Thursday, April 10, 2014

Ngwe Saung Beach

Quaint. Off-the-beaten path. Clean. Friendly. I'm at the end of my first full day here at Ngwe Saung, a little beach resort town on Myanmar's Bay of Bengal coast, and these are just a few of the adjectives I could use to describe this place. Relaxed, unspoiled, accommodating and different come to mind as well

One month and a day after arriving in Yangon, I had my first opportunity to get out of town and see some more of this beautiful country. I didn't get to see much of it on the ride here as I took the night bus, but enough to note this part of Myanmar, so close to the largest city, isn't all that full of people. The view out the darkened windows was mostly black, with an occasional candle or lantern burning in isolated shacks.

It's about 100 miles as the crow flies from Yangon to Ngwe Saung; the trip took five and a half hours. We left at 9:30 PM and arrived at 3 in the morning. Allowing for a half hour rest break, that's still an average of 20 mph. It wasn't traffic; it was the roads. There's no direct way from the former capital, and we ended up zigzagging our way through the Irriwaddy delta. All two-lane, very bumpy highways.

Arriving at 3 AM anywhere is a little disorienting, so you can imagine what it felt like rolling into an isolated community in Burma without even a companion who could speak Burmese. Could I check into my hotel at 3 AM? Usually you can't check in until 11 AM; that's sorta a worldwide standard. As the only expensive part of this trip thus far has been the price of the rooms ($30/night may not sound like a lot by western standards, but most places in the Third World, a room like I got would cost half that or less), I really didn't want to pay for an initial night's stay. I thought I would find a cafe in the village, or just chill on the beach until a reasonable hour to ask to check in.

Umm... No. No such thing. The village of Ngwe Saung isn't awake at 3 AM, but apparently, the hotels are used to people arriving from Yangon at that hour.
They put me up in another room for free (at least they said it was free; if it's on my bill at check out, I'll be pissed off)

Slept in a bit, and on awakening, stumbled down the beach a 20 second walk from my room.

Wow. The azure seas, the white sands, the coconut trees, the complete absence of anyone else that I could see completely took my breath away. The water was warm and clean. Not bathtub warm, not uncomfortably warm, it was just right. Goldilocks temperature.

In fact, I thought about Goldilocks today as I considered my choice in coming here. As for a vacation, I certainly could have gone a more ambitious, and expensive trip. I coulda stayed home and explored Yangon. I think I picked the choice that was just right. I'm sure there are sleepier beach towns than this here in Myanmar and all over the world. I've been to Pattaya, Phuket and Bali which are on the other extreme and overdeveloped. My choice of coming here was just right. There are three resort towns here on this coast of Myanmar. Haven't been to the other two, but Ngapali is the most famous, serviced by an airport and somewhat popular with international tourists. It's very posh and expensive there. Just up the coast from here is ________ -________, the most popular weekend getaway for the locals, less expensive than here but, from what I've read, a bit dirty and crowded. Ngwe Saung falls between these two extremes and so far, has been just right. The Goldilocks destination.

After a nice breakfast, I rented a motorcycle and set out to explore the town. Visited a pagoda, found myself on some pretty rough roads, had some delicious fruit. It's all in the video at the end. I really wanted to set up a snorkling trip. Found a place and got that set up for tomorrow. At lunch, I hooked up with my travelling companions, made our way to the fishing village south of here and drove back on the beach. My thanks to the guy at the gas station who also had the pressure washer. I didn't want to roll into my hotel with a bike I'd rented encrusted in sand.

So, that's it for day one. Tomorrow, it's off to do something I haven't done in 24 years: snorkeling on a tropical reef. It's like swimming in an aquarium.

For now, it's time for a midnight swim.


  1. Internet at this "high end" resort is terrible. We are here because the Rally is here and they have to be in a big place. We could get better internet if we bought the park cable box, but it doesn't make sence for just a week. I may be able to see the video later. Who are your " travel companions?"

    1. Anthony, another teacher from my school and his fiancee, Patty.

  2. I enjoyed this video! Thank you for posting it. Blessings, Lynn


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