My mother’s one stipulation about me moving to Burma was that we got some bullet proof travel insurance; “just in case you fall off a mountain in the middle of nowhere and leave your arm at the top”.
Fair point. Rural clinics are fine for…ancient paracetamol tablets. But for anything semi-serious you need to get yourself to Yangon, and for anything properly serious you need to hot-foot it to Bangkok.
But with a medevac policy in place, we take advantage of living in a land of adventure and head for weekends in far flung corners of the country as often as possible.
They often seem to involve motorbikes (alarming given my driving skills).
Here’s the first in three instalments of my favourite of our weekends out in the sticks.
Dawei – February 2016
WE TOOK: two pals and everything we needed to be self-sufficient
WE SOURCED: two motorbikes/Asian scooters, four “helmets”
WE FOLLOWED: a map we found online posted by a far more intrepid explorer than we who had done the initial scope for us
If Burma looks like a monkey sitting on a branch, Dawei is half way down the tail. You fly to Dawei, then there’s a little peninsula south of the town which you tackle by motorbike.
Our destination was Sin Htauk Beach, a little-known paradise two hours down the coast. The main road is easy enough, and winds past waving children, ox-and-carts heaving up and down fields, and bamboo homes which double as shops and petrol stations (….which means they sell whiskey bottles full of petrol).
Two out of four wheels got punctures en route, but luckily this common enough an affliction that almost every dwelling along the road is a bike repair “shop”, signalled by a tyre hanging off a branch outside, so we were soon on our way again.
We picked up some vegetables en route from a mobile shop on the way. Not because we really needed any. Mostly because it was such a novelty, and the lady was the nicest person on the planet.
The last 10 kilometers is down a dirt track so narrow that you have to push the bike most of the way so as not to crop off your knees. As Stephen from the blog says, “the road to the beach is dreadful. The first 30 minutes range from OK to pretty bad. The last 15 minutes verge on dangerous. Not for the faint hearted.”
But at the end of the track is a long, white, deserted, sparkling, breezy pocket of heaven. Warm bubbly beers from our backpacks have never tasted so good. And with the beach to ourselves, skinny-dipping in the moonlight, whooshing the phosphorescence through our fingers, is obviously how we spent the evening.