Today is our last day at Ngapoli Beach before heading to Yangon tomorrow to what we’re told is a busy and congested city. We shall see. We’ll have spent 6 nights and 5 full days here and we were lucky to find a great place at a reasonable price. The beach here is pristine, palm-tree-fringed white sand with crystal clear waters lying on the Bay of Bengal and apparently has the reputation as Myanmar’s premier beach getaway but through either luck or time of year there were very people here so all we could hear on the beach was the birds, waves, wind in the palms and the very occasional boat motor. Local women (and a “lady boy” in the women’s words) occasionally stopped by to sell us fresh fruit and coconuts and were never bothersome or insistent if we didn’t want any. They always had a poise and grace and happy smile and you just couldn’t help but to be happy and smile along with them. This is actually the description I’ll use in my Myanmar summary so please excuse the repeat when you see it because this is what stands out in this country. The people. All ages, all walks of life, all so very warm and welcoming with their beautiful happy smiles. They are lovely people and it was so refreshing.
We didn’t really do much here except chill on the beach, swim, eat, drink and watch the sunsets and then eat again and crash after a very tough day of walking 100 metres from our hotel to the beach, getting up from our lounge chairs for a dip, slowly meandering back to our chairs, flipping sides, snoozing a little and then repeating but hey, somebody has to do it!
We stayed at the River Top Lodge which we would highly recommend. It is located across the main road from the beach which is about a 100 metre walk. The staff was all fantastic and obviously well trained. The housecleaning staff was impeccable, everything worked perfectly in the room, and the restaurant served up a very nice buffet style breakfast which was included in the room price. We could honestly say that this hotel is the best run establishment we have stayed at in a very long time. It may be rated as a 3-4 star hotel but it is definitely rated a 5 star in our books due to the high level of service and attention to detail. My only negative is everything was priced in US Dollars and the price of a beer was quite expensive at $4.00 except during happy hour but this was offset by the very affordable food pricing although still in US $. In Myanmar, all hotel pricing is in US dollars and they charge you US dollars or the equivalent exchange rate of the day. Maybe these places are foreign-owned but I’m not so sure. I can understand if their currency is being ravaged by inflation but outside of the hotels at the local establishments the prices are quoted in Burmese Kyat (pronounced “chat”) and prices are definitely cheaper. We need to dig a little deeper into this to find out why. My only warning to the business people of Myanmar is, be careful. Don’t price yourselves out of the middle class and backpacker crowd. They are your bread and butter tourists and if you cater exclusively to high-end tourists and charge high prices you will soon see your idyllic beaches and villages ravaged by foreign hotel operators who will build big ugly resorts, filled with big ugly people who have no respect for your way of life and you will soon be very upset and regret the way things have changed. We have seen this time and time again.
Damn, that sounded like my summary of Myanmar. I’m sure I’ll think of much more to say.