My bus trip to Bago goes a bit wrong

local market near Thai border in Myanmar

Gradually I am nearing the end of my journey in Myanmar. And it has to be said, the adventure is becoming more exciting and more nerve-cracking at the same time. It starts in the morning with the bus; I clearly indicated and paid for a bus trip to Bago. When I get on the bus, I end up next to a priest. Fairly quickly, we start chatting. He wants to know where I am going, so  I tell him I am on my way to the Golden Rock Pagoda with a stopover in Bago. 3 hours later – I was already wondering why the ride lasts that long – we seem to have passed that city for a long time already.

bus trip to Myanmar: children in front of local school

Near the Thai border

local market in Myanmar

In the meantime, I almost reached the Thai border, which is a forbidden area for tourists. It appears there are frequent skirmishes here with rebellious ethnic tribes. As a Burmese fellow traveler clarifies, this is an ambush area. When the mistake becomes clear, I get assisted immediately. Without having to pay, I need to make a bus trip to Bago in the opposite direction. As a result, I arrive in Bago at 2 p.m. Not a problem in itself, and I have not experienced anything disturbing. But as I will find out later, it is indicative of the region in which I am traveling.

waiting for the bus to Bago

Sleeping accommodation is rather shabby in Bago

According to the travel guide, the place to stay in Bago is a motel where they provide thorough travel information. However, my trishaw driver tells me that this is just about the dirtiest guesthouse in the city. After inspecting 3 rooms, I have to admit that these are the most miserable and dirty places I have encountered on my journey so far. So I do not need any persuasion from my driver to take me to another guesthouse where they show me a more expensive place which I decide to rent.

Air conditioning only working limited hours

Later in the day, I learn that the air conditioning only works from 11 pm. Luckily I still have a working fan, the temperature in this city is darn hot. And it does not end with this malfunction. The lighting and other electrical facilities are also reduced; only the emergency lighting functions, the rest just as well after 11 pm, when everyone is already sleeping. This is another example – as I already experienced in Yangon – of Myanmar clearly having serious issues with electric power supplies.

Arranging a trip in Bago for tomorrow

My trishaw driver appears to guide tourists on a motorcycle. We agree to meet again a little later to listen to his proposals for a trip in the area of Bago. He offers me an almost full-day program. It all sounds pretty good and with decent background information. His price is also reasonable, so I decide to hire his services tomorrow. After all, I do trust the guy, as earlier in the day he correctly informed me about the condition of the guesthouses in town.

Better to stay sober tonight

For dinner, I go to the nearby Burmese style dining room. Both the few tourists and some locals come to eat here, and the last group especially drinks beer and rum. I doubt whether I am going to venture on the rum either, but I wisely return to my room at half-past seven. I am fortunate that I did not have to undergo this bus trip to Bago at the start of the journey, as it could have dampened my overall impression of the journey.