Riding Waves in Rakhine State ...
Planning a holiday in Myanmar is not as
easy as it sounds. Too many places are worth seeing. Just by
opening a guide book confuses the mind - Mandalay, Golden
Rock, Inle Lake or Bagan? Beaches, temples, hiking or
All these opportunities crossed my mind when I was planning my
holidays. I heard many great stories about the ancient city
of Myauk U and Ngapali beach in Myanmar's Rakhine State.
Old, magical temples and a beautiful beach sounded like an
awesome combination. I made my final decision when a friend
of mine told me that it is
possible (and also quite
adventurous) to take a cargo boat or ferry back from Sittway
to Taungup, which is only 80 kilometers away from Thandwe,
the closet town to Ngapali.
My plan was to fly up to Sittway, to explore Myauk U and then
make my way all the way back to Yangon without taking a
plane. A little bit more difficult and pretty time consuming
- but it makes perfectly sense when you are scared of
So I flew up to Sittway, the historic part town at the Bay of
Bengal. The only way to reach Mrauk U is by boat up Aungdat
Chaung creek ( a tributary of the Kaladan River) with the
option of taking a chartered boat or a government ferry.
Both take about six to eight hours.
The boat ride itself is worth the trip. The eyes never get
tired of watching the scenery - fishermen bringing back
their catch, children bathing water buffalos in the river,
small boats packed with vegetables and fruits passed by and
the sun sets over the Rakhine hills in the distance.
The town of Mrauk U was founded in 1433 and was once one of
Myanmar's most powerful kingdoms. However, today the temples
and pagodas lie mostly in ruins and a small and poor, but
beautiful and relaxed, town has grown among the ruins. It
almost seems that time stopped here centuries ago. No one is
in a hurry; the men chew betel and the women smoke cheroots.
Cars are hardly seen and the main means of transport is the
oxcart or the rickshaw.
Even though the temples are quite impressive I have probably
seen enough old temples in my life. However, Shitthaung Paya
is a place where you can easily spend a few hours.
Shitthaung means 'shrine of the 80,000 images' and refers to
the number of Buddha images found inside.
For me it was the combination of rural life, friendly people
and ancient ruins that made the place fascinating.
I enjoyed taking a morning stroll
through the nearby villages;
watching the Rakhine ladies, dressed in bright red, pink or
orange longys, carrying shining aluminum water canisters on
their heads or just watching the sunset, sitting at a pagoda
on the top of the hill - knowing that you are probably one
of the very few visitors in the area.
"written by a world traveler in Myanmar Time