Sunday, July 28, 2013

Day 14 Phuket Thailand Part 1 Bad Start

Well every cruise has one .... and today was ours.... A tour disaster.......

Luckily ours only lasted for the first hour.

Having booked a tour privately with Daj of My Krabi Holidays, mainly due to recommendations from  trip advisor and other blogs.... Only now looking at the name, it tells it all.... (Crabby ) Krabi Holidays.

I had been in contact with Daj and arranged for 8 of us to tour Phuket.  I sent a confirmation email just before we left giving Daj our mobile number and he replied saying all was good and he would be waiting for us just outside the port gates as he would not be permitted to enter the port until later which is the case at lot of these ports.

We disembark and went for the hunt...  we were bombarded by all the other drivers trying to get our business but we declined as we had our commitment to Daj...  Not being able to find him we were starting to get concerned... One gentleman helped us out by calling his number and did manage to have a 5 min conversation with someone before hanging up and saying “wrong Number”. I think he was hiding something. Hmm

We tried to ring him ourselves a couple of times only to be hung up on.  We finally got through and he told me he couldn’t a get a pass to enter the port so he wasn’t coming... Pardon!!

He could have contacted us by email, he had my phone number and damn it there was a hell of a lot of other drivers hanging outside the gates who didn’t have passes...

Chai came to the rescue and for the cost of what Daj was going to charge us each, he took all of us out for day ... what a bargain and what a great day it turned out to be.


Day 14 Phuket Thailand Part 2 Cashews Anyone

Our first stop was the Cashew factory .... and yes you are taken here as the drivers get a kick back.... but you know what, you aren’t paying these guys much and our driver would do and take us anywhere we wanted .... so hang it Chai, we will visit the factories  and jewellery shops so you can get your petrol voucher...  it only takes 10 or 15 min to help him out...

We got to see how they manually shell the cashews, we got to taste cashew juice and just as you have many flavours of potato chips here they have many flavours of cashew nuts to try ... Salted, unsalted, sour cream, wasbi, chilli, honey, butter all kinds of flavours...   We now have snacks for sail away.

There was a cashew tree out the front with lots of hanging fruits and after admiring how perfect they were and taking lots of picture we realised that they were all fake.


Day 14 Phuket Part 3 Look up in the sky! Its a Banana .... it's a Pineapple..... No it's The Big Buddha!!

After getting our Cashew fix chai took us up a windy road that weaved its way up to the Big Buddha.... Up there it sits... big and beautiful, over looking Phuket.  There is no fee to enter just a box where you can donate to help build and maintain this complex...  As you walk in you enter  a temple where you will find Monks in prayer , goods to buy and look another contribution box.. a few more steps and look another..... you pass through the temple and  wind your way up the path. There are  shrines were you can stop and pray and of course donate into yet another contribution box.  Once you are at the top you are faced with this huge Buddha.... Around its base you will find the most amazing assortment of gold buddhas and gods, each one with its own little box...  At the back of the Buddha there are 2 huge statues that seem to be protecting an entrance... a kind of reminder of what we will be missing Safaga.  Here there were a couple of gentlemen carefully carving what look like wooden doors.... hmmm any money left..... you can donate here too.....  Garry took so much footage that I could not leave without throwing in a few coins. When all the building is done and the scaffolding gone this will be an amazing attraction.


Day 15 Phuket Part 4 Elephant Trekking

Everyone was excited about our next stop.....  just as we have Macdonalds  on every corner, Phuket has elephants....  pull over, grab a drink, ride an elephant... what more would you want.

To get up unto the elephants you climb a platform that is high enough for you hop onto an elephant just as you would climb into a car.  In order maximise video footage, Garry strapped his new Go Pro to my head.  So now complete with Head cam we all headed off in convoy for our 30 minute walk...  You know it is high up there ... and you sway alot as the handlers steer the elephants at what seemed like huge undulating hills.  Did I mention that this establishment is perched in the side of a mountain and if an elephant decides it would like something to eat there is no stopping it.  Unfortunately the leaves that caught our elephants eye were on a plant that was growing down on the edge of the embankment .  Thing is when the elephant leans forward down hill to get to his food you are thrust forward looking straight down and whilst your life flashes before your eyes you try to figure out when you start tumbling down the hill which way should you got to maximise your chances of survival, knowing full well there is none....  With every gasp our handler turn and said “Madam, don’t worry, it ok, elephants eat alot”  but it was that smile that I found unnerving.  He finally decided he had enough fun with us and took us a little further along.... well until all the handlers decided to grab our cameras jump off the elephants and start taking  photos...  We smiled we waved, but hang on who is steering the elephants.....  Our elephants new their routine by heart, they turned and started heading back on their own.....  Feeling like we were in our own version of Taking Phelam 123 we were heading back at elephant speed to the cliff that grew our elephants food. Without a driver to remind the elephant he shouldn’t lean over any further to get that juicy leaf had us once again in fear of our lifes...  After the handlers picked themselves up from ROFLOL they came to our rescue and led us back to safety...

Group consensus scary but fun!!


Day 15 Phuket Part 5 Chalong Temple and Patong Beach

I have mentioned before how beautiful the Buddhist temples are these are no exception.  Beautiful temples, beautiful gardens and cheap markets, a tourist mecca....  I had added a picture of a dog for Sherri, just like her son we all can’t pass up a canine photo opportunity.

By now it was time for lunch so we asked Chai to take us to a nice restaurant on Patong Beach...  Wanting to give us everything we wanted he took us right up onto the beach for a feed.  Heaven, sand between your toes, great food, great cocktails and shop without having to leave your seat...  where else can you buy Gucci sunglasses between courses.  You  usually see the hawkers doing the chasing to get a sale... unless you are my husband and you will see him chasing a hawker to buy his wares....  Garry saw him walk past our table and he just had to have one....  in the last Photo you will see why he just what he bought!!

We headed back to the ship with our bellies satisfied, camera cards full and with spare Bhart in our pockets to spend at the dockside markets... Phuket, tick that one off the list.


Day 13 New Captain New ports

In Singapore we had a change of guard.....  Captian Jerman left and has been replace with Captain Pickford.  What will make this trip special is that this will be his last voyage before he retires.  I believe he is on here with his wife.

His first major announcement was to tell us what we were all expecting.  The cancellation of Egypt.  The changes are that we will miss Safaga, transit the Suez a day earlier, visit Ashdod,  miss Alexandria and visit Crete before we get to Naples.  Sharm El Sheik has not been replaced.

As much as we are sad to miss safaga everyone is very excited to be visiting Jerusalem again. We have already been in contact with a tour guide and this time we hope to visit at a much relaxed pace..  Actually while I am writing this up on deck 14 on the Muts screen they are broadcasting a live feed of Debs Port lecture from the Princess theatre.

We have also arranged for a driver to pick us up in Crete.


Friday, July 26, 2013

Day 12 Singapore Part 1 Gardens by the Bay

With the memories still fresh in our minds of the never ending torrential rain in our last visit to Singapore we ventured up on deck to watch our sail in only to be greeted with those familiar grey heavy clouds.  But low and behold after a short light shower, although the threat remained,  there was no rain for the rest of the day..
We sailed into the new Marina Bay Cruise Terminal, which looks very nice but missing all the infrastructure and facilities of the Harbour town Terminal.  Though it looks like they are working on it.
Disembarking was seamless and princess had arranged for Shuttles to transfer passengers to an area in town near the Suntec Mall and the Promenade MRT station.  We wanted to start our adventure a little closer to home so the four of us jumped into a taxi and raced over to the new Gardens by the Bay.  The Gardens are large with different themed areas We made a bee line for the Supertree Grove. I will let the pictures tell the story as they hard to describe, but they are such a dramatic feature to the landscape.  You can pay $5 and walk along a skywalk that is suspended around the trees which gives you a great aerial view of the Gardens as well as the amazing Marina Sands Hotel.
From here we walked over and through the Hotel to the Marina Bay Shoppes,  a shopping centre as fancy as they way they spell it .. Here we stopped for a coffee, pulled out our maps and planned the rest of our day.

Day 12 Singapore Part 2 Little India

We decided to go back to this area of town as last time we were there a little early and because of the weather the streets were deserted.  Such a contrast as it was now full of people, colours and aromas of India. 
We walked along Serangoon Rd the main street in Little India and visited the Sri Veeramakaliamman Temple where worshippers paid money for the monks to lay there blessing in front of their gods. 
We walked up and down other small streets finding markets selling their usual wares of Pashma’s , bags and souvenirs.  Every second shop  glittered with their richly coloured gold, so ornate so typically Indian.

Day 12 Singapore Part 3 Orchard Rd and Chinatown

I was allowed a little time to get my shopping fix and although there were shops and sales everywhere the prices were a lot higher than we remembered them .  Our only purchases of the day consisted of a new camera battery for Garry, 2 pairs of shoes and some fridge magnets. Our only bargain of the day was the yummy lunch we had.

We also visited Chinatown another mecca of colours and aromas although I would have to say the Chinese sure know who to build and decorate a temple.  The Buddha Tooth Relic Temple was absolutely amazing, lots of rich colours, beautiful Buddha’s, flowers ,candles and incense. I swear I can still smell them even after showering and washing my hair.  In the centre of the temple a monk sat in front of a group of worshippers all chanting out of the same  book of scriptures.