A Travellerspoint blog

Day 23 - At Sea

North and West of the Northern tip of Madagascar

sunny 29 °C

On first day of 4 days at sea after visiting the island of Mahe - capital of the Seychelles Islands. A beautiful day with less humidity and blue skies with beautiful people and far less trash visible. We walked into the town and spoke to someone who told us we could arrange a glass bottom boat trip out to the Marine national park. We then walked into town and visited the colourful small market and then down to the wharf where the four of us boarded a small glass bottom boat and headed out to sea. We stopped several times to feed thousands of Zebra fish with stale bread rolls and Melinda and Josh and the German couple who were sharing the boat with us donned their snorkels and masks and went swimming over the shallow waters over the coral reefs. The Zebra fish were so used to swiimers that even without the bread they would come up and nibble fingers and other exposed parts. After half an hour or so we travelled the short distance to Cerf Island. This Island is the only one which has about 10 families living on it and it has a small house that offers a beautiful rocky beach - complete with 6 inch spiders and a freshly prepared Creole lunch with curries and various salads and barbecued rabbit fish. There is a path up to a panoramic lookout and a tame 17 year old tame giant tortoise - Pepino. After a pleasant 2 ½ hours we travelled back to the town of Victoria where I walked back to the ship and the others went jewellery shopping. Our day with the vessel Calypso with owner Ari was not only cheap but fantastic value particularly when compared to the expensive Princess tours.

The ship sailed at 6pm after all passengers returned at 5-30pm and after a refreshing shower we headed off for a buffet meal then the evenings entertainment. We first saw a show with the 2 surviving members of the 80's group, The Four Kinsmen, which was a blend of music and comedy. We then sat for an hour listening to the resident pianist Larry Dunsmore who also is responsible for the 400 strong choir which Celina has joined.

Today is a seaday so lots to do or not depending on one’s mood and interests. Tomorrow night is the next formal night so the dinner suit and lovely clothing and formal photo’s are de rigeur. Only 4 days to our first mini safari in south Africa. Still over 3 ½ weeks to go!
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Posted by acudoc 10:16 Archived in Seychelles Comments (0)

Somewhere in the Indian Ocean

Between Maldives and Seychelles

rain

Since last entry we have visited Goa in India and Male the capital of the Maldives. We spent the day at Goa with the expectation we were going to be given a cultural experience at a hotel. Instead we had an unsatisfactory experience in being taken through the hot and crowded streets of this once portuguese colony which was not part of India until 1963 when the Indian Army carried out a brief but effective military action which freed Goa from Portuguese rule in one morning. There are still more christians and churches here than anywhere else in India. The cultural experience consisted of an entirely unsatisfactory performance of 3 local Portuguese style Goan dances interspersed with Elvis Presley songs. The best part of the show was the conga line at the end where all sweated as much as each other. Then back to the ship for a buffet meal and then the highlight of the day the Island Night Party where everyone let it all hang out and where Josh and his friends ended up in the pool. We decided not to go ashore in Male as we had enough of the humidity and felt like having a relaxing day aboard. Melinda went ashore and wandered on her own around the narrow crowded streets of this entirely Sunni moslem town which has been Muslim since the 11th Century.

We are now into our 21st day of this long cruise which has been the most relaxing holiday we have had in years. The presence of Melinda and Josh in particular and Felix and Shoshanna makes this trip different to all that have proceeded it. We have at last had a cooler evening during which we had our dinner together, saw a great production show, and then sat with all the other old folk and sang along with the resident pianoplayer - a very funny man who insults all and sundry. As there are only 5 children under the age of 11 he had a special mention for Josh who wandered into the lounge with Melinda - a music stopping moment where 200 people had to say Hi Josh as he is a great novelty - a real child. India is well and truly behind us now and today we re-crossed the equator. We had a re-crossing ceremony where King Neptune reaffirmed his vows with his wife DD. This afternoon we had Celebrity Trivia quiz with 3 very funny comedians and nathan Foley who was a foundation Member of Hi-5. We still have over half our cruise to go and get to the Seychelles tomorrow. Walking on decklast night was like floating in infinity with ball lightning lighting the otherwise black sky. We are now looking forward to Africa and our Safari experiences short though they will be.

Posted by acudoc 03:49 Comments (0)

Mumbai 18th May

The Air is Everywhere!

sunny 36 °C

Scorching heat and overwhelming humidity did not stop this hearty band of adventurers from travelling by ferry from the Gate of India to Elephanta Island and its Temple Caves after breakfast and immigration clearance . As we caught a taxi to our ferry terminal at the Gate of India (dedicated to the landing in 1911 of King George V and Queen Mary) we were aware of just how bad the air pollution is here in Mumbai. Even at 6am the air is visible and palpable. We travelled 10 km across the Mumbai Harbour to the Island and its caves dedicated to the Hindu god Shiva. the 9 rock cut panels, most of which were damaged by the Portugese in the early 16th Century. Our private tour was interesting and the local guide gave us a great deal of information about the carvings and their stories regarding Shiva and his wife Parvathi and their sons. To get to the caves we had to take a 1km trip on a small train and then we were to climb in the oppressive heat 128 steps to the Caves. As Celina had found the heat so difficult in Cochin we encouraged her to ride up the steps carried on a chair lifted by 4 strong men at a cost of $A10. By travelling on our own we saved over $100 and got to enjoy our experience without having to concern ourselves with the welfare of our fellow passengers.
After the visit to the temple cave we stopped to watch the local monkeys at play then started down the hill with stalls offering lots of non-temptations on either side. We paid our guide and re-boarded our ferry back across Mumbai harbour past vessels of many kinds and back to the gate of India and the nearby Taj Hotel which featured so much in the terrorist attacks of 2008. The bliss of being able to use the clean toilet facilities and to cool down to some extent was palpable. We then ventured out in the Grand Bazaar in the heat watching out for pickpockets and indulging in some shopping for blouses for Celina and books at ridiculously low prices for Melinda and Josh.
We caught a taxi back to the ship having each lost litres of sweat. Oh bliss oh joy to be cool and to have some rest in our AC cooled cabin - knowing that most people in this country would never experience our standard of life and could not imagine what we have experienced. As I sit in the cabin writing this Celina is up on deck watching tonight’s Movie Under the Stars - Eat Pray Love.
Tomorrow its off to Goa and its Portuguese background which lasted from 1501 until 1963 when the Portuguese finally allowed Goa to join the Indian Republic.

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Posted by acudoc 08:56 Archived in India Tagged india cruise luxury_travel Comments (1)

Cochin India

Overwhelming heat and humidity and underwhelming tour

sunny 37 °C

We hope all are well and keeping warm and dry. We on the other hand are hot and wet. We spent 4 hours ashore today in Cochin India and it was 38 degrees and 85% humidity and we needed to be wrung out on our return to paradise. We saw Jew Town and its 450 year old synagogue The Pardesi Synagogue which now caters to only 10 Jews in Cochin where there has been a jewish presence since about 45AD. Most Cochin jews left here in 1948 and are mostly settled in the Negev in israel. We also saw the famous Chinese fishing nets which are the symbol of Cochin. We saw the resting place of Vasco Da Gama and the Catherdal of St Francis which dates to about 1501. Even if we had time to shop it was too darn hot so we look forward to our day in Mumbai in 2 days time where we have decided to do our own thing rather than go on an organised tour. I will write again after Mumbai. Celina and Melinda were infuriated because jewtown which was the most fascinating place on the tour full of carvings fabrics and other attractions was almost insignificant as we whizzed past into our non-airconditioned coach. We got back to our cabin and after a refreshing shower and change of clothing had a buffet meal and saw a very entertaining show on board.

Posted by acudoc 09:42 Archived in India Tagged india cruise family_travel Comments (0)

Phuket 12th May 2011

Tropical paradise - Peaceful people living in Harmony with the land.

overcast 33 °C

Another hot and steamy day in the beautiful island of Phuket on the Western side of Thailand in the Andaman Sea. We woke later than the last 3 days as our tour was not to start antil 10am. After breakfast we gathered in the Princess Theatre and were lead off the ship to our Coach and our garrulous but very enthusiastic driver who attempted to teach as about the beliefs and lives of the people of this lovely place. We were then taken through the narrow streets of Phuket town to our major destination the Phuket Island Safari centre.
We spent several hours here in the heat being entertained by trained Macaque or Pig-tailed monkeys who spend the first 2 years of their lives learning how to climb coconut palms to gather up to 1000 coconuts in a days work. Then to the highlight of this part of the tour When Celina and I one elephant and Melinda and Josh on another spent at least 3/4 hour walking along a trail through the Park. Mala, a 27 year old female, was particulalry stubborn and at lone stage accompanied by “My God.....My God from our Mahout decided to wander off the path into a muddy stream with us bouncing from side to side and shrieking with enjoyment. During this process the Elephant’s trunk would come back over its head looking for the bananas which we had purchased for its delight.
We all had a thouroughly entertaining time and then were treated to an Elephant Show in which a well-trained Female did tricks not seen by westerners for years since elephant acts were banned in Australian Circuses. Exploitative maybe but understandable since the tourists pay for the care given to these Asian Elephants.
Celina, Melinda and Josh were treated to an Elephant foot massage where they lay on a rubber mat face down and had a juvenile elephant first put its foot down on their backs and then give them a kiss with its bristly trunk on the neck or face. All who participated loved the experience.
We then had a brief ride on a Water Buffalo cart and were treated to a lecture on rice growing. We were then taken to the major buddhist temple in Phuket while enjoying the less than perfect air-conditioning of the tour coach. This temple is like so many resplendent in Gilt decorations and many images of the Buddha in his various manifestations and postures occupy all three levels of the main temple. Unfortunately, we did not have enough time to see the many subsidiary temples of the complex. A brief and somewhat unsatisfactory lunch then we were off to a “shopping” trip to a Pearl Factory. Fortunately we were only allocated a half hour to do any shopping so little damage was done. We were then told we had the option of going to a scenic lookout or returning to the Ship. Most chose the latter and the opportunity to do some last minute shopping at the market stalls alongside the dock at which Sun Princess was moored. After getting out of the heat we had a leisurely evening meal and relatively early to bed. It says about the ships population’s average age and physical capacity when you are told that only 12 people were in the Disco after 10pm!
Today was an easy day - the first of three at sea prior to our own Passage to India - with no pressure to do anything but relax and eat. The highlights of today were the drill to prepare the ships company for any possible act of piracy and to reassure us all that the vessel has all necessary abilities to resist all such possibilites. Tonight we enjoyed the latest full production show in the Princess theatre and I am writing this entry up in the full knowledge that the ships clocks are to be moved back another hour tonight leaving us 4 hours behind Melbourne time. IMG_0907.jpg
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Posted by acudoc 08:50 Archived in Thailand Tagged ocean indian cruise holiday luxury Comments (0)

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