Saving on a night’s accommodation can be an important tool for a budget backpacker. Combine this with traversing hundreds of kilometers across a country and you have the joys of travelling on a night bus. In Myanmar this was by far the easiest and cheapest way to get around. I travelled on night buses between:
- Yangon to Inle Lake
- Inle Lake to Bagan
- Bagan to Yangon
- Yangon to Mawlamyine
- Yangon to Mandalay
Cheap and you save on a night’s accommodation
You don’t have to see the dangerous driving that during the day would have you gripping your seat for dear life
Good way to meet some locals
It’s often pretty cramped
12 hours in a bus is no one’s idea of a fun time
Very loud Buddhist chanting being played on the tv or over the radio
Terrible Burmese soapies being played on the tv
Terrible Burmese songs (or rip-offs of Western Songs) being played on the tv
The gastro roulette that is eating at all night restaurants
Getting to your accommodation at 4 in the morning and having to way until 10 to check in meaning that you have to sleep on the lobby floor
The ‘shuttle service’ from central Yangon to the main bus terminal which took around an hour on the back of a ute sucking in peak hour fumes
It can be a great experience though – glimpses of traditional villages through a moonlit night, pagodas lit up like a Las Vegas casino flashing past, watching villages waking up as the sun slowly rises over paddy fields and banana plantations and that ultimate joy of reaching your destination in one piece!
No man will speak to his master; but to a wanderer and a friend, to him who does not come to teach or to rule, to him who asks for nothing and accepts all things, words are spoken by the camp-fires, in the shared solitude of the sea, in riverside villages, in resting-places surrounded by forests–words are spoken that take no account of race or colour. One heart speaks–another one listens; and the earth, the sea, the sky, the passing wind and the stirring leaf, hear also the futile tale of the burden of life.
Joseph Conrad – Karain: A Memory
Pretentiousness might be an odd title for my first ever blog post. It probably doesn’t garner a lot of enthusiasm for those who might be interested in reading on. But, I do feel that the blog title ‘The Stirring Leaf’ requires an explanation and I really need to put it out there that even I, the author of this blog, think that choosing a quote from Joseph Conrad about my world travels is pretty pretentious. There will be no Heart of Darkness style navigation into the haunted inner workings of the human psyche. It won’t be an expose of the hypocrisy of Western colonialism.
It is in fact, a blog with a simple purpose. It is a chance for me to put down in words my thoughts and feelings as I embark on a stint of world travel. I can’t remember the first time I read the above quote from Conrad – a quote that struck a chord with its simple message and evocative imagery. As I embark on what I hope will be a year or two of travel I can only hope that I get a chance to do the things that Conrad’s text brings to mind. To sit and talk with people I have never met around camp fires, by the sea, on riverside docks, in peaceful forests and in a hundred other places that I can’t even imagine yet.
Of course, I could have just as easily called the blog ‘The Passing Wind’ and while that might more accurately reflect the content of my posts, it didn’t really set the tone that I was going for. I am hoping that the blog can, like the stirring leaf, be a witness to the futile tale of the burden of life.
Categories: About Me
Tags: quotes, Travel