Since I have came back from the State, I have been going around the country always using JJ Express. I have friends from US visited me and they all are impressed with JJ Express. I have taken granted for their service and didn't think of much of them until one day when I have to take another Express line because JJ Express does not run buses to that city. It was a horrible experiences. I don't want to name the lines but let's just call it X1 Express (because I will be talking about X2 Express next!)
I have bought the X1 Express VIP ticket for the trip with 2x1 seating like JJ Express. I got near the front row. There is a bus attendant girl just like on JJ Express but all the similarity ends there. Let's not even talk about how disorganize she gives snack away because there are way more other serious stuff to talk about.
What I have first notice is that, from the beginning of leaving the Aungmingalar car park, the bus driver honk a lot to warn the other vehicles/pedestrians of the speeding bus way in advanced and they have a very loud honk too. I was telling myself that it was only that beginning part and it should be Ok later.
Oh, have I mentioned that the bus attendant never announce anything about the trip whatsoever neither in English nor Myanmar? No welcoming on board? That's cool. I still can take no announcement. But the constant loud honking is started getting on the nerve tho. The bus driver, the bus attendant girl and the helper boy are sitting at the front chatting. The bus also is playing the Myanmar pop song. I am ok with that because the sun has not gone down yet and I can enjoy Myanmar pop song. I notice that the bus driver is chewing the betel nut and spitting the red saliva into the empty water bottle. I am also cool with that being raised in Myanmar and familiar with the betel nut chewing culture.
After the first stop at the '115 mile rest camp', I started trying to fall asleep since the sun has also gone down. The bus crew keep going on like before : chatting and playing Myanmar pop song. I have also notice that bus driver is smoking! SMOKING!!!! WTF!!!! There is Myanmar pop song playing and yet the bus driver has a headset over his head! He is also making conversation with his crew teasing them saying that the helper boy is falling for the bus attendant girl and their conversation is heard throughout the bus!
It is not midnight yet and I know that I cannot fall asleep so I have put up with the crew flirtatious conversation and Myanmar pop song. I am on the opposite side of the bus driver and being near the front, I don't mentioned anything about the bus driver smoking. However as I later seriously trying to sleep, the non stop Myanmar pop music is preventing me from falling asleep. I asked the bus attendant girl to stop the music. She stopped the music. About 30 minutes later when I am dozing in and out of sleep, they play the music again! I asked the bus attendant girl to stop the music again and she is having a conversation with the bus driver about the music while I close my eyes trying to sleep. The girl came back to me calling me "hey passenger, passenger" (she calls me 'passenger' literally!!!). She said that the bus driver (who is smoking with the headset) needs the music not to fall asleep and if I cannot bear it, I can go to the rear end of the bus. Not wanting to make a fuss and not wanting to drive a way sleepiness, I get up to go to the back. The bus driver made a stern comment "traveling is like that." as if I have never travelled before at night on the bus. In my head, I talk back "it is never like that on JJ Express!"
On the return trip, I didn't take the X1 Express again instead I take X2 Express. I also take VIP for the X2 Express. The seats are 2x1 configuration but this VIP line does not have bus attendant! So no more bus crew flirtatious conversation then! Other than not having the Bus attendant, the bus crew is more civilized (am I using the word 'civilized'?) The bus does not have a loud honk (nor power outlet for charging the phone) and they don't drive as reckless as the other X1 Express. Only other complaints are the cheap snack, not allowing me to put one of my backpack in the bottom luggage compartment(I have two big backpacks: cameras and clothes. So I have two large backpacks sitting near my feet in my seat. I am cool having traveling experience. I can manage that much.), cutting power to the in seat entertainment system the next day only playing Myanmar pop MTV on in bus entertainment system, not having the Ferry service in Yangon. I mean, X2 Express is way better than X1 express comparing what I have experienced!
Aungmingalar car park has a lot more Express lines, for me, I have sampled the quality enough and I will be sticking with JJ Express even more. If JJ Express does not operate for the trip like this one... well, tough luck for me, I guess.