touring in a tuk tuk

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March 25th 2019
Published: March 25th 2019
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yes, 2 days ago i was in colombo, sri lanka touring in a tuk tuk. tomorrow, the 26th of march we will be in mumbai. dubai on the 29th and 30th. muscat, oman on the 31st. transiting through the suez canal on april the 6th. then 2 days in haifa, israel on the 7th and 8th. seville, spain on the 13th, then disembarking in southampton on the 16th of april. i can't believe how quick this cruise has gone. the days have just sailed by!

on march 17th we arrived in singapore for 2 days. very hot and humid. it was 34 degrees by noon. i was booked on a tour and was pleased to see tony from my dining table was on the same tour. the majority of the population in singapore are chinese (76%!)(MISSING), then there are malays (15%!)(MISSING), and the indians (6.5%!)(MISSING). our bus drove us through china town, little india, and past some famous buildings and hotels like raffles where the singapore sling drink was invented. the city is sooo clean. they have so many laws and regulations here with regards to littering, smoking, chewing gum which are strictly enforced. you can go to jail for a small offence, even for not flushing a toilet. and you don't see any homeless people anywhere. some passengers didn't like singapore. they found it too sterile. one would never believe you were in a busy south east asian country. singapore is such a green city as well. by green i mean lots of trees and gardens and grassy areas, rooftop gardens and living garden walls. it is so beautiful. i would come back here.

we stopped for a short boat ride along the inner harbour of the city. then it was off to the singapore flyer, which is similar to the london eye, for a half hour complete circular ride with great views and photo opportunities of singapore. from the top of the wheel we could see our ship, and the famous marina bay sands hotel that has 3 towers and what looks like a ship on the top with an infinity swimming pool. that evening in the ships theater an asian cultural dance group performed for us. it was very lively and colourful. really good. the next day i went off the ship on my own for a bit but didn't get too far because of the
heat. there was a larger ship in port with us full of families with loud screaming misbehaved children. looked like a nightmare cruise to me. that is the nice thing about the arcadia. it is an adult only ship. we even have a topless sunbathing area on the ship. and no i don't sunbathe up there. i don't want to burn any sensitive bits! 😊 there are 2 small outdoor smoking areas on the ship. of course there is no smoking in your cabins or on your balconies. a funny story for you. the comedian from liverpool was leaving the ship in singapore and i just happened to be coming down the stairs when he was exiting the elevator. as he was walking away ahead of me i noticed a long piece of toilet paper hanging out the back of his shorts. i thought of telling him but didn't. i am sure they wouldn't let him in to singapore like that. it will be good material for his next comedy routine. 😊

the next day, the 19th, we were in another new port again. this time port kelang, malaysia, which brought us to kuala lumpur about an hours drive
from the port. hot and humid again. but i think my body is adjusting slowly to the hot temperatures. tony and i were booked together again on a tour of the city. it took over an hour to get to kuala lumpur city centre. the traffic was horrendous. and so many stops at toll booths going in to the city. i did see 2 monkeys in the trees on the side of the road.

our first stop was up the kuala lumpur tower, over 400 ft. high. then to the national museum which was very small but informative. during WW2 the japanese waged a surprise attack by land on bicycles. then a quick photo stop at the national mosque. 60%!o(MISSING)f the population here is muslim. by now our tummies are grumbling so off to a hotel for a buffet lunch in the ballroom. lots of tasty dishes. my favourites were the chicken satay and the beef satay with a spicy peanut dip. once refueled we set off again. a photo stop at the famous petronas towers. these towers were built to attract tourists to kuala lumpur. they were started in 1992 and completed in 1996. it took only four years. that is because they hired 2 different companies for each tower and made a competition out of it to see who could complete their tower first. during the construction they realized the towers were tipping slightly so that is why they added the sky bridge between them, to help keep them stable. our final stop was to a market where they sold local crafts and goods.

then the next day we were in langkawi, malaysia. phew.......! i didn't book a tour for this port because i knew i would be tired. and plus any tours you book from the ship are expensive. an average 4 hour tour will cost approx. 60 pounds sterling. that's almost $200.00 canadian. langkawi, like the rest of malaysia, was under british rule from 1909 to 1957. the locals are mainly fishermen and farmers growing rice fields. from the cruise berth i walked to a nearby hotel. while exploring the hotel grounds i found a beautiful infinity swimming pool overlooking the sea. lucky for me i had my bathing suit on. i spent 5 hours there. it was like paradise. and not many people swimming. only a few other passengers from the ship
that happened to stumble across it as well. i ordered myself some lunch and a strawberry margarita. lots of navy helicopters with huge missiles along the side flying over. i would come back here. i'd even stay in the same hotel. during the heat of the day the trees and woods around the port were buzzing with thousands of noisy beetles all flapping their wings to stay cool. it was quite loud.

that evening we had a tropical night on the ship. there are about 4 themed nights for every 3 - 4 weeks of our cruise. black and white night, tropical, western and 60's and 70's night. i have been dressing accordingly except for western nights. in the evening there was another dance party out on deck 9 aft under the stars. i managed to wrangle mike from my table for a few dances. there is always someone to dance with. everyone dances together or even alone. karl, one of the entertainment officers, will quite often come over to dance with me as well. and there have been times when i have been the only one on the dance floor. i miss my best dance partner ever, lebert! i met lebert on the p&o cruise ship the oriana back in january 2000 when i was on the first leg of the world cruise from southampton to san francisco. he was working on the ship as the sous chef at the time. quite a high ranking position in the galley. he found me in the disco and for the rest of the cruise we danced the nights away. lebert is from mumbai and now lives near vancouver, canada with his new wife kate. 300 of the crew currently on the arcadia are from mumbai, formerly bombay where we will be tomorrow. i spoke to hiten, who was a junior waiter from my last dining table. he is getting off in mumbai to spend his 2 hour break with his family. all of his cousins will be there as well. he hasn't seen his family since august when his contract started 7 months ago. his contract ends at the end of may then he will have 2 months off at home. when a native to india tells you it is going to be too hot, then it is going to be bloody hot! 42 degrees and humid expected in mumbai.
i am booked on a tour but i might not get off the air conditioned coach! quite often on a warm evening when we are at sea i will go up to the very top of the ship to see the moon and the stars. it is usually around midnight and the indian crew are all playing football (soccer) or cricket out in the netted court. i guess this is when they have some free time for themselves. it is fun to watch them.

after langkawi we were 2 days at sea crossing the indian ocean on our way to sri lanka. the indian ocean is so blue and clear and calm. amazing. i saw lots of flying fish, a few dolphins and some fishing boats. unfortunately i did notice more garbage floating on the sea. every few minutes some sort of rubbish was spotted. too bad. but i guess these waters are surrounded by some of the most populated land in the world. in our mail today we received a letter from the captain. whilst on passage from muscat, march 31st to haifa, april 7th we will be entering a high risk area for piracy. these areas include the arabian sea, gulf of aden, and bab el mandeb. armed guards will be boarding our ship and we will be escorted by the royal navy. all the open decks will be shut and off limits from dusk until dawn. and we are to keep our cabin lights off as much as possible ad curtains closed when lights are on. and on march 27th we all have to participate in an anti-piracy drill. i'm not sure how pirates can attack a large cruise ship when it's traveling at 17 knots, but it's all very exciting.

march 23rd and we arrived in colombo, on the west coast of sri lanka, formerly ceylon. population 600,000 and the countries largest city, leading port and commercial capital. my balcony view was of a very busy working container port. no tour booked so off on the free shuttle to town. they bused us into an enclosed, gated area with armed police at the gates. inside were shops with local goods and crafts. all around the outside of our gated enclosure stood at least 50 taxi and tuk tuk drivers, all vying for our attention. i didn't want to spend my time in colombo in an air conditioned shop, so as i was contemplating my next move i saw my friend tony getting off the bus behind ours. i asked him if he would be interested in joining me on a tuk tuk ride. he agreed so off i went to the gate to negotiate a price. in my most confident voice i announced i had only $20 US dollars on me and who could take us on the best tour of the city? well.... they were all showing me brochures and talking loudly and waving their arms through the iron bars. in the end i just picked the loudest one nearest me.

tuk tuks are motorized 3 wheelers and are definitely not for those of a nervous disposition as they weave in and out of traffic. there didn't seem to be any rhyme or reason to their road system. no one seemed to stop for any lights, just lots of honking when you want to pass someone or cross over into a roundabout. and if you're a pedestrian trying to cross the street, forget it! but i must say the streets were very clean.

colombo's main industries are tourism, tea and ceylon
saphires. the majority of the population are buddhist. our tuk tuk driver was born in colombo and was quite knowledgeable about the area. it was very hot that day so it was nice to have natural air conditioning blowing in from all sides. he drove us past all the city highlights, stopping at some to get out and take photos. at victoria park where a huge golden buddha was sitting there was a man with a cobra in a basket. he played the flute and the snake danced its way out of the basket. i gave him a dollar. we also went to a market where they had a baby asian elephant on show. the owner said it was blind and wouldn't survive in the wild so he rescued it. who knows if this is true. next a quick stop at the cricket club for a drink. of course we had to buy our driver a beer. afterwards some more white knuckled sights and a stop at a tea shop to sample some teas. i bought some loose earl grey tea leaves. a visit to a temple and a last stop at a jewelry store where we only looked, much
to the owners disappointment. 3 hours later and we were back safe and sound at the iron gates. we really enjoyed the tuk tuk. it was an unforgettable experience and it was much cheaper and better than a ship tour. that evening a sri lankan dance troupe performed for us in the theater.

so yesterday at sea i was so exhausted i spent the day resting and reading. at 2 pm in the palladium theater they played the film bohemian rhapsody. the theater was full. i was surprised at how many elderly came to watch it. i have seen it before and really enjoyed it. at the end everyone clapped! and last night our table was invited to drinks and appies at patricia's cabin who is also on our table. her cabin is at the very back of the ship same deck as mine. she had invited a few other couples as well.

the sun is starting to set off the port side but it looks very hazy out. maybe it is smog. i think i will finish now.

yes i did see on the news the viking cruise ship that got into trouble off the coast
of norway. like my friend alison said, ' now that's a cruise gone sideways!'

cruisin susan

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