By J.S. Fletcher and Kathy M. Newbern ©2014
(Part 22 in a Series)
Our exploration of Myanmar with luxury travel provider Abercrombie & Kent is among our most treasured memories from our global travels to 70 countries. The people, culture and beauty stand out to become mind opening, as travel often is.
From our waterfront accommodations at upscale Bagan Thiripyitsaya Sanctuary Resort, we watched the sun set over the Irrawaddy River (also spelled Ayeyarwady). That trip, we also saw monks and pedestrians on bikes crossing the tall, wood-piling U Bein Bridge at Mandalay, trekked among the temples at Bagan from the massive and ornate to tiny pagodas — incidentally, there are more than 2,000 in all. Sunrise views from atop one are mesmerizing.
On a separate A&K African adventure, we stayed in three of Sanctuary Retreats’ luxury tent accommodations.
So when the best of both worlds come together, it’s worth writing about. Sanctuary Retreats’ new luxury cruise on the Ayeyarwady will be aboard its all-balcony, 21-suite Sanctuary Ananda. Sailings begin this winter. (Ananda also was our favorite temple in Bagan. That story here: http://www.examiner.com/article/travel-begets-travel-part-7-ananda-temple-bagan-myanmar.)
Here’s more from Sanctuary's website: Sailing on the Ayeyarwady and Chindwin rivers with the largest suites on the rivers, the Ananda will provide an authentic sailing experience combined with 5-star luxury. Custom-built for Myanmar rivers, Ananda will sail every full day of each itinerary, exploring both popular and lesser known areas of Myanmar. Expert guides will delve into the unknown treasures of Myanmar using their wealth of local knowledge.
On-board will be lectures, traditional cooking demonstrations, live music, yoga and meditation, and demonstrations on longyi (the traditional wrap locals wear similar to a pareo) and thanaka (traditional make-up/screen protection you'll see on nearly all faces of the local women and children). The ship also features local performers in the evening.
The 200-foot-long ship features four guest decks and sets sail from or finishes in Bagan, Mandalay or Yangon, which all have airport facilities. Cruises can be accommodated in the Aloungpayah Owner’s Suite (721 square feet), four luxury suites (334-356 square feet), 14 deluxe suites (291-301 square feet) and two suites at 291 square feet.
The owner’s suite has private dining, a private guide, large living area and bath complete with tub plus sun loungers on its veranda.
If You’re Going: Sanctuary Ananda is offering a $400 onboard credit for all suite and deluxe suite bookings, or a $600 credit for booking the Aloungpayah Owner’s Suite. Sailings are three nights, Bangan-Mandalay, four nights, Mandalay-Bagan, or seven nights, Bagan-Mandalay-Bagan. Contact www.sanctuaryretreats.com or email myanmar@sanctuary retreats.com.
A&K’s newest Small Group Journey (max of 18 participants) premiering in 2015, “Myanmar & the Irrawaddy River” is a 10-night trip in all including a four-night cruise aboard the Sanctuary Ananda. In addition, travelers will visit unforgettable Inle Lake where they’ll enjoy a private viewing of the traditional Intha boat race. At Bagan, perhaps our favorite spot on our journey, there’s a hot-air balloon ride over the temple-ladden countryside plus a horse cart tour around temple sites. A visit to must-see Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon, also included, occurs just before sunset where golden rays on the golden temple promise to impress. (Here's are our horse cart story and our Shwegagon story.)
We promise you will leave Myanmar and the Irrawaddy forever changed. To reach A&K, call 800-554-7016 or visit www.abercrombiekent.com.
(Below are five suggested links to a few of stories on our Myanmar series for Examiner. To read the entire series, visit: http://www.examiner.com/myanmar-in-raleigh).
If you enjoyed this story, you might also enjoy:
• Other stories by Newbern and Fletcher
• Other Stories by JS Fletcher,
• Stories by Kathy M. Newbern, Luxury Travel Examiner
International Travel Examiners J.S. Fletcher and spouse, Kathy M. Newbern, report on luxury destinations, spas and cruising around the globe. They are award-winning members of the Society of American Travel Writers and created YourSpaReport.com and YourNovel.com, their personalized romance novel business.