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The journey is worth it however. Gaw Yan Gyi has been a quiet favourite amongst Myanmar people for a couple of years now, but only recently has it been frequented by foreigners.
Although it is often referred to as an island, Gaw Yan Gyi is actually a peninsula at the south of Ayeyarwady Region. Both sides of the peninsula are beach. One is the fishing bay, the other the ‘pleasure beach’. The latter is almost always quiet save for when children from the village run and leap into the water to cool off between lessons.
Bits of fishing apparatus is peppered over the beach, but this is to be expected, as Gaw Yan Gyi still does not regard itself as a tourist destination and therefore picking up bits of netting is simply not a priority.
And indeed, it is the real, rustic, raw nature of Gaw Yan Gyi that makes it so special. Unlike Thandwe at Ngapali or Ywama at Ngwe Saung, Gaw Yan Gyi has not adapted its catering for the benefit of travellers by selling pizza and pasta, but instead is made up of tea shops, beer stations and little restaurants. The merry proprietors – as is the way in Myanmar – will wave you in from the street to try their tea-leaf salad before going for a bathe.
Gaw Yan Gyi does not offer the isolated paradise of a white-sand beach but instead the comfort of a pretty coastline and the charm and hospitality of a Burmese village.
Visit the town of Pathein before heading south to Gaw Yan Gyi peninsula and Ngwe Saung Beach.