Over the long Thingyan holiday, I spent a week in Ngapali in a village about seven minutes’ walk from the beach. We hung out mostly at a beachfront gallery along the stretch made up of temporary cafes, where the municipal government leases out space on a public beach on an annual basis for a small sum of money.
Despite its natural beauty, my Ngapali trip was a touch melancholic. There was a severe lack of public beach area for the locals to enjoy. Most of the beautiful property, and even the surrounding hills are already in private hands, but without any investment put in place.
My host, a Kachin businesswoman based in Ngapali, showed me the immigration checkpoints from one township to another, even within a small territory of one state, Rakhine. Our market visit in Thandwe began with two prominent signs at the entrance, marked with “969” symbols.