Bagan to Ngapali is an easy 30 minutes flight, but we have opted for a much cheaper bus ride that includes an overnight stay in Pyay. A sleepy town on Irrawaddy river with not much happening except some very friendly locals. I love those places off the banana pancake trail, where people are still genuinely happy to see foreigners without any side intentions. In tourist hotspots I often feel like I have a 'cash machine' sign on my forehead! Not here.
We have spent a very nice relaxed day, just wandering around and talking to locals. What awaited us in the evening was an 11 hour minivan ride to Ngapali Beach and it almost bordered with the minivan experience from Mongolia. Mongolia still wins the worst bus experience, but it was a horrible ride. We've got to the beach at 5am and took us a while to find a good deal on a hotel. This stretch of beach is intended to be upmarket, which means it is easy to find a room for $125 plus, but budget accommodation is almost nonexistent. We have scored a room for $40, which turned out to be a real excellent deal in this end of the world. Our days were spent doing not much more than taking up a beach bed for 4 days, an occasional visit to the neighbouring fishing village of Gyeiktav and an evening walk to the beach restaurants on the other end of this 4km long beach. One day we went for a snorkelling boat trip around the nearby island. I was a bit disappointed with Mariola not making more out of the stay than wetting her ankles in the sea. She's spent the whole time wrapped up in beach towels claiming it was too cold. I admit it wasn't extremely hot, but I think it was much better than she will claim later in her stories...
Also one of the highlights was meeting Debra and Lou, a couple from New Mexico, who do amazing charity and social work not only in Burma. They claim that it is their time to return something to the society and they both have amused us with their stories on a couple of occasions. Ngapali is simply a fantastic place and I just love when we meet such interesting people along the way.