A hitch hikers guide to Myanmar

Having spent a short time with a pronounced hitch hiker, a guy that solemnly used that form of transportation wherever he was, and where ever he was going, in the world. From street corners of his home town to the endless miles across Siberian Russia. Through African deserts and Malaysian highlands. Years and years of travelling, side by side with strangers with or without a common language. Sharing unconditionally. The different modes of travelling, like couch surfing, work away, wwoofing, are very familiar to me. I have no problems relying on strangers in new territory and I enjoy the openness and instant trust you need to give – and that you will receive. Though I was still new to the concept, one of the oldest mode of travelling there is, of hitch hiking. It is something taboo about hitching rides with strangers, and it’s funny, it has even a worse reputation than couch surfing, which should be even more “dangerous” or “risky”. Sure, you never know who’s gonna stop and pick you up, and where they gonna take you. There’s no reference system with hitch hiking, you only have to trust your guts.

First time I stuck my thumb out, waving for the car to slow down, I felt a bit light headed, like throwing myself off a cliff. First car passed by, disappointment. Second car stopped. Butterfly-belly! Being invited in, listening to local radio, pretending to chew local sausage (while hiding it in my backpack in the dark) and conversing in our own languages, not understanding each other but still laughing about it. They drove me all the way to the door, and just like that, they had saved my ass – for nothing more than a smile in exchange. Realising, this could be it, this could be both cheap and rewarding I soon had the golden opportunity to learn about the full fledged joys of hitchhiking.

During the Thingyam festival, the biggest holiday of Myanmar, all the buses and mode of transportation are cancelled or limited. Travelling during that week is by no means easy, but still, a challenge I gladly accepted! With google maps in my hand I kinda knew where I was gonna go – I just didn’t know how to get there. The first car stopped, drove me safely all the way to my goal. That was easy. Decided on making this my mode of transport for the next few days, I teamed up with a travel partner and set off. Our success did not lie in reaching the actual destination – we did get there, just not how and when we intended. With different rides we ended up far off the beaten track, tiny towns with no tourists, switching cars, everyone involved in finding us the next ride. Families and couples, buying us lunch and guarding over our presumably lost souls until we could find a ride to our next place. Carrying our bags, offering water, drinks, snacks, all stemming from the simple kindness of a uncorrupted peoples culture. Loving kindness. It made me again realise how much I love the travelling part of travelling. The roads, the towns, the people actually living ordinary, extraordinary, lives. The things you will never see while catching a flight.

The dangers of hitch hiking are alluring. Once you realise the generosity and possibilities of peoples kindness it will keep you in its grip. It will enchant you, and prove to you, over and over again, that when you look into people’s hearts, there is gold. Pure gold. And you will be kept under its spell, have it surprise you and fall in love.

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