Saturday, December 26, 2015

Myanmar Motorcycle Journey 1 - Yangon to Nay Piy Taw

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Your humble blogger and traveler
When heading out on a long vacation with multiple stops, I think it's inevitable that there will be some hiccoughs along the way. Things don't always go as planned. Mistakes are made. Maybe it's best to get the near disasters out of the way at the start, as there are a finite number of problems that can occur, having them at the beginning of the journey ensures smoother sailing down the road. Right?

My bus was leaving for Naypyitaw at 10:00 AM from the Mingalar Aung Highway bus station which is way on the outskirts of northern Yangon, perhaps 15 miles from my home. I was advised to be there at 9:30 AM. I left at 8:30 AM. One hour to get across town seemed reasonable. 

I hailed a taxi and he wanted 6000 Kyats. I was thinking 4 or 4 and a half. I knocked him down to 4500, and off we went. Err.. Off we went very slowly through the horrible traffic of the Hledan-Pyay Road intersection. After 10 minutes, we'd gone 2 blocks. I could have walked faster, and I probably should have, but I figured I had plenty of time.

In a flash, as I was reviewing in my head what I had with me, it occurred to me that I'd forgotten to bring my bus ticket! Doh! Stupid! I gave the taxi driver 1000 Kyats, thinking I'd run the two blocks back to my apartment and start over. He asked me if I needed to go back home, I said yes, so he whipped a U-turn, and we went back the two blocks in 30 seconds (the traffic is all going one way). Back to the apartment, got the ticket while the taxi waited and off we were again. Traffic was okay; we kept moving, but again this was a long journey.

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Then we hit gridlock. Stuck at moving 1 mph. This went on for 20 minutes, and when Google maps told me I was still 4 miles from my destination at 9:50 AM, I knew I was going to miss the bus. Oh well. I was resigned to it. There are dozens of buses from Yangon to Naypyitaw every day, and the fare is about $5.00, so although I was anticipating an inconvenience, it wasn't the end of the world.

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My amazing cab driver
My taxi driver asked me when my bus was leaving. I told him 10. He vocalized a grunt of disappointed understanding, and after going through me forgetting my ticket, he seemingly had something at stake to get me to my bus on time. When the gridlock finally cleared, he drove faster and leaned on his horn. Meanwhile, the bus company called me to inquire about why I hadn't shown up yet. They didn't speak English, so I handed my phone to the taxi driver. There was an excited conversation as the taxi driver continued to speed towards the bus station. After he hung up, he told me in fairly good English (I'm continually surprised by how well some taxi drivers speak my language) “You go on bus at street”.

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The taxi driver hailing a bus

Even though we got there at 10:07 AM, I got on the bus as it was leaving the station. I gave the driver a 5000 Kyats note, and along with 1000 I'd already given him for the detour back to my apartment, he ended up with the 6000 originally quoted. Worth every penny for me.

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Me, stoked I caught the bus
I sit here now writing this 5 days later. I'm in the middle of the trip and it's been great. One story at a time, however. 

The video below details the rest of the first day. I wanted to see what the camera angles on my GoPro looked like on the helmet. I wanted to see much I could increase the speed of the footage. Much better and interesting video to come as I get into the voyage. 



  1. Great blog and adventure start!

  2. Thank you for the video! I pray you had a Merry Christmas! Happy New Year to you, also! Blessings, Lynn

  3. How did the bus trip relate to your motorbike? Was it stored at Naypyidaw, or did the bus transport it as well as you? CM asking as MK

  4. Yes, when I left NPT, I expected to go back there after the surgery, which turned out to require more recovery time than I'd anticipated. The bike stayed at the hotel in NPT in the care of a friend who turned it over every so often.


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