Thursday, October 27, 2016

On the Road to Hinthada

Civ VI has arrived!

I left the house with plenty of time to spare. I had a languid breakfast and managed to pick up a copy of Civ VI from my local pirated software shop. It was 10:30 AM and I was scheduled to pick up my motorcycle from the other side of the river at 1 PM.  I had wanted to pick it up at noon are earlier, but that didn’t fit with my motorcycle’s caretaker’s schedule.

After a stop at the office, I traveled to Dala and waited. He showed up at 1:45. Unfortunately, I was told, that the elements had had an effect on my motorbike as it had been sitting out in the open these
Bike repair One
last nine months. The front break grip and its accompanying reservoir of brake fluid had deteriorated and needed replacing. 

Fine. I was okay with this. We had no formal contract for the stewardship of my motorbike. They were doing me a favor by allowing me to park it at their home. Outside. Exposed. I wasn’t sure how this effected the brakes, but there we are. Point being, it took a couple hours to fix this issue with the brakes, and it was past 4:30 when I finally got to leave Dala for the long journey to my temporary teaching gig in Hinthada.
Son of tire repair guy

I wasn’t even out of Dala when I found myself with a flat tire. Half an hour to get that repaired (not fixed) and as I was just starting out on this 180 km drive, the sun was starting to set. 

The repair didn’t hold. The back tire got another flat. This time out in the countryside of the Ayerwaddy River Delta. No one around. Fortunately, I had noted that there had been  a silver tire on the side of the road (advertisement for a tire repair shop) about 3/4th of a mile back from where I noticed the flat. Pushed the bike back that distance.  They replaced the innertube (which I woulda done in the first place,
Bike repair #3
but didn’t know how to say it), and off I was again into the fading light, still 100 miles from my goal of Hinthada. 

After it got dark, my driving necessarily changed dramatically. I had to slow down. There are no street lights on the rural roads of Myanmar, and it was a cloudy, moonless night. Outside the halo of my headlights, everything was completely black. There were people out there, no doubt, but as electricity has not yet come to the majority of Myanmar’s countryside, there were no lights. I had to monitor the road for pot holes, as some of them can be devastating (like giving me another flat). Oncoming traffic didn’t dim their high beams half the time, leading to blindness. There was no meridian line in the road to demarcate on side from the other, and the shoulders of the road were blurry on the edges of the headlights. I was in constant worry that I was on the wrong side of the road.

Hallucinations set in. You drive three or four hours under these harrowing conditions and see if they don’t happen to you too. Any little movement became a stray dog wandering into the road. Pedestrians walking down these country roads took on a ghostly quality with their erratic flashlight movements. What I had anticipated to be a 4 hour ride stretched longer due to how slowly I needed to drive in the darkness of the Burmese hinterland.

Eventially, I reached Hinthada. I’m set up now in the guesthouse in a mediocre room for my 2 week assignment. Tomorrow, I meet my students. 

Enjoy the video. 


1 comment:

  1. I pray you'll have a good time, for your 2 1/2 weeks there! Blessings, Lynn


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