Published: June 22nd 2012June 21st 2012
Those grey clouds foretold a sudden 1h downpour that left me stranded at the temple!
After two days of rained-out beach-bumming, I decided maybe it was time to start heading back towards Yangon. On the way of course was the city of Pathein (fourth largest in Myanmar) which was supposedly a worthwhile stop, so here I was. I should also mention that all my fears about Myanmar inter-city buses materialised at Ngwe Saung when I saw the transportation. Suffice to say a picture speaks a thousand words, so I'll let you see for yourself.
Fortunately, it was (only) a 1.5h ride, and before long I had arrived in Pathein, which was not too different from what I'd envisioned -- a miniaturised version of Yangon. The name Pathein apparently means Islam in the native language, and refers to the Muslims who first arrived and settled here. These days, they are definitely in the minority, though you do still see a sprinkling of mosques in the city. The main attraction of the city is the Pathein River that runs through it, as well as the Shwemokhtar Pagoda in the centre. I'd arrived with a dwindling supply of kyat, and had hoped to buy some more, but quickly learnt of the awful rates offered outside of Yangon --
"Bus" Ride from Ngwe Saung to Pathein
So the horror stories are true. This was my ride for 1.5h. I don't even know if it could be called a bus. It was loaded with coconuts on the roof and at the back, and passengers were sitting on rice-filled sacks along the aisle. I was fortunate to be one of those given a proper seat (if you call being squeezed between two betel-nut-chewing local men with so little legroom it left little wiggle for the crotch proper). That's Burmese hospitality for you! Interesting fact: right-hand drive vehicle with entrance on right side, on right side of the road traffic!
K740 to USD1 here v.s. 840 in Yangon! And somewhat interestingly (or more bizarrely, then again what else would you expect from Myanmar), currency exchange can only be done at the guesthouses, and not the banks! I stayed at the Taan Taan Ta Guesthouse right smack in the city centre, next to the market.
There are more photos below