Day 68 of 111. Sea Day in the Bengal Sea
After so many ports of call and amazing adventures, a few sea days came as a welcomed change. The water is deep so the ocean is a calm ultramarine blue. The air temperature is warm, but the breeze keeps the air comfortable. We have been resting, organizing pictures, catching up on the blog information, and continuing our art and cooking classes. Paul finished a watercolor based on a photo taken in Malaysia. Ron and I took another hands-on cooking class on Indian Cuisine. The menu included Cumin-Scented Carrot Raita which was served with Puff Pastry Samosas filled with green peas and green chutney and tamarind chutney. The main dish was Butter Chicken and the dessert was a delicious Rice Kheer. The class was fun, but eating each of the dishes afterwards was the best part.
Day 66 of 111. Port Kelang, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
We arrived in Kuala Lumpur with no concept of what to expect. Turns out that Kuala Lumpur is a very modern and vibrant city. The country is officially a Muslim nation but takes great care to accept other religions.
Our first stop, was the Batu Caves, a Hindu holy site. They are guarded by Lord Murugan, Hindu God of War. Besides the caves, there are temples to Ganesha and the Monkey God. It was an extremely hot and humid day but both Ron and I managed to climb the 272 stairs to the top. We managed to avoid the tribe of monkeys surrounding the steps which steal anything they can get their hands on from the devotees/tourists. The caves were high and not as dark as we expected as they are open to the sky. Each cave contained multiple temples.
Our next stop was at Independence Square where Malaysian Independence was announced in 1963. The square is the location of the original Colonial government buildings with the clock recently added as a gift from Queen Elizabeth II. In addition their is a small Anglican cathedral which was built in 1894 and is still in use today. Also located here is the Selangor Club. An exclusive club which used to enforce the “no dogs or women allowed” rule.
The last stop was to the K L Tower which is 481 meters tall where you have a 360 degree view of Kuala Lumpur including the Petronas Towers. The West Tower was built by Japan; the East Tower by South Korea. They are still listed as the tallest twin towers in the world.
Day 65 of 111. Singapore, Singapore
Luckily, our excursion for the second day in Singapore did not begin early. Ron slept well after the heat of Cambodia and we had a nice breakfast before we left for some views of Singapore. The first stop was to a Taoist Temple built in 1821. It was built by several wealthy Chinese merchants and was the first spot that newly arrived Chinese visited to give thanks for the safe voyage. I enjoyed the dragons and wonderful patterns. One interesting feature is the flaming ring on the first building of the temple. When you stand in just the correct spot, you can see a pearl on the second building encircled by the flames. The flaming pearl (the Dragon’s Pearl) is a symbol of good luck, prosperity, wisdom and truth for the Chinese.
The second part of the excursion was to take the same river boat ride that I took the night before. The scenery looked completely different during the day than during the night when the bridges, buildings and waterfront shops were lit up. We drove by the Merlin Fountain, the iconic symbol of Singapore. My favorite stop was the refreshing stop at the Raffles Long Bar where the fruity drink, the Singapore Sling, was first invented. The Raffles Hotel is a very fancy spot, but you are encouraged to throw your peanut shells on the floor. This is the one place in Singapore where you are allowed to litter without getting a fine.
Day 64 of 111. Tonle Sap Lake, Cambodia
Ron is on his last day of his overland excursion. They had a boat tour to the floating village at Tonle Sap Lake. During the rainy season, the water level can rise by 30 feet. The striped post is used to measure the water level. When the tour group visited the lake, the lake was only 1.5 meters deep. All of the trees and buildings they could see would be totally submerged in the rainy season. The buildings, therefore, are built as temporary structures.
The colorful buildings in the bottom two pictures make up a floating village. These buildings float independently of each other and as the water levels rise, move along with the currents in the lake to areas with good anchorage. The right-hand building in the bottom photo is probably the only floating Catholic Church in the world.
Day 64 of 111. Singapore, Singapore
In the meantime, Paul docked in Singapore. He had two tasks during the daytime. First was to find fast internet. On route, he saw some of the interesting skyline, the TriSands Hotel that looks like it has a huge boat on top of three hotel towers, the giant Ferris Wheel, the Flyer, that he would ride later in the evening, and the huge tree-like structures that are part of the Garden by the Bay. Singapore has made a conscious effort to provide green space all over the city. These metal trees support many plants and also catch rainwater. They also light up at night. I saw many gardens built into the architecture of the buildings as well as several vertical gardens on the sides of structures. I walked from the ship to the gardens and then took a taxi to the Milenial Walk, a shopping mall. After trying Starbucks and McDonalds, I ended up with good internet at a pizza place called Marco Marco. I spent a few hours catching up on several internet projects. My second task was to buy two new 32 GB thumb drives. We have taken enough pictures to completely fill the thumb drives we brought with us on the trip.
I had an excursion called Singapore at Night. We started the evening with a river cruise along the river and the bay. Singapore has only been an independent country since the late 1900’s. They have worked hard to build up a beautiful city based on the shipping trade as well as some manufacturing. The old piers and waterways were dirty and smelly, so the government decided to build a dam and replace the sea water with fresh water. The area called Clarke Quay is a vibrant night place and the water in the river and the bay is one of the city’s reservoirs. Next we rode the gigantic Flyer. From a distance, the wheel really does not appear all that large until you realize that each car on the wheel is the size of a bus. About a dozen of us comfortably fit in one car with a lot of room to walk around and view the city and harbor from the air. We ended the night with a visit to Bugis Village, a market with lots of great souvenirs, street food, and music. We boarded about 15 TriShaws (a cart for two attached to a bicycle) and took off for a fun tour of some of the downtown areas of Singapore. Our trishaw driver was friendly and loved country western music, so we were blasting line dance tunes as we drove through Little India (the smells were great) and through the buildings. We had a fun time, but were glad to make it back to the ship at around 10:30 p.m… just in time to meet the people back from the Angkor Wat excursion.
Day 64 of 111. Siam Reap, Cambodia
During Ron’s excursion to see Angkor Wat, they took a picture in front of a silk cotton tree at Angkor Thom. We think this tree appeared in the movie, Laura Croft, Tomb Raider. The tree itself is not very useful. The cotton is too light to be used for fabric and the wood of the tree is light and airy and not useful as a structural material or firewood. What it IS good for is to hold the ruins of the temple together. Without this tree, the temple would have fallen apart.