Dawei

Dawei is a city in south-eastern Myanmar and capital of Tanintharyi Region, about 600 km south of Yangon on the north bank of the Dawei River. Population , 139,900, and is a port at the head of the Dawei River estuary, 30 km from the Andaman Sea. As a result, the city is prone to flooding during the monsoon season. "Dawei" is also the name of one of Myanmar's 135 ethnic minorities. Dawei is a sleepy tropical town with a number of beautiful beaches in the vicinity. It has a long history of trade and features some interesting colonial architecture, with many old wooden, thatch-roofed bungalows and some brick and stucco mansions. Under British rule Dawei was known as Tavoy, and is still sometimes referred to by that name.

We were at Dawei in order to cross the border into Thailand and visit the Burma-Siam Railway sites just over the border in Thailand. The border crossing point has only recently been opened. It was opened in order to facilitate road traffic from Thailand to a new Deep Water Port at Dawei. The Dawei deep-sea port and special economic zone is an infrastructure project and construction started, but was suspended in 2013. Plans to resume construction were announced in August 2015. When or if it is completed, it will be the largest industrial zone in Southeast Asia

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Upon arrival at Dawei airport, we were transferred to our hotel. Our "guide" barely spoke English, which was perhaps not unexpected at a town as remote as Dawei. Next day we had the same man to take us to the border.

Hotel Zayar Htet San - on TripAdvisor . Dawei is not a main stream tourist destination, nor indeed any sort of a tourist destination, so hotels and facilities are not geared at Western tourists. The hotel was run the way that many Chinese owned hotels are in Asia. That is clean, basic rooms with no frills, a clean bathroom but not in any way luxurious. A basic breakfast, that is pretty well universally disliked by Europeans. Our bedroom was large, with a very hard bed, and looked out onto the strange cladding that decorates the front of the hotel. So no view. It does not deliver on the interior, what it promises on the exterior. There were nice, well kept grounds, a reception desk that employed 4 people during the day - there was certainly no work for 4 people there. Dawei is well off the main tourist map of Burma. We were there to exit, via a bumpy 4 hour drive to Kanchanaburi in Thailand. If I was in Dawei again, I think would look at what the other accommodations options were, but I suspect there are not many/any others.

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We had the rest of the day to "explore" Dawei, and by judicious use of TripAdvisor, I found a few places to eat and drink - we tried the three that were in reasonable walking distance

Princess Pearl. (1st photo below) This is a sort of Burmese version of an English beer garden. The draft beer is cold and cheap. The service is slow, and there is little effort to clear dirties from tables . Much the same as an English beer garden :-) The main advantage apart from the beer being cold and cheap, is that it is not on the road , so is a more pleasant place to sit than somewhere that exposes you to the dust of passing motorcars

Tavoy Kitchen. (2 and 3 photos below)This modest looking restaurant is probably the best dining option for westerners in Dawei. We were greeted by the manager who spoke good English, and explained the menu to us. After that he went back to playing with his laptop, and let the non-English speaking staff serve us. They do not have a liquor licence, so you either stick to plum juice, or bring in your own from a nearby shop. The restaurant is happy for you to do that. The Asian food they serve was fine. And if you want "less spice" or "no chilli" they are happy to adapt to your whims. The prices are very reasonable, the surroundings clean, and just a decent place to have dinner

Dream Journey. (4 and 5 photos below)We came here for coffee and cakes. Well actually I came for the Iced Avocado Coffee and cake, much lauded on TripAdvisor, but "We have no Avocados" greeted me. Undeterred we settled for coffee and cake - you can choose your cake in the cafe by pointing. Both we had were very good as was the coffee. The outside eating area is a bit basic by western taste, but I appreciate that their main clientèle is local, who are happy with it

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In the morning overland drove (4 hours) to Htee Khee, a border town in Myanmar, which didn’t exist before the border crossing opened. This is the newest of the 4 land border crossings between Thailand and Myanmar. The purpose for this road and border town will be t connect Bangkok with the Dawei Deep Sea Port. The journey took us on a narrow, winding and bumpy road through mountain scenery jungle and tiny villages. You can see that the deep water port at Dawei must be a decade away from completion - there is no way that heavy lorries could transit this narrow dirt road in any numbers. A one point we were unable to cross a bridge because the steamroller driver had parked it stopping access to the bridge, and disappeared - took a little time to resolve that one. We passed numerous Burma Army checkpoints, each of which needed to see our passports, before we eventually reached the border

We had a serious problem at the border - our monoglot Burmese guide had failed to get our passports stamped out of Burma, so when we arrived at Thai passport control they could /would not let us enter Thailand without the exit stamp. Now there is 5 km of no-man's land between the border crossings. The result was that we had to give our passports to our new Thai guide, who sent a man on a motorbike and a $20 bribe to get them stamped out of Burma. We spent a hot and uncomfortable hour in no-mans land, without passports, while this was being done. Anyway, they eventually got back to us, and we were allowed to enter Thailand

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On to Kanchanaburi

Burma Holiday

 

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