Devil’s Island

princess-cruises-golden-princess-exterior-02-galleryGolden Princess

Seven of us are off on a short cruise next week to Tasmania, a place that neither Maureen or I have visited. The cruise is just a week, and for us it is a taste of the Apple Isle, which might convince us to return later for a driving holiday.

1280px-Coat_of_arms_of_Tasmania.svgTasmania’s coat of arms, and the meaning of the moto being, Fertility and Faithfulness.

TassieYou must have heard of the Tasmanian Devil according to Bugs Bunny’s Devil

And now for a real Devil.

The first European to visit the island was Abel Tasman in 1642. The French arrived in 1772, and the first Englishman to set foot on the island was Tobias Furneaux in 1773. Captain Cook arrived in 1777. It was a popular place.

In 1803 a small detachment was sent from Sydney to the island, because French explorers were investigating the southern coast of Australia, during the time when Great Britain was at war with Napoleon. The British, in Sydney, wanted to make sure that the French did not lay claim to the island. At that time the island was considered as part of New South Wales.

In 1642 the island was been named Van Diemen’s Land by Abel Tasman. This naming was in honour of Anthony Van Diemen who was the Governor General of the Dutch East Indies, who had sent Tasman on his voyage of discovery. The island did not become Tasmania until 1856, after petitioning Queen Victoria for the name to be changed.

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Golden Princess was built in Italy and was launched in 2001, she is 108,865 gt and has accommodation for 2,600 passengers. She is registered in London, UK.
Her last refurbishment was in May 2015, so the smell of paint should no longer be around.
I have read that it is planned for the Golden Princess to be transferred to P & O Australia in 2020. One has the feeling that it is my fault that ships, in which Maureen & I sail, don’t stay long after our cruise before Princess Cruises move them over to P & O.
Dawn Princess, in which we sailed last February is now Pacific Explorer under the P & O Australia house flag, and now I read that Golden Princess will follow.

We sail from Sydney and return to Sydney exactly a week later. Our first port of call will be Melbourne, and as we have all either lived in Melbourne or visited the city, I doubt that we will do anything more exciting than to visit Queen Victoria Market.

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We sail at 4.00 pm from Melbourne for Wineglass Bay on the east coast of Tasmania, to cruise Wineglass Bay and Oyster Bay.

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Wineglass_Bay_2_940x350Wineglass Bay

followed by

Oyster BayOyster Bay

With a bit of luck, we might be able to share Oyster Bay, New Zealand with Oyster Bay, Tasmania.

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We then cruise to Port Arthur, which used to be a 19th century penal settlement. We will anchor off and go ashore by tender.

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Port Arthur

Next stop is Hobart, the capital city of Tasmania. Originally called Hobart Town, or Hobarton, so named after Lord Hobart, who was the British secretary of state for war and the colonies.

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Hobart5We stay overnight and then sail for Sydney the following evening.

Arriving Sydney at 7.00 am on Wednesday 01 November.

Orchard Road & Gardens

 

orchard-road-620x400Orchard Road Singapore – nothing but shops & more shops.

There is a different kind of Singapore, the Botanical Gardens.

DSC09539rA beautiful peaceful park area, which concentrates on orchids.

DSC09541rMy knowledge of gardening and plants is very limited, so I’ll just post the pictures . . .

DSC09537r Getting to the Botanical Gardens from the city is very easy, because the gardens are on the metro system. You don’t have to take a taxi.

DSC09545rI couldn’t stop clicking the camera the colours of the plants are fabulous.

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The first botanical garden in Singapore was created by Sir Thomas Raffles in 1822. After his death the authorities lost interest in gardens.

The present garden was started in 1859 and many features such as the swan lake, main entrance and the ring road are still in use today.
Lawrence Niven was hired as Superintendent and he oversaw the layout and landscaping. A small hill was reduced to a flat area in the early 1860’s so that regimental bands could play for the public. In 1930 the band stand was created and can still be seen today.

unesco nom pic 1 bandstandBandstand Hill

Over the years the garden grew (excuse the pun) in size and is now 82 hectares in size.

In 1928 the gardens started orchid breeding, which is still carried on today.

2015 saw the current Singapore Botanical Gardens being inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is the first and only tropical garden on UNESCO’s World Heritage list.

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DSC09559rMany of the plants in the celebrity area have links to world famous people  –

Queen Elizabeth, Andrea Bocelli, Margaret Thatcher, Jackie Chan, etc over one hundred different orchids linked to the same number of famous people.

DSC09562rPeace and quiet where ever you go . . .

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DSC09563rThe occasional problem if you are an insect.

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If you decide to visit the gardens may I suggest that you make it early morning before the heat of the day – we walked all over the gardens and as the morning progressed it became more humid (monsoon season), but it was well worth the effort.

In the evening I took some photographs of Singapore river –

2716362184_a7a57228c6_zThis is how I remember Singapore River in the mid 60’s.

DSC09522rAs it is today

DSC09535r The river at night today.

Singapore has changes so much in the last forty odd years.

In an earlier blog I posted this picture of Clifford Pier in the 1960’s.

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Clifford pier

Clifford Pier  today . . .

I think Joseph Conrad would have recognised the early 1960 version, but not today’s.

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Princesses bearing gifts – beware.

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I’ve known a number of PrincessesIsland, Diamond, Dawn, Majestic and have booked future time with Golden (see above picture) & Diamond (again) – see picture below.

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My wife & I enjoyed our time so much with each Princess we thought it only right that we share our good fortune with our friends around the world.

To encourage our friends to join us, I told them that they would receive USD $25 each (USD $50 per cabin) to spend on their second cruise, if they accepted my invitation to join us on a particular cruise.
I also told them that I would receive USD $25 for each person that I persuaded to sample the charms of a real Princess.

Two friends from New Zealand and two friends from the UK flew to Rome and joined us for the twenty-eight-day

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Majestic (see pic above) voyage from Rome to Singapore, which we all enjoyed. I have e-mails confirming that our New Zealand friends had accepted the ‘refer a friend’ bonus in February 2017.
On returning home we persuaded five local friends to join us for a cruise from Sydney to Tasmania later this year, and I told them of the USD $25 that each would be credited for their second cruise. Four of our friends accepted the invitation in March 2017.

A couple of weeks ago I contacted the cruise company in Sydney and asked why the bonus for persuading my Kiwi & Pommy friends was not showing on my account, because I wished to use my share of the ‘encouragement bonus’ for the Tasmanian cruise. I received an answer and have posted two parts of it below –

Unfortunately our refer a friends program has been discontinued as of the 11th May 2017. This means that we are unable to provide you with the benefits of the refer a friends program.

Remember my UK & NZ friends accepted in February . . . and four of our Australian friends accepted in March.

Please also be aware that the program was only applicable for guests who referred guests who lived in the same country. For example as you live in Australia the benefits could only be applied to friends who also live in Australia. The program was also set up for the past passengers and non past passengers to travel on the same cruise.

I couldn’t find any mention of the closing of the program on their web site, and as recently as last week I received an e-mail advising me that one of our Australian friends (the fifth one) had accepted the USD $25 offer! In fact, I have e-mails confirming that all my Australian friends have accepted the refer a friend offer. Now I must tell them that they will not be receiving the promised bonus.
The other concern is that one can only persuade Australian friends, yet the web site states Australian & New Zealand friends . . .and still has the refer a friend active link on the main web site.
I persuaded one couple that a Princess is worth more than a mere Celebrity – even though they have already experienced two Celebrities, and didn’t wish to change – but friendship prevailed, and now I must cancel their promised cash bonus.

I can accept that the UK couple are not part of Australia / New Zealand, but as the web site specifically mentions Australia / New Zealand as a refer a friend ‘catchment’ area why have the NZ friends not been credited?

As a global popular Princess why would you place restrictions on possible future sales just because someone has friends outside their home area?

Our Princess promises that we will ‘Come back new’, but I doubt that the nine friends that we introduced will come back at all . . . and if they chat to their friends statistics tell us that each one will negatively influence between ten and twenty-five others against a certain princess. The negative influence is not a deliberate act, but comes out in general conversation.

To paraphrase Warren Buffet – it takes twenty years to build a reputation and five minutes to lose one.

I sent an e-mail to my Princess, about the whole ‘refer a friend’ system and I received a reply, which stated – Your comments have been noted.

Considering the overall cost of cruising, the amount of money involved is very small, but the principle is huge.

Kolourful Kochi

DSC09277rI think that every bus in Cochin (Kochi) had been hired for our arrival. This time we didn’t take a ship’s tour because it is just as easy to DIY.

DSC09280rTwo of our friends had decided to join us for a tuk tuk tour of Cochin. Our other two friends where having no end of trouble with immigration, because my other friend’s wife who is Chinese had to be processed differently than the rest of us even though she had an Indian visa issued in New Zealand.

We checked various tuk tuk drivers for their command of English and picked one who had a business card printed in English with a list of the main places to see.

I wanted an English speaking guide so there would not be any misunderstanding about the rate agreed, on our return to the ship.

DSC09283r  There isn’t a lot of room in a tuk tuk for two – make sure you are both close friends.

DSC09284rIt was monsoon season so I took precautions of carrying a pair of flips flops because I didn’t want my shoes ruined in water.

DSC09286rFollow that Ferrari !

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View from the back seat – these machines will turn on a sixpence.

DSC09296rFirst call was the dhobi wallah – local laundry – one of them had the contract for all the bedding of a local hotel. The above picture is the main area where the ironing takes place.

DSC09297rThis man was ironing a shirt – the iron was heated by red hot coals in the base of the iron – the whole ironing ‘item’ weighed eight kilos! (nearly 18 lbs). As we watched it looked as if part of the shirt was going to be marked with a burn but it wasn’t and he handled the heavy unit with great dexterity.
We were told that the weight was 8 kilos so I checked on the empty weight (the iron is called a charcoal iron) and the empty weight is 2.75 kilos, but I doubt that it would hold 5 kilos of burning charcoal so perhaps they meant 8 pounds, regardless it was interesting to see him work.

DSC09298rThis man was belting the life out of a piece of clothing – his washing tub was behind him – solid concrete.

DSC09299rAll done by hand – washing tub at the back, soap powders, and a constant wet floor. If it is the same as Mumbai (Bombay) then each ‘cubical’ is an individual businessman rather than part of a larger company.

DSC09301rEven in the monsoon season people were optimistic enough to hang washing out. The washing was not held on the line with pegs – the washing line was made from twisted coconut fibre and a couple of lines were platted so that the clothes could be poked through the platted line and strung between the ‘A’ frame poles.DSC09302r   Behind me is the garden where the clotheslines are located, to my left is the ironing room and on the right is the washing area where people in each cubical / section beat the dirt out of clothes – see below – I should have used a flash.

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DSC09306rFlip flop time – it is still raining – I changed shoes after which I didn’t care whether my feet got wet or not.

In our tuk tuk Maureen sat on the right & I was on the left. The right hand side had a heavy plastic sheet to keep the passenger dry from rain & spray of the traffic. The left hand side was the entry / exit point for the passengers so it didn’t have a plastic sheet, but our driver used his customer service skills and obtained an umbrella for me to hold open, while he drove, to try and stop the rain coming in to the cab area and wetting his passengers. I was always concerned that when it was up I couldn’t see what was ahead of us, or if I was going to belt a pedestrian or scratch a car / truck. ‘Elf & safety . . . . wots dat?

DSC09310r.jpgSanta Cruz Cathedral Basilica.

Maureen & I and our friends were not in to sight seeing churches, temples or mosques, but at times a particular place of worship has strong historical link.

 It was built by the Portuguese and became a Cathedral in 1558. When the Dutch arrived  they destroyed many catholic churches, but not this one. When the British arrived in 1795 they demolished the old building (the church), because the Dutch had been using it as a store for their arms.
In 1887 a new building was started on the old site and this was consecrated in 1905, and Pope John Paul 11 proclaimed it a Basilica in 1984.

The day we visited I expected to see Noah gathering the animals because the rain was so heavy.

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DSC09312rInside the church – I found the painting in the ceiling interesting, they depict the 12 stations of the cross.

chinese-fishing-netI’d been telling our friends of the Chinese fishing nets, and how unusual there are, but I should have warned them that not everything is as it should be – the above is from an advert.

DSC09316rI took the above in heavy rain while trying to keep my umbrella from blowing away. The rubbish on the beach devalued the whole image.

DSC09317rThe stalls selling fresh fish were also a disappointment, due to lack of shoppers and the miserable weather.

DSC09318rSt Francis was the first European church to be built in India, originally of wood and then of stone in about 1516. Being a church for the Portuguese it was catholic, until the Dutch arrived in 1663 when it was reconditioned and converted to a protestant church. It remained a Dutch church even after the British had captured Cochin in 1795. It was given, by the Dutch, to the British Anglican community in 1804.

Vasco de Gama, the famous Portuguese navigator, died in Cochin in 1524 and was laid to rest in this church. Fourteen years later in 1538, his remains were removed to Portugal and he was reburied in Lisbon.

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For those interested in researching their family history this church has the Doop Book, which is a record of baptisms and weddings from 1751 to 1804. Many Dutch who are interested in their family history visit the church, because visitors are able to study the Doop Book records. The original book was sent to London in 1932 to be repaired by experts, and rebound in the original way. Due to the importance of the original book the copy available for research is a facsimile.

The Minister or Predikant of the church, Peter Cornelius kept the Doop Book up to date in his own hand writing for forty years.

The Church of South India, which has 22 dioceses across four States of southern India, and Sri Lanka, currently owns the St Francis Church in Cochin (Kochi). The church holds regular services each Sunday, and is open the other six days for tourists and visitors.

DSC09324rSince the arrival in Cochin of the Portuguese the reason the trade began was due to spices, and it hasn’t changed in centuries.

DSC09325r.jpgThe latest trader was Maureen as she bargained for a bag of cinnamon – it was offered at USD $7, we offered $5 and they were happy. Considering the price in Sydney USD $5 was cheap, but the transport from Cochin to Sydney was free :-o)
Australian quarantine checked the bag and its contents, before returning it to Maureen, and allowing it in to the country.

DSC09326rThe smell of the spices was pure magic – I did ask about the small brown seeds that can bee seen, but can not remember the answer.

DSC09327rHow about spices in liquid form.

DSC09328ror powder form – your choice.

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The Jews in the early days had a lot to do with the trading.

DSC09332rJew – Town Road

DSC09343rInteresting shops from jewellery to clothing to souvenirs and more colours than you can shake a stick at  . . .

DSC09337rPerhaps for the festival of Holi – which is The Festival of Colours – Lord Krishna is thought to have loved jokes and would drench girls in water and colour.
fesitval of colourI obtained the above & below pictures off the net

ladiesThe dhobi wallah must love this ceremony.

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 We were never too far from spices

DSC09341r Even elephants had to have a doze in the monsoons season.

Back to the ship for a late lunch and a dry wine – the only dry bit of the whole tour.

 

 

 

Abu Dhabi and all that . . .

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Abu Dhabi 2017 – the Emirates Palace Hotel – I didn’t have any friends in Abu Dhabi so I was unable to fix a visit, but I did check the rates – on special the cheapest room is AUD $365 / night (USD $290) but couldn’t find out if this included a ‘free’ breakfast. The most expensive being the Palace Grand Suite at AUD $16,845 (USD $ 13,332), which isn’t bad when you compare this to the Dubai hotel cost for their most expensive room.
Palace Grand Suite  I added the 10% service charge & the 6% room tax to the Grand Palace Suite costs – check the links for pictures.

1962__Abu_DhabiAbu Dhabi 1963 during my first visit to this town. In the early 60’s going ashore was by a boat to a local beach.

landaura1Dhows would come out to us, (after we’d anchored), and we would work cargo using our own derricks etc.

Check below as to how we stepped ashore during our recent visit.

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DSC08366rI took the above as the Majestic Princess manoeuvred alongside – you can see the disturbed water from our side thrusters pushing us bodily alongside.

Maureen & I decide on a basic tour of four hours or so, which included a visit to the new (opened in 2007) Sheikh Zayed Mosque.

DSC09103r Doesn’t matter where we go we end up in a fish market . . . without chips.

DSC09105rI can’t remember what type of fish this chap was showing us, but I’m sure someone will tell me. I liked the colour and wondered if it retained its colour once it was cooked, and on the plate.

DSC09124r Presidential Palace

DSC09131rHeritage village – I found it a disappointing place that had been ‘recreated’ and had little resemblance to the Abu Dhabi that I remembered.

DSC09132rThe above gives you an idea of what Abu Dhabi was like in the early 60’s. The shops  didn’t sell post cards the last time I went shopping in Abu Dhabi, but Japanese electronics, which are now collectors items. The person with the umbrella is protecting themselves from the sun, not rain.

If you do visit this ‘village’ make sure you have all the necessities if you wish to use the bathroom, better still – DON’T! use the bathroom.

DSC09142rFront area of the Presidential Palace.

DSC09143rThe guide did mention that each of the wives of the Sheik had their own entrance to the living quarters, so as not to meet each other I suppose.

DSC09145r I think this is the bridge to nowhere – a private island that is empty, so I suppose that makes this a private bridge . . . didn’t see any vehicles on the bridge.

DSC09150r A short time after the ‘bridge to nowhere’ the Sheikh Zayed Mosque came in to view. According to what I have read in the ship’s blurb for the tour of Abu Dhabi, the mosque is the 8th largest mosque in the world, but according to the internet it is the 9th, but who’s counting? Enough to say that it is big.

To comply with the requirements of the mosque Maureen had on a long sleeve blouse & slacks down to her ankles, and I had long pants with a short sleeve shirt. Being a mere male I wasn’t bothered, but our guide on the coach became upset that Maureen’s pants were not long enough and said that the religious police might not allow her to visit the mosque. She offered to return to the cabin to change in to yet longer slacks that dragged on the floor, but the guide said that we didn’t have time to wait. We had a number of ladies on our tour in the same situation. Maureen and a few others accepted that they would not be visiting the mosque due to the clothing problem.

We parked outside the mosque and the guide suggested that the ladies try and enter and to see what happens. As we walked towards the main entrance Maureen was pulled to one side with some other ladies off our bus.

Maureen insisted that one of us should see the mosque (me) and that she will wait in the bus with the other ladies.

I passed through security and started the tour of the building.

DSC09154r.jpgMain entrance after security.

DSC09156rArea to the left of the main entrance with the pool.

DSC09161rThe inner courtyard after passing through the main entrance of the mosque. A minaret is at each corner. The courtyard is 17,000 sq mtrs (180,000 sq feet).

DSC09162rIt is thought to be the largest example of marble mosaic in the world.

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After viewing the courtyard I returned to the front of the building and walked down the columned walk way so as to turn right down another columned walk way to the main prayer hall. The walk way to the prayer hall can be seen on the left of the above picture.

DSC09159rThe start of the walkway.

DSC09168r  With the breeze blowing through it was not unpleasant walking along the columned passages.

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The water helped to cool the breeze as it wafted through the corridor.

At the end of the corridor there were seats and racking system – visitors had to remove their shoes. As I was removing my shoes I was accosted by a lady in black.

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DSC09190rThe lady turned out to be Maureen – she’d been offered an abaya from our coach driver.

DSC09180rOnce inside the main hall we could see the carpet – 5,627 sq mtrs (60,570 sq feet). The largest carpet in the world, at 35 tons, it took 1200 to 1300 carpet knotters around two years to tie 2,268,000 knots to create the carpet, which is mainly wool from New Zealand & Iran. Apparently some of the carpet is slightly higher than other parts. This is to help worshippers, when on their knees, to face the correct way. The direction indication of ‘correctness’ can not be seen when standing.

The mosque can handle 40,000 worshippers, and the main hall over 7,000 men – the ladies have a smaller hall for their use, large enough for 1500 worshippers. There is also another smaller hall for men, which can handle a further 1500 worshippers. The 96 columns that can be seen in the main hall are clad with marble and inlaid with mother of pearl.

DSC09175r       There are seven chandeliers imported from Germany and they contain millions of  Swarovski crystals.

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I tried to get all three chandeliers in to the same picture.

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Indicators for prayers. The Gregorian calendar starts at zero based on Christ’s birth, (BC/AD) whereas the Muslim calendar starts at Gregorian 622 (AD) is based on Muhammad’s arrival at Medina.
His journey was during the year of the Hijra (which means Permission to travel), so the Islamic calendar was dated from the Hijra year , which is why it shows as 1438 AH (Anno Hegirae – Latin – for ‘in the year of the Hijra’) for the current Islamic year.

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The various names indicate the prayers e.g ISHA is the night time prayer of the daily prayers and is the fifth prayer. Faja is the dawn prayer, Dhuhr is the mid-day prayer, each name has a different meaning for the faithful.

The visit to the mosque took about 90 minutes. I found it interesting from an architectural point of view, because my knowledge of the Islamic faith is limited. The cost to build the mosque, which was started in 1997, was USD $545 million in 2007 ($652 million in today’s money).

As our coach left the parking area I couldn’t help but think of the $545 million dollars for a project that focuses on the faith of the people. When I got back onboard the Majestic Princess I checked a few facts on the net.

In 2004 the world had the tsunami that destroyed hundreds of homes and thousands of lives, in 13 countries, particularly in Indonesia, which is the largest Muslim country in the world. The world rallied around to help the Indonesian, Sri Lankans, Indian, Thais etc who had suffered huge loss of life and infrastructure. A total of 226,000 people died of which 74% were from Indonesia.

A call went out across Australia for help, particularly as Indonesia is our nearest neighbour. Like many other countries Australia dug deep and contributed cash and food to the extent of USD $66.38 / person via direct giving or government giving, making a total contribution of $1.322 Billion USD.
In comparison the UAE (which includes Dubai as well as Abu Dhabi) gave $7.92 per person, a total of $20 million dollars of citizen direct giving, and government contributions.
In comparison Kuwait gave USD $44.3 / person ($100 million), Qatar USD $23.80 / person ($20 million), Saudi Arabia USD$1.16 / person (USD $30 million).

I’m not being judgemental just pointing out the difference in priorities – a building (how ever beautiful) and five million people homeless, and without access to food & fresh water.
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I tried to take a decent shot of this building on the way back to the ship.

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The Aldar Building – downloaded from the company’s web site – this is the picture that I was trying to take . . .

DSC09199rAbu Dhabi is expanding with the reclaiming of land from the Persian (Arabian) Gulf.

DSC09203rNew homes built on reclaimed land – they did look nice.

Overall the tour was interesting, even if we did get a lecture / chat about Islam on our return journey to the ship.
We had a very similar lecture by our guide when we returned to the ship in Aqaba, Jordon, which makes me wonder if this type of lecture / friendly chat is a deliberate plan to get a certain point across to westerners.
I had the feeling that the delivery and content of the ‘friendly chats’ had been agreed in advance, between whom, I don’t know. If I am wrong then the delivery of the two ‘chats’, within nine days, and so very, very, similar, yet so far from each other (Jordon & UAE), was a remarkable coincidence.

 

A rich man’s world

 

oneA friend of mine that I used to work with in BOAC in the 1970’s, heard that Maureen & I would be sailing in the Majestic Princess, and that she would be visiting Dubai for a day on the way to Singapore.
Majestic
He suggested that we should meet so as to catch up on the last thirty nine years. I jumped at the idea at seeing him again, and ‘catching up’.

He’d left BOAC in 1978 to work for an airline in the Persian Gulf.
boac                  For those who can remember BOAC  :-o)

Over the years his life had changed, and he now ran his own company in Dubai.

During our e-mail chats he asked what we would like to see while in Dubai, and as we had seen a number of the popular sights during our visit last year,  we asked if it was possible to see inside . . .

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without actually staying there?

My friend picked Maureen & I up from the cruise terminal in his chauffer driven car – he hates driving – and took us to the Dubai Museum.

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DSC09018r.jpgI was able to read more about Lawrence of Arabia. The museum was cool (as in climate) and very interesting. I took a number of photos of various items on display, but for some reason only the above picture registered on the camera. At least the outside pictures worked.

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Leo & I meet again after nearly forty years.

Next stop was the 321 meter high  Burj Al Arab Jumeirah hotel, voted as the world’s most luxurious hotel. Leo had fixed everything.

DSC09025rThe main reception area where Leo introduced himself to the receptionist and a young lady came over to meet us and show us various areas of the hotel.

On the left of the above picture is the start of the wow factor.

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Computer controlled mini-fountains pointing upwards.

Escalators on each side of the water feature, but so as not to get bored in your travels the management have put in an a fish pond.

DSC09024rThere is another escalator & aquarium on the other side of the of the mini-fountains.

There is a reception on each floor and check-in takes place in your suite.

DSC09023rDifferent colours for various floors.

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More fountains as we reached the top of the escalators.

DSC09030rMaureen & Leo walk quietly to the lift.

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Reception at the restaurant as we step out of the lift.

DSC09032rWalk through the tunnel to the restaurant. The colour gold is everywhere.

DSC09034r We are in the Al Mahara restaurant and the whole wall is an aquarium – not sure if we are supposed to pick our fish for eating as it swims passed or do we just admire the view.

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DSC09036rPrivate dining room – I am not sure if the aquarium at the end is part of the restaurant aquarium.

DSC09037r The private dining room – view taken with my back to the aquarium.

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Close-up of the wall of water.

DSC09040rView of outside from the reception area.

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Shopping ??

DSC09043rCorridor to where, I don’t know.

DSC09044rLooking down on to a tearoom come bar area and below the bar area is the main entrance.

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Design of the various floors.

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DSC09046rThe walk area towards ‘our’ suite.

DSC09047rEntrance area of the suite – two floors, dining room, sitting room two double bedrooms each en-suite.
This bedroom suite has a gold iPad – who doesn’t? A 21 inch iMac, floor to ceiling windows, wide screen HD TV and don’t forget the 24 hour butler service. Nothing has been left out.

DSC09048eLeo & our guide in the reception area of the suite.

DSC09067rLeo felt quite at home, with his gold computer . . .

DSC09049rSitting room

DSC09050rDining room.

DSC09054rGeneral view back towards the reception area.

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DSC09056rMain bedroom

DSC09057rEn-suite bathroom.

DSC09059rDressing room for main bedroom.

DSC09060rSecond bedroom

DSC09062rSecond bedroom en-suite (also with dressing room)

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Both bedrooms are upstairs, but as you climb the stairs you can check the time, which is an image that is cast on to the wall of the staircase so that it doesn’t intrude. As you see we were there around lunchtime –  the clock was accurate.

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Sitting room , small bar & large TV.

DSC09051rView from the sitting room window. A little hazy due to sand in the air.

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As we left the hotel I saw the ‘sister’ hotel across the beach area, and noticed that the Rolls Royce’s engine was still running even though the car was empty – one doesn’t wish to climb in to a hot car.

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If I start saving now, and live long enough, the suite that we saw is on ‘special’ for just over AUD $6,000 a night, but it does include a free breakfast.

It’s only money after all, and that’s what I want  if I plan staying at this hotel.

The hotel opened in 1999.

The smallest room is 169 sq mtrs – & I thought the E & O in Penang had large rooms at 53 sq mtrs. It costs about AUD $1300 a night for the smallest room.
The largest room is 780 sq meters – the Royal Suite costs about AUD $37,000 a night. It was listed as the 12th most expensive suit in the world in 2012.

There are only 28 double story floors, to create 202 bedroom suites. The shape of the hotel represents the sail of a dhow. The owners wanted an iconic design to show place Dubai in the way that the Opera House does for Sydney, Big Ben for London or the Eiffel Tower for Paris.

The idea of using hotels as symbols of a country seems to be growing with Dubai’s  Burj Al Arab Jumeirah hotel,

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and also Singapore with

sin  Mariner Bay Sands Hotel

There is still talk of converting QE2 in to a Dubai hotel, but will she ever make the grade.

DSC09017rAs the Majestic Princess docked I took the above picture of a grand old lady alongside in Dubai – she has been in Dubai since 2008.

 

 

 

 

Peace & quiet

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Hollywood Pool Club – I took these pictures during our time at anchor just off Santorini in Greece. The bulk of the passengers were still ashore so Maureen & I had the place mainly to ourselves. If you look closely at the green figures above, you can see someone hiding as I took the picture.

DSC08678rQuiet and peaceful and only at night does it come alive as a nightclub. The roof over the pool keeps the temperature steady, regardless of the outside temperature.

DSC08679rIn addition to the swimming pool there are hot tubs, and quiet spots over looking the ocean.

DSC08681r Peace & quiet

DSC08682rThere is also a bar, but most people just sat & read during the day.

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If you wish to watch TV in a quiet private alcove – you are able to pull a curtain over to make it more private.
Picture below is the other end of the same private alcove.

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Maureen tried different sized xylophones to practise her musical talent.

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Being tone deaf, I was more interested in a game of chess.

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Cane basket chairs and a good book . . .

DSC08692rOr one could sit just outside to add to the suntan – waiter service for a cold beer, I didn’t want to break out in to a sweat after all . . .

DSC08556rFor those who trusted the ‘see through’ floors (decks) on the Skywalk, you could watch the water flow under your feet. Your brain told you that it would be safe, but many still walked with one foot on each side of the reinforced glass area.

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The main pool area was always popular, and during an Australian sporting match that was broadcast via satellite from Australia, many passengers just floated in the pool with drinks in hand, and watched & listened to the large screen broadcast. For such a large screen I didn’t notice any problems due to sunlight or distortion. Obviously the sound was quite loud, but once we moved from the pool area it fell away and didn’t bother us.

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Being a shore day the pool was relatively empty.

DSC09248rWhen we sailed close to the Indian coast, on our way to Cochin (Kochi), we experienced a heavy downpour, due to it being the monsoon season, which cleared everyone from the pool area.
Odd really that people left the pool because they were getting wet due to the rain . . . :-o)