A Travellerspoint blog

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TUESDAY, MAR. 10: FREMANTLE/PERTH, AUSTRALIA

1. Fremantle is the port town for the city of Perth and Ed and I started our day with a guided bike tour in the town and beach area. The sailing ship Leeuwin II is docked on the Swan River just downriver from the Serenity (you can see the Serenity through the sails).
2. We finished the bike tour, thanked our guide, hopped on a bus to catch a ferry ride on the Swan River to Perth 12 miles upriver.
3. The pretty approach to Perth.
4. One of Perth’s walking streets, or Malls – common in the Australian cities we have visited. Another common people friendly idea is free city circle buses.
5. Also frequent and fun – street statues.
6 & 7. The “London Court”, a themed shopping street built in the early 20th century.
8. The Perth Town Hall.
9. I think we used every mode of transportation this day except for flying! We took a train back to Fremantle.
10. These are some other modes of transportation that we did not take today – but how cute – and how Australian! Can you Emu?
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Posted by Swenigale 21:01

SATURDAY, MAR. 14: BALI, INDONESIA

1. An equipment/itinerary note: we are on schedule but as you can see from the wake, we still are powered by only one of the two “pods”. Engineers from the propulsion system maker (Rolls Royce) are onboard to fix it and they expect to finish the work in Singapore.
2. Our arrival in mythical, mystical Bali
3. We anchored in late afternoon, double outriggers looking like giant water bugs from the height of the ship. Not yet cleared for landing, we spent the night onboard.
4. Just after sunrise in the 90°heat on Sunday morning – we would be on a four hour bicycle trip soon (look for those photos in our next post).
5-10. The sunset Sunday night was spectacular – one picture just isn’t enough!
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Posted by Swenigale 01:06

SUNDAY, MAR. 15: BALI, INDONESIA

1. During our 4 hour bicycle tour in Bali we had a wide range of experiences. Beautiful girls greeted us at the pier, but one minute later we were pressed on all sides by a hundred Balinese imploring us to buy their goods.
2. Bali is almost 100% Hindu. Our guide brought us to this village Temple where he explained Hindu philosophy and traditions – as we stood in the 100° heat, drinking bottle after bottle of water!
3. Biking through the alleys and along the streets we shouted hello to everyone as they shouted hello to us.
4. Hästa, lava wall and banana leaves.
5. Stopping in a plantation under the shade of coconut palms we ate about 10 different types of local fruit – including “hairy fruit”!
6. This family Temple belongs to the plantation owner. The Balinese people make offerings of flowers, etc. at least three times a day to ancestors and gods.
7. Only motor bikes passed us once we left the small port town.
8. This family Temple is part of a family compound in a small village. Everything is a symbol of something.
9. A major celebration is just around the corner and the family pig will be the centerpiece.
10. Same family – the kids are making some of the baskets that will hold the family offerings.
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Posted by Swenigale 01:51

WEDNESDAY, MAR. 18: SINGAPORE

We have two full days in the island/city/country of Singapore and we have to take this whole post just to share the beauty of their orchids. These pictures are from our visit to the Singapore Botanical Gardens. The 7th picture shows the National Flower of Singapore.
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Posted by Swenigale 09:36

WED & THUR MAR 18 & 19: SINGAPORE

1. Later in the day on the 18th we toured some of Singapore’s Temple areas. Amazingly, the temple Thian Hock Keng has three Chinese philosophies under one roof.
2. Sri Mariamman, built in 1827 – the oldest Hindu Temple in Singapore.
3. Sir Thomas Raffles founded Singapore in 1819 – we toasted him with Singapore Slings at the Long Bar in the Raffles Hotel!
4 & 5: Our “Singapore By Night” tour included a cruise on a “bumboat” along the Esplanade….
6 & 7….And an exciting ride in “trishaws” – fast, loud and crazy, through the streets of Singapore’s ethnic enclaves.
8 & 9. Serenity docked at Harborside, near Vivo City, Singapore’s largest shopping mall. We soon discovered that Singaporean’s favorite pursuits are, unabashedly, shopping and eating out! The cable car whisked us over the port and over our ship (not the one with the dragon).
10. We have started the 5th segment, “Singapore to Hong Kong” Our propulsion .problems are still not resolved, but at this point we will be able to maintain our itinerary.
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Posted by Swenigale 00:16

SUNDAY, MARCH 22 LAEM CHABANG / BANGKOK, THAILAND

Our tour of Bangkok’s Grand Palace, a 2 hour drive from the port, almost made us give up posting our blog! There were pictures we had to take at every turn – how to choose? But we can’t stop now, so here goes –
1-7. The Grand Palace complex was built in 1782 as the Royal Residence and Throne Halls. Also within the walls is the Royal Monastery of the Emerald Buddha, one of the most venerated sites in Thailand.
Scattered around the Upper Terrace are statutes of elephants and mythical beings, I have never seen so much gold – everything glitters! Some of the glitter is from iridescent green beetle wings!
8. The temperature is high and it is very humid – the fan is not just an accessory!
9. People really get a kick out of seeing us pose Hästa.
10. A cute guard glances warily at one of our fellow tourists.
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Posted by Swenigale 04:21

TUESDAY, MARCH 24 SIHANOUKVILLE, CAMBODIA

1-3. Our taste of Cambodian life began with a visit to a Buddhist Temple and Pagoda complex as local children begged for money from us wealthy tourists.
4. These are Stupas, where families bury the ashes of their dead. A plain Stupa can be built for $2,000 USD, an elaborate one costs $5,000. One USA dollar equals $4,034 Cambodian Riel. (Speaking of money, which our guide did a lot – a man wanting to marry must first raise the equivalent of $2,000 USD to give to the bride’s parents!)
5. Our bus drove up this road, pulling over the not-so-sturdy electric pole on the way.
6. An extended family lives here in the interior of the country – both parents work in a garment factory.
7-8. We were special guests at an elementary school – the kids had prepared a recitation for us.
9. Another day of startling contrasts – from poverty and unsanitary living conditions to a clean, modern beach resort where we appreciated traditional music and dance, and no trash!
10. Where is the crab?
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Posted by Swenigale 19:01

THURSDAY, MARCH 26 HO CHI MINH CITY, VIET NAM

We stayed three days in HCM City, formerly Saigon. We had a City Tour on Thursday, and traveled on our own on Friday, Ed’s birthday, to the City of Vung Tau.
1. We docked close by the nearly completed bridge across the Saigon River. Our City Tour was extensive. Saigon is a city with elegant 19th century French architecture and broad boulevards next to Asian Temples, new high rises and alleys of squatter-like shacks.
2. A traditional Water Puppet Show – the puppeteers stand in the water behind the green scrim, working the long poles underwater.
3. The Sea Goddess Temple, with incense constantly burning – look up at the figures on top of the wall –
4. Close-up.
5. Everyone has a motorbike, it seems – and most everyone wears a mask for pollution protection.
6. Phone booths inside the neo-classical Post Office building. 7. Lacquer ware is a major product.
8 & 9. Everyone has something to sell.
10. More mayhem on the street.

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Posted by Swenigale 02:56

FRIDAY, MARCH 27 HO CHI MINH CITY & VUNG TAU, VIET NAM

Our personal goal today was to travel back down the 25 miles on the Saigon River to Vung Tau, an American base in the Viet Nam War and now a resort city. It was where my brother Joel was based as a Navy pilot and where he was killed in a reconnaissance flight over the Mekong Delta.
1. We started the day walking toward the river. This is the HCM City Hall – built by the French.
2. The Rex Hotel, with its roof-top bar, a favorite hang-out for R & R among the Americans during the War.
3. Our Hydrofoil transport, which took us down the river in just 1 ½ hours.
4. We were told that this statue of Christ, high on a southern hill in Vung Tau, was built by the French 60 years ago, so I assume it was here during the War, as was a French built-light house.
5. To be here in Vung Tau was very special, it was a way of keeping alive the memory of our brother, who was just 24 years old and full of promise when he died. These hills, this water front, were some of the last places he knew.
6. Surprise! The 3:30 boat back to HCM was cancelled! So we spent time across the way in Ned Kelly’s Bar.
7. I wrote a tribute to Joel on a wall in the bar among hundreds of other war-time tributes.
8. This was the Aussie’s bar, come to find out, but there are other Americans remembered here, as well.
9. Have scooter will sell! And, of course, we bought!
10. After our fast boat back to HCM City we had another wild ride - trusting our lives to Bicycle cabs.
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Posted by Swenigale 01:01

SATURDAY, MARCH 28 HO CHI MINH CITY, VIET NAM

1. HCM city skyline
2. A tiger prawn farm along the river.
3-5. Scenes along the river
6. Exiting the river, about to cross the bay to the hills of Vung Tau. 7. Vung Tau as we sailed past.
8-9. A Crystal surprise show: “Cooking Nanta”, - Sort of a Korean Blue Man Group with a kitchen chef theme – comedy, knives, percussion and acrobatics – lots of laughs.

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Posted by Swenigale 17:51

MONDAY, MARCH 30 CHAN MAY, VIET NAM (PART 1)

Our day in central Viet Nam was a 10-hour excursion to the ancient city of Hue (pronounced “Whey”).
1. Barbara Eden is a guest presenter this segment – wow, she’s still Jeannie! 2. You’ve heard of pigs in a blanket – how about piglets in a basket?
3. The family water buffalo helped these kids earn some money from us tourists. 4. Scarecrows in a rice paddy and a bamboo fishing system out in the water.
5. Girls on bikes
6. These are skilled embroiderers.
7. At the river landing where we boarded our Dragon Boat we were entertained with traditional Vietnamese music.
8. Poling along
9. Our Dragon Boat on the Perfume River.
10. A pedicab is a great way to travel!
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Posted by Swenigale 07:26

MONDAY, MARCH 30 CHAN MAY, VIET NAM (PART 2)

1. The “Celestial Lady” tower in Thien Mu Pagoda, one of the holiest pagodas in all of Vietnam. The 7 tiers represent the 7 reincarnations of Buddha.
2. The boys living here are “sacrificed” by their families to be monks, which brings much esteem to their families.
3. The tomb of the first of the Buddhist monks of this pagoda, with a lotus blossom in the foreground.
4. Whole families live in these “sand” boats on the Perfume River – and have been for generations. They bring sand up from the river bottom to sell. Their presence is a problem for the government because of the garbage they throw into the river.
5. The tomb of Emperor Minh Mang, who was considered the most brilliant Emperor of the Nguyen Dynasty, the extensive buildings and grounds, planned by him before his death, were completed in 1843. He is guarded by statues of his Mandarin soldiers.
6. Hard to crack those stony faces!
7. The tomb itself with tunnels in the hill below. Builders were beheaded to guard the secret of the actual burial site.
8. Hue was the Imperial City for thirteen Emperors of the Nguyen Dynasty.
9. The Imperial City and the Royal Citadel of Hue suffered massive damage during the Tet Offensive. Inside the Imperial Enclosure (which was much like China’s Forbidden City) the only remaining building is the Royal Library.
10. Our final visit of the day was to a local market – pig parts anyone?
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Posted by Swenigale 21:31

WEDNESDAY, APRIL 1…..HANOI / HONG GAI, VIETNAM

1. On the north coast of Vietnam we anchored among the fantastical rock formations of Halong Bay or “Bay of the Descending Dragon”, A UNESCO World Heritage site. We spent the day sailing in the bay on a Chinese-style junk. It was a cool, rainy day, but that made the weird shapes even more fantastical!
2. One if the “Floating Villages” – where you can raise shrimp in your basement. 3. Hästa and our dragon prow – with the “Fighting Cocks” ahead. There are over 2000 karst mountains and formations in the calm waters and many are named for the shapes they resemble.
4. We found a dry spot on the top deck of the junk, just outside the wheelhouse. Later we saw our young pilot steering with his feet!
5. We sailed to the Thien Chung and Dau Go caves – this picture looks back from the cave entrance down to our waiting junk.
6. The caves were rediscovered just over 10 years ago by a local fisherman
7. Capitalism is alive and well in Vietnam!
8 & 9. Back on the junk they cooked us lunch – everything from fried squid to steamed fish with ginger. (Trust me, OSHA was not consulted.) Meanwhile, the crew had stopped to pick up kayaks and we then enjoyed paddling in the caves and grottos.
10. I think these people must like their lives on the water – with TV even!
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Posted by Swenigale 04:31

FRIDAY, APRIL 3…..HONG KONG, CHINA

1. Our dockside welcome to Hong Kong
2. The view from Victoria Peak on Hong Kong Island
3. Repulse Bay with its lucky arch bridge and Buddha-World atmosphere 4. Hästa visits Buddha land
5. How did Homer get in here?
6 & 7. We sailed in a Sampan to the floating fishing village and floating restaurants in Aberdeen.
8. Serenity was docked on the Kowloon side of Victoria Harbor, across from Hong Kong Island. We found Kowloon Park to be a beautiful oasis, complete with flamingoes.
9. A bunch of goldfish and a bunch of turtles got tangled up but eventually got themselves sorted out.
10. Every night the skyscrapers along the harbor display a fifteen minute “Symphony of Lights” with neon, lasers and music – a fantasy of which Walt Disney would be proud!
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Posted by Swenigale 09:46

SATURDAY, APRIL 4…..HONG KONG, CHINA

1. Our 2nd day in Hong Kong was also the start of the 6th segment of the Pacific Voyage.
2. Transportation is efficient and fun and the signs are all in English so we never got lost! We crossed the harbor on the old Star Ferry - just a 8 minute crossing – to Hong Kong Island from Kowloon. (It’s all Hong Kong City, China.) Look closely –see the bamboo scaffolding?
3. Pedestrian walkways are above and below the traffic of the streets. 4 & 5. Riding in the top of double-decker buses – a thrill ride on the narrow roads out to Stanley Market.
6. The concept of Feng Shui is used even in large buildings. Space was left in this building so the dragon in the mountains behind can get down to the water to drink. (I’m not making this up!)
7. The Kowloon Terminal and Old Clock Tower and ferries
8 & 9. Builders erect more bamboo scaffolding.
10. A welcome sign as we enter Holy Week.
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Posted by Swenigale 15:56

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