After three years of refused visas and fallen plans, Myanmar, after all! The far south, border town of Ranong is a mix of Cambodia and North Korea with a touch of Islam! I’m so excited! (… and I just can’t hide it..! )
In the footsteps of George Orwell
Arrived by boat in the town of Myeik. Didn’t plan to linger but I fell in love.
Throughout the journey, I’ve been writing my new and most epic screenplay. It’s the story of Dev, a young adult in a world where children never grow up, on a journey to defeat a monster threatening his lands. And it’s a story which I’m pretty sure will one day change the world!
There’s one suspiciously good café in this town that was once a home to George Orwell and really hasn’t changed much at all since the time. Writing here, I can quite literally feel Orwell’s creative spirit in the air!
… and Herman Melville?
There are some islands nearby in a government-restricted zone and I’m told the rains are coming. So, I convince some fishermen to take me!
Three hours later, I’m at open sea, in the middle of a wild storm and the boat engine breaks down. I’m soaked, laughing to myself and all I can think of is Moby Dick!
Water madness country-wide! Found a bike and rode 100km north to the small town of Palaw. Every few minutes a mob awaits me with water buckets. No chance to dry. With the heat, it’d actually be pretty refreshing… if not for the muddy yellow water.
“The Beach” — a true story
Met a shady German guy who for US$2 agreed to part with a secret map he’d drawn up. On a beat up rental bike, I drove down along the Andaman coast to the Dawei Peninsula, to an area where I’m pretty sure I wasn’t allowed to be.
“Turn when you see a football field, then on top of the hill look for a path in the woods” — not helpful directions.
Drove all day. By afternoon, roads turned into paths. By the evening, I was just a half hour trek through the jungle away. Animals I could hear but not see kept dashing out of my way and I wondered, “What would I do if I was actually greeted by a tiger?” Then finally, right in time for the sunset, the jungle cleared and there it was — a secluded, hidden away, perfectly empty, undiscovered beach.
I hung a hummock (finding two trees close enough was a challenge) and I spent the night looking at the stars, listening to the sea.
My last hitchhiking attempt (years ago) ended in me trekking 35km to a town where the train station was still being built. Hitchhiking? — nope, not my thing. But motivated by another thumb-traveller I met and with Nemo, my bike, sadly somewhere on the sea right now, I found myself by the main road, with a piece of cardboard in my hands, hoping for a ride up north.
In minutes, I hitched a ride… on a bus. A Buddhist pilgrimage bus.
Long gone are the days when Asian temples evoked feelings of more than just “Uh, another one…” But after a few hours on the bus, this place, their pilgrimage site, was to leave me speechless and mesmerized.
A 10-storey tower, much like some Arabian ‘stupa’, with four just as tall — enormous! — sitting Buddha statues on each side of the structure, looking off in all different directions. Paired with ancient chanting, surrounded by nothing but hills and wilderness as far as the eye could see. It was no less than magical.
Before continuing my ‘pilgrimage’ to Yangon, I saved the GPS coordinates. I would’ve written down the name of the place if I could understand the local pronunciation. Completely unknown by the Lonely Planet and WikiTravel, and without even a single picture of the place on Google, I’ll think of this place as my little secret, much more impressive than the famous Bagan; my own Burmese discovery.
For more on Matt’s films and travels, check out the Etherium Sky Production Blog at www.EtheriumSky.com/ProdBlog