As Myanmar sheds its military dictatorship and creaks open to the world, tourists are quickly flooding in. The opening up of our Southeast Asian neighbour means new adventures abound right next door. It won't be long before the Mergui islands become an exciting alternative to Koh Tao or Phi Phi. So when I was invited to join the soft opening of a cruise on a 85 ft (25 meters) classic double-plank teak yacht exploring the 400-kilometer stretch of islands, I didn't hesitate to accept.
During the seventeenth century, at the height of Thailand's territorial expansion, the Kingdom of Siam claimed the city of Mergui, the mainland gateway to the islands. Now called Myeik, it was a port and trading hub. Three hundred years later, Mergui town is less busy and the islands remain isolated. It is a place for travellers obsessed with being "off-the-beaten-path", "the first to set foot on" or "the only foreigner in sight."
Here's a glimpse of the little life that exists on the islands-- mainly fisherman and sea gypsies, also called the Moken.