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A Sentimental Journey - Part 2

By Julie Sturzy

Senior Marketing Content Executive

Posted: 18 March 2014
Belmond Road To Mandalay

Belmond Road To Mandalay

Belmond Road To Mandalay

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From Yangon in Burma, Julie Sturzy flew to Bagan (about an hour-and-a-half) to join the luxury cruiser, Belmond Road to Mandalay. Julie says that Bagan is completely different to Yangon; flatter and much more rural, and it was there that she saw people in traditional bamboo hats as she travelled along dirt track roads filled with ox and horse carts, with the occasional moped weaving through it all.

Belmond Road to Mandalay is a stylish cruiser that sails along the Ayeyarwady River throughout the year (except April and late July), offering cruises lasting from three to twelve days, depending on the river levels – the more remote northern gorges are only possible in times of high water. The ship was brought over from Europe more than a decade ago and plays a vital role that goes far beyond tourism, assisting and aiding the people who live alongside the river. It was much larger than Julie expected and her cabin was generously sized, nicely styled with a fabulous bed and a power shower, as well as a flat-screen television (with limited satellite channels) and Bvlgari amenities in the bathroom. Julie recommends booking one of the State Cabins which, being situated closer to the centre of the ship, are easier to access and are cooler and quieter.

The cuisine was divine and featured a mixture of Asian and International dishes with buffet and à la carte breakfast and lunch options and sumptuous fine dining in the evenings. Julie says to pack some loose clothing to accommodate it all! After which, there were drinks in the piano bar and charming performances by local entertainers to enjoy.

Julie's cruise included new discoveries with well planned excursions to temples, stupas and pagodas, not to mention visits to hectic markets and the Toddy Palm Plantations, plus Cheroot and lacquerware factories. It was after one such excursion to Mount Popa that Julie had time to reflect on her trip. Whilst there was no doubt that she was far from home, by this time she had become accustomed and even attached to the remoteness and simple pace of Burma life and the sounds of the passing junk boats and the ship’s engine which lulled her into a sound sleep each night.

Julie's advice is to visit Burma now and create your own sentimental journey, before the people become too accustomed to tourism and international influences start to assert themselves. The country is experiencing an influx of tourists but there is enough untouched country for everyone to explore, especially in the remote northern parts filled with forests and dramatic gorges.

Julie would return for longer next time (and with enough money to buy a ruby!).

To read Julie's 'Sentimental Journey - Part 1', click here

About Julie

Having worked at Elegant Resorts for over twelve years, Julie is no stranger to long-haul travel. An explorer at heart, she’s at her happiest when discovering ancient cultural sites or getting up-close-and personal with the natural wonders of the world. She counts everywhere in the southern hemisphere, from South Africa to New Zealand, and Asia (Burma and Indo-China in particular) amongst her favourite places in the world and loves to experience wildlife encounters. 

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