19 Apr 2018

A strange paradise.

Definitely the strangest place I visited in Myanmar on my recent trip was Ngwe Saung Beach. It was 2 hours by bus from the city of Pathein. The road is narrow and winding and progress was slow. It was not a fun journey.The very long white sandy beach and is attractive enough but nothing really special compared with most Aussie beaches.
Behind a short section of the beach there is a small village strung out along a road with the usual seaside mixture of restaurants and shops selling beach stuff.
The strangeness comes from the fact there is one absolutely immaculate resort complex right on the beachside guarded by large security gates and in a field opposite the entrance is a helipad. Ngwe Saung Beach is the General's playground and the resort is the ruling military junta's resort. Vacationing military personnel whose rank does not qualify them for helicopter transport come down from Yangon in their black,Toyota Land Cruisers with very heavily tinted windows. I saw two of them on the road to the resort and some others in the village. They have a very menacing air and seeing them made my stomach churn.
There are other hotels but most are very run down or abandoned -reminders of Myanmar's recent hard times and strife.
The place had the feel of Bali when I visited it 40 years ago before the overdevelopment and the cheap airfares. There was a solitary beachside bar blaring out the sort of music you would expect from a bar in a tropical resort-see photo.
I went into the very warm sea- the Bay of Bengal. The beach was almost deserted apart from a couple of European backpackers playing beach volleyball. I hope they were appreciating the atmosphere as surely soon it will be gone. Chinese hotels will line the beach and a nearby newly constucted airport will be full of Chinese charter flights jetting in Chinese tourists in their thousands.  Another paradise will be lost.

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