Night bus from mawlamyine to Dawei was for sure the worst journey yet. Our seats were underneath a speaker that was blaring Buddhist chanting. As we prepared to leave, prayers were being said for a safe journey. We trundled along what was basically a dirt track and the chanting turned to burmese sitcoms. It was seriously loud. You can't block the sound with earphones and music turned up as high as possible. Sigh.
We picked up a load more people about 10pm. They were all sitting in the aisles. The sitcoms turned to music. Everyone was vomiting into little plastic bags. And I mean everyone.
We arrived in Dawei at 3am and I don't think I've ever been so happy to get off a bus. Mercifully our hotel let us check straight in. And sleep.
Dawei is almost on the coast so we spent two days at the beach. Being burma and very conservative, everyone is wearing all their clothes. Except me. I know, I know, cultural disrespect but I need to even out my very odd tan. We tried to pick a spot with not too many people but there are still a few photos of me in a bikini knocking around on burmese phones.
The beach is so beautiful. Totally tropical with amazing seafood shacks and people playing football and games. Happy times. Until I see a rotting dead pig. Like the complete carcass just there on the sand. Fingers crossed for no sand parasites!
The next day we took a boat from Dawei to myeik. Of course, it left at 2am...why wouldn't you want to travel at that time? And obviously the obligatory ear splitting music was blasting for the entire journey. I couldn't sleep so I went up on the deck and watched the sunrise as we sailed through the myeik archipelago of islands, the sea was like a pond and the sun it's usual red Asian orb.
Myeik is a big costal town that randomly has goats running everywhere. No idea why. We took a boat to one of the islands about an hour off the coast , just people living in shacks on the beach. We climbed around the rocks to try and find an area of beach not littered in glass and rubbish. I floated in the sea for a bit and then noticed the tide coming in fairly rapidly....we headed back but too late. Waist deep sea and bags on the head job. Oops. At least we made It before we had to swim...
That evening we met Manu, a German cycling through Burma. He took us to play pool on giant snooker tables and we drank a lot of beer. Really a lot. Everyone was so friendly offering to share their food and drinks and talking to us in burmese.The next day we caught another boat to the most southern point of Myanmar, Kawthoung. The journey was incredibly beautiful, speed boating through hundreds of uninhabited desert islands and mangroves and darting in between the moken sea gypsies, tentatively waving from their boats.
I wonder what effect the 2004 tsunami had on these Islands. It must have Impacted them but I don't remember ever hearing anything about Burma at the time. Interested to hear if anyone knows.
In kawthoung we headed for the border with Thailand on another boat. Nine foreigners, three bikes and multiple backpacks rammed into a tiny little long tail. Precarious to say the least. After twenty minutes we arrived in Ranong, an unbelievably smelly Thai border town and me, Tobias and Manu decided that we'd not had enough of boats, oh no, and boarded a speedboat for a Thai island called ko panyam. By the time we arrived we'd been travelling for fourteen hours but wow was it worth it. What is it about Thai beaches being so beautiful? The sun was setting, there was functioning wifi and a menu in English. I guess that sounds a bit flippant but it has been difficult travelling in burma and it's so strange that just 5km from the border, things are so different. Bungalow on the beach and waking up to head straight into the sea....I'm going to struggle to leave here.
My experience in myanmar has been so eye opening and a definite highlight of my trip. The burmese people are so lovely and friendly which has made It all the better and the kids are an absolute pleasure. Travelling has been challenging but it's to be expected in a country that is still very developing and has so few tourists. In the south we saw about ten westerners in a week. Crazy.
Equally the food had also had its ups and downs. I've eaten some amazing salads, fish and noodles and some decidedly ropey curries and meat.
Burma is fantastically beautiful from the fisherman's balletic balancing boat dance on inle lake to the palm trees, sea and sand of the tropical south and of course the holiness of bagan and the thousands of gold pagodas across the country.
Meeting Tobias was such good luck and timing, it's been wonderful to travel with someone and the really interesting parts of the country in the south I doubt I would have tackled alone. It's pretty rare to spend three weeks non stop with someone and still be smiling at the end. A friend indeed.