I’ve been traveling through Burma with fellow expedition athletes Emily Harrington, Renan Ozturk, mark Jenkins, Cory Richards and Taylor Rees for over a week. Our overland journey from south to north is nearly coming to an end. That is, we start using only leg power in a few days and I can hardly wait. While we’ve had an amazing journey starting in Rangoon, I am road weary.
So far we have gone from Rangoon to Bagan by an overnight local bus- pretty exhausting and cramped but at least the roads were decent. When I say cramped though, no joke, the aisle was lined with plastic seats so that there was no aisle- just five people per row straight across. In Bagan we stayed at the most amazing hotel right in the Irawaddy river with a pool and tons of open space. We cruised around town on electric scooters to check out a few of the thousands of temples and pagodas.
Next we clambered aboard a taxi boat on the Irrawaddy at 5am for a nearly 14 hour chug upriver to Mandalay. In stark contrast to the bus, the boat was sparsley populated and we weren’t the only non-locals aboard. Mandalay was, like Rangoon, a big city with incredible sights. Emily and I went for a 5 am run (the only time it wasn’t scorching hot) around the Mandalay Palace. We hiked Mandalay Hill later in the day in crazy heat and humidity. Our second morning we hired a small local boat to motor us across the Irrawaddy to a famously unfinished pagoda in the town of Mingun.
That was only yesterday but it already seems like eons ago. The next leg of our journey was a 20 hour train ride from Mandalay to Myitkyina that was only comparable to a 15 hour drive I did once from the Indian Himalayan to New Delhi. Complete and utter misery. Terrifying because the train was hopping so intensely along the tracks that I thought we were going to fly off the rails. Dirty and smelly of old urine. Infested with spiders so much so that the top two bunks were rendered inhabitable forcing four of us to squeeze onto two beds lower down. It was so insane that it’s impossible for me to even do justice to the misery with words on paper.
Alas, we survived. Only Cory lost his phone when he almost was bucked off the train. We are all safely ensconced in a hotel in Myitkyina preparing for the final leg of our overland travel- a flight to putao tomorrow afternoon. From there we will adventure with one final mode of transportation before using our legs for the remainder of our journey- two days on motorcycles.
I was looking for an adventure with this expedition and, lo and behold, that is what we are all getting!