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Published: February 7th 2007
This was taken December 10th, a little early for christmas. I think it was just a fashion statement. And you have to love his one toothed grin:)-
Ngapali Beach was the last stop in my Myanmar tour. Rumored to be named by an Italian explorer after his home town, this beach is a popular Myanmar attraction and it's easy to see why. After about 2 weeks of travel here in Myanmar I didn't realize how ready I was for some rest and relaxation, and a little luxury, so it was a real treat. Luxury in this case meant an incredible beach with little need to go anywhere. The food was plentiful and good and the accomodation private and comfy. My days were spent going for runs in the morning, swimming in the warm waters, playing frisbee, or visiting the fishing village down the beach. I was still traveling with the two Germans and one Swiss I met in Mrauk-U. Other than me, I think they were the youngest ones on the beach (early 40s.) This is a far cry from the rowdy, dirty, overexposed beaches of Thailand. Thank God!
I would walk to the fishing village almost every day. It took about 45 minutes unless I opted for a bike which still took 15 minutes or so. Ngapali Beach was plenty long, and with a
shallow bay the tide moved the water line quite far every day, creating even more room for playing and discovering. The beach itself was in constant flux as well. In the mornings, the beach was a blank canvas, smoothed out and hardened by the receding tide. Even when I arrived to the village at 7am, the whole village was in full gear. The fisherman were out, or possibly already returning. The women were laying out small, finger sized fish on massive blue nets layed over hay. The sun would later dry them out from far overhead, but currently it would still be filtering through a morning haze, peaking between the palms that edged the village. Soon two pairs of water buffalo would be lead down the beach and attached to a 25 foot wooden boat. On dry sand, these beasts would strain under tremendous weight and a frightening whip to move this water-logged behemoth to even higher ground. The buffalos were strung through the nose with reins of rope. The animals gritted their teeth, moaned, and made slow progress. The lead right buffalo's eyes opened wide every time it heard the crack of the whip on the buffalo behind him.
expansive and quiet.
When the whip was finally used on it, the wide eyed buffalo actually broke through its wooden yoke, freeing his partner as well, and both started to run. I was a little too close for comfort and a little too in its path so I jumped away. Amazingly the two powerful animals just managed to miss my bicycle on either side and the handler deftly controlled them, raising the ropes over the bike, propped on it's kick-stand unaware. The locals, always friendly, smiled and laughed and helped move my bike. Stupid tourist.
By days end the beach was detailed with an amazing abstraction of swirls and circles created by small crabs that hide just under the surface. The little crabs crawl into the afternoon sun as the beach starts to cool and start gobbling up sand. From the sand they take whatever nutrients were left from the tide and spit the rest out into tiny little balls. They work fastidiously always keeping as close to their hole as possible, slowing spiraling out for fresh sand. These little crabbies keep the beach especially clean. In my mind this beach is what made Thailand so famous 30 years ago. No
garbage. Real life. Real locals. And unspoiled beauty. There are very few visitors considering the beach is lined with resorts (of course it is December). But regardless, life feels good here. Locals walk down the beach in the evening with cooking wood collected from the forest. The women stack the wavy wild branches on their heads while the guys usually have them propped on their shoulders or underarm. The young guys who work at the resorts come out every evening for a pick up game of soccer at sunset, drawing the boundaries in the wet hard sand. A few girls ride their bikes by the edge of the water, silhoutted against the low sun. An ox and cart lumber toward the fishing village. A lone horse and rider gallop freely as the tourists sink into lounge chairs along the beach's edge, cocktails and beers in hand for the sun's daily curtain call.
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