SOUTHEAST ASIA


Advertisement
Asia
February 21st 2013
Published: February 21st 2013
Edit Blog Post

We like to zip around Singapore on the Metro. The subway is the most efficient way to explore what is sometimes called the world's largest shopping mall. Since it was Chinese New Year, the mall was mostly closed. Singapore changes by the minute in its race to modernize. We went to Chinatown and Little India and then headed back to the ship for an early evening departure.

As we cruised into the Gulf of Thailand we saw thousands of bright green lights reaching to the horizon. It almost looks like a city on the shore but it is hundreds of fishing boats. I am always amazed that there are any fish left in the seas.

There was a big change over of passengers and crew in Singapore...so lots of new faces on board. We were happy to see Franck, the General Manager, Ray, the talented Cruise Director and Katja, the excellent Tour Director. We welcomed our new guests.

Our first stop in Thailand was in Ko Samui, an island in the southern Gulf. We took a drive along the coast to Chaweng Beach. Ko Samui is one of the most visited spots in Thailand and the shores are lined with resorts for locals and tourists alike. The resort served up an excellent Thai buffet by the sea.

In Laem Chabang we decided not to take the two hour drive into Bangkok, but instead to hop on the shuttle into the seaside resort of Pattaya. All of the big cities in Asia are jammed packed with travelers for the long New Year’s celebration. Even Pattaya was bursting at the seams with holidaymakers. The hotels were at 98% occupancy. But we found one of the original resort hotels which was built in the 1950s. They had a nice quiet room available which overlooked the expansive garden and pool. So we decided to spend the night at the Nautical Inn.

Kevin needed a haircut so we found a small salon that also gives manicures and pedicures. We were surprised when we realized that the woman giving Kevin a haircut was actually a man in the process of becoming a woman. Pattaya is filled with all sorts of people spanning the gender spectrum.

That night we strolled along the beach promenade down to Walking Street. This lively place is a great respite from the bus and motorcycle traffic and
SUSAN, KEVIN, KENSUSAN, KEVIN, KENSUSAN, KEVIN, KEN

Delicious Thai lunch on the beach
is filled with restaurants, nightclubs and shops. Since it was Valentine's Day we wanted a nice place for dinner. One of the tourist police recommended the King's Seafood Restaurant. They had outdoor dining at the water’s edge and there was a very talented Filipino crooner who sang romantic ballads from the 50s and 60s; a lovely place to celebrate Cupid's Day.

We entered the Saigon River at sunrise and spent the next four hours cruising up the bustling waterway to Ho Chi Minh City. We really like HCMC but the biggest drawback has always been the overwhelming traffic. Boy, were we in for a surprise. To begin with, the shuttle into the city can take anywhere from 1-2 hours. This day it took 15 minutes. When we got into town we could actually walk across the wide boulevards without fearing for our lives. Vietnam is also celebrating the lunar New Year which is called Tet and apparently everyone in the city goes back to their villages to spend the holiday with family. Saigon was so quiet and serene we hardly recognized it. Plus the streets were decorated and swept clean. We went immediately to one of our favorite soup
FAN PALMFAN PALMFAN PALM

Susan's favorite
restaurants and had big bowls of Pho Ba, the beef noodle soup that is the national dish of Vietnam.

Since our camera had recently given up the ghost we went shopping in the tax free store and bought a Canon IXUS at a very reasonable price. We always like to go to the roof top bar at the famous Rex Hotel for a panoramic overview of the city. The American War Museum was packed with Westerners as was the Reunification Palace. It is still hard to imagine that 40 years ago these streets were lined with sandbags and barbed wire--a city under siege. Now Saigon is a thriving metropolis and a very enjoyable place to visit. Continuing on with Tet New Year greetings: “Chuc Mung Nam Moi.”


Additional photos below
Photos: 26, Displayed: 24


Advertisement

ROOFTOP VIEWROOFTOP VIEW
ROOFTOP VIEW

Atop the Pattaya Hilton
RONALDRONALD
RONALD

In the Wai position
VW BUS BARVW BUS BAR
VW BUS BAR

Really cool Hippie Bar
MADAME GREETERMADAME GREETER
MADAME GREETER

Quite the Valentine!
VALENTINE's NIGHT IN PATTAYAVALENTINE's NIGHT IN PATTAYA
VALENTINE's NIGHT IN PATTAYA

Dining overlooking the bay.
GIRLS DISTRIBUTING CONDOMSGIRLS DISTRIBUTING CONDOMS
GIRLS DISTRIBUTING CONDOMS

Very important in Pattaya
CAMERA SHOPCAMERA SHOP
CAMERA SHOP

Good deal on a new camera in Saigon
VIETNAMESE WARRIORVIETNAMESE WARRIOR
VIETNAMESE WARRIOR

He's a pretty good swordsman
TIENTIEN
TIEN

Her shop is a used chair and cardboard
VIETNAMESE DANCERSVIETNAMESE DANCERS
VIETNAMESE DANCERS

Dancing under the stars on the pool deck
HIGH SPEED WATER FERRYHIGH SPEED WATER FERRY
HIGH SPEED WATER FERRY

From Saigon to Vung Tau
VOYAGER AFTER DARKVOYAGER AFTER DARK
VOYAGER AFTER DARK

The view from Dag's porch
MALAMALA
MALA

Favorite Javanese waitress
UNCLE HO STATUEUNCLE HO STATUE
UNCLE HO STATUE

In downtown Saigon
FISHING BOAT RAFT-UPFISHING BOAT RAFT-UP
FISHING BOAT RAFT-UP

Life on the Saigon River


21st February 2013

Go, Army! Best Navy!
Thought that title would get K&S's attention. Keep your blogs coming; detailed commentary is great. spent a few days in Saigon in '64, '65, '68, '69; the Rex was a US BOQ and the rooftop place to linkup with fellow advisors and "young" buddies --- we were all young then. The war there still reverberates in one's soul, ever a presence in an unappreciative US society.
21st February 2013

hello from S C
Hi Kevin-Susan---please give my best regards to Franck---he is the best---Last I heard he was on the Navigator---also Ken,who you had lunch with in Pataya---travel safe---Bill Krupa---PS--going to assist Tom Mullin on the Grand Asia later this year---always a pleasure working with Tom---ciao
21st February 2013

As you can imagine, we loved the VW Bus Bar! Maybe we should convert ours for Burning Man! Smile. We also dug the description of the bay filled with boat lights and glowing like its own city.
23rd February 2013

Hi to my friends
Susan and Kevin-- As always love your blog and pictures of your travels to exotic and warm places. Southeast Asia looks gorgeous. It is impossible to believe that it was the site of a horrific war. We just returned from Isla Mujeres, Mexico on Wed. night. We went with two other couples from Sioux City. We loved our week reprieve from winter. We did not plan well. Thursday morning Kansas City was socked with the worst snow storm in 20 years. We got 12 inches of snow and went no where on Thurs. Fortunately, we were watching the forecast and stopped at the grocery store on Wed. night. Otherwise, we would have dined on eggs and salad. We are supposed to get another storm Monday afternoon. Time will tell. I wonder what the Mexicans would think about the cold and snow. Sail safely.
25th February 2013

Singapore and Thailand
Thailand is a paradise for those who love nature and Singapore is a good option for those who love shopping and modern lifestyle. Both countries are amazing and one should visit these two countries atleast once. Thailand is full of beaches and mouth-watering street foods.
27th February 2013

Ho Ho
You and Uccle Ho nice group Ha !
5th March 2013

Nice pictures!
With the new camera?

Tot: 0.035s; Tpl: 0.02s; cc: 8; qc: 23; dbt: 0.0071s; 1; m:saturn w:www (104.131.125.221); sld: 1; ; mem: 1.2mb