Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Myanmar Motorcycle Journey 2: Nyapyitaw to Kalaw

At the time of writing this, I am finishing up my 8th day on the this trip, trying to think back to what it felt like on the 2nd day, the subject of this blog, my first day driving on the motorbike, from Naypyitaw to Kalaw. So much has happened since then that it makes it hard to remember, but I think, in a word, that first day on the road was one of exhilaration.

My motorbike, with luggage

As I've mentioned in previous blogs, I have been anticipating this. I've been in Myanmar nearly two years now, and as I've always wanted to do anywhere I've lived, exploring the place, on my terms, at my own pace, stopping when I want to stop, going where I want to go is how I want to travel. You can't do that on a tour or with other people. You can only do it on your own. Now that I own my own motorbike, I can do just that.

Joko, stop now. 
Most don't understand. It's been asked why would I needlessly subject myself to re-injuring my back just two months after I had major surgery? (Answer being is that I had the surgery so that there wouldn't be any chance of re-injuring it) The few Myanmar friends I've explained this trip to sort of understand it, but at the same time, think I'm weird. Driving a motorcycle isn't fun; it's just a means to get from one place to another. Certainly, they think, there's nothing enjoyable in a 200 km motorcycle ride. Okay. Agreed, to some extent. Riding a motorbike IS fun, albeit 200 km of it can be trying, I'm buoyed by the thrill of seeing lots of new stuff I've never seen before. See, I'm a foreigner. Everything I see here is new and interesting.

Maybe some of my motivation is that I need to prove to myself and others that I'm still a young man. I can tame the iron horse and go where none of you have ever been. A mid-life crisis, if you will. I dunno. All I can say is that I'm having experiences, compiling memories and learning about myself and the world more than I ever did during my years just grinding it out working in Amerika.

Lots of what's interesting on the road here I actually have seen before, here, many times, and if you follow me through this trip on this blog and my videos, you'll see many times too. Ox carts on the highway. Roadside pagodas. Flocks of goats and cows. Vehicles piled high with the most amazing combinations of people and goods; all of this you'll see in this series of videos. Even though I've seen them all before, it still gives me a thrill to be driving along and run into something quintessentially Myanmar.

And don't wear feet. 

This video also taught me a few things about using my GoPro Camera, things which I've applied in continued shooting. First off, camera angle. In that vid, it was too low: too much road, not enough surroudings. More importantly, holding my head steady, something I didn't do in these shots. Normally, when riding a motorbike, your head is in constant motion; checking the sideview mirrors, you gear and speed on the dashboard, what's coming up around the next turn. That leads to jerkiness in video. I'm shooting better now. 

I'm in the second half of my vacation now, which is mostly beach time. Time I can work on new videos too.  

Road Report:
Distance: 221 km
Time: 6.5 hours
Road Conditions (see the key): Excellent 5%; Good 65%; Fair 30%

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