously close to rolling off the cliff side, the driver had to stop the bus to re-evaluate and 'assess the situation', obviously trying to work out how to get us out of there and save his job... I mean his passengers. I'm no bus expert by any means, but I sat there anxiously pondering just how a far a bus could be leant over before it reached it's tipping point, certain we were cutting it way too fine for my liking.

If we were in a western country, I would have marched up the front and threatened physical violence if he didn't slow down and stop driving like a fucken lunatic, though seeing as he spoke no English, plus the fact we were in Myanmar and I was the only foreigner on the bus, something tells me the outcome to that little scenario would not have been to my liking.

Then there was the music and terrible soap operas on TV, being played at ear shattering levels, as if we were sitting in some Isaan disco, really not conducive to getting any sleep in the hopes of being unconscious and avoiding the terrifying scenario flying past our window. 

 As much as i like to check out the scenery, 15 hours is just too long in a bus, and sleep is the only escape, probably why I like taking the train so much. You have the freedom to wander around, more space, a toilet (as feral as they are), a power supply, food cart, usually a work desk to get some writing done, and BEER!

We were supposed to arrive at midnight but got to Magwe just after 9pm, a testament to just how psychotically this clown was driving. The Rolex Guesthouse is right near where the bus will drop you and seemed as good a place as any to stay for the night, $25 at least got us a hot water shower.

There was nowhere open to get any food by now, but if you take a left out the front of the hotel you will find a mini mart that is open. We grabbed some snacks, noodles and a cold beer and made do with that for dinner. The staff at Rolex were pretty helpful and the next morning they had us on motorbike taxis out to the bus station to catch our ride to Nyaung U, which is basically Bagan. 

Motorbike taxis were $1, bus tickets $2.80 and took around 4-5 hours, mainly due it being very local, stopping often and transporting sacks of rice, huge boxes etc. On arrival at the Nyaung U bus station, you are kind of in the middle of nowhere, and don’t the taxi assholes know it. Best deal I could get for barely a 10 minute fare into town was $7. Pricks.

We stayed at Pyinsa Rupa Guesthouse for $25, again we had hot water and again we had no wifi! Rooms were fairly small but new and nice enough, plus the staff were fairly helpful, we checked a couple of options nearby and this was by far the better value. I’d stay there again if I went back, which is highly likely.

Mrauk U sunset


Myanmar roadworks.  Good work, ladies