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My husband and I spent 10 days in early November, 2019 on the RV Kalay Pandaw, cruising the Irrawaddy from Bagan to Mandalay, with many many stops along the way...neither of us had ever been on a river cruise and I had never been to Burma, so we looked very forward to this new adventure together.

I have so much to report so I thought I would do it by category :-)


The RV Kalay Pandaw is the smallest of the fleet, with only 5 cabins but a huge upper deck suite, which we were fortunate enough to reserve....the boat is remarkably roomy and quite beautiful, finished in teak and brass. The cabins are furnished with comfortable beds and sitting areas, an abundance of windows, big showers, air conditioning and in room air coolers, loads of hot water, and plenty of storage. The main sitting areas have enough room for everyone to stretch out on a sofa or get cozy in a rattan chair, or just stand and watch the scenery go by. This trip is like a playground for anyone with a camera...I think I took 3000+ pictures.


Led by San Lin Tun, the finest guide we have ever had (and we've travelled in over 50 countries so we've had our share), the crew on this ship were beyond superb.....I don't even have the proper words to compliment them but they have certainly set the benchmark for future ship travel. All of them, from the housekeeping staff to the captain and pilot, the chef ( and his staff), the purser (and his staff) and all the crew who assisted the guide, we simply could not have been treated better, more efficiently or more kindly. Honestly - we all felt like royalty and by the time the cruise was completed, we felt like we had made new, lifelong friends.


Where do I even start? For 10 days, we were fed an amazing array of sumptuous, beautiful meals, served with all the flourish of a five star restaurant and plated with such panache Instagram would have been proud. On such a small boat with a tiny, narrow kitchen, the magic the chef and his staff created defies description. I think my favourite was the pastry encrusted sea bass....OMG. And the salads we were served introduced my North American taste buds to flavour explosions beyond belief...go look up Tea Leaf Salad and then get the recipes for Ginger and Pennywort Salads - and you're welcome in advance :-)


For us, wherever we travel there is little better than mingling with the locals....and this trip was like thepièce de ré·sis·tance of mingling. We were so fortunate - we got inside people's houses by invitation of course), into school rooms, we were privileged to listen to children practicing their English by reading to us, we shared markets and festivals and wash day and play time and the every day moments of the Burmese from the deck of the shop or right there beside them. The Burmese are the friendliest, most welcoming people I've ever had the pleasure to meet and although we couldn't speak the same language, trust me - we were communicating. It was by far the highlight of the trip, beyond the tourist spots and the temples and the highlights that make Myanmar what it is....for us, it's the people. Always the people.

Irrawaddy River from Bagan to Mandalay 1
Irrawaddy River from Bagan to Mandalay 2
Irrawaddy River from Bagan to Mandalay 3

Neither of us will ever forget this trip and as a result of the excellence we experienced, we will absolutely be booking with Pandaw in the future. It was the trip of a lifetime and we will carry Burma with us forever.

Dave Foraie and Debbie Molle

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