Myanmar: Ngwe Saung beach - where happiness comes from bananas and solitude is blissful

I know there is pleasure in doing nothing, but I never expected the pleasure of the nothingness in Ngwe Saung will be of that dimension.

The night bus ride from Yangon is around 6 hours and is an absolutely hilarious experience with the host of the bus tirelessly speaking on that microphone, which has a funny echo and one almost feels like in a club. Any time I drift away the guy will shout something, will remember to announce something more, will push my seat for some unknown reason. A German girl is traveling next to me and we share this memorable ride, which will bring us together frequently during my stay in Ngwe Saung.

Life in the middle of the rice fields

The host of my guest house meets me with a scooter taxi in the middle of the night and brings me to my bungalow. As I wake up in my first morning I am full of joy to discover that the bungalow is in the middle of the rice fields and the village people living in the field are having a great time singing on a microphone (!?) some Burmese songs, occasionally interrupted by "hello? hello?" at 9:30 in the morning.

There is no menu and every day I sit at the table, patiently wait for a few minutes and then magically a different kind of breakfast appears every time, no questions asked, but I am already used to that. At one occasion I try to ask for bread, not being understood...I show a picture of bread but only response is : "No no! No bre` ma`am! Rice!" ...I'm like OK. I am happy with the amount of fish soup, fried rice, fried noodles and fried eggs I manage to eat for breakfast every single day.

There is no warm water, the availability of the electricity is minimum and unpredictable so the strategy is to catch it while you can, and of course there is no internet but I actually enjoy it.

The beach is my command

I spend countless hours simply laying on the beach, drinking a Myanmar beer, eating peanuts and looking at the sea. It is so peaceful, so disconnecting and so carefree that I am not even bothered to read a book. I am willfully and joyfully drowning in timelessness. I realize that I am always doing something and too often forget that there is so much importance in doing one big and fulfilling nothing. It is true that our senses often awaken only once we have provided enough space for them to do so.

Night, no light and a knight ...on a scooter

I reunite with my friends who I met in Yangon, and my new German friend at the Twin Pagodas on the beach, where I watch one of the most beautiful sunsets in my life. 

After a yummy seafood dinner and a few drinks I need to get going. What I don't realize, but will be my nightmare every night, is that there is zero lights around my B&B, not a single person, no signs on the roads, it does not appear on google maps and google maps doesn't indicate the dusty paths in the middle of the rice fields. First time I get lost I must admit I am slightly panicking and the homeless dogs chasing my bike are not helping at all. One evening I find a guy with a scooter who, through my very skillful sign language skills, manages to understand I am lost and where I need to go, so he drives with me to show me the way. I am determined I will manage and I draw myself a paper map one day, convinced I will get home independently but yet I am again saved by some guy chilling by a fire next to the road, who walks me home with no shoes... By the end of my stay I surrender and just try to find as soon as possible the first local stranger who doesn't obviously seem like he is going to rape, rob or kidnap me, so I get escorted to this not-existing on any map, dark and beautiful B&B... Thank God there are so many good people in Myanmar.

Fire dancers, fisherman stories and a great amount of shots

My German friend and I really fall in love with this spectacular Ume bar. The fish is freshly brought from the sea, the DJ is placed in a palm tree and there are masculine guys dancing with fire. We don't need much more. One of the evenings we sit at the bar and the dancers and bartenders, local guys, strike a conversation with us, which happens to be quite enlightening despite (or thanks to) the number of Kamikadze cocktails and unknown shots we get (big thanks to the good Karma for somehow keeping me safe and alive in these unexpected Asian evenings... but yet not protecting me from hangovers). We learn a lot about Burmese life.

The fathers of all these boys are fishermen and they have all grown up in the jungle. They tell us that "big fish - big happiness, small fish - smaller happiness, because less eat for family" (now I finally understand what's behind this fish soup I am being offered every day for breakfast). They tell us how they love the rainy season and the monsoon because "today no banana tree, but it rains - and tomorrow new banana tree. We are grateful, we love bananas". I ask them if they were scared to live among all these animals in these houses in the jungle with no walls, and they die laughing saying "why need walls, Burmese people love animals, we live with animals, you foreigners are funny." 

I stupidly try to ask a political question (?!) and ask one of the dancers if they could feel the difference with the arrival of the democracy in Myanmar and he freezes, lowers his voice and murmurs we simply get back to the banana conversations.

I never managed to learn anything about the political and peace challenges happening in Myanmar either because of lack of English skills of most locals, or because they don't want to talk about it, or simply because the people in the countryside live in such a disconnect that probably the changes have not really impacted them. I will probably never understand.

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