Sunday, August 8, 2010

No speedometer but a string of prayer beads...

There was also a range of various Buddhist and Hindu deities displayed in all of their flashing light glory above the rear view mirror ensuring safe passage as the driver hammered along the narrow road. From my standing position in the aisle I couldn’t really see what was going on, but I could sure as hell feel how fast we were cornering and caught glimpses down through the windows of all of the tuk tuks and carts that we were overtaking. Mostly on blind corners.
People were puking out of the windows, mums were breast-feeding, there were bags of stuff from the market everywhere, a tyre blew out and had to be changed on the roadside and we were joined for a few miles by a couple of soldiers toting AK47’s, hitching a ride up the road to the next check point.
Just a few of the myriad sights you get to see when you put your life in the hands of a local bus driver.
Your board bag will either have been stuffed through an open window and wedged in the aisle, or strapped onto the roof alongside a cage of chickens. A friend of mine once had a trussed up live goat tied to his boardbag on the roof of a bus in Nicaragua.
In almost every “developing” nation in the world, where the car hasn’t yet become an everyday, often unnecessary, “necessity”, buses compete with mopeds as the primary form of transport. You’ll see a lot more on a couple of hours ride on a local bus, meet more interesting people and generally step down at your destination a lot more grateful to still be alive.
It’ll take a lot longer, be a hell of a lot more uncomfortable and probably be terrifying. But it’s heaps cheap, and a million times more interesting than a taxi.

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