Ngwe Saung, Myanmar

Two years after my last visit to Myanmar, I’m back. I have beaches to explore.

This started out as a dive trip, but since the Mergui Archipelago is better reached via livaboards or via Bangkok, we settled for quiet beach R&R at Ngwe Saung. It’s the ‘closest’ beach to Yangon (5 hours drive) and a popular spot for Burmese families.

The actions starts at 6am when families (loudly) set up picnics on the hotel grass with what seems like a whole household of kitchenware. Four generations of family rent inflatable black rubber tubes to play in the waves. They all remain fully clothed, wearing their $1000Kyat woven green palm tree hats in an attempt to keep their skin whiter than white.  For the majority of the day the beach is absolutely deserted. Everyone siestas to avoid the 40 degree midday sun. The beach only starts to come alive again for sunset where you can take $2 USD pony rides up and down the surf.

For sun-worshiping Westerners mad enough to brave the 2pm sun, there’s ‘Lovers Island.’ It’s quite a cool game to see if you can judge tide & 800 meter shallow channel walk / swim. Otherwise you could be there a while (hence the name.)

wpid-img_20140420_201209.jpgIf you rent motorbikes, you can reach a decent elephant camp 45 min inland.  The little Dumbos look cheerier and better kept than the ones you see in neighboring Chiang Mai. Apparently after they’ve done their tourist work in the morning, they release the herd into to chill the wild every afternoon. Their keepers sometimes have to walk up to 3 miles to round them up the next day. The crafty elephants have learn to stuff leaves into their neck bells so prevent against a dead giveaway!

Overall, there’s lots of talk of Myanmar ‘opening up’ after they hosted the 2011 SEA Games. Maybe. But very slowly. The music videos remain innocently non-MTV, and the 60 year old Korean cast off buses still rumble through the unpaved countryside. BBC’s Top Gear recently waved their magic wand with their Burma Special, so it’s yet to see whether this has the ‘Vietnam’ effect.

Along with Inle Lake & Bagan which I visited last time, Ngwe Saung falls into the ‘lovely’ Myanmar box; authentic, friendly, hassle free.  Yangon (after a quick second visit) still has a way to go. After a nice meal at Feel restaurant and $5 USD cocktails in the most amazing airport departures bar, it edges nearer though.

Where we stayed:
* AMBO Hotel – $35 Beach Bungalow. Rustic (cold showers, fan not aircon) lovely owners, $1 USD motorbike rides into the village or 15 min walk. There’s only a couple of budget options V’s the $150 USD resorts. It’s a long walk between each hotel along the 15KM beach.

Where we ate:
Ume Japanese Cafe – A unexpected wood-decked gem across the road from Silver Beach. Massive portions and kick-ass rum & lemon juice cocktails.

Getting there:
* Bargain flights with Tiger Air, even over Easter weekend – $160 SGD return.
* Private night car transfer from Yangon to Ngwe Saung (x5 hours) – $150 SGD!
* Bus tickets Ngwe Saung to Yangon (x6 hours) – $10 USD (Daily)




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Connecting to %s : The Anantasin is the name of a shipwreck just of the coast of the Sensi Parasise, Mae Haad Bay, Koh Tao, Thailand. It’s one of my many favorite places.

Lit.tle: Just because it’s cute.

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