The White Rajah

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James Brooke (29th April 1803 – 11 June 1868)

The picture is from a painting by Sir Francis Grant in 1847

Sarawak, the name brings forth ideas of head hunters and ‘daring do’ from comics that I read in the 1950’s.

Little did I know that one day I would sail up the Sarawak River to the town of Kuching on the island of Borneo.

Sarawak had been James Brooke’s & his descendants fiefdom since about 1841 – until . .

In April 1942 the Japanese captured Sarawak, and for three years they ran the place as part of the Empire of Japan.

The Japanese surrender to the Australians in 1945, and Sarawak became a British Colony.

In May 1961 the PM of Malaysia, Tunku Abdul Rahman, put forward a plan for a greater Malaysia, which included Singapore, Sarawak,  Sabah & Brunei. In 1962 eighty percent of the population of Sarawak & Sabah voted to join Malaya to create Malaysia, along with Singapore.

Indonesia and the Philippines didn’t like the creation of Malaysia. So Indonesia  encouraged discontent with the communists of Sarawak and trained them in military tactics, and also supplied armed ‘volunteers’ to causes problems for Sarawak and the newly created country of Malaysia.

The fighting began in 1963 with infiltration forces from Indonesia in to Sarawak. By this time the British were involved in support of Malaysia, who had only gained independence from Britain a few years earlier in 1957.

Later Australia & New Zealand became involved in support of Malaysia.

Knowing little of the details that I know now, I flew in to Singapore to join LST (Landing ship tank) Frederick Clover in April 1966. The company, British India Steam Navigation Co, held the contract to man various LSTs based in Singapore, Malta, Aden etc and I’d drawn the straw for Frederick Clover, based in Singapore.

If you wish to see other photographs of the LST and why I fired a machine gun click on the highlighted letters.

CloverFrederick Clover, alongside in Singapore, her bows open to accept military cargo for Borneo. The photo is old and not very clear.

meAs you see she was an old ship, built in 1945. The captain’s chair had to be lashed down to make sure we didn’t lose it in a strong wind. My hair isn’t moving because our top speed was 10 knots . . . .

3rd mateAt least we had a compass. Although we could have found our way to Borneo using the echo sounder by following the empty beer cans from our previous trips. At that time being Green meant you were sea sick, not environmentally aware.

TroopsWhile we were alongside in Kuching the ‘Auby’ moored astern of us. She was to take a Gurkha regiment back to Singapore. The Auby was a cargo ship of about 1700 tons , with facilities for a few passengers in the for’d accommodation. I can only assume the soldiers traveled as ‘deck cargo’. The Auby carried about 31,000 troops in and out of Singapore during the ‘confrontation’. The picture is not all that clear but the troops can be seen formed up on the quay.

In 2011, Maureen & I attended a reunion in Singapore of cadets from HMS Conway Training College, so after the reunion I thought it would be an ideal time to take Maureen to Kuching and a spot of ‘I remember when’ for me.

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While in Kuching we did a river cruise in a small boat, which allowed me to photograph the quay, (see above), which I think is the same one in the photographs showing the Gurkha troops.

IMGP3782r  Our boatman and his boat that we used.

We stayed at the Pullman Hotel, which overlooked the town.

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IMGP3766rThis one shows the Sarawak River

Kuching is also known as Cat City – there are a number of anecdotes as to why Kuching got its name. It used to be called Sarawak until James Brooke arrived by sea and asked his guide the name of the place, while pointing to the small town. The local guide thinking that James was pointing at a cat, answered ‘Kuching’, which is the Malay word for cat i.e ‘kucing’.  Against this story being true is that the local Malays who live in Kuching call a cat a ‘pusak’

Another story is that the town is named after a river called Sungai Kuching, which means Cat River. Another idea is that it is named after mata kucing, which is a fruit grown in Malaysia, Indonesia and the northern parts of Australia. The name means Cats Eye.

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The mata kucing fruit looks like a lychee.

So with a name like ‘Cat’, Kuching turned itself in to a tourist attraction by becoming the Cat City.

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe above cat statues are outside our favourite restaurant.

IMGP3786rcThe James Brooke on the water front.

IMGP3955rIt is also a bar, and you do not have to order food.

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Of course we ordered lunch – Laksa – beautiful, and for me a cold beer helped it down.

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The following year we returned to Kuching with two other couples, and it wasn’t a hardship to revisit many places again.
During one evening in the James Brooke restaurant I overheard an accent that I recognised – it was a Liverpool accent. The four men having their evening meal worked as contactors for an aircraft company and flew around the world fixing problems. Because Maureen originated in Liverpool it didn’t take long for us to get chatting.

I asked one fellow where he lived on Merseyside and he told me Birkenhead. I mentioned that I came from Lower Tranmere in Birkenhead, and we then swapped details of the exact area. It turned out that he knew where my childhood street was, because he lived quite close.

The following night we met him again and he said that he had phoned his father in the UK, who was retired and still living in Lower Tranmere, and told him of meeting me. It turns out that his father was our milkman, and he used to deliver milk to my home when I was a child. Talk about a small world.

During my remember when holiday I couldn’t understand why the river never dropped as the tide turned.

FrederickCloverDressed overall for the last voyage to Singapore before the ship would be sold.

Generous meals, as the guest of various army units, helped to break the boredom of being in an out of the way port. We were not there to make a profit through trade, but in support of our own troops, a huge difference.

When we heard that the ship was to be sold on our return to Singapore, we decided to have a farewell dinner along with a number of army officers. Tables were booked at the local Chinese restaurant and all the ship’s officers left the ship, leaving just a watchman. It was a quiet night with little river traffic so we felt a single watchman was enough. The majority of the crew were allowed shore leave, because they would soon be out of work once we reached Singapore.
The evening went well until we returned to the ship and found her lying at a strange angle. What had happened was that the tide had gone out and the river had dropped causing the ship to settle in the mud. Being flat bottomed she would have settled upright if the watchman had slackened off the mooring lines – he’d not done so, and Frederick Clover was lying with a very large list away from the wharf – her mooring lines were bar tight with the strain.
There was little that we could do but wait for the tide to turn and raise her back to normal, which fortunately is what happened.

So during our holiday I asked why I hadn’t seen the river drop as the tide went out – it was all down to a barrage that had been built at the mouth of the river in the late 90’s, which controlled the flow of the river. The gates would be opened each Friday afternoon to flush out any rubbish etc.

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They do have the facility to allow small fishing boats to enter the river – which means that they must have a lock system.

At least I wasn’t going mad, because I was sure that the river would drop as the tide changed.

WhiteIf you are interested in Sarawak and the island of Borneo, but don’t wish to read a great tome, try the above book, which is an easy and interesting read.

The wife of the third Rajah, Sylvia Brooke,  who wrote her own autobiography in 1970, also wrote a synopsis of the life of James Brooke, which was bought by Warner Brothers film studio.
Errol Flynn wanted to play James Brooke, but in the script that he wrote, after reading the synopsis, he had James Brooke arriving in Borneo with a young woman dressed as a boy.
Sylvia Brooke refused to allow Flynn’s story to go any further, because there wasn’t any ‘love interest’ when Brooke arrived in Borneo. According to Sylvia Brooke James Brooke was the first white man to set foot in Borneo – which I find hard to believe.

Finally when Somerset Maugham visited Sarawak, it was suggested that James Brooke’s life would make a good film, but Somerset Maugham said, no it wouldn’t, because there wasn’t any love interest.

James Brooke’s life was full of love, he inspired love and felt love, so perhaps it is time for the right actor to take up the challenge and recreate The White Rajah.

Christchurch

DSC08019rAn unusual memorial to those who died in the Christchurch earthquake. 185 chairs all shapes and sizes painted white to remember the victims of the 2011. They stand on the ground where once stood a church – the church was destroyed by the earthquake.

Across the road the cardboard cathedral was pointed out to us.

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DSC08023rThe other side of the cardboard cathedral. It can seat 700 hundred people. The ‘A’ frame incorporates eighty six cardboard tubes each tube weighing 500 kilos. The picture is slightly off center because I took it from a moving vehicle, and we couldn’t stop.

Cardboard_Cathedral_a_touch_of_purpleThis picture was taken from the internet – the original church on this site was demolished because of the amount of damage to it during the 2011 earthquake.

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Artists are encouraged to beautify bare walls left after damaged buildings had been removed.

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Part of the original Christchurch cathedral, which was badly damaged in the earthquake. I suppose it still is the cathedral because it is still consecrated.  DSC08031rNobody was able to tell me if it would be repaired or demolished.

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Other damaged buildings were being kept upright by placing sea containers two high to support the outer walls of the buildings.

DSC08034rYet again, others were being held up with girders.

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We had lunch in a shopping centre built out of sea freight containers. All the buildings in these photographs have been created by using containers.

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This area was for banks and the post office.

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Maureen and I sat in this area, which was an eating area for various types of take away food. To my right was a small bar with two containers cut open to allow the air to flow through the seated area. The bar sold draught beer, which might be an important fact for some readers – it was for me when I was there, it was a warm day . . . . .

DSC08028rChristchurch was far from miserable. Everyone we saw seemed happy and the place had plenty of spending tourists .I did hear that the council wanted to remove the sea container emergency shopping area, but the area has become a tourist attraction as a symbol of Christchurch’s fortitude.

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Rebuilding is in full swing everywhere.

DSC08047rIt was a beautiful day for walking across the River Avon – very English.

DSC08048rYou could feed the ducks or just sit quiet under the trees. The river flowed gently.

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Fortunately the war memorial survived.

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Our driver / guide took us the scenic route back to Akaroa and our ship. The scenery was breathtaking. Every bend brought something new to photograph.

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We stopped to admire the view towards the harbour only to see a London bus, which means someone took a wrong turn between Dulwich Library and Oxford Circus.

ShipsWe’d crossed the hills and were now down on the flat driving to Akaroa and our tender boat. You can just see the two ships anchored.

An enjoyable day, and the ending couldn’t be better – it was an Italian night on the ship.

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Our table stewards – port & starboard, dressed for Italian night.

Cleanliness

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I do enjoy watching a professional at work whether he/she is a brick layer, carpenter, jet pilot or chef.
Having been interested in food since a child I like professional cooking shows on the TV, such as Nigella Lawson, Luke Nguyen, Rick Stein etc and find them to be entertaining and informative, so when Maureen and I heard that the Dawn Princess’ Executive chef and the head Maitre ‘D would be giving a demonstration and talk about cooking during our recent cruise, we made sure that we had a seat.

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The talk was fun and the chat between the two men entertaining. The head chef created a three-course meal in less than half an hour while chatting about his life at sea and how he became to go to sea. The Maitre ‘D ‘fed’ (excuse the pun) the Chef various lines that created backchat between the two men.

I took the above photograph during the creation of the pudding, and must admit he was very generous with the brandy!

Each dish for each course was carried around by one of the stewards so that people could see the finished product. We were in the center of the audience so I was unable to take any photographs.

We were not near the front, but they had overhead cameras and the large screen behind allowed us to follow the chef’s moves.

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At the end of the show other chefs arrived – pastry chef, sous chef, chef de partie, baker, and other staff from the kitchen (galley).

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They all received a very large round of applause because the food on the ship was very good.

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I know I’ve posted the above before, but the dish illustrates the high standard of food very well.

As the various kitchen staff left we were offered a short tour of one of the ship’s galleys.

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Everywhere stainless steel for cleanliness.

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Even the deckhead (ceiling) was stainless steel, and spotless.

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Cleanliness was the order of the day – everyday.

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The baker bakes bread three times a day, so that the result for the passenger is always fresh bread. The above is just an example of some of the bread available.

dsc08323rAs we moved through the galley the creative art of some of the staff came to light. All made from fruit and vegetables.

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Where ever I looked I saw stainless steel.

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Maureen with some of the galley crew, and a sugar model of the ship.

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As we left the galley we had the chance of buying a signed copy of the cook book that the chef had produced. It was quite popular, but as Maureen has more cook books than our local library she declined spending the $42.

 

A roam around a ship

Checking in for our cruise was very easy – after checking -in  we didn’t have to wait to board even though we had been warned that a wait would be required, but were told to pass through emigration and security and to board immediately.
On entering our cabin (state room to be PC) we realised that it was much smaller than the same cabin on the previous Princess Cruise vessels. We’d booked a balcony cabin, and the balcony area was the smallest that we had experienced, but they still managed to squeeze in two chairs & a tiny round table.

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The storage area for our clothes was smaller than the other Princess ships, and even smaller then the Pacific Jewel, where we had an inside cabin.

Once we unpacked we realised that instead of placing our suitcases in the hanging part of the ‘wardrobe’ area we were able to stow them out of sight under our bed. Even though the area for our clothes was smaller, we were able to unpack completely and stow all our clothes and bits and pieces out of sight. Our shoes went under the bed along with my laptop & briefcase and Maureen’s carry – on bag, so all in all the sudden shock of ‘smallness’ was soon fixed.
The ship is well maintained and crew members can be seen constantly painting and touching up various areas. All the staff that we come in contact with were friendly and helpful.

Thirteen nights of having everything done for us – wonderful.

dsc07541rGoodbye Sydney – we sailed at 4.00 pm so I was able to photograph the sun setting over Australia.

I thought a few pictures of the Dawn Princess might help for those considering a Princess Line cruise.

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The Atrium, or heart of the ship for passengers.

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The pictures above and the one below are of the Vista Lounge and Bar, which is near the stern, it is a large bar with a small stage, which is used by various acts in the evening or lectures during the day, or an afternoon of quizzes when at sea.

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dsc07532rMagnum Bar – very quiet, and quite small.

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Wheelhouse Bar – quiet around 5.00 pm, but jumping by 8.00 pm with live music and dancing.

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The Riviera Bar near the pools.

There are other outdoor bars, but we didn’t use them.

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Not all that clear, but the water in the pool is overflowing as the ship’s movement causes a slight pitching, which in turn causes the water to rush to one end and then back to the other end.

dsc07562rThis picture gives a better idea of the ‘surge’.

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The Crooners Bar; a lime & soda for Maureen and a Guinness for me. On each of the Princess vessels in which we have sailed, the Crooners Bar is always a favourite, because of the staff and the live music which is never too loud so that you have to shout. The Crooners Bar on the Dawn Princess is the largest Crooners Bar that we have experienced, much larger than the Island or the Diamond Princess.
One of the bar staff in the Dawn Princess was a Scouse (from Liverpool UK) and he came from the next suburb to where Maureen lived as a child. The barman spends nine months cruising and then goes home to Liverpool, for a couple of months.

Each evening at 9.00 pm Paul Burton would sit in the Crooners Bar and play jazz on the piano & sing songs of yesteryear – he was perfect for the ambiance of this particular bar. I bought his CD, Live in London.

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If you fancied a night club there was always Jammers – a little too noisy for me  . . .

dsc07528rOur dining room was called the Venetian dining room – picture taken from the entrance.

 Unlike other ships where we had ‘any time dining’ i.e you fronted up and you entered the dining room if it was before 10.30 pm, but sometimes you had to queue due to demand etc. We used to arrive around 6.30 to 6.45 pm and didn’t have a problem. On the Dawn Princess, we had been allocated 5.30 pm dining, which was a little early for us, but we got used to the timings and adjusted lunch to fit . . . This also meant that we had the same passengers on the same table each evening with the same stewards. The passengers were not a problem, because we soon got to know each other. The wine waiter was preemptive because he used to put a glass of white wine down in front of me when I sat down & placed the ‘chit’ next to me side plate for signing. That was ‘service’ with a smile.
The following comments are only my opinion as to why they have fixed dining times on Australian based vessels.
Australian based Princess Cruise ships do not charge a daily gratuity. On ships that leave Australia and do not return to an Australia port at the end of the voyage, the gratuity is charged at approximately $12 USD a day per person. The gratuity is split amongst the face to face staff and the backroom staff that the passenger never meets or comes in contact with, but is still offering a service.
This allows for any time dining – you can have a dedicated booked time if you wish, but most people just turn up and wait a short while if the dining room is busy.

Because of the culture in Australia of not to tip unless they receive service above and beyond the expected service level for the price charged, the cruise companies have, I think, built in the gratuity in to the cruise price, but then encourages tipping of your cabin steward and your dining steward, hence the need to have set dining times so that you are served by the same steward & wine steward for the whole voyage, and you then feel ‘pressured’ to leave a tip at the end.
Overall I would prefer to pay the daily rate and not have the inconvenience of working out the required amount to tip the various staff. If the service is not up to scratch you can have the ‘compulsory’ gratuity removed from your account, so the pressure is still on the staff member to deliver a good service. I just add the daily rate to the overall cost of the cruise so as to compare apples with apples – at least the backroom staff receive something for their work, whereas only tipping the waiter one never knows if this is shared.

dsc07873rA general view of the dining room.

 On the Dawn Princess, they had two main dining rooms and four specialised dining rooms (extra cost for each of the specialised dining rooms). The pictures below are to indicate the standard for our dining room.

dsc08284rMain course evening dish for Maureen – lobster.

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and for me Beef Wellington – it was thick and just melted in the mouth – perfect.

The two Kiwis shown in the first photograph at the entrance to the dining room is because we celebrated Waitangi Day, 6th February, which is a national holiday in NZ, being the day that a treaty was signed between the British and the Maori people in 1840.

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The Atrium was decorated in Maori motifs.

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If a formal style of dining is not to your ‘taste’ (excuse the pun) you can dine in the Horizon Court for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Dress code is casual, whereas long pants for men are required in the Vincentian dining room in the evening, even for none formal evenings.

On the 14th February I realized when we went for breakfast that it was Valentine’s Day  . . .

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The Horizon Court is buffet style for each meal. Stewards are on hand to offer various drinks. As one would expect the buffet offered a wide choice of food from Asian through to standard western. It was very easy to over eat due to a great collection of puddings, cakes and jellies.
My lunchtime choice, after a morning of sightseeing, was always a light salad and cheese and biscuits with a glass of wine. Knowing that dinner was at 5.30 pm to 6.00 pm one had to be circumspect with earlier meals.

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The above picture, and the one below, shows the Inside of the buffet area at the start of breakfast on a sea day (nobody rushes on a sea day)– everyone is required to wash their hands via a squirt of disinfectant from an automatic dispenser. A staff member stands near the machine and greets the passenger. If you forget to use the machine you are reminded politely by this person. Not a problem really if we are all to be free of stomach upsets.

Breakfast at 7.00 am – passenger custom just starting to build.

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Hot food from steaks to eggs cooked to order. Bacon cooked ‘American’ style or English style.
American bacon being cooked until it is a brittle streak with little meat and a danger when cut with a knife. Pieces of bacon shoot across the table or ping all over the place. Eating it with fingers is the only way to protect your neighbour.
The English bacon has more meat, so I tried both at the same time. Ever the diplomat.

I weighed myself on our return and I’d put on just over a kilo, which I will lose. It is very easy to put on weight on a cruise, so one has to be careful not to over eat – not having that second piece of cake brings tears to my eyes. . . . .

 

 

Sardines and all that . ..

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Dom Fernando II e Glória

28Picture from Lisbon web site.

While in Lisbon we had one ‘damp’ day so we decided to experience Tram 28 – the oldest tram in Lisbon.

When we arrived at the tram stop we were faced with a very long queue – many others had the same idea! Not wishing to spend our limited time in Lisbon queuing we decided to take the ferry across the Tagus River, to the small town on the other side called Almada. The ferry ride was only ten minutes.

dsc03119rThe structure in front of the ferry boat is not a submarine, but part of the breakwater on the mainland.

dsc03123rFrom the ferry boat.

We’d heard tales of the restaurants in Almada, so we thought we’d have lunch during our visit.
After leaving the ferry we had to pass an old sailing ship, so of course I dragged my wife and our friends over to check out the ship.

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She was an old frigate. The submarine in front of the frigate (right hand side of the picture) had seen better days.

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Dom Fernando II e Glória

A fifty gun frigate of the Portuguese navy. Built in 1843 and her maiden voyage was in 1845. She was built in India in Daman, which was part of Portuguese India at the time. She was the last ship to do the Indian to Portugal voyages. The route being created in the 16th century to carry military supplies from Portugal to her Indian colonies. She sailed over 100,000 miles and remained in service until 1878.

After she had finished her deep sea life she was moored at Lisbon and used as the naval artillery school, and later in various other scholastic capacities until 1963, when, during repair work she caught fire.
This brought to mind my old training ship HMS Conway when something similar happened to her off N. Wales in 1953.

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After the fire, Dom Fernando II e Glória was towed to a secure area and left on the river bank for the next 29 years.
In 1992 she was removed from the mud flats and work began on her restoration as to what she would have looked like in 1850. In 1998 she was reinstated in to the Portuguese navy.

She was the centre of attention during the World Expo in Lisbon in 1998 during which time Portugal celebrated the 500th anniversary of the discovery of the sea route to India by Vasco de Gama.

Back to food  . . . .

The restaurants area was a short walk from the ferry terminal, and nearly every building in Almada seemed to house a restaurant of sorts, or at least the buildings,

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which were near the ferry terminal, all had restaurants / cafes. The choice was quite large, but we didn’t want Italian, Indian, ‘British’, or any other type of food,  but Portuguese.

I’d heard so much about Portuguese sardine that I’d promised myself that it would be sardines for me at lunch. We walked the main restaurant street checking all the restaurants and ended up back near the water because we’d seen a number of Portuguese siting outside and eating, so we figured if the locals use it then it is good enough for us.

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Taken from the restaurant’s web site

dsc03133rThe problem was, not long after we sat down it started to rain!. We were under a large umbrella and the rain didn’t bother us at first until it became quite heavy and everyone (not just us) made a bee line for the restaurant. Downstairs was already packed, so we were waved upstairs.

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From their web site

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My photograph – we had a window seat – it wasn’t long before the place was full.

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The rain was very heavy, but by the time we’d finished our meal it had stopped and dried!

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I had my sardines – from memory I had three very large grilled fish that covered half of my plate.

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Having only eaten sardines from a tin – the tin with the special key – I was surprised at the size of the ‘daily catch’.              Picture is off the net.

thjh8bo2qqThe taste was fine, but not being a fish lover I hate having to find the meat of the fish amongst the bones. My sardines were whole, with head etc., so I had to open them to get at the meat. Later in our holiday I stayed with salted cod, which was boneless and all fish!

bacalhau-fishIt doesn’t look very appetising , more like slithers of white distressed wood washed up on a beach, until a good chef gets hold of it and turns it in to a great meal.

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Boneless fish steak . . .

The above two pictures are off the net.

I was able to tick off sardines, in Portugal, off my ‘bucket list’.

Lisboa

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On our arrival in Lisbon I phoned the ‘greeter’ to let her know that we had arrived and that we were queuing for a taxi. As we reached the front of the queue I indicated that we required a large vehicle to accommodate four people and all our luggage. The vehicle assigned to us resulted in a shouting match between the driver and the taxi rank ‘organiser’.
The driver was eventually persuaded to accept us as his fare. To a point, I sympathised with the driver because he was concerned that he couldn’t see out of his rear window, due to our bags. We left the airport and I handed over a printed card with our address. The driver thought that we wanted a hotel, not an apartment, and this threw him in to a right ‘tizz’, because he didn’t have any idea of our destination, which was only ten minutes drive from the airport. I ended up ringing our ‘greeter’ and putting my phone on loudspeaker so that our ‘greeter’ could direct a very unhappy taxi driver to the correct address.

I’d booked the apartment via Flipkey, which uses Trip Advisor as the link. Our ‘greeter’, Filipa, met us and escorted us to apartment number nine on the 17th floor of the apartment block. The apartment was two stories, the bedrooms being upstairs.

The living area was a combined lounge / dining area with the kitchen separate, but still part of the dining area. Outside we had a balcony with a table and chairs. The rails on the balcony reminded me of a ship’s rail. We overlooked part of the city and the Tagus River.
The photograph at the top of this page is of our apartment block, which was built on top of a shopping centre called Vasco de Gama Mall, so we didn’t have far to go to buy our food.

dsc03051rVasco de Gama mall shopping centre below.

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As we walked in the front door the stairs are on the right, and on the left, is the door to the Kitchen.

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Picture taken from the dining area.

In front of us is the living room and near the window on the left (out of picture) is the dining table.

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Living area

diningDining area (picture from agent’s web site)

This time our friends had the en-suit bedroom, and next to our bedroom (see below) was the main bathroom. The blinds were electrically operated and we kept them low for coolness, although we did have air-condition throughout the apartment.

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Happy hour was always on the balcony – cool breeze off the water, beautiful views as the sun set – what more could I want?

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The rails on the balcony reminded me of a ship’s rail. (Picture from the agent’s web site).

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Being seventeen floors high we had some great views.

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Cable car along the water front.

Getting about Lisbon was very easy via the underground (metro) system. The route from Oriente station (our local station across the road from our apartment) to the city centre was an education.

dsc03056rOriente Station, five minutes’ walk from the apartment.

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The station is very impressive and once inside and we made our way to the platforms we could see the train coming in below us.

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Inside Oriente Station as we walked to our platform. It was spotlessly clean.

Many of the stations had a different ‘art’ theme, which we found very interesting –

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This was our local station – not a single piece of graffiti or rubbish.

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Further down the line the motif reminded me of Greek colonnades.

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Something different again later in the short journey to the city centre.

If we ever return to Lisbon I’d do ‘self-catering’ again and use the same apartment, because of the convenience to the metro, shopping for necessities, which can cut in to holiday time, and along the river there are many different restaurants and bars. The river was five minutes’ walk away.

Getting rid of the rubbish and empty bottles was quite noisy, although we never heard the noise of anyone else getting rid of their rubbish and bottles. At the end of the public corridor on each floor was a rubbish shoot – one for rubbish and one for cans and bottles. The rubbish wasn’t a problem, but once we let go of a bag full of glass bottles the noise, as the bag or single bottle bounced down seventeen floors, was tremendous, and we quickly closed the outer door in an effort hide the noise.
Nobody ever complained, and as I said earlier we never heard anyone else’s rubbish ‘noises’ so why would they hear ours.
When it was my turn to do the dropping I used to time the beer bottles against the wine bottles . . . .Newton’s Law. My watch wasn’t accurate enough to note the difference.

A touch of colonial class

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A beautiful piece of history in Penang, which was created by four Armenian brothers in 1884. Originally named the Eastern Hotel, which soon became known as ‘The Premier Hotel East of Suez.’
Hotel de l’Europe, also in Penang, was run by one of the brothers who changed the name to The Oriental Hotel in 1885, and in 1889 the Oriental Hotel was sold and the Eastern Hotel was renamed The Eastern and Oriental.
The brothers also created Raffles Hotel in Singapore, and The Strand in Rangoon, Burma.
Over the years the Eastern and Oriental became the place to stay for the ‘rich and famous’. Mary Pickford, Douglas Fairbanks, Noel Coward, Rudyard Kipling, Somerset Maugham, Charlie Chaplin, Lee Kuan Yew, Sultan of Brunei and Hermann Hesse (German author). Many have their photograph displayed in a special glass case in the foyer of the hotel.
Eight of us (four couples), first visited the E & O in 2005 just for a beer in the Farquhar Bar.

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Entrance to the hotel is behind the car on the right.

As we approached the hotel we were met by a pith-helmeted doorman who greeted us and opened the main door. A real touch of yesteryear as we stepped in to the main foyer of the hotel.

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Reception is in the foyer.
But on this day we were looking for a cold drink.

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The bar had a ‘Colonial’ feel – which is very un pc to say so, but for me it was a touch of   ‘yesterday’.

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English cold draft beer – what more could I want?

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My new best friends  . . .service was very good, they were friendly and helpful, so we stayed and had lunch.

The following year we booked in to the hotel as guests. All the mod cons that you could want – each bedroom had a sitting room attached and very large bathroom with his & her sinks. Total area is 52 to 54 sq mtrs, with sea views.

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The same sitting room.

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A choice of shower or bath.

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Swimming pool below our window

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Sunset from our bedroom.

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Drinks around the pool?

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A year or so later a friend of ours from the UK came out to Australia to stay with us. We had arranged our holiday in Malaysia to coincide with our friend’s return to the UK so that we could have a few days with her in the E & O.
Instead of booking two rooms I found it cheaper to book a suite with two full bedrooms, (both en-suite), lounge, kitchen and sitting room etc.

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This is our bedroom as part of the suite. We also had a walk-in dressing room attached with his and her wardrobes.

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Sitting room and dining area can just be seen – TV in each bedroom and in the living room.

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Part of the kitchen. Of course, we were not in to home cooking, and breakfast was always downstairs in the main dining room.

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 Or we’d eat outside if the temperature was not too hot.

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A few years later we planned a transit stop through Penang and of course wanted to stay at the E & O. This time when I checked the rates I found that their new ‘extension’ had been refurbished and was now part of the hotel.
The extension had been bought some years ago, but during our previous visit the hotel had not completed the refurbishment to compliment the colonial feel of the original area of the hotel. They had now.
We booked in the ‘new’ part which is called the Victory Annex and the original area is now called the Heritage Wing.
The Victory Annex rate included access to The Planter Lounge (in other hotels it would be known as the club floor). You could have breakfast in this lounge as well as taking part in the cocktail hour in the evening. Overall we always preferred the main dining room for breakfast because the choice of food was huge and you could have any fruit or vegetable or any mixture of both that you fancied turned in to a smoothy.

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Lounge area, which had a small library & quiet reading area.

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The Planters Lounge has its own balcony and to sit outside with a glass of wine and a few nibbles was very pleasant.

Our room in the Victory Annex was slightly smaller than our room in the Heritage area – we didn’t have a sitting room, but we did have a small balcony that overlooked the sea.

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View from the balcony, which felt as if we were on a cruise ship.

Once again the bathroom had his & hers sink & wardrobes, as well as the separate bath & shower.

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On the same level as the balcony of the Planter’s Lounge is the horizon pool. It is ‘L’ shaped so that those who wish can swim for exercise can do so, and those who just wish to play can also do so, without interfering with each other.

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The smaller enclosed pool is for children.

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An evening meal outside while watching the ships leave port or perhaps just coffee and a final glass of wine before bed. At the right time of the year the weather in Penang can be magic.

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At the rear of the hotel you have a choice of lawn or just sitting on the sea wall.
Is it any wonder that we return as often as our cash flow allows us?

 

Not all of the above photographs are mine, some are from the friends with whom we travel.