Sunday, 11 January 2015


One crappy uncomfortable, $7 per person, 4 hour bus ride later (I must be getting soft, 10 hours on a ‘bus’ in Sumbawa makes this trip seem like a day at Disneyland!) and we were in Pathein - it’s only real claim to fame is it being the home of the hand-made parasol.  This is where we spent New Year’s Eve and I’m kinda glad we did, it was a great night among friendly people.

 It reminded me of being in Phong Nha, Vietnam, for Tet, that small country town feel with the locals all partying.  After dinner and quite a few 70 cent beers at Top Star, right on the river, we grabbed a motorbike taxi to take us out to a ‘bar’ I had seen earlier.  This turned out to be another teahouse, with not a drop of liquor on site…   ‘next’!

So our driver took us out to Royal Lake, a weird little fun park type thing, not really…??!  Anyhow, they had a live band, great atmosphere and plenty of young locals out enjoying the night.  Our driver stayed with us and had beers for a couple of hours, his English was not bad and it was good to be chatting with a local, getting the lowdown on all things Pathein, parasols and Myanmar!

He also agreed to rent me his bike for the next few days ( silly fool!! ) so we could ride out Ngwe Saung, a beach to the west of here on the Bay of Bengal. Then we were back to our hotel, the Pammawaddy, to watch the firework’s from the rooftop with a couple of whiskey’s to finish the night.

Our friend from the night before turned up at 9.30am as planned with his bike, but in the daylight, and sober, hours I could see that it was 1 pothole away from death!  I made the excuse that the back tyre was way too bald for me to take, and it seriously was, and in no time he had a couple more locals around to discuss renting one of their bikes.

A deal was struck with one of the young guy’s, another friend acting as translator, $10 a day was a little steep but much better than paying for taxi’s – my arch nemesis on my travels, they just really do a number on your budget. A one way ride out to Ngwe Saung is usually $30 or if travelling solo you can go on the back of a motorbike taxi for $10-$15.

 It’s why I generally avoid the bigger cities, without transport you just can’t see enough or you end up spending a fortune on taxi fares.  It’s another reason I love Bangkok- the fantastic public transport system there, you can see the whole city with ease and it’s ridiculously cheap.

 But nothing beats having your own wheels, the freedom to go where you want, whenever you want, you can really get a proper feel for any of the towns you visit by getting among it’s streets and the people, a bike is a traveler’s best friend!