Monday, January 4, 2016

Myanmar Road Conditions: The Key

In my blogs about traveling through Myanmar, I try to give a road condition report, as I think this is useful to others who might want to travel the same way I have in the future. Here's a key to the terms I use to describe Myanmar roads:

Excellent - Perfectly smooth, world class, multi-lane highway.

Good - Speed not impeded in any way by road conditions. You can drive as fast as you want. Generally 2-lane, but with plenty of space to allow even the biggest trucks to drive by each other without worry.

Fair - Bumpy. Slows down how fast you could go by a significant amount. Keeps you on your toes as, while driving, you have to swerve around big pot holes in the road, as well as dogs, cows, tractors, water buffalo, toddlers, rocks and ox carts. Be very careful to hug the edge of the road as buses pass from the other direction. Passing a slow truck can be a challenge.  This can also include otherwise smooth and wide paved roads, but which are covered in a layer of fine gravel. The little rocks are better for cars and trucks, but suck for motorcyclists.

Bad - Extremely bumpy. It's as if someone had stripped away a road and just left rocks. Speed tremendously limited. This can also include unpaved roads. You may be forced onto the shoulder (if there is one) when trucks come the other way. Often, the shoulder is in better shape than the road.

ARRRGH! - Travel reduced to walking speed and you're stuck in second gear. Torture on wheels.  ARRRGH! conditions are often created by roadwork itself, improving a bad road. In the interim, the motorist has to drive on a bed of rocks.

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