Based on enthusiastically favourable reviews online, we decided on the Fantasia boat, to witness the “must see” sunset over the river in Bagan.
However, since we were totally underwhelmed by the whole experience, it seems only fair that I put a dissenting view on record.
I’d hate future travellers to feel disappointed, the way we were.
We were a mixed bunch on the 2 boats that set out that evening from Old Bagan.
Loads of yuppy French youngsters, one of whom was ill and another of whom was celebrating her birthday.
A smaller group of Spanish youngsters, one of whom had misplaced his mobile phone & was a little stressed.
A quiet Chinese couple. A very quiet lone Japanese man. A late-middle-aged French couple.
And us, a Brit and an American, 2 women of a certain…hey, our ages don’t really matter for the purpose of this review, but let’s just say we were not there for the booze, as most of the youngsters seemed to be.
We were loaded into a little pirogue to access a sandbank in the river, which we then walked across to the boats, moored on the far side.
No safety briefing.
No life jackets.
And alcohol, as were soon to discover.
We all sat around on the 2 boats for about 15 minutes, while the all-important booze was passed round (for the record, we had no inkling about the free beer/gin/rum) & after what seemed an age, off we trundled to a point in the river where lots of other boats were moored.
Engines, outboards, revving.
No tranquility whatsoever.
As soon as sunset was over, the revving and spluttering-into-life of all the engines started, in a noisy cacophony.
After the sun set – quickly as is the norm in Asia – the German (?) manager announced that the booze was to be finished, and anyone who wanted to go back could stay on one boat (ours, thankfully) and anyone who wanted to stay and party a little longer should transfer to the other boat.
Once all the youngsters (barring the sick young Frenchmen) were on the boat with the booze and the remaining snacks, our more sedate boat headed back.
The charming Myanmarese crew helped us off the boat, in total darkness by now, and we trudged back across the sandbank, and back into the pirogue.
In the dark.
And after alcohol (just one weak drink each in our case, but the youngsters were certainly knocking it back).
How difficult or expensive would it be to give the crew torches?
The views were pretty, it’s true. But it wasn’t what we’d hoped.
If you want a cheap booze cruise, go ahead.
If you want a tranquil moment watching the sunset, then Fantasia is not for you.
We paid 5,000 kyat a head, and I guess the entire outing lasted under an hour.
I paid my own way & didn’t mention that I blog and write reviews.