Mandalay to Mrauk U Bus
From Mandalay to Mrauk U – 19hours. This part was ok and not as bad as we thought it would be. Once we had sorted the problem of the destination being lost in translation (the woman we were buying the ticket from thought we said Nyaung-U which is in Bagan! Mrauk U is pronounced Meow OO), we got to the bus stop late after the taxi being held up in traffic and got shouted at by the bus station co-ordinator, for not having passport copies. First and last bus in Myanmar that really left on time! We had stocked up on plenty of snacks from the modern supermarket in Mandalay and as usual food kept us nicely distracted a lot of the time.
- Don’t be late for check in, you’ll get shouted at
- Plentiful toilet stops
- Hot (it was an ‘aircon’ bus)
- Air Con from nature
- Wear a sports bra (and don’t take it off until you leave Mrauk U and are safely back in Yangon)
- Don’t look out of the window if you’re scared of falling down a mountain.
- Take a light for the toilet stops, unless you are happy to guess where the hole is and potentially piss down your own leg.
- It is a very bumpy road, some bits it’s just sand, other parts dirt track, never really a proper road. In fact most of the road is still in piles at the side of the ‘road’.
Just because you’ve paid over the odds for the ticket don’t expect comfort or luxury. It’s expensive, and its shitty. But we got there.
However once you start getting closer to Mrauk U there is amazing morning scenery for you to enjoy out the window as you drive through the little towns – kids with lily pad umbrellas, people going around their daily life and the most beautiful haze over the mountains.
The ‘road’ from Mandalay to Mrauk U – mostly gravel
The bus from Mrauk U to Yangon literally falling apart
The scary boss lady with the megaphone who greets you and waves you off
Mrauk U to Yangon Bus – 27 of the worst hours ever!
It. Was. Awful. From the moment we bought the ticket to the moment we stepped off the bus in Yangon. So I will start from the beginning, you might want to get comfy, this is a long story…
It started with a bus scam… tired of being feeling constantly ripped off we thought we would outwit the guy at our hotel reception and instead of him getting the extra commission for getting our bus ticket we decided to go direct to the bus station and get it ourselves. We were outwitted, he sent us to the wrong bus station! Well it was’t wrong, we still managed to get a bus ticket to Yangon, but we managed to waste time, energy and money by doing it this way.
The bus station is a couple of km’s out of the main township and you need a 3000kyat taxi to get there. They don’t have the same strict time enforcements for buses in Mrauk U like in Mandalay, after waiting an hour past the expected bus time we were finally on the bus and ready to start the long journey, getting comfortable and with a couple of travel-sickness pills popped we sat back, relaxed… for 5 minutes! When the bus came to a halt just a few minutes walk from our hotel where we had been dropped off the first time! Time for a rest break! We were ushered off and waited around the restaurant opposite the Nawarat Hotel for 15 minutes before the journey really started!
SO, make sure you DO NOT go to the bus station for your ticket in this instance, just get it for a bit extra in the town and get the bus from there, we ended up spending more in the long run and wasting more time.
Now the journey finally began… as did everybodies travel sickness, especially the woman in the seat in front of me. She was voming for a full hour before she didn’t have anything more to bring up. That isn’t the worst bit. We had an ‘aircon from nature’ bus again, all the windows were open, the woman was vomiting out the window, the wind was blowing just the right way for all this vomit to land directly in my window and on the floor in front of me and on my chair. The remainder of the trip was spent half on Philipps lap. At the first opportunity I gave the vomitting lady some travel sickness pills, she must have really been feeling desperately ill as she took them without having a clue what they really were, just a stranger giving her pills. But lucky for both of us they worked and she was knocked out for the next 20 something hours.
I’m rambling so I will just summarise the rest of the journey:
- No toilet stops meant squatting at the side of the road in traffic jam in front of a few buses of people.
- The bus pretty much fell apart – chairs, engine, all sorts of bits were falling off.
- No food stops
- Keep wearing that sports bra it is still bumpy.
- Don’t eat the pineapple at the restaurant before boarding the bus, or infact any citrus fruit, it makes you more travel sick!
- Plenty of security check points
- Yangon traffic