I'd been to Burma 21 years ago on business. And got arrested. And met the General running the country. But that's another story.
What I saw then made me want to return. So pleased I did, with my wife this time.
We are Scenic regulars and appreciate the fact they make a holiday effortless. And so it was this time on our Road from Mandalay on Aura. Yes, the song is road TO Mandalay - but we sailed downstream.
And that's my first fault. The song says "... see the flying fishes play". No flying fish! But then there aren't any on the Irrawaddy. By now you can probably guess I'm striving to find faults.
Aura has spacious cabins and with only 36 guests (it can take 42) the dinning room was never crowded. In fact you got to know everybody on the boat. Great camaraderie. Good food selection, though I would have preferred more fruit choices at breakfast, but excellent omelettes.
I'm picky about food but while the lunch and dinner choices were more limited than on the European river cruises I didn't starve.
As for all the crew - best we've ever experienced on any vessel, sea or river, anywhere in the world - they have genuine smiles and never say No.
Other people have commented about being helped ashore and having shoes cleaned on return. It's all true.
We were very fortunate that when we visited the home for the young novice monks and nuns a kind sponsor had brought them gifts and provided lunch, and that later we were at festival time and experienced the collection of alms for the monks with processions noisily filling the streets.
We travelled by pony and trap, horse-drawn carts, tri-cycles, boats to watch the sunset over the world's longest wooden bridge. All so different.
And don't miss the balloon flight over Bagan.
At the end of the cruise the seven hour coach ride to Yangon from Prome was something I would not want to do again, though the bus was Business Class. Other cruise lines go all the way to Yangon. We were told that was boring. But I'd have been happy to be bored on the boat for a day or two. Scenic need to rethink this.
Now my second fault. We stayed the first night in Mandalay at the Mandalay Hills Hotel. Lovely room. Amazing grounds. Bibulous Welcome Dinner.
The cruise (ok bus ride) ended in Yangon. A couple of nights at the one year old Pan Pacific Hotel. Very modern hotel with excellent rooms and food - and toilets where the seat cover rises as you enter the bathroom, has a quick pre-whatever flush, a fan to remove odours and water jets to wash various parts of the anatomy. I had to take a video (not actually in use).
And that leads me to my second fault. Not at the Pan Pacific (where I would really have enjoyed the dinner buffet), but to the Farewell Dinner at an old colonial hotel called The Strand. Food choice limited. Drinks ... one glass of wine. You paid for a second or third. So the real Scenic had gone. Ridiculous.
Finally, to our Cruise Director Tin Pa Pa Min - you were the best ever.
I'd settle for this on any ship