Life Along the Irrawaddy River
We were excited to be getting aboard the Sanctuary Ananda. We left our hotel at 9:15 and arrived at the dock at 10 am. Our taxi driver took us to the wrong jetty at first, but we finally made it and were the first ones on board. The cruise director, AB Eland, met us and welcomed us to the cruise. AB is originally from Holland but lives in Thailand part of the year when he is not working. He told us that he took the liberty of upgrading us to the third deck so that we could have better photography opportunities. I had written on our information sheet that we were photographers and needed some freedom on the excursions. Our guide came to us after the first excursion to let us know that she would be available to answer any questions in case we missed something due to our photography endeavors. We also learned from the cruise director that there would only be 18 people on board. The small number was good in some ways and not so good in other ways.
Our room was very nicely decorated with an Asian theme – dark wood, green and gold colors and quite a bit of drawer and closet space. There was a very convenient desk and lots of plugs to charge our electrical items. The air condition was very good and we really were glad to have it! We spent the first few hours getting our clothes and things organized. We had an outside balcony with table and chairs where we could photograph life along the river.
At 12:30 we met in the Kansi Panorama Lounge for a safety briefing. We also met some of the heads of staff plus the captain, chef and the company director. We sat next to a family of four from Toronto. They were getting off half way as they had been on their own in the country about 10 days. It was a very interesting mix of people: – there was a group of six Australians who were all friends, an American couple from Washington D.C., two older American men who have retired to Thailand and had been on a similar cruise out of Mandalay, and an older English man and his young Thai wife who lived in Edinborough.
Just a bit of information about the Irrawaddy River and our cruise. Our boat left Yangon Port about 12 pm and joined the Twante Canal which connects the Yangon River to the Irrawaddy River. The Irrawaddy (often spelled – Ayeyarwady by the people of Myanmar) is the largest and most important river in Myanmar. It flows from north to south and through the Irrawaddy Delta and emptying into the Andaman Sea. It is sometimes referred to as “The Road to Mandalay” after the poem written by Rudyard Kipling.
Lunch was served at 1 pm and I must say that it was delicious. All the meals have been fantastic! Probably the best food I have ever eaten on a cruise! The food is Asian fusion with Thai influence plus many unusual vegetables and fruit. The desserts are amazing with decided British overtones. There are plenty of choices for vegetarians and the chef is very considerate of different food preferences.
Shawn and I immediately started taking photos from the back of the boat – so much to see along the river and on the river. Within an hour or two heavy rain showers began to fall and the photos took on an unusual pixelated artistic look. If I didn’t mention it before, this is the rainy season and we have seen a lot of rain so far.
Here are some of my first-day photos on the river:
Our first day we sailed as far as Wartaw where we stayed overnight and then early the next morning we sailed to Danuphyu where we had our first excursion. Watch for the next post where we travel by trishaw and visit a monastery school.