Belmond Road to Mandalay introduces mindfulness cruises in Myanmar, taking passengers along the spiritually enriching Ayeyarwady River on expert-led journeys of self- discovery. Guests can choose from a seven-night round trip cruise, departing Bagan 7th October 2017 or three night ‘taster’ cruise departing Mandalay on 11th October 2017.
Bringing the experience to life through one-to-one coaching and group Tibetan yoga and meditation sessions is Brian Hilliard and Shannon van Staden of Mindfulness Journeys – who between them have over 40 years of experience studying, practicing and teaching mindfulness to all ages and levels of ability. A true pioneer and early-adopter, Brian is a long-serving advocate of mindfulness and began teaching well before it became a fashionable phenomenon.
Belmond Road to Mandalay provides the ideal environment for participation in mindfulness. The peaceful indoor Observation Lounge provides a scenic space for evening meditation and the open air deck makes for an inspiring outdoor classroom, where sunrise morning sessions take place against a backdrop of changing light and landscapes. Adding to the journey’s intrigue and adventure, some meditation sessions take place on land in rural pagodas, a botanical garden and under mango trees in Ava. The personal service and intimate size of the ship, which carries just 82 passengers, encourages a comradery between guests and evenings can be a time for further social interaction or quieter private reflection.
The early morning juice bar and freshly prepared healthy spa cuisine, including a mix of pan-Asian and western dishes, allows guests the option to make healthy food and drink choices that are conducive with practicing mindfulness. The ship’s dedicated wellbeing area, complete with spa treatment rooms and state-of-the-art fitness equipment is a further haven for relaxation and exercise.
Offered complimentary and in addition to the existing itinerary, guests can join sessions at their leisure, however, to make the most of the experience guests are encouraged to complete the whole week under Brian and Shannon’s guidance. Brian explains why hosting this cruise is so special, “Myanmar is the perfect place to try mindfulness and Tibetan yoga. Meditation is a way of life in this Buddhist country so it is a very honest and natural way of immersing in local culture. We hope that bringing all these elements together on a cruise of this nature is going to be life changing for those who join us.”
Cultural highlights of the cruise include, a visit to one of the most significant pagodas of Bagan, Ananda Temple, which contains four 30ft gilded Buddha statues, a horse-drawn cart tour of Old Bagan’s archaeological zone, a monastery visit to participate in a traditional almsgiving donation to the monks, and arts and crafts tour of Mandalay to watch local artisans and craftsmen at work. Land excursions are daily and led by expert guides and more active explorers can enjoy the sights by biking through Bagan or joining a morning run with Brian.
Prices start from $2,656 per person for the three-night departure on 11th October from Mandalay and $4,632 for the seven-night departures on 7th October 2017 from Bagan; based on two guests sharing a deluxe cabin. Prices are fully inclusive of all mindfulness sessions, meals, international house wines and local beers and excursions as per itinerary. Domestic flights and transfers from Yangon to the ship are excluded but can be booked through Belmond at a supplement. Guests also have the option to stay at Belmond Governor’s Residence, Yangon pre and post cruise.