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Bombs, railways and failure

Extreme travel setbacks

In the north of Myanmar, there is a lake that is rumored to be unvisited by most tourists. Its water is pure and clear, and the climate is mild compared to the heat of the rest of the country. After floating down the Arrawaddy River for a few days, I made it my mission to bath in its waters.

Setbacks are normally abundant with seat-of-the-pants traveling, but this trip took it to the extreme. After getting to the train station after an incredibly bumpy tuk-tuk ride, I bought my ticket to a town called Hoopin. From there, the idea was to take a truck for three hours over bumpy mountain roads, and be in the presence of the beautiful lake by noon the next day. The overnight train was supposed to leave between 8-10 p.m., and I had arrived at 6 to make sure I'd catch it.

After being hustled by a drunken elderly man, sleeping for a few hours, and generally being miserable, the train finally arrived at 12 a.m. I packed up my stuff and hopped on as quickly as I could. I found a seat next to the window, set my alarm for five hours from that point, and passed out. Around three hours later, though,  I awoke to realize we still hadn’t left the station.

The story goes that the tracks north of Naba had been blown up by rebels, and although they were being rebuilt, the trains would be off schedule for days. This had occurred a few days in a row, so the schedule was completely off. With my fight being four days from this point, and the trip taking a day and a half total, my noble quest had come to an end.