Let me introduce to you my motorbike driver in Myanmar, Nai Nai.
Taxis are pretty pricey in Myanmar so we stuck to motorbike taxis as often as we could. They were always cheaper and faster than taxis.
As Nai Nai and I cruised down the streets of Mandalay, Myanmar we chatted.
NN: How old you?
SP: I am 29, how old are you?
NN: You so old! You drive?
SP: I drive cars?
NN: You drive motorbike?
SP: Maybe once or twice.
NN: You drive my motorbike?
SP: Oh no that is okay. You are a better driver.
SP: If you really want, okay.
Nai Nai begins to pull over, I see the reflection of his smile stretching across his face in the small mirror of his bike.
SP: Is it automatic?
NN: No, but so easy.
SP: Oh no, no! I can only drive automatic.
Nai Nai’s smile begins shrinking.
NN: I teach you, very easy.
SP: I don’t think so.
NN: I show you, see very slowly….one!
Nai Nai demonstrates how to change gears.
NN: Very slowly…..two! Very slowly….three! Very slowly….four! Then normal. It’s okay, now you drive my bike.
SP: Um, okay. I will try but you help me.
I hop on in front and I barely notice as Nai Nai with his slight build jumps on the back.
NN: Okay you try!
SP: Here we go.
I turn the throttle slowly as Nai Nai suggests. It seems simple so far.
I kick the gear and change to one.
NN: Yes, slowly, slowly, two!
I kick the gear and change to two.
NN: Very good. Slowly, slowly, three.
I kick the gear and change to three.
NN: See very easy.
SP: You are a good teacher Nai Nai.
NN: Slowly, slowly, four!
SP: I did it, now normal?
NN: Yes, normal all the way!
My confidence gains as I continue at a constant speed. I realize that driving a manual bike isn’t so hard after all. Then it hits me.
SP: Nai Nai, you didn’t teach me how to stop.
NN: Uh, a little bit hard.