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BURMA Lost & Found

Three years living my dream job in the travel industry in Rangoon & beyond

 
The below excerpt comes from Chapter 5: Paradisial Ngapali Beach “I smiled to myself upon seeing the three kilometre stretch of clean, white sands and clear blue waters. A palm forest edged right up to the beach and was only cleared in a few places to make space for resorts. A woman in a red longyi was carrying a basket of pineapples on her head. A man driving an oxcart smiled as he passed me by. A group of children from a distant fishing village ran toward me waving their hands and screaming loudly, “Mingalabar!” Only a couple of tourists were playing in the sea’s light waves in the distance. At that moment, Ngapali was the best mainland beach I had ever seen. It was one of the best in general anywhere. It was a paradise not yet spoiled by mass tourism. Nightlife lovers would have nothing to look for here.

I walked past the few international-standard hotels to see some fishing villages and less touristy areas—if you can talk about “touristy” places on a deserted beach. A morning fish market was taking place at the bay, which is sheltered by two small hills covered with dense jungle. Children of fishermen who spend the night at sea were unloading traditional longtail boats. Fish of all kinds, shapes and sizes were displayed on mats laid directly on the sand. Villagers weighed the fresh catch of the day for some local restaurant owners and chefs who were buying the day’s special. Motorbikes with small trailers waited to be fully loaded prior to departing for the market in Thandwe and other destinations throughout the country. For seafood lovers, Ngapali Beach is a culinary paradise.

The travel guides feature chapters on ethical issues relating to traveling here. Everybody seems to be concerned with the humanrights violations. At the same time, none of the same people seem to have any problem with China, Egypt or any other tourist destination with at least a questionable human rights record. Unfortunately the journalists and travel writers fall for their propaganda. That influences many tourists to refrain from coming.

By now I had seen four out of the five major tourist destinations in the country, and I was absolutely amazed by what I had experienced. Every location was different and had something unique to offer.

What was most stunning, however, was the way the people, despite their daily hardships created by the military regime, suffered in silence with smiles on their faces. They were always willing to help a foreigner who took the time and effort to see their country. For these and perhaps some other reasons not yet known to me I felt so much better here than I had in Thailand. In the Land of Smiles, a foreigner is treated like a walking ATM, and screwing us over seems to be a national religion second only to Buddhism. Myanmar had an enormous tourism potential if things were to change in the future. I wished I had some money to invest in the country and wait for better times to come. For the moment, all I could do was to go to sleep and rest before tomorrow’s adventure.(…)”

About the book: In January 2011, just before political reforms in Myanmar ended a decades-old military regime, writer and travel expert Marek Lenarcik arrived in Yangon on a short-term work assignment. Little did he know then that a broken heart and dwindling savings would lead him to pursue a dream career working for one of the country’s top tour companies. On duty as a travel product manager, Marek traverses the country by trains, planes and automobiles to experience stunning landscapes, ruins of empires, exotic food and unique cultures in search of the best that the nation’s budding tour and hospitality industry has to offer. With stories from the emerald shores of the Andaman Sea at Ngapali beach to the mountain peaks of Chin State, Burma Lost & Found brings humour, vivid description and insight to his adventures and encounters with an eclectic cast of characters including an eccentric monk, dodgy expats, charismatic guides, gracious hosts and many more.

His first book Tajski epizod z dreszczykiem (Thai Episode with a Thrill) was published in Poland in June 2012 and quickly became a bestseller in its category. Its English version was published in February 2013 under the title This is Thailand: A Story of Love, Sex and Betrayal in the Tropics.

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