Perhaps you remember it’s just a few steps over the friendship bridge between Mae Sot, Thailand and Myawaddy, Myanmar and we are entering a new country. The immigration process doesn’t take long, it’s not many western foreigners and some are just doing a visa run to go back to Thailand. Daily life conditions are obviously different from those in Thailand. Children begging for money, lots of rubbish everywhere and a harsh smell. Everything seems more chaotic and significantly less developed. We are not in rush so we take the time to get a milk tea and some food in one of the small tea shops and start getting in touch with the locals. People are friendly and helpful and soon we feel happy and excited.
There is no bus to Mawlamyine, our first destination, so we have to organize a shared taxi. After some stop and go and just sitting in the car waiting to leave we pick up to other people and head for Mawlamyine. The road conditions are poor and our driver is not so much into keeping distance so it’s no surprise that we crash into a car in front of us. It’s not to bad, nobody injured and the cars are still working, but some annoyance and discussion between the drivers take place. Feels like we are just moving on after some minutes as if nothing happened.
On our way we pass the beautiful Myanmar country side with impressive rock formations and gorgeous pagodas. The sunset in the evening is just stunning.
It’s a long ride before we arrive Mawlamyine and it’s already dark. The guesthouse we’re staying seems to be the best money to value option but still it’s ridiculous what foreigners have to pay. A quite shabby room for 20$? Doesn’t feel good, but that’s how it seems to be. We try to make ourselves as comfortable as possible and take some rest.
The next day we go on a tour through town, just walking the streets, sitting on stairs watching daily life, lingering the market area and enjoying the sunset view from the hill pagoda. We also visit the famous Pa Auk Forest Monastery some kilometers out of town. Tusita Hermitage, the Buddhist monastery we’ve stayed in in Kuching Malaysia, follows the tradition of Pa Auk and that’s why we use the chance to take a look. It’s a huge mediation center with lot’s of nuns, monks and meditators and after a walk around the place we feel like this is too much people for us.
After just two nights in Mawlamyine we are on our way more south. Overnight buses are leaving from the bus station in the evening. We didn’t know about the departure times so after 12 am checkout we are very early and have to spend the time around the bus station. Not really the place to be, dirty, smelly and the toilet situation….let’s say adventurous. Seven had some fried rice from one of the restaurants and soon afterwards he is feeling very bad. Just 5 minutes before we enter the bus he starts vomiting. The bus we where about to take is in horrible condition and half of the seats have been removed to have more storage room. Directly behind our heads there is a huge fridge and several heavy packages. Of course, everything is just loose, so no proper fixing for the drive. We already know about the Myanmar road conditions so we expect an interesting ride. For just about 3$ more we can get a better bus and more security. We decide to change just some minutes before departure and the agency we booked the first two tickets even refunds us the ticket price. Seven spends the night sleeping in the back of the bus, where he found some room on the floor and feels a lot better the next day.
We arrive in Dawei early the next morning, find a quite cheap guesthouse and take some rest to prepare before continuing our journey more south.
Next stop Myeik, a coastal town in the Tanintharyi region of southern Myanmar. There is a remote archipelago off the coast and we want to find out about the possibilities to go there. Soon after arriving we realize it’s not gonna be like expected. Accommodation for foreigners is even more ridiculous. Room prices start at around 20$ for a prison cell. We really don’t feel comfortable in our room, but we also don’t want to spent a lot of money. Visiting the archipelago is also just possible by joining an expensive guided tour. It’s seems obvious, that this money is not helping those who need it the most….
We try to make the best out of it, rent a motorbike and go on a trip around Myeik the next day getting an impression about village life and the people. They are so welcoming and friendly.
The tropical islands are far off the coast but there are closer inhabited ones, that can be visited. We find a boatsman just by walking along the pier. A guy offers us the possibility for a boats tour around the Myeik harbor and the closer islands. Communication is a bit difficult, but with some help from a nice woman in one of the restaurants we make an appointment for the next early morning.
After having breakfast the next day we meet with our boats man. The boat is as we expected, quite old and in alarming condition, but we are used to these things already. Seven just has to remove the incoming water while driving through the habor and to the closer islands. It’s an interesting tour and we stop at one of the islands to visit a small village. But for us It feels a bit like disturbing their privacy, so we don’t want to stay that long. After around 3 hours we are back from where we started. Enough time left to pack our stuff and catch the bus back to Dawei….looking forward to some relaxing beach days awaiting us.