Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Myanmar: Bus to Bagan

The Bus to Bagan, December 10th {notes from journal}

A few years ago, I consulted with a writing coach and at that point in time, most of my travel writing consisted of horrible tales about bus transport. She told me that people don't like to read about bus travel... it's miserable in and of itself, why should anyone want to read about it? She told me it's also been done a million times before. Finally she said, "Cheryn, get off the bus!" (if only I could afford to do that). So here I am, on the brink of a narration that is all about a horrid bus ride. But it's a large part of travel, bus rides, and so I feel that I must subject you to the tale. That's the beauty of writing (and reading) as opposed to a real conversation, though... it's not impolite to ignore me... to skip over the story if you choose to do so. I'll never know.

The bus to Bagan was, hands down, the worst bus ride we've ever taken -- namely -- the seats were as wide as my ears are apart from each other. I have what they call 'child bearing hips'... that is to say, they are much wider than my ears are apart from each other. I think you get the drift... I could barely fit my ass into the seat. They were also hard and erect like a cement church pew (I know what you were thinking... you and your dirty similes... let the church reference be atonement for impure thoughts).

As we bounced along the road -- me squashed in by the window, trying to sit at an angle to give poor Benjamin more seat space -- he 1/2 on and 1/2 off the seat, butt cheeks against an iron bar, knees wedged under the seat in front of us, feet fighting for space with the passenger on the stool in the aisle, I looked at his glowering face and his expression said it all: "I've had about enough of these bus journies." I fear this one will drive him to be a suitcase traveler in the future, the sort who fly everywhere.

From the window (with my cheek smashed against it, I had a good view): ancient looking villages, horse drawn carriages (outside of the cities, this is common form of transport), a flat brown and green landscape dotted with sugar palms that eventually turns scrubby and desert-like with gullies and scruffy grass and cactus (it reminds me of places in the American Southwest). Fields of sunflowers, patches of corn, harvested rice fields... 8 hours later we have arrived in Bagan.

Bus journies are always the most difficult endeavors -- the most painful -- the most rigorous -- the most [fill in the blank with your most stringent idea of misery] -- of all forms of travel. And it won't be our last in Myanmar. We've arrived in Bagan and while here, I am redecorating my 'happy place' for the next bus ride. I am installing plush carpeting and fluffy pillows. There will be men clad in skimpy togas fanning me with swan feathers. There will be a fountain built of and spewing chocolate and sculptures made of ice cream (these foods always make things OK). And finally, there will be a waterproof, velveteen lounge upon which I will float around an indoor pool filled with lavender scented water (lavender is soothing). This is where I will go about 2 hours into the journey -- Benjamin will have a 4-inch gold plated key to my 'happy place' in the event he chooses to join me. I've decided to install a waterslide made of motherboards that ends in a giant bucket of beer to suit his needs.


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