A Travellerspoint blog

By this Author: greynomadm

Last Sea Day

Saturday, 5 April 2014

The late time for the sunrise delayed the start of our day. Today is almost solely dedicated to last day administration. Jenny has the task of writing the "Thank You" envelopes and the "Consummate Host" nomination cards. I've retrieved our passports from the Customer Service desk and it with interest that we've studied the new stamps. After lunch we'll start packing our cases and checking the cupboards. We're rather sad to be leaving the ship and saying goodbye to many people we've got to know. Time has certainly flown past.

After lunch we took time out to watch the movie "Last Vagus" !! A really funny show with some great characters and nice story-line. Partly packed our bags and need to top them off when the laundry is returned later this evening.

The dinning room was packed tonight and people were taking those last photos and exchanging email addresses. I was surprised when Dr Chuck came into the dinning room just to say goodbye. We appear to have made an impression on him.

Finished packing the luggage and put them out for collection then went off to the Cabaret Lounge for the final show. The three most recent performers shared the billing and it was a great note to go out on.

This is the last posting from aboard the Ocean Princess, tomorrow we disembark in Singapore.
I'll upload an image from this morning. You'll find it on my 365 Project http://365project.org/tonydebont/365/2014-04-05

Cheers .. Tony

Posted by greynomadm 16:44 Archived in Singapore Comments (1)

Ko Samui, Thailand

Friday, 4 April 2014

View 2014-03 Singapore on greynomadm's travel map.

We arrived off the island of Ko Samui in the early predawn and were safely anchored at 07:00. We were booked on a shore excursion and were assembled at 07:15 and soon after were escorted onto a local vessel for the short trip to the pier. On arrival we were allocated in groups of eight to 4WD vehicles which whisked us to the Namuang Safari Park. There we were seated in pairs on an elephant, quite an interesting process and all expertly conducted by the staff. The ride was most uncomfortable given the ungainly gait of the elephant. Our steed was determined to overtake slower animals ahead and walked close to the edge of the road, from atop that beast the ground was a long way down. My attempts to photograph resulted in unidentifiable blurs.

When all of the group had safely returned we watched a demonstration of a trained monkey harvesting coconuts. It is claimed that a monkey can harvest between 800 and 1000 coconuts in a day. This was followed by an entertaining display by a pair of elephants who performed a number of unlikely balancing feats. Next on the tour was a demonstration of Thai cooking. Our tour guide concocted a Green Papaya Salad. It looked great and was fiercely hot. Most of the group refrained from eating any of it.

We were loaded onto our vehicles and driven to the Na Muang Falls where we joined a multitude of other tourists. Our guide explained that due to a record dry season there was NO water in the waterfall. Not deterred, there were dozens of local vendors selling a bewildering range of local craft and other gift items. Next stop was a demonstration of the rubber-tree tapping industry which has faded with the rise of tourism. The demonstration site looked like the remnants of a once-thriving operation. That was the final stop on quite a busy morning and we were taken back to the pier where we boarded one of the ship's tenders.

Back aboard our first priority was to strip off our drenched cloths and had a welcome shower. Once refreshed we found our way to the buffet for lunch after which we retired to the cabin to study our eye-lids from the inside. We woke in time to dress for "Formal Night" and joined Mike for a Jewish Sabbath Eve Service in the library. There was just Mike and Rachel and Jenny and I and they explained many of the elements of the service. Afterwards we drank a small glass of wine and some pieces of a very soft special bread. We missed a repeat of the Captain's Cocktail Party but the experience was well worth it.

The dinner was the usual 'formal' affair with wonderful lobster tails on the menu. Dr 'Chuck' Mitchel paid us a visit to pass on his email address. For some reason he's befriended us and shares breakfast with us most mornings. After dinner we attended the encore performance by Paul Cincotta, an excellent show worthy of the standing ovation.

Clocks forward an hour tonight and we have another full day at sea before we arrive in Singapore.

I'll upload an image from this morning. You'll find it on my 365 Project http://365project.org/tonydebont/365/2014-04-04
Cheers .. Tony

Posted by greynomadm 08:42 Archived in Thailand Comments (0)

Across the Gulf of Thailand

Thursday, 3 April 2014

The sunrise this morning was quite spectacular as we sailed slightly South of Westward. Joined Jenny for breakfast and then she went off to Tai Chi, I went down to the Cabaret Lounge for the cooking demonstration by the Executive Chef and the Maitre. This was followed by a visit to the ship's galley, much more compact as is to be expected.

It is surprising how quickly we've found familiar faces amongst both the passengers and the crew. There's a real "small country town" feel about the ship and I'm convinced that much of that is due to the relaxed nature of the Captain as well as the reduced size of the ship.

After an early lunch we attended the destination lecture for Singapore, it was interesting to see the various attractions that had been selected. Jenny stayed on for the "Dancing with the Stripes". The ship's version of the TV show with the on-board dancers being teamed with some of the Officers. I elected to spend the time at the keyboard. Jenny came back with high praise for the event, she claimed it to have been the "best hour" she'd spent this cruise.

Most enjoyable dinner, best chicken and chips and way too much - but I ate it anyway. Disembarkation documents have been delivered, stark reminder that the end of the cruise is almost with us. Another of the over-rated 'production' shows so we may make an early night of it.

We arrive in Ko Samui tomorrow morning, we've noticed a change of course as we are now sailing NorthWestward. I'll upload a sunrise image from this morning. You'll find it on my 365 Project http://365project.org/tonydebont/365/2014-04-03

Cheers .. Tony

Posted by greynomadm 06:14 Archived in Thailand Comments (0)

Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon)

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

View 2014-03 Singapore on greynomadm's travel map.

There was a significant layer of fog and pollution across the landscape as we wound our way up the Saigon River. There wasn't a perceivable sunrise and the lack of clear light precluded any reasonable photo captures on the way in. We assembled in the Cabaret Lounge for our four-hour tour of the city. I was last here in 1971 and was frankly amazed at the changes that have taken place since then. High-rise towers, clean streets, beautiful parks and gardens all amidst chaotic traffic. The city has a population of nine million and there are reported to be over six million motor scooters.

Our coach was spotlessly clean and beautifully appointed, the drive most skillful (we didn't hit anything) and our tour guide one of the best we've experienced. He made it very clear how long we had at each stop and where to meet to board the coach. The whole tour went without a hitch.
We visited the Notre Dame Cathedral and the Post Office - a structure that looks like a railway station but is so much more than just a Post Office. Banks, travel bookings and thousands of opportunities to spend money on exquisite and unique souvenirs. Next stop was the National Museum of Vietnamese History where the country's long and turbulent history is presented in a collection of historic artifacts. Next was a visit to the Jade Emperor Pagoda where local folk made their offerings to the deities quite oblivious to the 'rude foreigners' - I always feel uncomfortable entering and photographing these places.

We were taken to the Minh Phuong Lacquer-ware studio where we observed the artists at work and then we were led into an Alladin's Cave of amazing treasures. The range of lacquer-ware ranged from exquisite dainty vases to complete dining suites, occasional tables and wall hangings of incredible size. To round off the tour we visited the "Reunification Hall" formerly the Presidential Palace. There was also a brief stop at the Rex Hotel made famous as the media briefing venue during the American War. Back to the ship to cool off and enjoy some lunch.

We started watching this afternoon's movie "August: Osage County" but after about 20 minutes couldn't see it heading anywhere so we left. Went up to Deck 9 to watch the river traffic and later the start of the slow cruise down the Saigon River out to the South China Sea.

There was an Italian theme in the dining room and we enjoyed a little too much fine food. I had jokingly ordered two sweets and felt obliged to eat both when they arrived. No show for us tonight, Jenny's too tired and I have almost 300 images to study and this blog needs to be written and posted.

A day at sea tomorrow as we sail towards Ko Samui in Thailand. There's an image of a floating 'market' vessel making a 'home delivery' to a larger ship whilst under-way on the Saigon River. You'll find it on my 365 Project http://365project.org/tonydebont/365/2014-04-02

Cheers .. Tony

Posted by greynomadm 07:33 Archived in Vietnam Comments (1)

Approaching Vietnam

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

The sun, clouds and ocean provided an interesting sunrise and quite a crowd of people pounding the walking track. Two items of interest this morning: Lisa Moore's lecture on the physics of waves in various media and in various forms, then Tiffanie's talk on the various cruise itineraries in Europe and the Mediterranean. Decided on the English Pub Lunch again today. I made a bad choice selecting the Ploughman's Lunch, it hardly made a sandwich. Jenny made a wiser choice with the Steak and Kidney Pie.

Spent the afternoon in the Cabaret Lounge for Horse Race, the port lecture for Ko Samui and afternoon movie Judie Dench in "Philomena". Another heart wrenching tale base on an actual event. We managed to make it to dinner despite the movie finishing at 17:45. A real bonus for being on a small ship, it doesn't take long to get from one end to the other. Ordered the roast turkey and was rewarded by a huge serving, certainly made up for the skimpy lunch.

We are in another communications 'black hole' so will have to hold off posting this until tomorrow.

Saigon tomorrow, we've booked a half-day ship's tour. Today's sunrise will be posted on my 365 Project http://365project.org/tonydebont/365/2014-04-01
Cheers .. Tony

Posted by greynomadm 07:31 Archived in Vietnam Comments (0)

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