The best way to negotiate with taxi drivers in Thailand is to show them where you’re going, ask their price, shrug and walk away. Get completely out of sight, take a stroll and check out the neighborhood for about three minutes. After petting a few stray cats and marveling at someone’s well-maintained garden, return to the cab driver and offer to pay half the price they quoted. This is how we procured our marvelous friend Mr. Waurachat who took us to drop off our bags and then to the airport for a very reasonable price.
The friendly Welshman at Bangkok Self Storage was happy to watch both our packs at the fantastic price of 300 baht ($9 USD) per week. Traveling lightly will make a huge difference in the heat and humidity, not to mention giving us more flexibility in our plans. Mr. Waurachat delivered us to the airport in the nick of time for our flight to Mandalay. In air, we studied a few Burmese phrases written by a waitress on Koh Tao: Mingalaba, hello, and jezu te mare, thank you.
The moment we stepped outside of the airport terminal, it was immediately apparent we were in a strange and wonderful land. The sunshine was dim through the smog and the air was warm, but not excessively humid. Our driver, who spoke no English, conducted us past two young men with giant machine guns guarding the airport road and fascinating temples resembling pawn chess pieces.
Once settled at our hostel, we decided that, in addition to doing Myanmar, we were also doing Myanmar by motorcycle. Mandalay Motorcycle is near downtown and its owner, Zach, is an American ex-pat who moved to Myanmar several years ago. He had a small, 125 cc honda available and he allowed us to borrow it for five days in exchange for Tiffanie’s passport and 100,000 Myanmar Kyat.
Tiffanie has never ridden with a passenger, but we became an amazing team: myself the navigator extraordinaire and her the sprightly pedestrian dodger. Having our own transportation in a country with limited options was our ticket to a truly amazing and unique experience over the next few days.