Pathein; Parasols, Putrid Fish & a Pagoda

Pathein (Irrawaddy delta)

13th/14th

Written @ 7pm on the 13th

I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect of Pathein, in fact I’m not entirely sure why I came, other than my in built malfunction that makes me do stuff the hard way so I can call it character building, perhaps?!  Anyway I’m here, I was considering checking out Ngwe Suang beach (which is why most people come here), but considering time constraints, I decided to check out the town, stay the night and head straight to Ngapali beach instead (as its en route to Mrauk U from here), it’s about the journey not the destination right? Ha ha.

On that note I had a lovely experience on the bus, three ladies travelling together (one was a Cristian nun), apparently took a shine to me (they don’t seem to get many foreigners here, so I’m having to get used to the stares), anyway they endeavoured to share their snacks with me, corn (good bus snack!), and fruit (some kind of apple, I shall find out about), in a salt, chilli marinade.  The thing that I thought of was  the white western arrogance, the attitude so many have (to my horror I realized I had a little of this) that, if anyone gives in places such as this, it is us westerners, out of charity, and sympathy because we have money right, because they are poor, because that’s how it goes.  No these ladies did not see me as rich, or expect anything of me, they did not see themselves as poor, they reached out to a stranger, they could barely communicate with, other than with nods and smiles, and they shared food and smiles freely and then they helped me catch a taxi.  Things like that make me happy.

Anyway, Pathein is pleasant, it is Myanmar’s 4th city I believe, although it’s really a large town by most standards, it is famous for hand crafted parasols, and is the capitol of the Ayeyarwady (or Irrawaddy) region, it seems to be a bit of a food bowl, as it is a huge agricultural region, being in a delta it is both a big rice producer and seems to have a lot of fishing boats, and despite a catastrophic storm that left the area and its people devistated and mostly homeless in 2008, the area is apprently prospering.  I think it is also the main fishing port after Yangon, the market was fascinating so much dried fish of all different kinds, and as a result thourally untouristified.  As far as I can tell I’m the only tourist here!  Understandable as it takes a chunk of time out of your travels, but I’m enjoying the adventure, even the hot, sweaty, bumpy buses, the communication breakdowns, and the crappy hostel, this is what it’s all about hey?!  I went for a walk this evening and watched the sun set over the river!  Brought more water on the way back so set for tomorrow.

4.30 am bus tomorrow ugh, I read online there was a 9.30, but couldn’t find anyone who knew anything about it, as it was I had to go directly to the bus station to find out if there was a bus tomorrow!  Booked now so early start, 3-hour bus, then I have to catch one of the direct Yangon to Ngapali buses as they pass! Never done this before but there’s always a first.  I did manage to get accommodation sorted though, YAY!  The accommodation out this way is a bit pricey unfortunately, but I had heard this.  I’m being a bit of a shit chef and eating a lot of noodles and fruit to stay on (or near) budget.

Definitely finding Myanmar more challenging and exhausting than anywhere else I’ve been.

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