Apr 15, 2012

Lovin' Myanmar

People who know John and I are compulsive travelers often ask, “What is your favorite place?” I usually answer, “Where I am.” And this is true. The world is an amazing place with each destination offering something special. However, there is only one place that we have returned to for five straight years – Amazing Resort on Ngapali Beach, Myanmar. And, each year we stay longer.

At first we thought the name “Amazing” was a bit trite but now we keep using the word when describing Amazing Resort because so many aspects are truly “amazing.” The beach arcs for about two miles with a huge boulder at one end with a small Buddhist pagoda on top and at the other end a large rock has a mermaid on it. In between is sand and little else – no pesky vendors, no other hotels and very few people. During low tide the sand is hard making it perfect for walking on. In the morning we walk to the pagoda and in the evening to the mermaid. Most days we spend swimming and reading on the beach under the thatched sun shades. We use the hotel inter tubes to float around in the warm water and ride the waves in. They have an infinity pool but we have never used it.

Our large room is on the second floor of a two-story six-room villa and has many interesting features like a lacquer ware sink and large, oval stone tub. Besides the usual robe and slippers there are two woven sun hats with tags that says “Take Me Home” and flip flops for the beach. Each evening we have a libation while sitting on our balcony watching the sunset. After the sun sets hundreds of glittering lights appear on the horizon from the fishing boats.

Even though we spend most of our days relaxing on the beach there are other things to do including snorkeling and fishing trips. One day we rented a tuk-tuk which is a motorcycle with a place for eight to sit in the back much like the bed of a pickup truck with bench seating along the side. We visited the nearby village of Thandwe, a Buddhist temple, and the fishing village. The spa treatments at the hotel are all under $30. Probably the most amazing aspect of Amazing Resort is the staff. They are delightful and offer excellent service. When we arrived this year we were greeted with a “Welcome Back” sign.

We have noticed small changes in Myanmar in the five years we have been visiting. Now that sanctions are being lifted the changes will be more dramatic. Myanmar is one of the few places people have retained their culture in a world that has become very Westernize. Hopefully that won’t change. Myanmar has been a favorite destination of Europeans who relished visiting a country untainted by Western influence. That coupled with the great temples of Bagan, the unique leg-rowers of Lake Inle, boat trips on the Irrawaddy, and the beauty of Ngapali Beach have caused tourism to increase dramatically in the last couple of years.

Contrary to what many people think, the country is very safe and easy to get around via their domestic airlines. The hotels run the gamut from budget to five-star. The people are kind, gentle, and welcoming. And, we plan to return next winter and stay longer.