“When you travel, remember that a foreign country is not designed to make you comfortable. It is designed to make its own people comfortable.”
I have to confess that the main purpose of my trip to Myanmar wasn’t to see its thousand pagodas. I was dreaming of its wild and untamed nature, more specifically of the pristine, long stretches of desert beaches, lined only by tall coconut palm trees.
The last leg of our trip from Yangon to Chaung Tha consisted of 50 km driving past lush green mountains, on winding and often steep road. We passed through tiny villages where there was no electricity, plumbing or phone lines. The houses were raised above the surrounding mud and were made of dried palm leaves and rattan, curtains were used instead of doors. It wasn’t uncommon to spot lazy pigs and buffalos laying on the ground and chewing the cud, while the kids were playing around with empty plastic bottles or waving at the passing cars. Idyllic.
A simple and tranquil life was unfolding in front of us and I was already imagining myself immerged in an exotic and peaceful setting. My daydreaming lasted until we arrived at destination.
Chaung Tha can be deceiving at first for the unprepared travelers ( as we were ). I was aware that I would not see the paradise on Earth, however, I didn’t even expect to witness all that chaos and sand mixed with dirt and rubbish.
The locals enjoy the beach life but unfortunately they lack any sense of environmental responsibility. We spent the first day trying to find all the positive aspects of the place, and actually, despite the nightmare-ish first impression Chaung Tha is a good place:
- To get a real feel of the local life
- To watch incredible sunsets
- To take pictrures on the beach with a Pagoda on the background
- To feel like a celebrity – there are very very few westerners in the area which means loads of attention and pictures with the locals
- To play football with the Burmese guys
- To have a ride with a bike
So, yes, I would recommend visiting Chaung Tha because there are not many places that can offer such an intesnse mix of contradictory feelings and impressions. This is Myanmar, too.
Next on the blog: The stunning desert beaches of Chaung Tha (that we discovered on day 2).