January - April 2014
  • Day76

    Langkawi, Malaysia

    March 20, 2014 in Malaysia ⋅ ⛅ 25 °C

    27C and expected to rise to 32C and sunny. We wanted to spend the day on the beach and to do very little after a busy few days touring cities. We boarded the shuttle bus which took us to the nearby beach resort of Pantai Cenang, a journey of only ten minutes. It is a beautiful beach, wide sand, fringed with palm and other trees. The backdrop were high mountains on which the rain forest was situated. The beach is popular with the locals who were out in small numbers with their families. While Erica went into the sea for a swim, I wandered along the beach. It took some time to reach the end and walk back and when I did I discovered that Erica had been stung by a jellyfish. Fortunately, it was not dangerous and after about twenty minutes the pain had subsided and all was well. The temp and humidity was slowly increasing and after a few hours we decided to stroll around the small town for a while before returning to the ship. We had had a lovely few hours.Read more

  • Day75

    Port Kelang and Kuala Lumpur

    March 19, 2014 in Malaysia ⋅ ⛅ 23 °C

    It was 26C at 6.30hrs and was forecast to rise to 32C. We were on a coach at 8.30hrs for the one and a half hour journey to Kuala Lumpur. Our first stop was at the city museum, which reflected all of Malaysian history, including the colonial period, which particularly interested me. We then stopped at the UNESCO site of the old railway station, built by a Brit and then the city mosque, also built by a Brit. We passed Independence Square, where, in 1957 Malaysia became independent and then arrived at KL tower for a panoramic view of the city. From the top we had a magnificent view, including that of the Petronas twin towers. We then headed off to the Central Market, a centre for Malaysian handicrafts. The products on sale were actually good quality and fairly priced.Read more

  • Day74

    Singapore

    March 18, 2014 in Singapore ⋅ ⛅ 24 °C

    We arrived at 7.30am. The weather was already hot and humid at 28C and destined to rise to 31C. We intended to tour the city independently and four of us headed immediately to Raffles Hotel. We were not allowed to enter the reception area but a very stylishly dressed doorman directed us to the public areas. What struck me was the way the tropical trees and plants had been allowed to flourish in all the courtyards and open spaces, which gave the appearance of a hotel surrounded by forest. We spent some time wandering around and just enjoying the peace. We then walked to 'Little India', where the streets were narrow and the houses brightly painted. We then took the metro to Orchard Road, the preeminent shopping area, where the road and pavements were bordered by more tropical plants and greenery. Very pleasant.We took the metro again, this time to the harbour to view the hotel, on the roof of which was constructed a very long boat. We then strolled back to the ship for afternoon tea and air conditioning! There is so much to see in Singapore but we did not have enough time.Read more

  • Day71

    Laem Chabang and Bangkok, Thailand

    March 15, 2014 in Thailand ⋅ ⛅ 27 °C

    The ship arrived in Laem Chabang, basically a large container port, but we had booked a coach tour to Bangkok and by 8am we were sitting on the coach about to depart. The weather was already hot and humid, about 32C. The journey to Bangkok would take about two hours. We were to visit two main sites, the Golden Buddha Temple and the Grand Palace. The temple contained a Buddha, not surprisingly, made out of gold and stands fifteen feet high. The temple itself was stunning, mainly white and gold. We had to take off our shoes to see the Buddha itself. Our first sight of the Grand Palace took our breath away. It looked like a fairy tale come to life or something from the 'King and I', only more so. Many of the buildings are painted with gold dust, covered in mosaics and coloured glass or covered in painted pottery. We had a guide, who was excellent in explaining the significance of what we were viewing. We stopped to see the Emerald Buddha, actually made of jade. It was difficult to decide what to photograph as there was so much of interest. We stopped for lunch at the Bangkok Hotel 'G', a modern and stylish hotel with a very nice restaurant. It was a Thai buffet lunch with a good choice of Thai and European food. On our way back to the ship we stopped at a jewellery factory and bought one or two small items. All round it was a wonderful day.Read more

  • Day69

    Phu My and Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

    March 13, 2014 in Vietnam ⋅ 🌙 24 °C

    29C and clear skies. The ship docked in Phu My but we had arranged a ship's excursion to Ho Chi Minh City, but the locals still refer to it as Saigon. The coach journey was one and a half to two hours. The traffic was manic. There were no rules on the road and there was certainly no stopping at junctions or roundabouts. On arrival in Saigon, we were taken to a water puppet show, which was actually quite interesting and then we visited the city museum, which reflects the history of the country from prehistoric times throughout he various dynasties which ruled the country. Our guide referred to the Vietnam war frequently, although the Vietnamese refer to it as the war against America. The war still plays on their psyche. We visited a lacquer factory. The prices of the goods were pretty expensive but of high quality. We were shown the site of the previous American Embassy and the iconic CIA building and then the Rex Hotel, where the world's press had their headquarters during the war. We passed the Opera House and then stopped at the Majestic Hotel for lunch, an impressive building. We had a buffet Vietnamese lunch and were entertained by musicians playing traditional music, which was very enjoyable. We then drove along the Saigon river and stopped at a Tao temple before heading back to the ship, tired but very happy.Read more

  • Day67

    Nha Trang, Vietnam

    March 11, 2014 in Vietnam ⋅ ⛅ 25 °C

    This was an unexpected delight. 25C with a blue and sunny sky and expected to rise to 32C. Beautiful views of Nha Trang and the countryside from the ship. We took the tender to the mainland and then the shuttle bus to the centre. The view of the bay was fantastic and so was the beach. We passed a long promenade with wide gardens containing all manner of shrubs and trees. There were large and architecturally impressive hotels lining the road. Our drop off point was a large cafe and from here we walked to Dam Market and this was located in a much poorer area but we enjoyed looking round the stalls. Crossing the road was an art form. There were pedestrian crossings and traffic lights but traffic did not obey them. We then negotiated a taxi ride to the Po Nagar Cham Towers for a price of US$20 between the four of us. The entrance fee was US$3 each. What an impressive site. The exterior of the main temple is covered in intricate rock carvings and inside the main chamber was a black stone statue of the goddess Uma with her ten arms. From the site there were wonderful views of the Cai river. We had a local beer for US$1 each. We then decided to visit the Long Son Pagoda on the other side of town. This site contains a huge, white seated Buddha, reached by climbing 152 steps. Very impressive. We then headed back to town by taxi and we strolled along the promenade alongside the beach.

    Nha Trang had exceeded all our expectations. The scenery was beautiful, the beach splendid and the promenade and gardens were attractive and well kept and the people were very friendly.
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  • Day66

    Halong Bay, Vietnam

    March 10, 2014 in Vietnam ⋅ ⛅ 2 °C

    15C and slight drizzle with mist covering the tops of all the islands. It was a disappointment not to see this wonderful part of the world in all its glory, but we did the best we could. Whilst Vietnamese junks moored alongside the ship to carry passengers around the islands, we joined our friends Steve and Maureen and hopped on the tender to take us ashore. We then walked along a very nice palm fringed wide promenade which overlooked the bay and eventually came upon quite a large market and after some haggling, bought a couple of small pictures to bring back home. Everybody was very friendly and some of the traders spoke in broken English. We then stopped for coffee and green tea in a stylish cafe before slowly walking back. We passed several restaurants and would have loved to have gone in for a meal but time did not permit. This was a very friendly resort and thoroughly enjoyed our brief stay.Read more

  • Day63

    Hong Kong, China

    March 7, 2014 in Hong Kong ⋅ ⛅ 12 °C

    The weather was 15C and overcast. The ship docked right next to the Star Ferries Terminal and the view of Hong Kong island was amazing. We had booked a tour to see some of the highlights and we headed off at 9am accompanied by our Chinese tour guide called Patrick! Very funny man with a dry sense of humour and excellent English and knowledge of Hong Kong. Our first stop was at a Tao temple. The incense was almost overpowering but very colourful and peaceful. We then headed for Hong Kong Island, passing through a tunnel and stopped at the Victoria Peak tram terminus. We took the tram to the top, quite an exciting ride but when we reached the top of the peak, there was very low cloud, a strong wind and it was cold. We could not see anything of Hong Kong. It was a disappointment but quite usual so we were led to believe. From there, we headed down to Aberdeen harbour for a ride on a sampan boat around the harbour. It was fun and fascinating. We then strolled around Stanley Market, interesting but we did not buy anything. After returning to the ship, we made our way to the main shopping area and finally found a shop selling traditional Chinese ware, where we bought some silk garments to bring home. That evening, we watched a laser light display over Hong Kong. It was spectacular.

    The following day, we took the ferry to Hong Kong island at a cost of the equivalent of 23p each single and took a tram to the end of the line, which took us through much of the main part of the island, costing 28p each single. The journey took one hour and twenty minutes. At the end of the line, we wandered through a Chinese market and had a coffee in McDonalds (there seriously was nowhere else!). We visited another Tao temple for another heady mixture of incense and then boarded the tram for the return journey and back to the ship. Fantastic two days.
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  • Day61

    Xiamen, China

    March 5, 2014 in China ⋅ 🌬 14 °C

    We arrived at 7am. The temp was 14C, cloudy but dry. We took the shuttle bus to the dropping off point in Xiamen, a journey of only ten minutes. We passed some lovely gardens close to the waterfront. As Xiamen is sub tropical, although it did not feel like it, there were plenty of palms and other exotic plants. Firstly we headed into the shopping area, expecting to find traditional Chinese goods but, in fact, almost all the shops sell western products, which was disappointing as we wanted to buy a few traditional items of clothing to bring back with us. Having failed in our attempt, we walked to a ferry terminal to take the local ferry to Gulangyu Island, a very popular destination for the locals and visitors. The short journey cost the equivalent of .80p return. The boat was crammed full of, mainly, Chinese visitors but, amazingly, we began to talk to a man standing next to us with his bride and they were going to have their photographs taken on the island. He spoke excellent English but she spoke none at all. Gulangyu Island does not allow any motorised vehicles except golf buggies, so most people just walk. We walked for a long time along narrow lanes between shops and houses until we stopped at the Cezanne cafe, where Erica had a coffee and I had a very large glass of green tea. Nobody spoke English but we managed. The owner very kindly gave us two postcards of the cafe to take home with us. We returned on the ferry, braving the scrum, and headed back for the ship on the shuttle bus. A very good day.Read more

  • Day59

    Shanghai, China

    March 3, 2014 in China ⋅ 🌙 5 °C

    We arrived in Shanghai early so that by 7.15am all the formalities had been dealt with. Our tour was booked for 9am. The temp was 7C with a clear, blue sky. At the appropriate time we joined our coach and after a hour's journey we arrived at the 'Yu Gardens', constructed in 1559 during the Ming Dynasty. The gardens are quite small but stunning. Very colourful and peaceful. We then walked to the old town, full of traditionally constructed Chinese buildings. It was very busy but fascinating and we spent quite some time just wandering around taking in the sights. We then rejoined the coach to visit the Jade Buddha Temple complex, a little way-out from the centre of the city. The complex consists of a number of traditional Chinese temples, containing giant figures of Buddha in richly decorated rooms. The highlight was the figure of Buddha made from jade. No photographs were allowed.Read more