Myeik and Kawhthoung

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Posted by Giom | Posted in Myanmar, On the road, South East Asia | Posted on 18-02-2014

The last kilometers from Dawei to Myeik are very nice because I know it’s the last ones in Myanmar.

The southern area of Myeik is still closed to tourists, and anyway the road is in such a bad state, according to fellow riders who’ve been there, escorted by the police…

So I slow down, as I’ve rarely done it during my trip. I admire the view, I take time to stop when people call out to me, which happens quite a lot here. I’ve been invited to take a nap in a house, while I peacefully laid down in a plantation of rubber trees, and I’m being watched by all the kids. I talk with people as best I can, I take my time, more than never, and it’s very, very nice.

The day before arriving at Myeik, I stop at a monastery because the night is falling. I ask to stay for the night. The monks would rather not for they don’t want to have problems with the police. In the end, I stay: a man from Pakistan speaks a few words of English. He eventually invites me to eat at his place. As usual, my SPOT marker is running so my family can geolocate me.

It starts raining! A miracle! The atmosphere is now less tense. The rain falls for half an hour, the time for me to eat and talk with my new friend.

I sleep at the monastery, and at 11 pm, the police – or so they say, for they don’t have uniforms or badges – wakes me up when I was fast asleep after my day of cycling. I send them to hell, they have no badge, I sleep and I leave tomorrow. That’s ok for you? I hope so!

The day after, I arrive at Myeik, the more active port city of Myanmar. It’s a procession of fishing boats, goods, people. A merry jumble where dockers still work manually, bags of rice on the back, unloaded on a small boat that will go to a big boat that will sail far away from here…

I love the hustle and bustle. It’s worth the show. Dockers wearing longyis and carrying bags of rice under the coconut trees. That sounds exotic and fun but I can tell you that they suffer, for it’s hot here.

I then check my emails before taking the boat the next day to Kawthoung, the border city with Thailand. My computer doesn’t work so I use another one. It’s very slow – thanks to the censorship which filters all my emails. And what do I discover? My parents are worried cause my SPOT marker has sent a help message, one of the functions in case of emergency. But the thing is that I haven’t pressed that button! My parents have contacted the French embassy in Yangoon, the police is looking after me, the French ministry of Foreign affairs set up a crisis unit to organize research… A complete mess! I guess that during diner, while it was raining, one of the monks must have press the button, seeing the marker blinking… I let them know that I’m fine and I give them my version of the story.
I really scared them, even though I haven’t done anything, but everything is alright! Phew!

In Myanmar, in a tea-shop or a restaurant, clients call the waiters doing a loud sound of kiss. Quite poetic!

When a Burmese give something to someone, he always has to hold the right hand with the object to give, putting the left hand on the hollow of the elbow. Elegant and polite gesture.

On the 18th of February, I take the boat from Myeik to Kawthoung – 7 hours on the Andaman Sea, looking for the remote islands, the fishermen, the flying fish. This area is full of islands not explored yet by the tourists…

I hated that country for its roads which are not roads, for its government which prevents the population to host the tourists or even prevents people to go to the hotel of their choice.

I loved that country for its people, for the everyday surprises… It’s not easy to travel here, but that’s what makes it a challenge.

These 27 days have allowed me just to touch upon that country which counted 300,000 tourists in 2010, while the smaller Thailand counted 14 million!

But I still have a question with no answer: is tourism a good thing for the future of this country or not?

Translated by Marie Amossé

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