Thursday, November 23, 2006

Travel Tip #352 : Avoid Seat 41

If you ever happen to go on the 16 hour overnight bus ride from Yangon to Bagan, never ever sign up for Seat 41. Travel the next day if you have to. Busses are cramped and uncomfortable as it is, with rows set 5 wide with a fold down seat in the aisle. Believe it or not, the aisle seats are more comfortable than Seat 41. For those of you who don't know (I'm assuming everyone in the world except fellow 41 alumni), Seat 41 is in the very back corner of the bus. Normally, the window of the window seat is a refuge to lean on, away from the horrors of long bus rides. But, for some reason, in Seat 41, there's a vertical protrusion (is this a roll bar?) pushing on your left side into the passenger next to you seated in Seat 41. It's impossible not to break all international bus seat divider laws (see here for a violation example in Mendoza Argentina last April). Body contact bordering on intimacy is inevitable. The Burmese guy sitting next to me used my shoulder as his personal pillow. The two Polish girls I was travelling with said, 'Ohhh, how romantic.' Ha ha ha very funny, you funny Polish girls. I guess they tell American jokes in Poland.
Another negative of Seat 41 is if the homeboy in front of you decides to kick back and relax and recline his seat, you pretty much lose all nuerosensory feeling of your legs from the knees down. For some reason, the leg room in the back row is about a foot narrower than the other rows. In this case, I couldn't believe the 5'-1" guy in front of me needed all that layout space. How dare you. And every once in awhile, he'd stretch his arms out and rest his hands over and beyond the top of the seat, crossing the line of demarcation into my personal airspace. Not since Napoleon has a 5'-1" guy so blatently invaded international borders.
I always tell myself, never again, no more long grueling bus rides. But somehow I keep coming back for more punishment. It's like when you're in a relationship, and you keep telling yourself, no way am I going back to her/him/it again. And then you end up crawling back for more. Only in this case, there's no carnal pleasure of make-up sex, but there's the same painful feeling of regret the next morning.
So when bussing in Burma, avoid Seat 41 at all costs.
Better yet fly.

And even better, Dónde está Ché Pelotas?


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