Most people would consider missing their bus to cross the border to be annoying. I found it to be absolutely infuriating since the Uber I ordered ended up arriving 20 minutes than scheduled. We were up at the crack of dawn to pack our last things in and had at least an hour to kill in which we got a coffee and croissant while waiting for our Uber. This fucking Uber was giving me an ulcer. Any other day in Chiang Mai, I wouldn’t have given two fucks if it were late 10 minutes – but the day where it actually mattered, goddamn.
So yeah, we missed our 6 hour bus to Mae Sot by 15 minutes. The next bus would be in 4 hours. Okay. Okay. Okay. Be cool Val. Don’t lose your shit because something didn’t go your way. Especially not in front of someone you barely know and will be travelling with for the next month. Don’t show all your crazy on day 1.
The 6 hour ride ended up being not so bad. It was an air conditioned coach bus. Rust had eaten around 25% of the bus exterior but I mean as long as it got us to where we needed to go, that’s all we really needed. Arriving into Mae Sot at around 8pm, we got a taxi to Picturebook Guesthouse. This place was everything from a fairy tale. Lush, green garden out front, we were greeted with a beautiful, modern bed to spend the night.
This is literally the perfect place for a couple. We weren’t a couple but it was romantic AF. We woke up to birds chirping, a little light coming in, and to the smell of fresh coffee and bread. Not being in a rush, we took our time, had a lovely Western breakfast on the front porch and basked in the sun a little bit longer before walking across the border.
Once we crossed the Bridge into Myawaddy, Myanmar, you can drastically tell the difference between Thailand and Myanmar. Buildings were more rundown. The roads were hectic. There was shouting. There were people spitting this red stuff on the ground.
Woah – Easing into the day just got super real. With only a 150 USD on each of us. We needed to exchange it to Burmese Kyat asap. We walked into the first bank, completely sweaty and with our backpacks on, and the Bank teller walks to us to say that they do not have any more cash in their ATM.
What? That actually happens?
Okay. Next place… the money exchange right across the street. Avoid this place. The exchange rate is probably the worst I’ve seen. Walking 2 blocks further, there were more banks for us to withdraw the much needed Kyats to get to our next destination.
Timo negotiated a share taxi for us after we got our money. This is probably the easiest way to get around Myanmar and it consists of a small sedan that regularly fits 5 comfortably. There were probably 9 people in this car. We wanted to head to the coast but didnt know how long it’d take… so, here goes – an adventure in a random person’s car with 7 other locals in 40 degree Celsius heat. (don’t tell my mom!)
This ended up being a 6 hour drive on unpaved dirt road.
Initially the driver wanted me to sit up front with him and 3 other people. No thanks. The thing that surprised me the most was how many security checks there were. Just guards set up in these huts to check for identification and they kept asking for our passport. We were nervous for sure – what if they kept our passport!? (I’m a stress case if you haven’t noticed.) Alas, all was well.
It was a long mother fucking journey but I was in good spirits. I mean, I woke up in this picturesque fantasyland with a delightful breakfast. Nothing was going to ruin that. Not 40 degree heat. Not being squished into a car. And definitely not knowing the idea when we’d arrive to our destination.
16:00 arrival into Mawlamyine. We were dropped on the side of a major road in this new town where we were going to stay for the night and explore. Aimlessly wandering up the broken up and dusty sidewalk, we approached the only foreigner we saw to see if he knew any good place to stay around here and maybe give some tips on what to see. He was this old white guy buying some bananas from a fruit shop vendor.
30 seconds into the conversation, Timo and I knew that this guy was weird. We gave each other a look much like this:
The old man was a nut job factor 8.5.
With the 30 seconds of talking to the old man, he was like:
“You need to get out of here. It is not nice. I’ve been to Myanmar 10 years ago and I’m back here and I’ve stayed at most of the guest houses here. It is not nice. Get out.”
Uhmm.. Okay after a long mf-ing day in a car and not knowing where to sleep, this is what we’re met with. If we don’t stay in Mawlamyine, where the F were we going to go?
Old man: “I’m going to Dawei. It is in the South – they just opened up that area about 2 years ago. I’m waiting for my bus right now… now, where is the bus station… It was just here around the corner…”
Not job factor is now at a solid 9.2.
We heeded his advice and decided to get out of Mawlamyine – which indeed didn’t look that interesting and caught a 6 hour night bus to Dawei. I prayed to god that one of us doesn’t murder the other by the end of DAY 1 in Myanmar. This is a lot of time to spend with someone in a very confined space.
We’d be arriving at 3 am. What a great time to arrive in a brand new town with no accomodation… Hm… What ended up happening is being stuck in a 10-person mini van that had at least 15 people – including those sitting on stools in the aisle (those seats really suck) and loud Burmese music blasted in the speakers and obnoxious music videos accompanying it.
Cool….. cool… cool…