17th – 19th
After a rather rough ride in a very mediocre bus, from Ngapoli to Mrauk U, (pronounced Mia oo), arriving at 5.30 am, the Prince hotel kindly let me in and me bed was empty so I grabbed a nap and breakfast (prime banana pancakes btw). Following this I began exploring the rather charming village of Mrauk U, I think my description of Mrauk U is going to be rather poor so I’d rather let the pictures speak for themselves, I did have a lovely few days, it helped that all the travellers in my dorm were solo travellers and we decided to do Mrauk U together, the 4 of us had an excellent couple of days, exploring the temples and stupas in the area, cycling was easy, so we just used the hotels bicycles to get around. The lakes were gorgeous, and apparently they use one for drinking water and the other for swimming, so the water was really clean, the locals had a friendly charm, the kids were pretty cute and always smile and shout hullo, bye bye and da da as you cycle past. Overall Mrauk U has an appearance of a thoroughly charming country village, which happens to be built in and around some fascinating history, represented by grey granite stupas and temples on every hilltop.
We managed to crash a celebration for a young boy becoming a monk, and enjoyed traditional milk tea and coconut rice. I understand that everyone here becomes a monk at some stage, though sometimes for only a short time, if they don’t they are not allowed to marry. Also I heard later that the head monk of the monastery had died and they were having a several days long, incredibly noisy celebration of his life, we could here the drums and music all over town and it went all night as well.
I was not told that there is a 5000-kyat government tax that foreigners have to pay, I didn’t (as I didn’t know), the tourist police caught up with me though (yes I just said tourist police!!! This is a thing!). So I had to pay up, I tried to avoid this but I think the lady who found out spent some time looking for me, and looked incredibly smug when she got me, ha ha. All good the sunset from discovery view point was excellent, however the dawn the following morning was prime, and worth the early start, unfortunately I started getting sick the night before and by dawn I had almost lost my voice. We had a great crew up for the sunrise, France, Switzerland, Germany, Austria, and New Zealand were all represented.
After watching the sun come up over a misty Mrauk U, two of us caught the bus to Bagan (after more pancakes). The bus was early ugh, and in my panic I left my charger and battery bank plugged into the wall, but all good as one of the crew is on the next bus to Bagan and is bringing it with him, yay! This works out well!
I think as this [Mrauk U] is a remote area and as there not many tourists the buses are quite unorganised, no one seems to really have a clue how long the trips are, or what the bus changes are, and as the roads are a work in progress the times keep changing, so travel can be a little more stressful. Anyway a big bus for 14 hours, then a wait at a town 50 kilometres from Bagan called Kyaukpadaung (please dont ask me how to pronouce this), then a small local bus (that smelled like cat food) to Nyaung U, then a taxi to a hostel in Bagan, there is more to this story but this is the basic rundown.
Oh I almost forgot the best bit, there were a couple of excellent restaurants in Mrauk U, and the curries were great. Also I would like to write more about Mrauk U from a more historical and political perspective, but I may wait and do this at the end of my trip as a country overview, rather than just one area?! I will commence the writing of this so stay toooned.
I will add more photos soon as I’m having Wi Fi complications!