I have a confession to make.
Today I cheated.
After sleeping in a monastery at the top of Mt. Zwegabin, it was time to go down the approximate 2,000 steps and see where the road would bring me. The hitchhiking feeling was exploding inside of me.
The main goal was reaching Yangon, former capital of Myanmar, around 300km apart from Hpa-An, but thanks to the condition of the roads it is an 8 or 9 hours trip. Anywhere on that direction would be great to me, so at 11am I was with my backpack, a flag of Myanmar (that one guy working in the hostel gave me as I did not have it yet), and the conscious certain that it would be a long day.
A few meters from the guesthouse I waved to the first car passing and a middle aged man stopped for me. He was not going to Yangon, but to his restaurant, even though I accepted the ride just for a few kilometers.
The sequence of facts next left me again without reaction. The man with short hair, dirty and redish teeth (due to the mixture of leaf, tobacco and other components they chew), and longyi (sort of dress used by both men and women) said I could not go further that way. It was too far, too hot and uncertain that I would reach.
Well, I heard it many times during my short hitchhike career, and suddenly he offered to buy me a bus ticket. Quickly and politely I denied the act. That’s not how it is supposed to work, but as fast as I did, he said he was going to buy it and all I could do was to allow him, because it would make him happy.
Again I interfered and made the point that he had already helped me a lot. However, the decision was made and I could not fight anymore against it.
My new Burmese friend took me by his hand to the other side of the road and bought the ticket for the next hour. All I had to do was waiting, but more surprises were to come.
His staff prepared the biggest and more delicious chicken fried noodles for me. A plate for now and a parcel for the way, together with a bottle of water and a Coca Cola.
My debt to the universe is going to its limits.
The bus was supposed to arrive at 13:30 in front of the restaurant. Time was passing and no sign of my transportation. At 14:00 I decided to ask in the ticket office what was going on.
Even without a mutual understanding, due to our linguistic difference, it was possible to notice on her face and gestures that the bus was gone a long ago. I called my benefactor to help with the translation and my fears became true. The driver did not stop to pick me up.
Another bus would come in 3 hours, but it would be an eternity, as I had a journey of 8 hours to face. I had to start moving as soon as possible.
I asked if it was possible for a refund, as I did not want to leave my friend like this. Money back and hitchhiking again.
I cannot forget to mention the photo session with all family, staff and friends of the local who got my respect, admiration and friendship. Trust all over.
I was still a few kilometers to the main road, so a small ride would be convenient, but nobody seemed to understand my problem.
Some drivers told me, with a smile on their faces, that they were not taxis. Others said the bus station was on the other direction.
It was then when a mass of happy and curious locals surrounded me. Questions, smiles and talks about buses all over.
Please, I just want a ride to the main road.
When I was losing hope a bike with already two guys offered me the lift.
Roller coaster of life, pure and simple, especially when riding an old motorbike with 3 people and a big backpack.
The driver asked me if I was hungry, in case he would feed me (those were his words).
Feeling awesome again, a stop by the Police. Say I will not be arrested. I did not do anything wrong. Don’t hurt me, Mr Policeman. Friendly he asked my passport and where I was going, recommendig the same bus at 18:00.
I started explaining how I have been traveling all around Southeast Asia, hoping he would set me free. All he did was smiling and pointing a chair for me to sit.
Confused and without knowing how to act, I have been told that a bus was coming, and that no money would be necessary. On his own words : “I help you, you happy me”
And the big orange, with just locals, and with air conditioning bus came, not late in the evening, but in the next 15 minutes.
Can I call it hitchhiking a bus, or did I definitely cheat?
All I know is that people are amazing!
This entry was posted in Asia