not all who wander are lost.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Big, Bad, Busy Buses.

The buses in Sri Lanka are (forgive me mom, but I *must* use this language to explain them) a total shitfuck. Truly, I have seen some crazy buses and crazy driving in my travels, but nothing like the buses in this country. To begin, there are no rules when it comes to driving. None. I don't think that there are even driving licenses around these parts. No one observes the lines in the road, and it really comes down to being a game of chicken - and no matter what, the bus *always* wins. They drive down these little shore roads at about 80 miles per hour, beeping all the while. They beep when they want to pass you, they beep when they're passing you, they beep after they've passed you, they beep at you to go faster and beep at you to pull over so they can pass. And best yet is when the beep is directed at the oncoming traffic, as they're driving in the middle of the road trying to overtake 2 cars, 3 tuktuks, and a few motorbikes. Ayeyaya. Close your eyes, hold on tight, and hope for the best. Not only is it the most dangerous, exciting ride of your life- but it's also the cheapest thrill that you will ever encounter, costing us a mere 26 cents to go from Midigama to Galle, which is more than 30minutes away. Just like the tuktuks, each bus has its own "flair". Ours had neon lightshow Buddhas, tons of fake flowers, statues and sparkly scarves, with local Sri Lankan tunes blaring through the speakers...just incase you were hoping to have a dance party on your ride home. When we left Galle the bus was full, with just a few people being forced to stand. I said a little prayer for them, because the wild turns, intense accelerations and hard breaking were bound to send them flying. Well, staying true to Asian culture, there's no such thing as "no", and that includes space on the bus. We crammed a thousand friggin' people on that bus. I don't think that the bus ever really came to a full stop, but people would flag down the bus and get a running start as the bus slowed and then theyd hop on. By the way, hailing the bus is done by sticking your hand out, waist height, palm down, and you wave at the ground. You *do not* flag down the bus like you'd hail a cab in NYC. Our ride home from Galle was the most exciting event of my trip thus far, that's for sure. I was looking all around, making small talk with strangers and trying to figure out a rhyme or rhythm of the frantic beeping as my travel partner Philippe slept (he claimed to be "resting his eyes"....). How he slept or even relaxed through the stench of BO, the hard acceleration and breaking and the blaring local tunes is beyond me. All in all, the bus is an event not to be missed. It might not be one of the things that your Lonely Planet travel book tells you is a "Must Do", but it certainly gives you a taste (and smell) of the nitty-gritty-real-deal Sri Lanka.

No comments:

Post a Comment