ANZAC Day 2016, at sea.

The ship arranged a dawn service for ANZAC Day, 25th April, in an area on the pool deck. They were also kind enough to supply all attendees with a poppy – a very nice touch.

The leader of the service was the ship’s band leader who had served with the Royal Australian Navy for eight years.
Others where Australian and New Zealand passengers who read poems and details of family members who had died in WW1.
At the end of the service the national anthems of Australia and New Zealand were sung, after which the ship’s trumpeter sounded the last post, followed by a minutes silence before he played reveille.

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Gathering before the dawn service.

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The band leader who lead the service.

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The last post being played.

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The sun rose with the what looked like landing craft making for the shore.
Perhaps the service had affected me more than I thought, or my imagination was in overdrive.

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Dawn as we entered Goa harbour.

Cochin, now Kochi, is Cochin to me.

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As we entered the harbour we passed the Chinese fishing nets, and some of the old buildings that I first saw in 1963.

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‘Babu’ was our driver – his tuk tuk on the left.

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sometimes another tuk tuk wanted our little bit of the road, but Babu always managed to miss them . . .

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Near the port we passed Cochin Harbour Terminus. I could just see the platform in the undergrowth, but had my doubts when we were told that the railway brought goods from Bombay.

DSC05688rAzamara Quest on the right and the Sea Voyager behind us. (Regent ship)

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Crossed the river using a bridge built by the British before they left in 1948. It no longer opens to allow ships to pass.  As you see both lanes were full of traffic coming towards us.
At first I though it was a one way bridge and we were going the wrong way, until Babu started zig zagging through the on coming traffic.

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  Chinese fishing net area, but I didn’t see any Chinese. . .

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Tuk tuks and people where ever you looked . .

Traffic jams was the norm . .

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Bright colours filled the eye. . . .

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The traffic wouldn’t allow a Ferrari to get up much speed.

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The weather was hot (35 c), but the wind, as we hung on to our tuk tuk, helped cool us.

It was very pleasant to return to the Azamara Quest for a cold drink and lunch, and a quiet rest before the evening’s cultural entertainment at the Le Meridien Hotel around 8.15 pm.

Colombo

DSC05617rArrived in Colombo to be greeted, just below our cabin balcony, by an elephant.

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Not sure that I was happy with the use of the elephant as a photo prop.
The elephant, in my opinion, seemed to be stressed as he or she shook its head to make a large bell that was tied around its neck to ring as it shuffled its feet.
The animal’s left rear leg was chained to a bollard – the same one being used by our cruise ship – see the blue rope.

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Small stalls along the wharf.

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Our neighbour above, who is just aft of us, and the Sri Lanka navy across from us.

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We walked part of the way in to town – very quiet, because it was a public religious holiday – full moon day (12 times a year) when it is forbidden to sell alcohol. . . . .

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A private ‘boat’- Vava, across from us, I wonder if it will be in Cochin (now called Kochi).
It was flying a defaced British red ensign. I couldn’t quite make out the defaced symbol, so I don’t know where it was registered.
Later we were told that it belonged to an Italian pharmaceutical billionaire, who lived in Switzerland.
What his vessel was doing in Colombo I have no idea . . but it looked deserted.
Swimming pool covered, heliport locked, and the water toys for rich boys, stowed away.

Maureen and I had a quiet lime juice at the Galle face Hotel – very oldie worldie – it was  refurbished last year, but sadly the old and distinguished doorman died last year who was well in to his 90’s.

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Inside Azamara Quest

 

Checked out of the hotel and a taxi to the mariner are to join Azamara Quest – taxi cost was $12 cheaper than our arrival taxi, due to not being in the rush hour.

Check-in went smoothly and we were aboard the ship around 11.40 am even though boarding was not supposed to be until Noon.

Our cabins would not be available until 1.30 pm, so we were invited to have lunch. On boarding we were given a glass of champagne, which was cold and very acceptable.

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The self serve dining room, which is called Windows, but to make sure that a high degree of hygiene is maintained all we did was point to the food that we wanted and it was served to us by the staff. Other waiters came round with wine of the day, water, beer and soft drinks.

Views from our table through the glass window.

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View just outside the dining room.

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First stop after lunch was the library. They have a very good selection of books.

With a very peaceful ambiance.

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DSC05547rOne of the dining rooms being prepared for the evening meal.

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Another dinning area with bar.

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and another I don’t think we will starve to death . . .

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or we could just relax.

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Small bar area just before the main dining area.

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The main dinning area for our evening meal.

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Pool area taken from the Pool Bar.

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 Very easy to walk down from deck to deck because the Azamara Quest is about a quarter of the size of the Diamond Princess.

Shops and more shops

Couldn’t leave Singapore without Maureen having her time looking around the shops.

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Once inside we wandered around until we’d lost all sense of direction and had to ask how to get out of the place! Not a very good start for someone who used be a navigator at sea!!

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Robinsons across the road or H & M on our side of the road – we did both, which gave me time to read a couple of chapters.

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Few shops have seats for husbands to sit and wait (or read) – fortunately H & M had a very good seat in ladies skirts, and a Robinsons’ staff member waved me to a comfortable seat near her cash till . . . that’s what I call service.

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Shops – they get bigger . . .

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Colour prejudice is not a problem in Singapore.

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There is always a silver lining when shopping.

Pint of Tiger SGD 9.90 ++

China Town is cheaper. . . .

Visit to refresh the memory, and something new.

On our first day it had to be China Town. Still the same feeling as our visit in 2012, but the prices are higher.

In 2012, AUD $0.80 bought one Singapore dollar, today AUD $1.03 buys one Singapore dollar, a huge difference in buying power.

We found the same corner bar that we used last time and I parked myself with a book and a 650 ml bottle of Tiger (SGD $7.95, + 10% service charge, + VAT). A few cents short of AUD$10.00, but for me it was worth it, because Maureen loves shops and I hate them, so we are both happy.
Lunch in a local Chinese restaurant, which was full of Chinese customer -we were the only westerners, so we figured  if the locals filled the place the food must be OK.

Next day it was the new Gardens by the Bay – a must for any visitor. It wasn’t open during our last visit – SGD $25 each, but the visit can be all day, or what ever you wish – we stayed just short of three hours.

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Is that our cruise ship?

The main hotel at the mariner – all on reclaimed land.

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Mariner Bay Sands Hotel ahead with our cruise ship on the top!

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Two domes – the Cloud Forest and the Flower Dome. The mushroom ‘things’ are man made structures for plants to climb.

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Just walking around the gardens is free – the $25 is to enter the two domes.

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Dragon flies.

DSC05451rotrWaterfalls inside the Cloud Forest.

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Skywalk inside the dome – use the lifts . . .

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Not until I got close did I realise that some of the ‘plants’ were made of Lego.

DSC05462rThese two were a bit more obvious.

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All the plants, not just the flowering plants held our attention.

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Carnivorous plants.

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Just because I liked it  . . .

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Man made ‘mushrooms’ to allow the plants to grow up and around. Perhaps the future of city farming  . . .

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Waterfalls of green plants

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 Drift wood with carved fish using the drift wood.

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From the Cloud Forrest we moved on to the Flower Dome, which consists of plants from various areas of the world such as Mediterranean, South America, Australia, South Africa, Malaysia etc but during our visit there was a huge display of tulips. The mass of colour was just begging for a camera.

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The above is a view as we entered the Dome.

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 Closer view of the tulips.

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Black tulips

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More close up of tulips.

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and I couldn’t go past a beautiful rose.

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Farming in the future ??

Singapore, 53 years after my first trip

We left the ship in Singapore on the 11th April – my 72nd birthday, and moved to the Concorde Hotel on Orchard Road. We’d stayed at the Concorde Hotel in Kuala Lumpur so we were aware of the standard.

Having visited Singapore on and off since 1963, every new visit is a new learning curve. Our last visit was 2012 and things have changed again.

The hotel was as we expected

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Taken from the ninth floor (top floor) with three or four levels below ground for shops and car parking areas.

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Our room

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View from the room

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The younger generation might have their focus on back packing, camping, caravanning etc but as one grows older, and you can afford a few luxuries, comfort rise to the top of our travel plans along with good food.

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Club lounge, which is usually on the top floor of many hotels, but in this hotel the Club Lounge is on the ground floor. Happy Hour with drinks and snacks from 6 to 8 pm.

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Around the corner from the hotel, just off Orchard Road, one can still find pieces of yesterday.

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At the bottom of the above picture is Orchard Road, but this road has a feel of a quiet enclave, with the roar of traffic at the bottom.