Lazy days on pristine Ngapali beach
by Thomas Buechler - 3 years ago
Pristine white sand, a romantic palm-lined white sugar beach, most probably the best beach in Myanmar: that's Ngapali beach on the Bay of Bengal and seperared from the rest of the country by a mountain range of which the highest peak is Mt. Victoria, west of Bagan.
To reach Ngapali one has to cross these hills in a rather difficult bus journey that lasts more than 15 hours, or its an easy one hour flight from the main city of Yangun.We decided to combine both: fly in, and out to hit the road!The airport in Yangon is quite chaotic.On the checking counters all is still done manually with handwritten name lists and just one lady in charge.Flights are not displayed on screens and boarding gates can suddenly change with announcements only in burmese language.By pure coincidence we made it to the right plane.The ATR 72 aircraft of Air Mandalay made a good impression and the landing in Thandwe was relatively smooth.But the groundhandling of the luggage took so long, and the welcoming sunshine of Rakhaing state was so intense.
Most of the Ngapali beach resorts will pick up their guests for free, you pay it with the hundreds of dollars per night room price.But our Laguna Lodge was at a normal rate and we were glad to pay the 7 dollars pick up extra.
It was with mixed feelings that we booked this German managed resort as the comments on Tripadvisor and the Thorn Tree Forum of LP went from terrible (no hygyene in the kitchen, aunts on the hammocks, broken beachchairs) to heaven on earth (top location, delicious kitchen, coldest draft beer in town).I must admit that were positively surprised.The management and staff, headed by Jochen from Linz, was extremely helpful and friendly and we truly enjoyed their mouthwatering curries and fish steaks.For a change, we also went sometimes to the Two Brothers restaurant just behind Laguna Lodge, a wonderful little jewel of a local eating joint.The rooms in Laguna were spacious and very clean, and they even added a fan in our room since the nights started to get hot.Of course you can book excursions to local fishing villages, or go island hopping and snorkling, but since we live on an island in the Philippines, we omitted that part and just enjoyed the beach life on one of the best beaches in South East Asia.Plans are there to develop Ngapali, make the airport international and start regional flights into KL and Singapore.Then prices will for sure even go up higher.After a couple of days relaxed beach life, it was time to hit the road again, and we booked a minibus for the 11 hours journey across the mountains to Pyay.Every seat was taken, but no other foreigners in sight, just us.
During the stopover on the market in Taunggok, we had our dinner in one of the local food stands.Noodle soup with the mandatory Myanmar beer!The zig zag mountain road had hundred of curves and was in a catastrophic condition at times.Bumpy potholes made the trip even more terrible.They are currently repairing parts of it, hard work, and half of the workers seem to be ladies.Another pitstop in the middle of nowhere, its dark and they serve us food again: good that sauted morning glory with mushrooms is on the menu, as the barbequed meat could not be easily identified!
For hours there were only bushes and dust, small local villages, no further actions and even the military checkpoints got sparse.The driver kept photocopies of our visas with him, so he did not have to ask us anymore.When we finally crossed the Ayeyarwady river on a huge bridge, it was clear: we arrived in Pyay, an important transit point between north and south.It was 2.30 o clock in the morning!at the bus station we were told that the connecting bus to Bagan would leave at 5pm and had only 2 seats left!
In a hurry, we purchased our ticket, ready for the next night bus trip, hopefully on better roads!