Burma part II: Ngapali Beach

Our next stop was Ngapali Beach on the Bay of Bengal.  I had been excited about going since reading old clippings from my grandfather’s columns in the Rangoon Times – he lived in Burma from 1928 to 1934. In his column he described the challenge of finding the perfect beach for their Christmas holidays. His column recounts the trouble that he and his friends faced in finding somewhere pristine and untouched, yet not so remote that ice would not be available to cool their drinks… They settled on Ngapali beach and flew there too – we followed in their footsteps, eighty-three years later. He also seemed to not have much luck fishing…

The beach was stunning and great for swimming, being much steeper than beaches in East Africa, where it is sometimes necessary to walk for half an hour to get into water above one’s knees. It is being developed, and although there are quite a lot of hotels, with more on the way, they have been sympathetically designed, with low rise bungalows, which generally blend well into the landscape of palms and Casuarina equisetifolia.

The seafood was incredibly fresh and simply prepared. Although there were some tomato based curries, the best food was simply grilled squid, prawns, and fish, basted in garlic and ginger and served with a dipping sauce of soy/fish sauce, garlic, and chili, or simply mashed raw garlic, ginger and salt. Delicious! They also did a simple avocado and tomato salad – rough lumps of avocado and sliced tomatoes topped with sliced red onions, finely diced garlic, and a bit of sugar and lime. Most of this food was produced in simple beach side shack restaurants – one of which had a prime spot in the centre of a tiny little white sand island, accessible only by boat! All washed down with ice cold draught Mandalay beer. We also were befriended by a lovely little pariah beach dog who joined us for strolls and of course meals.

My grandfather’s sketch of Ngapali Beach in 1934

Thande Beach Hotel’s vintage bus which picked us up from the airport

Ngapali Beach in the morning

My grandafather’s photograph of Ngapali from 1934

A traditional house with drying chilies in Lontha Village

Our ‘fishing boat’ on Ngapali Beach

My grandfather attempting fishing at Ngapali Beach

Island Restaurant

More photos in the gallery: