So… I was involved in a motorbike crash today!
Now that I have your attention, let me bore you with the mundane and the rest of the bog standard day before and after this event.
The buffet breakfast at the hotel was massive. There was cereals, omelette station, fruit, noodle soup station, fried rice/veg/meat and a French toast and cake selection. Without being gluttonous we still waddled upstairs to get our bags and down the street towards the bus station. We took the more direct route in daylight hours up and over the hill and around the monastery compound compared to yesterday’s long detour on the main road. With Myanmar people sometimes trying to be more friendly and helpful than is necessary, we found a bus that would ‘get’ us to Kyaikto from where we could get to Kinpun. An oddity and a treat to the passengers and passerby, we were seated in a normal local bus, with no one speaking a word of English and only screen shots of the Golden Rock and bad pronunciations of the town giving us any reassurance that we were heading in the right direction. The journey was typically slow and and nothing of significance happened. We were then told to come with the conductor who brought us and our bag out of the bus and put us on a pick-up truck. Not really sure what or why… but our screenshots and helpful locals assured us that we were heading in the right direction. The transfer was only to speed us further along in our journey when we could see the bus pull in for a lunch stop.So, we now find ourselves at the junction up to Kinpun, with the motorbike taxis assuring us that we would be able to buy bus tickets to Yangon at the main town and didn’t need to worry about it here at the main road. Bag reshuffling and slung over our shoulders, we were off again on another mini adventure.
On a relatively straight bit of road, no roads merging from the side, no hills, dips or bridge, nothing really out of the ordinary, another bike came in diagonally from the left and clipped the front of the bike I was on, rubbed wheels for a split second and then carried on veering right off the road in to the mud where he wobbled for a bit and then got back on the main road. I screamed like a maniac, the bike wobbling but the amazing taxi driver keeping it upright even when I grabbed him roughly on the left side of his chest. He must have been a bit shocked too cause we slowed down briefly before his brain had realised we were in a crash and his bike was damaged. Thus, the chase began…
From motoring along at 60kph (one of the only bikes that had a speedometer working) we were up to 80 in our pursuit of catching our assailant. We passed Katherine and her driver and gave him a signal that he understood (a.k.a. I’m on the hunt, follow me). The motorbike didn’t stop the first time we caught up to him. The next time I was signalling myself for him to stop, my driver now furious and speeding down the road at 90, over the bridges, round the bends and up the hills. I didn’t think the bike could go that fast and in the moment I was equally exhilarated by the adrenaline and terrified at the thought of falling off (without a helmet, in a country/area with limited English). But, when the bike finally did stop and I managed to get off, the adrenaline really kicked in.
Katherine arrived soon after – not sure why they drove at the same speed – and her driver was concerned for us both, while mine started arguing with the driver of the other bike and his father passenger for the damage he had caused to his bike – completely splitting the fibreglass casing at the front. I was now starting to shake like a leaf and couldn’t even bring myself to take the bags off.
The tourist police happened to pass by. His wife was on the back of his bike and by now we were gathering a nice crowd at the side of the road causing a nuisance to passing traffic and coaches. He drew attention to the fact that a tourist was involved in the incident and that was the first (and only) time my driver looked at me. There was wads of cash being waved around in the air, arguments and, probably, only for the presence of two tourists and the police, there would have been a full on fight. We were escorted in presidential fashion to town where the drivers continued arguing even while we paid them and the officer checked where we were staying and if we were ok to walk the rest of the way, keeping them at the station. I think should there have been further complications he wanted a witness statement, hence checking our hotel name several times. I was now beginning to feel pretty tired, the rush draining from me slowly but surely.
With a nice triple room offered to us instead of being sent 2km out of town to our bungalow (win-win) we strolled around town so that I could calm down and not be so jittery. So, naturally, I convinced Katherine to go in to the other goals of the game of football the kids were having on the street. 10mins of mayhem and foolish foreigner antics had the kids in hysterics where we left them with massive smiles and a new crazy sort of game. Picked up a sugary lollipop before sorting out cameras and SD cards, then a really nice dinner downstairs. The new version of King Kong was on the tv and we finished watching it in the room – the graphics and CGI being so fake and out of date already. Eventful day and not surprising that it took me a long time to fall asleep.
Saturday 4th June 2016