Ancient temples, ornate pagodas and a never-ending vista of river
life flow by as we lounge lazily on the aft sundeck of the
riverboat Manohra Song.
From this vantage
point on the Chao Phraya River, which bisects Bangkok, impressions
of the bustling city and its surroundings are much different from
whats seen peeking out of cabs in traffic jams.
Adding to the
charm of Manohra Cruises Ayutthaya Adventure river sailing is our
vessel itself, a converted rice barge now outfitted in deluxe
Stateliness for a song
The Manohra Song
sits comfortably on a 100-year-old teak hull. Its dark wood and
bulky shape call to mind an ominous pirate ship, but on deck, the
scene changes to one of relaxation and unhurried
Dispel all images
evoked by the words cruise ship and picture a ship with just four
staterooms, staffed by a crew of four.
The idea here is
to see Bangkok and Thailand the way it was done centuries ago,
while enjoying the best in modern food, amenities, sightseeing and
each have a queen-size bed, air conditioning, safe, hair dryer,
robe and slippers and deluxe amenities. Bathrooms are full-size and
The vessel is
outfitted in beautiful Thai silks, pottery, Oriental rugs and
carvings to offset teak and mahogany woods.
very authentic touches, the smiling service onboard and the exotic
sites we visited, this river cruise was an ideal -- and very
pleasant -- way to delve into Thailands colorful
cruise departs midmorning from the dock at the Bangkok Marriott
Resort and Spa on the Chao Phraya.
Our small group
gathered in the open-air lounge to toast our adventure and enjoy
the view. Cold lemongrass towels and chilled fresh fruit cocktails
kept us mellow.
First stop was
the Temple of Dawn, or Wat Arun, to admire its Khmer-style
architecture and perhaps have our fortunes told.
on our itinerary included an early morning meeting with the
Buddhist monks of Wat Bang Na temple to make merit, which means to
give food or alms. We also admired the Summer Palace, the Royal
Folk Arts and Crafts Center and, at an
old monastery, an ancient Buddha image revered as the patron of
A highlight was
our tour of the ancient Thai capital of Ayutthaya, a Unesco World
Heritage site. We arrived by limo, and had the opportunity to ride
Three meals a day
-- crafted by the onboard chef, who catered to individual tastes -- were served on crisp, white
linen by a very attentive wait staff.
The itinerary was
well-paced, giving passengers time to relax on the spacious upper
deck in shade or sun. We even had time on the first day for a
traditional English tea.
Ayutthaya Adventure departs every Monday and Thursday; rates are
$850, single occupancy, or $1,150, double, plus tax and service
roundtrip dock transfers from hotels or airport, meals, lodging,
tours, guides, admissions and ground transport. Alcoholic beverages
earn 10% commission on cruises, and bookings must be made directly
to Manohra Cruises. Call (011) 66-2 477-0770 or visit www.manohracruises.com.
the reporter who wrote this article, send e-mail to [email protected].