They say that the hundreds of islands of the Mergui Archipelago just off the coast of Myanmar are a paradise yet to be discovered. The moment I heard that the Southern area of the country had become open for travelling, I planned another trip to Myanmar to visit the roads less travelled.
I crossed the narrow Southern stretch of the country on land from Yangon to Kawthaung, the border town of Thailand, expecting beautiful empty beaches, bad roads, no tourists and plain uninspiring food. What I discovered was a surprise in all areas. I saw some amazing beaches but was shocked about the amount of rubbish that lay in too many places. Yet, the roads were not too bad, the seafood as well as the local noodle dishes were deliciously spicy and the tourists that did travel in the area ended up meeting each other in the limited number of hotels available.
But what surprised me most was how much the country itself had changed in just 4 years. In addition to the construction and expensive cars in Yangon, the people seemed to be better off elsewhere too. And when previously nobody had had a phone, then now almost everybody seemed to possess a smartphone, even the monks. I didn't really expect to see the islands on a backpacker budget but found that they are closer to the dawn of tourism than I thought. I give it a year.
| 2014 |