Burma Tourism BeachesMyanmar Tourist Beaches
Burma's Mergui Archipelago: Is travel a power for good?
Our identically named character in the book is flying over the Andaman Sea to the south, to cross the Japanese: "To the right, the skyline was marked by a long black spot that was the wooded back country of Lower Burma. Under the plane, like a necklace of pearls of greens on velvety red, lay the isles of the island group, isolated, unaffected by civilization....".
Off the crash barrier of the boat I sailed on the same island - still lonesome, still largely unaffected by civilization, although they were not so reminiscent of pearls from the ocean floor, but of tufts of fins of rainforests that rise perpendicularly from the sky. The Mergui Archipelago is a string of islets ('800 is the generally accepted number) spread across the Andaman seas, just where the Malay Peninsula inhales to make its sandglass statue.
They are Burmese, which is why they arouse weak longings in the UK mind and are included in this Biggles volume from my early years. Outside the harbour of Kawthaung and its surroundings in the southern part, there is not yet a tourists' beds on a solitary isle. Like the Maldives 40 years ago, the sandy beach that surrounds the jungle is as empty.
Schwanitz, a German company headquartered in Shanghai, is a partnership with Burma Boating, the first company to provide both dive boat and tour of the island when it opened for operation last year (other vessels have arrived this year - it's a rapidly evolving scene). Crustaceans crab scampers on the cliffy banks of the island, white-bellied eagle rolled.
Especially for the Moken, the natives of the Mergui archipelago, the outlook is endless. Aung Kyaw Kyaw (AK for short), our Myanmar leader on board Meta IV, said: "They don't like the private sphere and the way many are treated. We' d been sailing into an area for which the Moken undoubtedly have a say - a protected piece of ocean surrounded by small islets.
While the tokens did not ask or plead for anything, we gave noodle packages to the kids and the ladies, who seemed drunken or stone, were laughing vociferously. Moken are nomads of austronese origin who have been living between the isles for centuries. Despite all their scuba skills and their love of the sea, the Mokens are in poor shape.
However, they no longer move between the eight isles in their old boats. During 2004, the Myanmar authorities made a blatant effort to turn the Moken into a touristic destination by founding a Moken community on a small islet near our site and organizing a "festival".
AK spoke to one of the Moken men in Myanmarese accent on the shore where we followed them. He said that he and his ancestors were now living on Nyaung Wee Iceland, which we had crossed on our toast. The resettlers' village was crowded with people other than the Moken.
So, the Moken liked to disappear for a while. asked AK when they wanted to go back to their relocation isle. Both the other two were still in the cove, the destroyer shone like a swimming ging-talace. At first I didn't even realize the flicker of the Moks' fire on the shore behind it.
"When we' re not angling, we get killed, we' re all dead," said one of the Mokens AK. There is an extra administrative charge of about US$250/£150 per passenger on the Mergui. Meta IV is a 1997 constructed and two years ago converted teensailyacht. Camerawork, sunscreen, sun hat, swiming/snorkeling equipment, sun glasses, beach sandal, text.
It' Last State of the Moken by Thom Henley and Geo and Jok Klathalay.