From our various tweets and blog posts, you will have noticed that Burma has proven to be ‘a big hit’ with guests and our expert lecturers. Just before Christmas, we sailed a 14 night voyage from Singapore to Malaysia, Thailand and Burma. We were pleased that Dr Antionette Mannion, one of our guest lecturers thoroughly enjoyed her cruise, especially Burma and has shared her experiences in the blog post below. Enjoy!

“In early December 2012, the grey skies of Reading, the town where I live in the UK, were replaced by the moisture-laden skies of high-rise Singapore, the difference being a mere 25°C! After a day at sea, the visit to Kuala Lumpur proved atmospheric in more ways than one; a serious downpour turned roads into rivers and the word ‘ark’ sprang to mind at the sight of a reassuring Aegean Odyssey which later sailed north toward the limestone pinnacles and blue, calm waters of Phang Nga National Park in peninsular Thailand.

This stunning scenery provided the backdrop for snorkellers, canoeists and speed boat tourists. A highlight of the following sea day was one of my fellow guest lecturers – Martin Bell’s presentation which included video clips of his war experiences.

The Shwedagon Pagoda, Yangon

The Shwedagon Pagoda, Yangon (Photograph courtesy of M.D.Turnbull)

However, the apogee of the entire cruise was the subsequent stay in Rangoon which began with an early evening visit to the breathtaking 99m high Shwedagon Pagoda and was followed next day by a drive to nearby Bago with its impressive Buddhist complex and a visit to Commonwealth War Graves in Taukkyan War Cemetery.

A final Rangoon day allowed a city tour, a visit to the National Museum and the famous Scott’s Market where the jade jewellery proved irresistible. An irritating problem of stamps with no glue was solved by an accommodating lady in the main Post Office, a hop and skip from Aegean Odyssey’s berth and close to a grocery shop from which numerous packets of Burmese tea and coffee were purchased with remaining Kyats, the local currency.

On return to Malaysia, Penang was the next stop; features included the colourful Chew Jetty, home of a Chinese community which was established a century ago, the botanical gardens, several colourful temples and a Batik workshop.

Dharmmikarama Temple, Georgetown, Penang

Dharmmikarama Temple, Georgetown, Penang (photograph courtesy of M.D.Turnbull)

One highlight was colonial Georgetown including Fort Cornwallis, the Queen Victoria clock tower, Penang City Hall, and the Burmese Dharmmikarama Temple. Georgetown was founded in 1786 by Captain Francis Light, a trader for the British East India Company which, with the Dutch East India Company, was influential throughout the region including the expansion of Singapore and Malacca as trading ports.

The later was the final stop before returning to Singapore; it was necessary to tender into the port where the colonial and UNESCO-listed old town with its fort, museum and church are major attractions.”

Voyages to Antiquity will be offering this cruise again next year – click through to see the available dates »


Dr Antoinette Mannion

Dr Antoinette M Mannion graduated in Geography from the University of Liverpool and went on to complete a PhD at the University of Bristol. She has been on the academic staff at the University of Reading since 1977. In semi-retirement she is now an Honorary Fellow and continues to pursue her academic interests in environmental history, human impact on landscapes, agriculture, environmental issues, and the environmental and cultural changes of the last 3 million years. She has written/edited nine books, contributed to 23 encyclopaedias, published numerous papers in journals, and continues to review books regularly.

Her other interests include travel, theatre and opera as well as collecting Shona sculpture and Scottish landscape paintings. She has a cat called Gus who rules the house she shares with husband Mike Turnbull who is a retired research chemist.