We started on the pre-trip extension in Bangkok at the Shangri-La Hotel (a fantastic hotel). It was a lovely beginning (and end) to a great trip. I loved Bangkok. The shopping was wonderful and cheap! It was our introduction to pagodas and stupas. The sights in Bangkok and all over Myanmar are literally golden. I have never seen so much gold in one city or country. It is totally amazing considering the depth of the poverty in the rural areas.
We boarded the ship in Mandalay after the morning flight from Bangkok. The ship is like taking a step back in time. It is done in teak and brass - very nautical. The cabins are small - no TV, no phone, internet only sporadically (by the bar), but have everything you need. The showers are nice sized. We called it our African Queen. The staff is very attentive to your needs and always cheerful. We thought the food was very good and with a nice variety of menu items. You could get an Asian dish or a more American dish or even a vegetarian meal. Several evenings we had local entertainment on the sundeck which was enjoyable and somewhat educational, but low key, not at all like the big production shows on cruise ships. We liked the excursions which were varied from pagodas to small villages along the river. One of my favorite stops was Bagan. It was generally hot and dusty, but tolerable. We were welcomed back with cold drinks and a cool towel.
This was a wonderful trip to a far-away land and exposed us to a totally different culture. Learning about Buddhism and how it is integrated into the everyday lives of the people was very interesting. Viking Cruises did an excellent job from start to finish. I would highly recommend it to anyone who wants to see the world from a different perspective.
The cabin has two twin beds with storage underneath them (and you need it!). The closet is really small. The shower was much bigger than some I have had on ocean cruise ships. The cabin was comfortable, and you really don't spend a lot of time there.
We cruised the river and stopped at several sights of interest. It gave us an overview of life in Bangkok.