Myanmar, also known as Burma, is a country steeped in tradition and touched only marginally by globalisation. Men still wear sarong-like longhis, women and children paste thanaka made from bark on their faces, ox-carts trundle in the streets, and locals are open and warm to visitors. The country was closed to tourists until a few years ago, and the attitude of Burmese doesn’t yet seem to be jaded or cynical.
As the infrastructure of tourism is still developing, the perfect way to explore major temples, pagodas and monasteries, or to observe the way of life in rural villages and towns along the Ayeyarwady River, is to take The Strand Cruise from Bagan to Mandalay, two iconic cities in Myanmar. It is these passing landscapes and relics of a bygone era that inspired some of the works of Rudyard Kipling, George Orwell, and other journaling travellers during the period of British sovereignty in Burma.
The Strand Cruise, launched in 2016, is an elegant and sophisticated vessel that was built in the Thein Phyu Shipyard in Yangon, formerly Rangoon. There are one-and-a-half floors of guest cabins, and communal space is maximised: there is a spacious restaurant on level two, and a bar, pool section, and sheltered top deck lounge area taking up the whole of level three. From the reception, a magnificent teak staircase spirals up to the cabins. Décor in these areas references elements from “old Burma”, with artwork, an antique typewriter, teak furniture, and books. A range of board games are also on offer, some of them Asian.