Pathein (21-23 Jun 12)

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June 21st 2012
Published: June 22nd 2012
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Shwemokthaw PagodaShwemokthaw PagodaShwemokthaw Pagoda

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"Bus" Ride from Ngwe Saung to Pathein"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.

Additional photos below
Photos: 14, Displayed: 14


Inside the BusInside the Bus
Inside the Bus

Observe the little plastic bag hanging from the top. It contained more little plastic bags used by passengers for spitting their betel nut juice, and more generally, vomitting! I survived the 1.5h of undulating hairpins unscathed.

Apparently the city is famous for producing them, mostly used to shield against the sun more than the rain.
Unknown MosqueUnknown Mosque
Unknown Mosque

One of the few spotted in town, surely a legacy of the city's Islamic roots.
Pathein RiverPathein River
Pathein River

Not exactly pretty but probably still the lifeblood of the city.
Aedes Free School!Aedes Free School!
Aedes Free School!

But what about the rest of the town?
Man Painting Burmese SignMan Painting Burmese Sign
Man Painting Burmese Sign

Bonus points for deciphering.
Street StallStreet Stall
Street Stall

Low-key family-run-looking place with assembly-line of youngsters making what looked like Indian-style thosai (?)
Coke in Myanmar!Coke in Myanmar!
Coke in Myanmar!

Who says there isn't any? Imported from Thailand though.
Junction of Pagoda and Market StreetsJunction of Pagoda and Market Streets
Junction of Pagoda and Market Streets

Kinda like the main intersection in town. I stayed real close.

2nd June 2013

Accomodation in Pathein
Hi there! I was searching for accomodation in Pathein and came across your blog. I was wondering if you enjoyed staying in Taan Taan Ta Guesthouse and how much it cost per night? I'd imagine that it might have increased since you were there but it would be useful to have a ballpark figure. Thanks, Kenneth
6th June 2013

Hi Kenneth Sure, yes I remember Taan Taan Ta (with a name like that, who could forget?). It was USD10 per night, for a private fan room with double bed and shower (cold, I think). No TV. Place was fine, felt safe, and clean enough. I remember there being other locals staying there I think, as well as several cats. Location was good, as it was close to the market, some restaurants (a good Indian briyani nearby) and shops, as well as the main temple in town (I forgot the name), and an internet cafe, and the bus station. But Pathein is a very compact and walkable city in any case. Hope you have a good time there! I think Pathein's not one of those places every backpacker goes, so it felt quite satisfying to me when I popped by for a quick look...

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