Thankfully, it’s quite difficult to find all the Burmese hits on the internet…but here’s a taste of what we’ve been subjected to over the last three weeks…it needs to be played at distortion-level to be fully appreciated:
Having traveled through Bolivia, Nicaragua, China, Laos and Cambodia I feel my opinion on the matter of excruciatingly painful bus journeys carries extra weight. I’ve endured 18 hour, 196km long crawls in the Bolivian lowlands; chewed my fingers down to the second knuckle as a Peruvian taxi driver careened around blind corners on mountain passes; gotten intimate with overweight Nicaraguan ladies as 160 people were crammed into a 60-seater chicken bus; and suffered the dare-devil, suicidal speed-freak fleet of Cambodian minivan drivers.
It is with all this in mind that I want you to listen to what I’m about to say: Burmese bus rides are hands-down the world’s worst. It’s not the quality of the roads (average, but better than you’d expect), the quality of the buses themselves (again, average but with less spitting than China and less barnyard animals than anywhere in Latin America), or even the drivers (in fact, Myanmar people are among the most cautious drivers in Asia. They display an almost freakish regard for human life).
The one thing that elevates Burmese bus journeys from simply shit to truly unendurable is the onboard entertainment. I never thought I’d say this but I’d kill for some Bolivian love ballads, ear-drum rupturing salsa music or even kitschy Chinese soap operas.
Because anything….ANYTHING, is better than execrable Burmese pop music. Anything, that it, except Burmese telemovies. And it’s not just bad…it’s LOUD!!! So loud that even two 10mg valium and Martijn’s speed metal can’t compete. And while even Latin Americans turn down the salsa/cumbia/reggaeton for overnight trips, the Burmese just stick another wad of betel nut in their cheek and crank that shit up.
I’ve tried not to let these torture marathons colour my perception of the country overall, but from the first moment I step on a Burmese bus all rational thought flies out the window and only a murderous, seething hatred of Myanmar and everything in it remains.