Roam with the Sea Gypsies in Myanmar's unrivalled island utopia
The natural entrepreneur visiting the Mergui Archipelago will most likely tap into the huge untapped potential of the area, as with very few resorts and modern-day norms such as internet and phone signal slowly being introduced after the political developments that occurred in 2015, the New Myanmar is still a work in progress. For the traveller wanting to be dazzled - the sacred Mergui Archipelago that has dodged the majority of mankind's influence is irresistible. The place is isolated and life is simple, which requires visitors to be largely self-sustaining - hence why it is the perfect superyacht destination. Photo: Ishan SeefromtheskyIn amongst 800 tropical islands - only 50 of which are inhabited - expect to spend your days floating around lively coral reefs, shorelines punctuated by beaches and delving into the rituals of Asia. Marvel at the thick dense green jungles that have evolved as a result of the ban on logging and deforestation in Asia and has been cherished by the constant canopy of tropical birds soaring overhead. The islands of Myanmar ooze serenity and peace and days spent here will only be interrupted by squawks of wildlife - the type of setting that can be best indulged when visiting by superyacht.
Vouching for the area is the 39.4-metre Lady Azul, whose #theladyazul lifestyle is well documented by her guests and crew. Fitting in nicely with the haze of crystal waters thanks to her royal blue hull, Lady Azul was destined to seduce Southeast Asia. Her caring new owners purchased the Heesen superyacht in April 2019 and her crew ensure that all guests have a special voyage and onboard experience, especially after two generous refits. In both 2015 and 2019, Lady Azul was kitted out with all-new everything but still retained her classic look with a modern and sophisticated interior. Photo: Idea Yachting When not delving into the wonders of Myanmar, guests on board can reside in a choice of five staterooms, including a full-beam main deck master suite. All staterooms come complete with lavish en-suite bathrooms and high-end entertainment systems. The Fort Lauderdale-based studio, Paola D. Smith & Associates has created an interior design with timeless and bright decor, accentuated by a comfortable skylounge where guests are invited to take some time out by the bar, switch on the entertainment centre and review the digital library of movies. With her onboard gym and netted lap pool, those on board won’t be given the chance to feel guilty about lazing around for too long as the active crew can set any apparatus up for whenever guests so desire. Part of the seven-strong crew is Captain Gerry, who, after five years enjoying the 2001 Heesen build sailing around Southeast Asia, knows how to get the best out of the luxury lady - especially in the pristine cruising grounds of Mergui Archipelago.
With this in mind and using the shared expertise of brokerage firms Idea Yachting and Levante Yachts, a seven-day itinerary for a special escape to the Mergui Archipelago aboard Lady Azul was created, which in the words of Captain Gerry: “Is 194 nautical miles where you can endeavour to find a whole new part of the world which to me is like the last frontier.”
Photo: Daniel KleinDay one
Kawthaung (Victoria Point)
After arriving in the southernmost part of Myanmar, guests will be able to spot Lady Azul and their new home from a mile away as she sits glistening in the small port of Kawthaung. As a stark contrast against the eccentric skyline, the sleek Lady Azul and her crew will be waiting to welcome all guests onboard after the bustling border town - once known as Victoria Point during the days of British rule in Burma - has been properly explored. The afternoon will be spent recuperating after the day’s travel in one of many guests areas onboard and taking in the new surroundings during the slow cruise to the Mergui Archipelago to anchor overnight beside Frost Island.
Frost Island (Kyunn Phi Lar Island)
Wake up to the sun shining and have the breakfast buffet sent up to the sundeck - perhaps the best spot on board to take in the weathered sandstone and granite island covered with a lively jungle of fig trees. Don’t relax for too long, as the white powdery beaches lead off into the forests and to hidden coves and trekking trails. To cool off, go swimming and snorkel around to the colourful schools of fish, bounties of corals and sea urchins. Since the water is calm, kayaking is popular, and a paddle to Swift Cave is always worthwhile as it is home to thousands of nesting swiflet birds.
Frost Island is uninhabited, but around the other neighbouring islands it is not unusual to come across the Moken people, also known as Sea Gypsies, who live an extraordinary life onboard their DIY boat constructions.
Photo: Idea Yachting
Nga Mann Island
The beach on this island is just one and a half miles long, but every inch is covered in smooth sand and is perfect for an undisturbed day lazing in the sun. The peace and quiet should only be disrupted for an invitation to participate in a beach game or a swim with the turtles and blue spotted rays. The crew could organise a picnic and a bonfire party to round off the day with a special barbeque on the beach.
Kyun Phi Lar (Great Swinton) Island
As one of the larger islands of the area, Kyun Phi Lar offers the specialities of all the other islands in one big perfect package. The idyllic settings manage to seduce guests to want to stay longer, as the uninhabited island provides everything from a relaxing beach resort to wild excursions.
Start off the day by being taken further inland to the island’s high-end resort and enjoy some of the local delicacies for a leisurely brunch under a canopy of palm trees. Once re-energised, take a tour to the nearby Burmese and Moken village and let go of all inhibitions to truly make the most of this immersive experience. With over 50 white beaches frayed with rainforest hugging the island, the compelling urge to go and explore along the water’s edge will take up the remainder of the afternoon. For the thrillseekers amongst the group, the famous Shark Cave dive site is worth a visit, as is the South West Bay, where Lady Azul can drop anchor for an evening to watch the sun go down and crew can fire up the onboard barbeque for a dinner of fresh seafood. Once the sky is illuminated by a blanket of stars, why not lay out on the skylounge to stargaze and take note of the overwhelming peace and quiet? Photo: Samule Sun
Ever wondered what water clear enough to see 30 metres down is like? Have your curiosity satisfied here. Expect to spend the day on the water, as once afloat on either the kayak or paddleboard, you are on top of the underwater world - what lies beneath is a thriving ecosystem of marine life, flora and fauna. Be a little more daring and navigate the 5.5-metre Williams Diesel Jet tender along the wide island stream into the mangrove forest and be immersed in some of nature’s best. For the evening’s fare, enjoy a beach barbeque set against an unbeatable backdrop of an icy cold waterfall that meets the ocean. With Lady Azul anchored in the bay, home is not too far away.
There is an exciting aura about Salet Galet. When approaching the shallow waters and catching the scent of the rainforest still damp from the fresh morning dew, guests are already prepared for an adventure. The island is a living playground and the day can be spent traipsing through the jungle trails to spot the local wildlife. Sea birds, falcons and eagles frequent the island and various species of monkey can be found hiding in the maze of tropical trees feeding off the plentiful fruit. For lunch, relax on board and admire Salet Galet’s perfect position between Kyunn Tann Shey (Lampi Marine National Park) and Wa Ale Island, where many fishing boats lay at anchor socialising with the local Sea Gypsies. Photo: Idea Yachting
This unusual area of the Mergui Archipelago is formed of around 20 islands surrounded by shallow channels and fringed by miles of Mangroves. For the last day of antics, get strapped into your water toy of choice and explore the area and the impressive line-up of tropical creatures. Get a glimpse of colourful hornbills, giant fruit bats and monitor lizards and take some time out for one last viewing of the underwater ‘cinema’ starring some of nature’s finest creations. On the return back to Kawthaung, take it easy with a cocktail in hand and reminisce about the past week spend onboard Lady Azul exploring one of the most untouched places on Earth.
This article was first featured in The SuperYacht Times newspaper. Subscribe now to receive your copy straight to your door and never miss another issue.
Lady Azul is available for charter in Asia from December 2019. For charter enquiries, rates and availability please contact:
SuperYacht Times - The State of Yachting 2019
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