What to See around Yangon and the South
Yangon’s surrounds and the southern section of Myanmar, which extends like a long finger down towards the equator, offer some of the country’s most compelling sights. In Mon State, Mawlamyine enjoys an evocative ocean setting, while Hpa-An, capital of Kayin State, is surrounded by beautiful karst scenery. In the far south, the Mergui Archipelago is winning attention for its pristine tropical beaches and opportunities to encounter the nomadic, sea-based Moken people.
The temperature dropped as the sun went down, and fog fell over the city. This was good news, as we had planned on wandering the ferret warrens surrounding the big Mawlamyine markets. We came upon this game of kickball, and put our adventuring on hold to make fools of ourselves in a typically Burmese way. Mawlamyine is a part of Southern Burma that sees relatively few outside visitors, which really is saying something when you consider how few tourists visit Burma each year. Burmese are generally kind, open, and honest folk who will readily invite you into their homes for a bite to eat, or into their game of kickball - only to laugh at how incredibly bad you are when you can’t keep the ball in the air for more than two seconds. I must have joined in half a dozen games while wandering the city in a single night - unexpected, and tons of fun. For those wondering, this game is called chinlone, and it is one of Burma’s oldest traditional games. In typical Burmese fashion, the game is not about scoring points, but how well you play the game. Perfect.
The western terminus of the infamous “Death Railway”, built during the Second World War by Allied prisoners of war, Thanbyuzayat is a worthy pilgrimage. There’s not a lot to see in the town itself, but the railway station and the war cemetery, which contains 3771 graves are moving reminders of the horrors of war.