I recently had the priviledge to go on board of RV Orient Pandaw, a cruising boutique hotel even before the launching of its maiden journey on 1 July 2009. I was given a tour of the cruise ship by its Hotel Director, Mr Alexander Scheible. The RV Orient Pandaw is the newest addition to the Pandaw fleet family. It is now based in Borneo on the Rajang River. Like its other siblings, it exudes a traditional colonial style perfect for tropical locations.
Irrawaddy Flotilla Company was founded in 1865. By 1920s, it was the largest privately owned fleet of ships in the world. In 1942, over 650 vessels were sunk in an act of denial and protest when the Japanese invaded Burma. Its largest vessel was licensed to carry 4000 deck passengers.
In 1995, the Irrawaddy Flotilla Company was revived by Mr Paul Strachan. He acquired the Pandaw cruise ship which is over 50 years old and re-fitted her. They tried to conserve as many original features as they could. Later, they built larger vessels with better design and efficiency. The newest addition being the RV Orient Pandaw is now cruising along the Sarawak river.
Its 28 guestrooms are also known as staterooms of 170 swq ft. They are finished in hardwood with brass fittings. All accomodation is air-conditioned. Its bathrooms are fitted with shower and toilet with wooden cover. Each room has a mini safe for guests safe-keeping. All staterooms open out on to a promenade deck with private outside seating.
Like the staterooms, the public areas are beautifully designed with their almost Somerset Maughan quality. A small spa and fitness area are available too. Other facilities include a mini-safe, minibar, DVD on demand, room service and wifi.
Chefs prepare a fusion of spicy Asian and Western food on board and produce is sourced locally including tropical fruits like pineapple from Sarikei, vegetables from the Sibu market and the fresh river fishes from Rajang River. Breakfasts and lunches are a simple buffet. Dinner is a sit down dining. The single sitting dining room offers a mix of European and Asian influences. There is a cocktail bar on the large observation deck and a sitting room with a lecture theatre on the lower deck.
What differentiates this cruise ship from others is their services. There are 30 crews on board and each crew takes care of 2 passengers. The maximum passengers allowed on board are 60 passengers. So that ensures that each passenger is very well taken care of. This cruise ship is different in that its main focus is to allow its passengers to relax, and enjoy the surrounding scenery as the ship cruise along the Rajang River.
They do not focus on giving their passengers occupied with many activities. There are no karaoke sessions, no swimming pool and no activities on board. The ship’s main aim is to let the passengers relax on board, read a book and enjoy the sun. There are complimentary coffee, tea and mineral water available all day. In addition, there is a free bar throughout the cruise offering local spirits and cocktails free of charge.
What the Borneo river cruise focus on is to let the passengers explore the jungle and see all the wild animals and plants that grew deep inland.
Passengers are welcomed to join the escorted shore excursions, do their own thing or just stay on board, relax and read a book. Though there is space for those who seek silence, a Pandaw cruise can also be a convivial experience with a group of like-minded travellers exploring a little known country in the charming and historic atmosphere of a Pandaw. Schedules for at least once, if not twice a day, there are excursions into timeless villages and small towns and return home relaxed with an unforgettable experience on board RV Pandaw Cruise of Sarawak.
I was in Sibu recently and I was introduced to a coffee shop which is famous for its coffee. The test is in the tasting. So I ordered a cup of iced cold coffee.
The moment the coffee drink touched my tongue, it felt like a medium roast, smooth and full bodied with full fragrant aromas. Even with ice cubes in the drink, I could still taste the roasting and smelt the fragrant aromas. It Ieft a lingering taste of roasted nuts on my tongue. Indeed it characterized richness of the coffee beans.
I love tea more than coffee. Usually when I drink coffee, I drank it for the sake of drinking it to keep myself awake and not really aware of its roasting taste or the feel of its body on my tongue. Yes, I am not a sophisticated coffee drinker to be able to differentiate its flavour or aroma or acidity but after todayâ€™s cup of coffee, it seemed like my senses had suddenly been awakened and I became more aware of the differences in aroma, body, fragrant and flavor.
This glass of iced cold coffee is definitely a must have if you go to Sibu. It costs less than rm1 per cup or rm1.50 for a glass of iced coffee. Ask your friend or whoever to bring you to Sungai Merah vicinity at Lorong Wong Ting Hock 1 and go to Choon Seng Coffee Shop which is right below Cosway Office to order your coffee.
Trust me, you will not regret the effort to go there for this cup of rich coffee. We even bought a kilogramme of coffee powder from them to take home.
Like me, it may even change your outlook on coffee from there onâ€¦.