Burma’s Hidden Paradise
Written by Marek Lenarcik who sailed in October 2014
I decided to experience a Burma Boating trip on board SY ‘Raja Laut’ on their first cruise of the season on October 25, 2014. This is what happened in a few words.
I flew to Kawthoung, one of two starting points. Burma Boating’s representative was waiting at the terminal entrance with a clearly visible ‘Burma Boating’ sign. After a quick passport check at the local immigration office I went off to Kawthoung Pier in a car provided by the company. A motor pontoon boat was waiting to take us to ‘Raja Laut’. I wonder if it was a coincidence that the ‘King of the Sea’ (Raja = King; Laut = Sea, in Malay) was purposefully hidden behind a big local fishing boat. As we sped past the fishing boat, we saw the royal boat for the first time in the setting sun. Everybody on the motor pontoon boat whispered ‘wow’.
A quick introduction to the guests, who arrived before us (from Bangkok or Phuket via Ranong), and the international crew, consisting of one French, one South African, one Burmese, one Thai, one Malaysian and one Indonesian, and we were ready to see the ship and our cabins.
The yacht is big, spacious and beautiful. There is plenty of space to walk around and sit, both in the air conditioned indoors and outside for those who would like to work on their tan. The cabins are simple and comfortable.
The standard 6 days/ 5 nights itinerary is interesting and varied. My journey was spent sailing (or motoring if the wind was not strong enough) around a selection of 800 islands that make up the Mergui Archipelago. Typical activities include swimming, snorkelling and kayaking in the crystal clear, bluish water of the Andaman Sea or walking around the white sandy beaches of the still untouched and in its majority uninhabited islands of the archipelago.
We visited a Moken (sea gypsies) village, had a sun downer with a fire dance show on one of the islands and went to find wildlife in a mangrove forest on another, where we had a face to face encounter with some wild monkeys and birds including an eagle.
Even though it’s not included in the itinerary an opportunity presented itself for some scuba diving. The South African crew member happened to be a diving instructor, all the equipment was on board and most of the guests were interested in the activity. The Captain issued permission for us to see what’s in the deep blue sea and we descended three times over three days and saw the nice coral reef, different kinds of fish and other aquatic animals.
The scuba diving is at extra cost and there is no guarantee that it will be permitted on all cruises, as the Diving Instructor may not be on board.
Last, but not least, the food was absolutely excellent. The Malaysian chef knows how to please the taste buds of many nationalities. Fresh seafood and fish were the main offerings with other meat and vegetarian options available for those with special dietary requirements. Everybody was praising the chef’s skills wondering how he was able to serve such a variety of food in such an abundance using just a double stove in a fairly small kitchen.
The crew was very friendly and professional. One of the other guests couldn’t swim and stayed most of the time on board assisting the chef in the preparation of the meals. It seemed like they became best friends and will miss each other greatly.
The average age of the guests was 40-60 years. For most of them it was their 2nd or 3rd trip to Myanmar. The feedback I was getting from the other guests was positive without exception.
This was my third visit to the Mergui Archipelago. I came back reassured that this is one of my favourite areas in Myanmar and around the world. It’s beautiful, quiet, and unspoiled. Almost a week at sea and we haven’t seen a single ‘tourist’ boat.
The whole team at Burma Boating did an excellent job and I can recommend the experience to anybody who would like to see something amazing and spectacular. Due to a temporary closure of Myanmar Andaman Resort, Burma Boating remains the only way of seeing the Mergui Archipelago and I recommend it without hesitation. Book Burma Boating Now!”