Ok, ok, so I'm not on a boat right now, but for those of you who know the song "I was on a boat last week" just isn't as catchy. This was our first vacation since we moved to Okinawa and it was long overdue. We got spoiled living in England. There we were able to travel anywhere in Europe round trip for about a hundred bucks. Here, it's way more pricey and Chris has been gone a lot so we just haven't gotten off the island. Luckily for us, my friend Charity found a great deal on a cruise back in March. Six of us from my lunch group booked a deposit, but as it turned out Liza and I were the only ones to make it during our originally booked period.
Sadly, I lost my camera the last day of the cruise. I threw a fit and cried because of all the pictures I lost, but what can I do? We narrowed down where I left it, but it wasn't there and nobody turned it in. I miss the camera, but I really want the photos. Luckily for you, that loss will shorten the blog.
Chris and I started off by flying to Singapore. I really didn't know much about Singapore before going, but it is a beautiful island. They have some very strict rules that seem to work. For example, you can get charged $500 if you're caught chewing gum. Not if you're caught chewing gum in class or at church, but anywhere on the island. I'm guessing Wrigley's isn't a big fan of Singapore. Their slogan is "Clean and Green". There is very little litter and the landscaping is beautiful.
We stayed in a hotel in Little India. The first morning we walked to Bugis Street, a huge outdoor market.
On this street there are Buddhist and Indian temples right next door to each other. I love the statues at the Indian temples - they are so life-like.
After exploring Bugis Street, we headed to Chinatown. It was so clean!
There were tons of stalls selling the same stuff and we ate some delicious dim sum for lunch. The amount we ordered was ridiculous, but those pictures are on the lost Canon.
We then headed back to our hotel where we met up with a tour headed to Sentosa Island. We went to Underwater World first. I'm an aquarium snob and thought most of the tanks were too small, but there were some good displays. There was also a seal show.
And guess who got chosen to throw the rings?
That's right, not some cute kid, but me! I'm not kidding when I say I was on the opposite side of the pool from the seals and trainers. I raised my hand as a joke because I didn't think there was anyway I'd get chosen, but I was lucky!
While on Sentosa we also got to luge. It was awesome. Chris took a hilarious video, but that was on the little camera. The other activity from Sentosa that we don't have pictures of is the Desperado Wild West Shoot Out. We sat on mechanical broncos and shot at bad guys on the screen. Chris took third while I came in numero uno. That might be the only time I've ever beaten Chris at something and it came as a surprise to both of us.
Here's a great picture of the merlion:
This is the icon that the Singapore tourism board put out to the world in the 1960s. I'm just making this up, but I'm taking it to mean a proud (lion) island (fish) nation.
Our last Sentosa activity was "Song of the Sea". It was a song and dance production about a boy who had to sing to release the love of his life from imprisonment. Slightly cheesy, just like I like it. It was set over water and there were some great light, laser, and fire effects.
Here's part of the Singapore skyline seen from Sentosa:
The next day we headed to the Singapore Zoo. It was incredible! It is spacious and the landscaping is amazing - not just for the people, but the enclosures as well. There are tons of trees and it is beautiful. My parents will understand how hard it was for me to scale down our animal pictures to just a few for the blog. When I was 9 we took one of our cross-country trips to California. It was the first time my parents let me have complete control over the camera. I used every shot at the San Diego Zoo. The same thing happened at the Washington DC Zoo on my 5th grade safety patrol trip. So, here are some of my favorites:
And a shot of the cute couple:
After the zoo we walked through a market on the way to the metro. I saw these and had to take a picture. I love their name for garbanzo beans:
That night we headed to Clarke Quay for dinner. It's a beautiful area with lots of outdoor eating. The weather was perfect for al fresco dining.
After dinner we tried Turkish ice cream. Let's just say I know why the Turks are famous for their rugs - because their ice cream isn't that great! It's a strange texture and very stretchy. We got strawberry so it was pink and looked like bubblegum as I stretched it from the bowl up over my head (insert mental picture here because that shot was on the little camera). It was definitely different.
The following day it was time to head for the cruise ship. We checked in late in the afternoon and left port shortly after 5. After checking out our cabin we strolled the deck and ran into Liza and Joey. We chatted a bit and then headed for dinner. I have heard such great things about cruise food, but ours was just ok. I'm guessing it's hard to make food for over 1700 guests. Plus, we had some amazing Chinese, Indian, and other great food in Singapore so it was hard for boat food to compare. They did have great fresh fruit though. I'm pretty sure I ate my cost of the cruise in apples. Yummy! Chris and I sang karaoke after dinner. Chris was a huge hit and even received requests. I wasn't as popular, but I'm blaming it on poor song selection.
The next day we docked near Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Our first stop was the Batu Caves. The Batu Caves are this great limestone structure that have some really beautiful shrines inside. To get into the caves you have to hike 272 stairs. While it is popular with tourists many Hindus travel to it for religious renewal and prayer. We saw one small boy with his head shaved and covered in a light orange paste. When I asked our tour guide, Ong, he said that the parents had been unable to have children and that they came to the shrine to pray. Since they were blessed with a child, the child must come back every year on his birthday to thank the Gods.
After the caves we headed to the city for lunch and to see some Kuala Lumpur sites:
That's the Petronas Towers.
We also headed up the Kuala Lumpur Tower (think Seattle Space Needle) and got these fantastic shots:
I love the sky in the black and white shot.
That night was the formal dining on the boat. You'll just have to trust me that we looked great that night! Sorry, no pictures.
The next day we landed in Phuket, Thailand.
Alright, not in Phuket because the port is too shallow for the big cruise ships, but just a 5 minute boat ride away.
Phuket is the town hit most directly by the tsunami five years ago. It has made an amazing recovery. The areas we saw seems completely rebuilt. It is incredibly touristy and if you ever have a hankering to see fat Europeans in speedos, this is the place to go. It is a beautiful beach though and from what we could tell very affordable. We didn't spend much time on the beach though because we had a boat ride planned. We actually had this planned:
But not enough people booked it so we had to settle on a motor boat ride in Phang Nga Bay. I know, it's a tough life. On the way to the bay we stopped at a shrine.
And what, you ask, was our favorite part?
Finding a dog with the same "chocolate chip" as Rana. We're pathetically obsessed with our dog.
After the shrines we headed to the bay. It was beautiful! The sun wasn't at the greatest angle for pictures, but I think you'll get the idea.
This one is James Bond Island and 2 of the movies were filmed here:
We stopped on this little village which is completely over the water on stilts. It was pretty cool.
After dinner and a little shopping we headed back to the boat.
The last full day of the cruise was all at sea. Chris and I got in a good workout and then found lots of things to do. We played some BINGO, met up with Liza and Joey, watched an ice sculpture demonstration, lost the camera, threw a fit back in our cabin (that was really just me), composed myself, had dinner with Liza and Joey, and played some combat UNO. After losing the camera we also spent some time taking cute couple shots on our digital SLR since we lost all the other ones. So here's our last day on the boat. Couple shots:
Hanging out with Liza and Joey:
When we got up the next morning it was time to get off the boat and spend our last day in Singapore. Since we enjoyed to Zoo so much, we visited its sister site the Bird Park.
You can probably tell that by this time I was freaking out about getting couple shots since all the other ones were gone. I think they turned out good though.
Here's me as a flamingo:
And here's Chris showing off his wingspan. His isn't quite as big as a Dalmation pelican's though.
Alrighty, I think that's it. Singapore, Malaysia, and Thailand in a week. Whew...
I know you're thinking "this is the short version?" But I promise that if I had the other camera there'd probably be twice as many pictures and videos. So, like I said, consider yourself lucky.