Just Another Day by the Andaman Sea
April 2017, Bokpyin Township, Thaninthayi Region, Myanmar: On the week before the annual celebration of the “Thingyan” or Water Festival, Myanmar’s equivalent to the New Year Holidays; I visited Bokpyin, a remote town in the Thaninthayi Division of Myanmar. The township is among the poorest in Myanmar and is remotely situated along a narrow stretch of land that is split with Thailand at the country’s southernmost tip. The long strip of land faces the touristy Mergui Archipelago and the faithful Andaman Sea. The town is actually closer to Bangkok than to Yangon and many locals casually do business across the border and can fluently speak the Thai language.
A number of large palm plantations provide employment to the local workforce but majority of the town folks are engaged in fishing. Indeed, the Andaman Sea and its shores are considered a vital part of the everyday life of the locals.
It was an unplanned tour of the township that brought me to this sleepy fishing village of Thae Phyu. While this was not my fist time to visit the town, my hosts, knowing that I do a lot of photography, were always eager to show me places they think I’d be interested to feature in my stories. We just finished visiting a newly built pagoda situated on a hill in the middle of a vast palm plantation when our lead driver decided to bring us to this seaside village. There, on the shore, under the shade of big tree, they set a tarpaulin on the sand and we sat there, watching the leisurely routine of the fisherfolks while chatting about life in this lovely seaside community.
Of course, my fascination for capturing rural life in Myanmar kept me and my cameras busy, making me leave the picnic area from time to time to capture the attractive scenery or some interesting activities nearby. And then, as if expressing their appreciation for our unannounced visit, local beer and coconuts started arriving at our picnic area, together with some food, mostly from the day’s catch of the friendly local fishermen, and some of them quite exotic including some jellyfish salad (yes, jellyfish!) and barbecued clam meat.
And so the little unplanned picnic went on for a while as more food and local friends and colleagues joined us. And when it was time to go, we profusely thanked our hosts, took some more photos of them and with them, and then, with very full stomachs, drove back to the town proper. I actually enjoyed the unique taste and texture of the jellyfish salad and, deep inside me, I was thankful that my stomach survived the little adventure. The visit was one of my most memorable of this town so far.