story and photos by Paul Ross
Getting to Myanmar (Burma) is a trip, but getting around while in-country can be an adventure.
During 18 days of travel, we rode in human-pedaled trishaws, rickety horse-drawn carriages, vintage trains, and boats of every imaginable size, shape and color. Squeezed into crowded truck-busses, we joined indigenous commuters, and used the smattering of Burmese phrases we picked up along the way to interact and become part of their day. In turn, they became part of our memories.
Much more than transportation, these conveyances provided an intimate glimpse of everyday life, a profound sense of place, and an authentic connection to this rapidly changing country.
Traveling with Eldertreks, an adventure travel company for travelers 50 and older, my wife, Judie, and I were able to step outside the tourist bubble and travel with the locals.
Here's the visual proof.
An old converted bicycle, with its five-inch seat not constructed with wide-beamed Americans in mind, and a bumpy dirt road make for a colorful experience, especially if you add in the black and blue marks on your backside. The peddler/driver's friend rode along, balancing on the bike's peg, as either a human GPS or a spare "engine." Far from "the days of Raj" luxury (the Brits colonized Myanmar as well as India), the trishaw is a practical taxi in a bustling, developing country and ––like all taxis everywhere–– it's best to negotiate the fare in advance of the trip. You want to help the local economy but--