The Bay of Bengal also invokes memories of Bangladesh, where going for a swim in the sea entailed entering the water fully dressed, amidst an ever present small crowd of earnest onlookers who equally did not want you to go too deep in case you drowned because they couldn’t swim. And don’t even think about finding a cold beer near the beach.
Ngapali Beach in Myanmar changed all of that. According to Google maps it is only several hundred kilometres from the infamous Cox’s Bazaar, but distance counts for little here. You may as well be on a different continent the place is so relaxing, to the point that you don’t care if you’re frolicking South Asia’s principal sewage outlet.
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Arrival to Ngapali Beach is inevitably on a small internal flight which deposits you on a runway that directly meets the sea making for an exciting landing. You pass through the garden shed (possibly a veranda as I don’t remember any doors) of a terminal which helps to confirm the sense of removal from the rest of the world, and get on a bus to your hotel. The bus is from your hotel as there isn’t any other transport: Ngapali Beach is not the kind of place where you turn up without a reservation. Not so much because it is an exclusive location that is always fully booked. It’s because apart from having a hotel reservation, there is nothing else to have here.
|Not much happening to the left|
This is the real beach getaway with no distractions: no clubs, shopping malls (we only found one shop), no internet unless you go looking for it and have the patience of a saint, no cultural shows, no traffic. Literally the hotel, beach, and whatever you brought with you. In our case that was the snorkeling kits we’ve been carrying with us for the three years we’ve been in Asia, but have never used.
On our first evening, whilst sat trying to decide what time was justifiable to start drinking cocktails, a local man came to us offering the chance to go on his boat and snorkel on some reefs. So the next morning we set off late (we started cocktail hour early) and on a boat whose motor cut out every so often. That wasn’t an issue: the sun was pounding down and we had some excellent snorkeling with good visibility and lots of fish to distract us. Unfortunately, once the late monsoon storm set in and we tried to sail back to the hotel, the motor cut out once again.
It wasn’t life threatening, but we did require towing back to shore by the other tourist boat that had been hired by some Chinese fishermen (apparently that was our boat, but because we had set off late they took it).
|Not much happening to the right either|
So we took refuge back at the hotel, eating more seafood, watching crazy sunsets, drinking more cocktails and reading entire books. It wasn’t like there was anywhere else to go but we weren’t complaining.