RV Mekong Pandaw. Image courtesy of Pandaw River Expeditions, used with permission.
Freshly returned from the Mekong River and Tonle Sap Lake in Cambodia (site of the Cambodia Water Festival), Pandaw River Expeditions' RV Angkor Pandaw reports that its virgin voyage has been a smashing success.
The ten-night "Mekong Unexplored" expedition, casting off from Saigon, demonstrated the benefits of the Angkor Pandaw's unique design. Her shallow draft allows this river cruiser to get further upriver than most cruisers, and her low air draft allows the ship to pass easily under most of the bridges spanning the Mekong. In short, this ship can go where others cannot.
Passengers on board the Angkor Pandaw were able to watch dolphins cavorting on the upper Mekong, including calf dolphins being trained by their mothers. At the Cambodian village of Krakor, passengers encountered the entire village coming out to meet them aboard their canoes; the Governor of the Province and Chief of Police came on board to socialize.
Onshore, passengers got on a bamboo train to ride across the Khmer pampas. They paid a visit to a Battambang circus school where street kids train in the acrobatic arts. And they encountered rare avian species at the Preak Tuol bird sanctuary.
RV Mekong Pandaw stateroom.
Demand for these long Mekong cruises had long outstripped supply, but Pandaw River Expeditions has met the challenge. As the Mekong Unexplored schedule is fully booked through 2014, additional departures have been scheduled aboard the twenty-four-cabin RV Mekong Pandaw, recently refitted with new bathrooms, air conditioning, and French windows with panoramic views.
Cruises aboard the Mekong Pandaw will follow a similar 11-day itinerary, including visits of the dolphins in Kratie, the Tonle Sap Lake crossing, and visit to Battambang with its circus and bamboo train.