An Unlikely Love
What is it about Chaung Tha Beach? A Burmese tourist agency describes it like this: “The Myanmar village of Chaungtha is a few blocks of guesthouses, restaurants and souvenir shops selling T shirts….”
Not impressed? The kiosks with free tasters of sweet greasy rice halawar, and no electricity from 6 am to 6 pm, aren’t actually selling points either! Neither is the three hour bus ride from Pathein. So what is it about Chaung Tha Beach that makes us promise to return?
For one, The Industry isn’t selling it, yet. The Industry pitches Ngapali and Ngwe Saung resorts to rich occidental tourists, leaving Chaung Tha’s quirky charms to Burmese families, students and workers out for a good time.
We love the beach scene: The serious, watchful men frolicking in the surf like puppies; the giggling girls on tandem bicycles wobbling along the water’s edge; the lone banana-boat that provokes excited exclamations; the sea, dotted with carefree non-swimmers, bobbing precariously on the waves in inflated inner tubes; the vendors balancing their wares along the beach, enticing buyers with their singsong calls; the clusters of tiny plastic chairs and huge loudspeakers on the sand at night – intense teenagers warbling karaoke to the dark sky. We even love how it all winds down at 11, because a decent day at the beach in Chaung Tha starts at 6 or 7 in the morning!
Oh and we’re keeping the Grand Hotel ocean-side terrace, where a seafood dinner for four comes to less than 6$ per person, a secret, so we can go back next year, and maybe the year after that too.