Backpacker Moments: Adventure Outtakes Part 2

A collection of the moments that make you cringe. And help you remember everything in travel is not Instagram-ready.

Electric Motorbikes
The motorbikes in Bagan are more much more powerful than the ones in Siem Reap. I feel like we’ve already covered what an excellent driver I am, so naturally, nothing could possibly go wrong.

Driving the motorbike through Bagan was amazing – going down the roads at 40 km/h with the sun out was fantastic. And then you go off the main road and onto the dirt paths. By dirt paths, what they really mean is sand paths.

Deep sand paths.

Driving over them was always an adventure. There were some well-trodden paths that were quite packed down, but a significant number of the roads had deep sand that could send you fishtailing in a matter of seconds. Even the packed-down roads could have a spot of sand. And then there were the rocks. Those could also pop up from anywhere and make you lose control.

We’ve also already gone over how the main attraction in Bagan is watching the sun rise. So every morning, about 4:45, I hopped on my bike to go find my sunrise spot. The best sunrise spots aren’t packed with other people, so you want one off the road well-traveled.

It was pitch black and I had my motorbike’s weak light to guide my path. When suddenly, I went sideways. Yes, friends, I did indeed crash my motorbike. Luckily (very lucky) I was going slowly and so was not hurt, picked myself up and kept going.

The motorbike’s weak light continued to not be great in the pre-dawn hours, and as I was heading down the path after picking myself and my bike up from the spill, a rock appeared out of nowhere.

And why yes, I did actually crash my motorbike twice in the space of 15 minutes.

I was lucky both times and ended up with some great bruises to show for it, but otherwise I was intact!

Night Bus
I took my first-ever night bus to get to Inle Lake from Bagan. I booked the VIP bus (at the very VIP cost of about $9) and had a nice reclining seat, and I was the only one in my row. I didn’t think it would be too bad, though I didn’t know how well I’d sleep on the bus. I was also a bit concerned about my stomach – this was, after all, the night bus of the morning of the bush.

I was pleased because come about 11pm, I was able to get some shut-eye, and I was feeling confident about my ability to get more. And, I was feeling pretty good overall. Even though the driver was honking the horn quite loudly and out of the blue every 15 minutes.

Also, if you’re ever in Myanmar: don’t sit in the front seat of the VIP bus. It’s great because there’s no one to recline on you. But then you have to see how the bus is being driven. And you see the oncoming lights the bus is honking at.

So I’m in and out of consciousness, trying to sleep as much as possible. We make it to about 1am.

And then someone on the bus started retching with the loudest vomiting sounds I have ever heard. For not one, but two and a half hours. I felt so bad for whoever it was, but can’t say it was doing great things for my own stomach.

Apparently other people felt the same way. Because by about 3am, there were probably four people puking on the bus.

I made it through without incident, thank goodness. The whole time, because it was my first night bus, I didn’t know whether or not this frequently happens. I was thinking that just for the sounds, I might take my risks with Myanmar Air and fly the next leg.

Once I got to Inle Lake, I shared this with a few of my friends. You guessed it – this is NOT a normal occurrence on the night bus. In fact, they had all been taking night busses while traveling for years and never had the luck to have a situation like mine on the bus.

Go figure.

Also, I did take the night bus from Inle to Yangon. No retching.

Compensation
The men wear skirts here. Only they’re called longyi, and they’re traditional dress. I can certainly understand why – it’s so hot in the summer, and wearing something that isn’t pants is definitely nice.

However, one of the things that makes me laugh is that for men, the longyi is tied in the front with a knot. For some men, the knot is small and tight, for others it’s loose and large, and for still others it’s long and skinny. I have no personal experience with any correlation between longyi knotting and compensation for other factors, but I’m opening the speculation.

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