Guys, I almost got murdered today.
Myanmar is still very much a developing country. According to the United Nations, the country ranks 145 out of 188 countries and sits between Pakistan and Angola on a scale of Human Development. I don’t even know what that means. Aren’t all countries still developing? Even Norway, which is ranked number one, still has a King and Queen. So they still have a long way to go, too.
The streets are dirty and strewn with trash. Last time I was here I got violently ill with aggressively angry ass-diarrhea. That’s not redundant. I believe my ass was actually bazooka-ing liquefied parts of its own self into the world. Check out a pretty standard looking Yangon building:
And that is a nice one, even as it looks like I hit it with several blasts of my ass-diarrhea.
But the people are wonderful. Just amazing. The staff at my hotel were beyond helpful and always with a smile.
So it was with great confusion that I witnessed my taxi driver depart the (semi) paved street en route to the airport, and turn off onto a dirt road. At first I thought maybe he knew a way around the traffic in this particular intersection.
Nope, the road kept meandering away from view of any buildings or roads or cars and into a shanty town of ersatz shelters, lean-tos and other improvised dwellings. The road, if you can call it that, became narrower than one lane, the taxi bouncing off rocks and ditches. Not that it mattered, because soon we were the only vehicle around.
As it appeared these were my last moments before I was shepherded out of the cab and into a proof-of-life video, I quietly unzipped my backpack. Reaching around, I pulled out my 6-foot length of USB charging cable and my Compass iPad stand. Because I’m like a Navy SEAL. Except I’m not in the Navy and I have no training and I’m not a badass and certainly not a SEAL. More like an OTTER (Obtuse Tourist Traveling Everywhere Recklessly)?
These would be the weapons of my salvation. I slowly wound ends of the cable around each of my hands, ready to garrote this villain from behind. My right hand held the Compass, a non-insubstantial club of steel, ready to smack him in the head. I sat there with what I imagined was the same look Heath Ledger’s Joker had while waiting for Batman to come at him on the Batpod.
Here they are, in a picture taken from the safety of my airport lounge:
We turned out onto the airport access road. Even saved 15 minutes. Wow.
Slowly, and even more quietly than before, I re-coiled the USB cable and tucked away the Compass into my backpack.
My faith in humanity restored, I tipped the guy double the cab fare. He was in disbelief at why this fat OTTER of a passenger was overtipping.
But it’s because the world is a beautiful place, and shame on me for thinking otherwise.
I love Myanmar so much.