A short propeller plane ride back to Rangoon ended three glorious days at Ngapali Beach. Incidentally, this beach is pronounced as Napoli Beach apparently because several years ago an Italian beach-goer claimed that it reminded him of his beloved Neopolitan town.
Note to everyone: this is nothing like Naples; it is much, much better!
With not many tourists, fabulous inexpensive restaurants and picture-perfect sunset views across the Bengal Sea, this is just about as ideal as it gets. Hopefully it will stay like this for the next few years. When you add into the equation the occasional oxen and cart rolling along the beach, in between fruit sellers with baskets of fruit on top of their head, and turquoise waters with five kilometers of empty, sandy beaches filled with palm trees, then you have the perfect mix.
After a few days here, we returned to Rangoon but the city looked different this time.
In the early evening, with the heat out of the day, it seemed more inviting than the first time around. We went to a delightful restaurant where we had views of the Shwedagon Pagoda and saw in the distance across the lake Aung San Suu Kyi’s house. We strolled through the colonial area not far from the British embassy (oh the sins of past!) and ended up having a cup of tea at the Strand Hotel which is the most famous colonial hotel in all of Burma. Later in the evening, we were walking over a bridge, which was not well lit, and bumped into three guys coming the other way. They stopped us because they wanted to chat! Now in any other city in the world, three guys coming at you over a dark bridge late at night might be cause for concern, but this is the thing about Burma, these guys were genuinely curious about where we came from, what our country was like, and simply wanted to practice English so desperately that we ended up standing on that bridge for about 15 minutes chatting past midnight.
It was a magical travel moment and spoke tons about this lovely culture. It just made you want to smile.
The Strand Hotel