Mergui Archipelago: An Amazing Adventure
Our three-day Journey through the Mergui Archipelago, located in the southernmost part of Myanmar (Burma), was a perfect representation of what makes life aboard The World so unique and fantastic. During our stay, Residents & Guests (R&Gs) met cultures that may no longer exist in coming generations, and witnessed the untouched beauty of Mother Nature before human hands touch it. The entire crew and staff of The World went above and beyond to make this an unforgettable experience, with beach cocktails, barbeque dinners, movies under the stars, diving, snorkeling, kayaking and more.
This particular leg of our Journey was unplanned, so there were many excited faces when the itinerary was announced. A few members of the community were aboard the Ship in 2010 when we last visited Myanmar, and many were looking forward to seeing how much the area had changed.
As we travelled to our first destination of Lampi Island, R&Gs were introduced to the two guest lecturers, Thom Henley and Alrid Molstad, who would be conducting a series of talks on board and also joining us on the beaches and in the villages to educate the group on the Moken people and the politics of tourism in the area.
Upon arrival, we began our day with a Zodiac cruise and kayak trip through the thick mangrove forests that surround the island. Due to tidal conditions, it took skillful maneuvering to navigate through the thickets and into the unknown.
The waters were still as glass and in the distance we could hear the activity of exotic birds and the rumor of monkeys. What followed was a near perfect day of water sports and beach activities. As the Food & Beverage team set up an impromptu beach bar a group of divers set out with the Ship’s Dive Masters to see what delights they could find under the waves.
As the sun set on the beach, a large outdoor movie screen was constructed for an oceanfront viewing of a documentary on the Moken people who we would be meeting the next day. As the film ended, a night sky teaming with stars guided us back to the Ship after a long day of adventuring.
Day two brought us to Sea Gypsy Village. Since the Ship’s last visit to this small boating port the Moken people and the Burmese had integrated, building a waterfront village, a school, and a Buddhist Temple. They even had a pet crocodile!
As R&Gs came ashore, they were received with a genuine heartfelt welcome. Local children rushed to the beach, took their hands, and without words began to walk them through their home – showing off the school, their dogs, and their parents. It was tough to leave but after all the waving and shouting from the beach we headed back to Kyun Pilar for the afternoon.
From here the divers headed off for two different sites. Working with the local dive guides, they found underwater pillars and again more examples of the recovery of the reefs from the coral bleaching that occurred four years ago. Snorkeling from the beach was the best option and many went in search of fish. The day concluded with a beautiful beach barbeque with sizzling steaks, flaming torches, and relaxing live music from the Ship’s Generation Trio. An exhausting day for some, but as the stars shone we headed back home in anticipation of our third and last day.
With help from our local guides we made the decision to head out to the remote Maria Island for our final day. This tropical paradise was much further from the island chains where we started our Journey. Due to the islands many arms of jutting rocks and hidden bays, an early morning scouting trip was required to locate and establish an ideal base camp for the group.
For some this was a relaxing beach day full of swimming, cocktails and a rather heated game of beach cricket. Others opted for a trek through the forest with our local guides and were rewarded with a hike through undiscovered country and caves. The divers had two dives that were scouted that morning, while others continued their own snorkeling adventures from the beach. This mini expedition was only three days long, but was absolutely packed with programs and unique experiences. As our Journey concluded Residents & Guests and Ship staff left our 2015 Mergui Adventure with unforgettable memories.