This morning started just like a joke, with an Irishman in a bar.
Owing to a spontaneous message from an old work colleague I was sitting in a bar by 9am on my first full day in Myanmar drinking a beer and smoking a cigarette with a man I had just met.
Cameras by our side, we had one mission, to take the short ferry from the capital across to Dala and spend the day exploring the local villages there. Despite its strategic location near Yangon, the township is still largely rural and undeveloped mainly because it still lacks a bridge across the Yangon river, with connections between the township and the city being by ferry only.
I had been told that Dala was pretty rough and not very safe for tourists to visit so I was grateful for the male company.
On the ferry across we sampled an array of local produce including fresh lychees still in their shells and boiled quail eggs (I was relieved to discover they were boiled as raw quail eggs are also a popular snack food here). On the other side we bustled through the chaos of locals departing the ferry and taxi drivers trying to hustle a job. We organised two scooters with drivers and asked them to take us to any nearby fishing village.
What followed was a day of tea drinking, lots of spontaneity (including getting on a riverboat with no idea of it’s destination until we reached it), communication challenges, photographing and interacting with locals, searching for miles and miles for a restaurant we could each lunch at, a lot more beer drinking, dancing kids, and bamboo villages.
During the day I saw just one other traveler and he seemed just as shocked to see us as we him, with him asking how we came to find out about the bamboo village. I was overwhelmed with the warmth of the people and the feeling of being completely off the beaten track despite being just a 20 minute boat ride from Yangon.