Our trip on the river Chindwin was due to go from Monywa to Homalin, but due to the river levels being very low, we only reached Kalaywa. It was our first visit to Burma and our first river trip and we found the whole experience a delight. There were only 10 passengers – 4 cabins on the first deck and the Owner’s cabin on the second deck which is where we were. Dining was al fresco – a buffet breakfast, part buffet lunch and a full service dinner. The food was excellent and introduced us to some of the hotter flavours of Burmese cuisine. We were well looked after by the boat manager, Win.
We visited many villages along the way where the pace of life was slow and peaceful. The locals were pleased to greet us and we communicated by smiles and waving and the greeting “Mingalaba”.
We got stuck on several sandbanks which was great fun as all sorts of chaos ensued with jostling of vessels trying to get into the prime position to get through the only channels deep enough. Each time we were stuck on a sandbank our crew, and river pilot assigned to the boat, had to get into the water (only waist deep in some places) to free the boat by a system of posts, cables and winches in situations which seemed to us as if they were taking their lives in their hands. Our crew were absolutely brilliant from rescuing us from sandbanks and the preparation of tasty food to the care with which the young boys handled our laundry. We are hoping to take another cruise with Pandaw very soon.
The cabin was large and at the front of the boat with an arc of windows facing forward. There was a dressing room with plenty of hanging space and drawers. The bathroom was compact with wash basin, toilet and separate shower.