Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Blog Wrap UP

So now back home in the USA so let me give you an update from when I last posted.  The cruise line was pretty remarkable in the service they provided.   We were on the 10th deck and so pretty close to all the ship's activity.  They had several different restuarants, Indian, Chinese, Japanese, Italian and Continental.   You had a choice of restaurants to go to but we found that the Indian had some of the best meals so went there pretty often.  So some of the highlights of the cruise were getting a great massage using hot rocks...quite an experience.  Having dinner at the captians table one night...I got to sit next to the safety officier and you all know me..QUESTIONS QUESTIONS QUESTIONS.   Did you know that it only takes a ship 21 seconds to pass you by if you decide to jump off the front of the ship?   They had these great gymnasts from China who performed on two different nights.    
It was a great way to wrap up the life experience in Chiang Mai, to be able to chill for a few days on a cruise ship.  
So here are some pictures of the cruise to kind of give you an idea of how cool it was. 

Friday, February 13, 2009

Day 40 41 42 and 43 The Cruise

Ok so you probably wandered what happened to us?  Well we did not sink in the Straits of Malacca and did not feel the earthquake here this morning.  
Right now at Singapore airport waiting for the first leg of the journey home.  First to London then to NY.  It will take just over 24 hours to fly back to NYC.  I will give you an update upon arrival plus some great pictures from the cruise.  I am not sure I can say it is great to be home as it is cold there....It is 82 or so right now.  

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Day 39 Star Cruises Journey

Now if you want to experience luxury..I would strongly suggest you book yourself Admiral Class on Star Cruise Line. Within 5 minutes of being on the ship, the staff knew who you were by name. If you needed ANYTHING, all you had to do was ask and it happened. Well maybe not anything, I mean if I wanted to have lunch with Barack Obama they might not be able to pull that one off. But you want a seat for dinner at a sold out function on board...No problem it happens.
The big event of the day for Paul and I was the water slide. At the top of the ship you start, then go out over the ocean (with sharks in it) and down to the wave pool at the bottom. I did it 14 times and will be back at it again today.
Food is great, service outstanding, our waiters were from Nepal, India, Philippines, Thailand and could not do enough for us to create a great experience. Of course it helps that we have been to most of these countries which automatically makes you SPECIAL.
In Penang, Malaysia at this time in an Internet cafe and then will be heading to Phuket on the overnight. Will give you a Penang update tomorrow if we can, but diving is on the docket for tomorrow.
Oh and BTW the weather here is HOT.... close to 100F and very sunny with a nice breeze.

As always enjoy the pictures of the first day on the cruise.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Day 38 Singapore and the start of the cruise

Pictures in order are
The American University in Singapore (note the flag)
The botanical garden entrance
Me in the waterfalls
First orchid pictures
Paul in the garden
Pictures from the botanical garden
Shot from orchard street note how wide the sidewalk is
Inside one of the 100 plus shopping malls one bigger than the next..

Yesterday, we spent the day exploring the city of Singapore. This was my 3rd trip here and this time I have to say I can appreciate the positive things about the city. It is well organized and VERY clean, the first time here I thought perhaps over clean. It is pretty perfect in all ways and they do have some funny laws, no gum chewing anywhere, you may not pee in the elevator (that does make sense) and of course no durians on the subways.
The botanical garden was beautiful and the collection of orchids was like none other we had ever seen. Today, we board a cruise ship and are going up the straits of Melaka to Penang in Malaysia. I think the best way to explain Singapore is to give you some visual images of what we have seen in the last 24 hours. It is unlike anything I have seen in the last month and has its own merits. I miss the hectic life of Thailand but can appreciate the more organized life that people have here.
I will not likely be posting for a day or two as we are going to be out on a ship but will try to give you an update from Penang.
Enjoy the beauty of Singapore!... Especially that which nature has created...The picture of the orchids only give you a small glimpse of their true beauty.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Day 37 Melaka and Singapore

I got up early in the morning to capture the city before the sun came up. It is hard to describe in words or even pictures how beautiful the place is. Standing next to buildings that were more than 500 years old and in some cases owned by the original families gives you a real feeling of what a blip in time each of us is. I only had a limited amount of morning time and then I had to head off to my next adventure, Singapore. The bus station, brand new and much less chaotic than in K.L., was easy to figure out.. Lots of vendors selling seats to Singapore, so all you had to do was choose your time and a ticket could be had. When I got to the stand, a family from Singapore decided that I needed to be adopted. The wife told me where to put my luggage so it would safe, which seat to sit on the bus for the best views...Turns out to be the right side window. I got a narrative all the way to the border. Kilometer after kilometer of palm groves and then rubber trees. I even saw a durian grove..almost ready -- fruit is ripe in April. The border crossing was slick, you pulled up jumped out of the bus, went through immigration and the bus was waiting on the other side for you. That took care of Malaysia. Then you go about 1 kilometer and you hit the Singapore crossing...There is a sign there that says trafficking of drugs is punishable by death. I guess if you you don't get it at that point you may well die. Singapore crossing equally as easy but the Malaysian border station was much nicer.

Then onto the bus station in Singapore, a taxi ride and I am at my hotel on Scotts Road right in the city center. Tomorrow you will get a few pictures of this city that can only be described as follows: take Miami and dust it off, then eliminate ALL the crime ..plant a LOT more trees and you have Singapore. The pictures will paint a better picture for you. So enjoy these last few pictures of Melaka and get ready for Singapore.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Day 36 Melaka(Malay) ...Malacca(English) Finally Pictures

The day did not start out terrific, had an intense discussion with a KL taxi driver and could not come up with what I considered to be a fair price to take me from my hotel to the bus station. I grabbed my 3 bags threw them over my shoulder and decided to take the train to the bus station. Got sorted at the bus station and was on my way. The bus ride was great, watched the movie Changeling on the way. Brillant acting on Ang Jolie's part and soon it was time to get off the bus in Melaka.

When the liberty bell in Philadelphia was still just iron ore in the hills of Britain and the British empire was not yet invented, Malacca was a thriving port in Asia. It is located right on the straits of Malacca and was quite close to the Tsumani of Boxing Day several years ago. It truly is a smogasbord of things to see. The Chinese culture is everywhere and today I had real Chinese food for the first time on my trip. Andy, don't be shocked I really ate Chinese food, however interesting ingredients. Sweet and sour fish with corn and beans in it. So a little bit from Asia, corn from the Americas and of course beans from the UK.

You can see the straits from town and it is FULL of ships as this is one of the most travelled channels in the world. It is only a short ferry ride across to Sumatra in Indonesia.

I did all the important town sights, Chinatown, St Paul's church ruins, the new waterfront ..3 ice tea stops ..you guessed it hot and humid.

Spent some time in some really interesting antique shops who were full of Asian antiques. Yes I walked away with one item a 65 year old tea box.

Tomorrow, I will do some more street walking and then head to the bus terminal for my final sector ...Singapore just 4 hours south of me via bus. I will try and post pictures later but I am working in an internet cafe and it is really slow so the pics might have to wait till tomorrow.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Day 35 Evening entertainment and Rocks from Above

So when I left off last night I was about to head off to dinner and the Petronas towers to get some night shots.     I went to a nice little Italian place around the corner that made an Italian dish with a Malay fare.   While I was there, I engaged in a conversation with two young men originally from Pakistan now living in Malaysia.   We talked about Barack, Gaza, nuclear energy and a range of other topics..not the least of which why they were drinking alcohol.  So the first pictures are of the guys who are also now reading my blog.  One is a web designer so I suspect I will be hearing about enhancement possibilities.
This morning I had my normal great Asian breakfast, I might just toss corn flakes after this trip..I am getting used to noodles and rice.   Then I went to the bus station to get my ticket for Melaka tomorrow...you will like tomorrow's blog Melaka is suppose to be a terrific place to go.
Then I did a little train riding to get to the park area of KL as well as the museum of Islamic art.  I spent about two hours in the museum, which showed photographs of Islamic people at work on all continents.  It was one of the finest photography displays I have ever seen.   
Then up the trail to the butterfly park, when a rock landed at my feet.   Now I know this was not a meteor or some parts from the recently launched Iranian rocket but a real earth rock.  So when rocks fall from above what do you do but look up and I spotted a family of monkeys all staring at me.  They were kind of saying, OK now we are here, get the camera out and start to photograph us.  So I shot lots of pics of them and you will see one of the best posted.  We engaged for a few minutes and then I moved on and they made cheering sounds as I left.  At least they did not pee on me like they did on my friend Jill several years ago.   
I trudged up the hill...not so long but it was kind of hot and humid so I just took my time and arrived at the butterfly park.   Lots of great butterflies but the FLY piece is what makes them hard to photograph.   Just when you think you got it they take off.   However, patience finally paid off and I got one to just sit on a flower and flap his/her wings.    She/He is on today's blog.  Then I went to the orchid park and saw some great orchids...I changed the pic at the bottom of my blog...Time to represent nature.
I stopped at my Swarmee and hubbly bubbly restaurant to grab a meal and headed home to the Concorde hotel.  
Now I am back in my room and just going to hang out, go to the pool take a swim and chill for the evening...I had a great day.....

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Day 34 High Up...Big Rain and a tourist with too many cameras

What a day this was...To say it is hot is an understatement BUT you go with the flow, drink lots of ice tea and take it slow and enjoy.  First went to the Petronas Towers to get tickets for the bridge.  42 stories up in the air and NOTHING under you except air.  Took lots of pictures of the building and and got my ticket for 4:15PM  right at the moment it usually rains here in KL.  Get a load of the tourist with 3 cameras...
Off then to the part of the city called Bukit Bintang where they have lots of places to shop, and eat.   Took a look at the biggest computer mall I have ever seen, 6 floors of computers in all shapes and sizes.  Guess who showed up again, yes the dragon!!   He and a fellow dragon were wishing the stores good luck by dancing around.   Remember we are still in the middle of Chinese New Years celebration here.  
 Then stopped for lunch at a local kebab shop and hubbly bubbly all combined into one.   Now what was interesting is that the tables were wedged in between the grills so here we are 90 plus degrees and surrounded by hot grills.  One of the local guys was smoking the hubbly bubbly...not illegal stuff just flavored tobacco.   They are included in my display today.
The day just rocketed by trying to take in everything and of course stopping for endless rounds of ice tea.    
So back to the Petronas tower and the ride to the sky bridge.   What a view and while I was there a HUGE thunderstorm hit KL.  We are talking intense rain here. and lots of it.   I know you in London got snow and are totally paralyzed but this stuff was really pouring down.  A picture of the palm trees being drenched is shown.  
Now the issue was to get home...I am only about a 15 minute walk from the towers but I did not want to look like a drowned rat when I got to the hotel.  So did a little bit of riding around on the trains to get to my house.   No direct connection so had to do a lot of crisscrossing to get back to the hotel.  
So overall a great day...great food and great people.  Oh yea one guy wanted me to try some durian so I thought well just maybe I will try the durian chocolate this trip.
Till tomorrow...Have a great day...