Relaxing on the beach amidst the locals

Chaungtha Travel Blog

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Buses aren't only used for the transportation of people, whatever fits on top goes along.

Our day begins at 7.30 and in spite of our “not-so-very-fantastic” room I haven’t even slept that bad. The blankets were exactly as wide as the bed, and thanks to the blanket from the extra single bed I managed to limit “waking-up-because-my-covers-were-missing” to a minimum. Breakfast is fantastic today, that is, the noodles we bought during a toilet/coffee stop yesterday for only 200 Kyats a piece, are excellent. All we have to do to exchange the eternal egg-on-toast or strawberry jam-on-toast for a steaming bowl of noodles is ask for some boiled water. The staff even prepair our noodle delight for us!

The bus pulls up to our hotel at nine and in an instant the largest group of beggars we’ve seen in Myanmar so far emerges from thin air.

Taking pictures of bridges is strictly off limits in Myanmar, but when the Tatmadaw isn't watching...
Some of them have no visible disabilities, others are missing a limb or are lepers.

The ride to Chaungta will take two hours instead of three (as the programme of Koning Aap, our travel agent, stated), this because the bridge over the Ayeyarwaddy river is finished now and vehicles don’t have to take the ferry anymore.

The first part of the trip we drive through a rural area and we, once again, see many people working on the furtile land. The colour green prevails here, which is logical since we are still in the Ayeyarwaddy delta. During the last part the landscape hovers somewhere between hilly and mountainous. The road is narrow with steep stretches and tight bends. During yesterdays ride the bus bounced through a couple of holes in a rather rough fashion, and the result hereof is now noticeable, to say the least.

This tiny fellow, along with his millions of friends, cover the beach with tiny pellets of sand twice every day.
When we hit an uneven stretch we feel the metal of the shock absorbers strike the metal of the bus’s chassis, which isn’t much of a good omen. Fortunately our bus is a sturdy bugger and it holds out until we reach Chaungta, the ride to Yangon later this week is a concern for later.

When we arrive at the Chaungta Oo Beach Hotel a welcoming committee of seven ladies in blue uniforms stands at the ready to meet us. One of them hands out refreshing wet towelets, the other six watch her. Our quarters are chalet-like wooden houses with very basic furnishing. There are two single beds, a little tv and a mini-bar, but there’s only power after six p.m. The shower has no hot water, but there’s nothing broken though, the hot water supply-pipe simply hasn’t been installed.

The cottage on the right is our home for the duration of our stay in Chaungtha.
Many hotels that claim to have hot water showers, only do so when the electricity hasn’t failed and when not too many people are taking a shower at the same time, in other words: most of the time they don’t either.

While sitting on our patio with an ocean view, we come to the conclusion that we’d fancy a Coke. Trudy walks off to get some from the hotel bar and a few minutes later she returns with two ladies in blue uniforms in her wake, each of them carrying one bottle of Star Cola. After finishing our refreshment we pay our “on-the-other-side-of-the-sandy-bit” neighbours Anne and Rudolf a visit and we agree to have lunch together in the restaurant of the hotel. Preparation of our meal (crab meat soup and a pancake) takes a very long time, in spite of the fact that there are working seven people in the kitchen at the moment and we are the only guests.

The kite salesman tries to draw attention by tieing seven kites to his bike and cruise the beach this way.
While we wait our friendly co-driver, dressed only in his longyi, knotted up to be not much more than a pair of shorts, washes our bus. When the food is finally served it proves to be well worth the wait, it tastes great.

After dinner we wait for about half an hour and then we take a short, but refreshing, dip in the Bay of Bengal. It is low tide at the moment and the beach is littered with tiny balls made of sand, by miniature crabs that ar digging out little holes. Although the water temperature is quite nice, we don’t stay out in the sun for too long, the risk of sunburn is still too great at this time of day (even when using a high factor suntan lotion). When we walk out of the water onto the beach it looks like the sand itself comes alive, crabs almost invisible to the eye when they are not moving, dash off avoiding our feet, that must look monstrous to them.

The fisherman and his hat selling wife take today's catch from the net.

We sit out the hottest part of the day in our room, puzzling, writing, taking a shower, just being lazy basically...

At 16.00 hours we go out again for a walk on the beach and, without planning it, Anne and Rudolf have taken up the exact same plan on the exact same moment. The four of us walk along for a while, but we have agreed that we can split up at any given moment without anyone getting sour at anyone. Even though we have this agreement we stick together for quite a while and have some coffee on some plastic chairs in the sand on the beach near the dunes. Contrary to the beach of Ngapali the beach of Chaungta is hardly visited by foreign tourists, most visitors are Birmese getting away from the busy cities, and it is a joy watching them play on the beach and swim (almost fully dressed) in the surf.

We could almost hear the water hiss when the sun sank into the sea...

When the clock is ticking towards the hour of six we start walking towards the hotel, while enjoying a spectacular sunset. We stop for dinner at the Shwe Pyay Aung restaurant where the furniture is plastic, the staff are very friendly, the view at sea is lovely and the food is great (Singapore Chili Crab is a lot of work to eat, but the taste is more than enough of a reward). We have Sweet and Sour Squid with plain rice on the side and we have to pay only 6300 Kyat for the lot. We will be coming back here tomorrow, that’s for sure.

By the time we walk the last stretch to the hotel it has gone completely dark and in the distance we can here and see fireworks, today is the last day of the Chinese year, that’s why.

We hit the sack at ten thirty after a nice relaxing day.

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Buses arent only used for the tra…
Buses aren't only used for the tr…
Taking pictures of bridges is stri…
Taking pictures of bridges is str…
This tiny fellow, along with his m…
This tiny fellow, along with his …
The cottage on the right is our ho…
The cottage on the right is our h…
The kite salesman tries to draw at…
The kite salesman tries to draw a…
The fisherman and his hat selling …
The fisherman and his hat selling…
We could almost hear the water his…
We could almost hear the water hi…
Chaungtha
photo by: Cho