I’ve waxed poetic about the friendliness of the Burmese people, the delicious soups on offer and the sheer vastness of the central plains and their zedi-covered glory. But it is also important to mention a more uncomfortable side to trolling around this complex country: the actual ‘getting around’ part.

Before I left for Burma, friends warned me that I needed to build in extra time for transportation. Not for the actual transporting part, but for the recovery required thereafter. And while I did find that listening to The Cat Empire’s full discography made the bus rides I was on less obviously painful, there is no denying the bumpy, freezing, music-drowned nights were a lot less than pleasant than some others in Asia. Of course, adventures in transportation are an integral part of any traveler’s story repertoire, and well more interesting than a posh, seamless ride from A to B. Especially when your usual bus station looks like this:

… replete with monks, goats, cows and the requisite ‘lady selling oranges from the basket atop her head.’ The older Burmese women on the bus would buy bags of the oranges and I quickly learned that smelling the peel during the worst of the hairpin curves helped to quell my nausea. An important lesson to learn when taking tiny buses through winding roads in the middle of the Shan foothills.

The 5 Worst Bus Rides in Burma:

1. Yangon to Mandalay:

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  • Jodi Ettenberg

    Born in Montreal, Canada, Jodi Ettenberg is a former new media and technology lawyer who quit her job after 5+ years of working…

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