In recent years I have found myself increasingly taking to Myanmar’s dense network of bus services. Partly that’s explained by the fact that I am heading to destinations where the bus is an easy, comfortable and sensible transport choice.
It is also partly because the rigours of bus travel, long- and short-distance, can be accompanied by all manner of insight. I’ve come to enjoy the recycled karaoke compilations, the rest station etiquette, the unexpectedly frank chats, the cheeky naps, and the hastily purchased snack foods, not to mention the thought-provoking alignments of timetables, destinations and fellow passengers.
While many will claim it lacks the romance of rail travel, there is definitely a hint of excitement as a bus grinds through the gears on its way out of Yangon setting off into the dark night with all those hidden obstacles and opportunties.
The time will come, I’m sure, when all points of Myanmar are readily and cheaply accessible by yet more plane flights. But I, for one, hope that the bus system continues its steady development. There are a number of long haul runs that are not yet possible for foreigners, and which I quietly harbour a hope of doing at some stage soon.
This micro-post is part of a series emerging from time in Myanmar in January-February 2013.