Port Klang, Malaysia.

Thursday 4th April 2019

The ship docked late, somebody else’s fault as usual! Eventually we got out into the tropical heat and humidity and sat on a coach bathed in sweat, the cool of the air conditioning a blessing to be in.

An hour and a half’s journey each way to Kuala Lumpur and two hours looking at the buildings was preferable to being stuck on the ship all day long. The tour guide was very good and a mine of information about the place and its people.

Our first call in Kuala Lumpur itself was the kings Palace.

Kings Palace.

This was guarded by men on foot and mounted on a horse; they needed the cover as the unrelenting sun was blistering hot, I took this complete with a tourist.

Guard and tourist.

It was a short journey to our next stop at the peace garden. A beautiful area with monuments to the brave fallen of the wars. Acknowledging the parts played by the men from the different countries.

Peace Garden.

Next we were taken into the old centre of the city to the large grassed area surrounded by old colonial buildings backed by new taller buildings.

Old City centre.

Finally on our way home we saw the Twin Petronas Towers, very impressive. I managed to get this photo, just seconds before it started to rain, I say rain, but it was really an enormous bucket of water that someone just poured over the city, I think all the water droplets had been joined up.

Twin Petronas Towers.

If you recall in my last diary I was a happy chappy, not so this evening, but this sorry tale started a long time ago and I don’t want any smirking from you when you get to the end.

As you know, when you get a cruise you are allocated an early or late sitting for dinner, and Florie had asked for a table for two on early sitting. When we came aboard we ended up on early sitting on a table for four, the bloke has a special Gluten Free menu, but seemed an amenable bloke at first, his wife is a clothes horse and a control freak woman, sits uptight didn’t moan, thin as a rake, and when she speaks to you her eyes flutter and she ends up closing her eyes while she speaks, but they seem harmless enough.

For her meal she only had a salad main course and maybe a dessert, he orders five courses, so three of us sit killing thirty five minutes every time we ate their while he chomps his way through three courses. Then the mains arrive, usually wrong, but that’s another story.

A month later we have eaten with them a few times and we are still waiting thirty five minutes for our main course, I asked him about having that each time and he told me he has to eat this as he is trying to put weight on!

We stick this for three bloody months, I got fed up and didn’t want to go any more but Florie didn’t want to upset them.

A few days ago I finally got fed up and couldn’t put up with it any longer, the head waiter asked what was wrong, he said he’ll get us a table for two in another part of the restaurant. Yesterday we got a note to say we are now on Table 157, so we went to dinner and were on our own and the service was quick, great! I was happy.

Tonight we went down, and there were two strangers at our table, in our chairs! He a big fat Aussie called Bruce and she is a skinny vegan called Sheila, an anorexic looking woman eating special bread and a dish of water. He looks like one of those large over stuffed black plastic bags with a tie round the middle and an opening to shovel it in at one end. The table is cramped, with people pushing past, Bruce orders five courses and she orders three and we order our mains, the waiter is trying to push past the back of my chair to serve other people, but there is no room, we wait forty five minutes for our main course and the whole sorry experience takes an hour and forty five minutes with the jolly fat Aussie going on and on. We walked out feeling, ‘Out of the frying pan into the fire!’

Not a happy Nib

P. S. The ship left the port late again.

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Visit Singapore.

Wednesday 3rd April 2019

I had slept badly waking at midnight 1, 2, 4 & 5pm then I dropped off into a deep sleep and then Florie was shaking me awake at 7.30am to go to breakfast. I hate being late up, I all felt behind all morning. The ship had slipped into its berth at 5.30am in the heavy morning rain when I wasn’t looking.

A wet entry into Singapore.

When I went to breakfast there were dark grey clouds that lasted until nearly lunchtime. Florie and I got off the ship and into the cruise terminal updating computers and sending emails as the port had good internet. We trawled the shops afterwards and Florie picked out a few nice clothes that will go with things she already has back home.

After an early light lunch we were on a coach in an afternoon of improving weather. First we visited the ‘Gardens by the Bay’ a fantastic experience of laid out tropical gardens outside.

We went into two glass domes that contain a fabulous collection of exotic plants and flowers in an unusual setting one with dry desert type plants.

Dry Bio Sphere.

The other in humid wet conditions in the other is a spectacular setting of the world’s tallest indoor waterfall, a truly breath taking experience.

Tallest Indoor Waterfall.

We were taken up to the Sky Walk which had us walking on a suspended walkway under the super trees.

Sky Walk.

(You see theese on the UK TV advert on ITV3 in the evenings,)

Super Trees.

These are very tall man-made cylindrical structures that open up like a funnel at the top; and are coated in plants and flowers and tall vines covering right to the tops. These particular ones encircle vents from reclamation and generating plant, very effectively, one of the tallest of them housed a restaurant at the top.

Sky Walkway.

Then we were taken to the enormous three building, Marina Bay Sands Hotel.

The Mariana Bay Sands Hotel.

We had a drink on The Sands Sky Park Observation Deck with breath taking views, from the top.

View of gardens from top of Hotel.

Finally we had a short trip on The Singapore River.

On boat on Singapore River.

This was really wonderful in the warm afternoon sun. It brought back happy memories for Florie and me as we got off the river boat at the very spot where we enjoyed a romantic meal some years ago. So all in all we had a most wonderful time and I would recommend that if any of you reading this are flying to Singapore, have a stopover so you can go around and visit these places, it will be a truly wonderful experience.

Happy Nib ��H$�]�&#

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Laem Chabang, Thailand.

Sunday 31st March 2019.

The weather was 37°C and humid. We heard that, from our ship there was a Mall nearby the port. It was about two miles away, but we had no way of getting there, we could not walk through the port. We found the taxis wanted US$30 to go there or US$13 each to go by coach to Pattaya beach. There would be unlimited shops and restaurants and three shopping malls, all air conditioned so we took that option. We ran from one cool mall to the other and just looked at the beautiful long beach through the windows. For Florie and me a beach is a beach, seen one, seen them all.

In the first mall, we could buy designer tops, hats, men’s underwear, trainers, presents, and they had free Wi-Fi so I could update my computers. But my email provider had other ideas and came up with a problem so my email to you all did not go!

The second cool mall was more upmarket and had most of the things we needed. Here my back pack got loaded up for the return journey at 4pm. In the meantime I people watched a fascinating place to do it. Every race and creed mixes here, making a weird combinations of people sometimes, and sad at others, and once or twice heartbreaking to see.

The whole place reminded me of Clacton or Blackpool. But this was very, very much bigger and horrendously busy, roads, pavements, shops all packed with people. When the coach arrived to pick up its load of hot sweaty short tempered people there were ugly scenes. People from 3 coaches all tried to get on the first one to arrive, because they had had enough of the blistering heat under the unrelenting sun.

I was OK I was on a floor above, looking down on it with a cold beer, in my hand. The Thai locals just walked past the foray as if they had seen it before. Eventually the coach left full to the brim and Florie and I went down ready for the next coach to arrive. We got on this with no trouble, thank goodness, but the seat back was broken and I ended up in the lap of fella behind. Then I had to sit up straight all the way back to the port, but that was no real bother.

Back aboard we emptied our bags in our fridge and it is once again full of beer. Above it our snack cupboard is full of tubes of look-alike Pringles, in four flavours all very interesting tastes, we have two tins of mixed nuts and some very different types of snacks, so we are in for interesting evenings trying them out.

I’ll say good night from a very hot part of the world.

Nib in the air conditioning.

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Koh Samui, Thailand.

I’m sorry to leave you like that, but I have been away for a few days and this is the first opportunity to get back on the internet.

Saturday 30th March 2019.

This island is 420 miles from Bangkok and looks beautiful from our ship offshore, it is mainly unspoilt natural tropical jungle.

The island had no roads until the early 1970’s. But since then every child is born with a taxi licence, and every one of them is clamouring to take you for a ride in theirs. They enthusiastically push plastic encapsulated coloured maps and pictures of taxi rides they really do wish to take you on. We emerged cut and bleeding from the head because of the plastic maps pushed in our faces as we walked. Florie and I pushed our way through the throng of determined Thai men and women over the half mile long jetty from the tender to the road.

Then things got easier for us in the 30°C of humid air, sweat leaking out of every pore. My clean shirt and pants now soaked with sweat. We dipped into the many shops within half a mile of the port, a busy place, with lots of tourist shops mixed in with real shops the locals used. These were mainly staffed by the beautiful Thai women; they are certainly found very attractive by us English blokes, well this one anyway.

Florie bought a loose fitting sundress in black with white with elephants all over it, not full size elephants of course, you could only get one of those on the front and another on the back! Ouch sorry love I was only joking.

We found a coffee shop where one of us had a nice cold mango drink and the other one left her coffee as it was too hot and wasn’t very nice. Lots more shops later we came across a TESCO store, not as big as the ones we have in the UK. But one that had many fruits and veg that were very unusual to us. Then we looked round and found 6 cans of beer for £3 and snackies that we will enjoy over the coming weeks as we went by the pictures on the packets.

As we emerged from the store I saw a large black cloud coming over from the back of the island. We headed back to the port quickly stopping only to pick up some souvenir bargains on the way. Believe me or not we had just parked our bums on the seat in the tender back to the ship and the heavens opened, the way tropical storms tend to do. As the tender made its way to the ship we looked back and could not even see the shore the rain was so heavy.

My friend Paul who lives a long way from this island in Thailand will hopefully smile at this (I hope to see you next time you are in the UK, Paul).

Best Regards Nibs.

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Phu My, Viet Nam

Thursday 28th March

I’ve got to make this a short diary as I am running out of pads to write it on. Our eleven hour ships tour, started with a three and a half hour coach journey through Ho Chi Minh City (population 6.6 million). As we drove through it on our way to The Mekong Delta. I thought it looked like most of them were out on their small motor bikes. The leather coach seats were hard and drew my bum. And although we had a comfort stop on the way; we were all extremely pleased when we got to our destination.

The temperature outside the coach was 37°C and when I got out I started to curl up at the edges even before I got on the launch. This took us to Unicorn Island in the centre of the Mekong River. This busy river has its source high in the Himalayan Mountains. Our launch unfortunately, had wooden benches for our 15 minute crossing of this enormous river that in places is 30kms wide.

Busy, wide Mekong River.

On the island we were taken to a family home, where the family members offered refreshments. They along with local people sang 5 Vietnamese songs, accompanied on weird looking musical instruments. The food and songs were really unusual and I enjoyed them. Vietnamese women are very beautiful, if a little slim, even they think so. Because when we looked in some shops we saw women’s knickers with built in buttock enhancers!

Beautiful women, good food and song.

Next we walked in the sweltering heat to along a path to another family business. They showed how they break into the coconuts and then after grating the white meat inside they press this and get a liquid.

Cocanut shelling.

This they cook until it congeals and turns into a delicious toffee, which we could buy from them. We went past quite a number of family shops at the end of people’s gardens selling souvenirs etc. Until we got to an access point for the waterways that runs through the island. Here we boarded a narrow boat that was paddled by a beautiful woman at the front and her partner at the back; this took about half an hour. The winding waterway was crowded by the canoes that took just four passengers; ours was buffeted all along the waterway.

Waterways on Unicorn Island

We were deposited directly onto our larger boat with the garden seats.

Garden seats in large water Taxi on Mekong River.

This took us back to our coach at the dock and then taken a Buddhist temple, to complete the cooking of my body in the intense heat of the blazing sun.

Beautiful Buddist Temple.

A little late, due to our first coach driver being taken ill and the second driver finding a fault with the coach. When we arrived at the hotel we had a typical Vietnamese meal which was very unusual and extremely tasty. After which we made the return three hour journey back to the ship berthed in Phu My.

Unfortunately I don’t have the room to tell you about a lady member of our group, who fell over, or another one who got lost. Or the third one who moaned about every single aspect of the trip!

So as I finish this at 9.30pm the same day, I wish you a good night.

Nib from the Mekong Delta

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Halong Bay, Vietnam visit

Monday 25th March

At 6am today I was high up at the very back of the ship in the cold light of dawn. I was taking pictures of our ship’s progress approach to Halong Bay through the scenic ocean karst topography. This area is known to be listed as one of the natural wonders of the world. Its 1,553km2 area is dotted with nearly 2,000 isles of various sizes. A lot of them stand out of the water in the shape of an enormous bath loofer stood on its end, covered, in flora and fauna.

Entering Halong Bay, early morning.

The ships progress was slow and almost silent, making the early morning journey eerie. The surface of the water mirror like at the sides of the ship before its low bow wave rippled out, breaking the reflections on the water. A young lady waiter was taking photos nearby; I offered to take one of her in the foreground. She stood at the handrail a young delicate beauty in front of the ancient backdrop making it a good picture.

When we got off the ship Florie and I came out of the port and walking right along where the tourists don’t normally go. We went around tight corners and up a steep hill until we ended up at the very top, in someone’s back-garden by mistake. We smiled and made our apologies to the owner who then guided us the way to go, smiling all the way. We got a lovely view of the bay that our ship was berthed in. We walked down and along about half a mile founding a coffee shop with two nice coffees for US $5.

Went back to the ship and left our coats there as it was quite warm and humid. We stocked up with US dollars then left the ship again at noon. This time we took a $10 taxi ride to the city’s market about half an hour’s journey. The market was in a large two storey structure with a central stair case up to the next level. There were about 200 stalls selling everything from silly little plastic fridge magnets to very large tools and spanners. The whole place was a treasure trove of goodies. Florie’s only regret as we left was a fantastic pair of red shoes that were alas, not in her size!

I got ten cans of beer, 3 tubs of their look alike Pringles, a pack of dried mango, a pack of 20 sesame seed bars and two kilos of almonds, all for $20 US. On the way out Florie saw a genuine Burberry hand bag so she got it before it fell off the stall. Loaded down with a heavy back pack I felt it was getting to be a long day, so we caught another cab back to the port for the same fare. Its driver dripping in gold, a thick anchor chain gold necklace, two gold bangles, two thick gold rings and enormous watch, he was your in-your-face-personality.

Back in the port area we got two lovely ice creams. I sat quietly on a low wall with the bag and watched a central water fountain routine while Florie checked out the local stalls selling food and jewellery.

Water fountain routine

Then two beautiful young school girls came up and asked me if they could practice their English on me.

“Ok,” I said, and we sat talking for about 20 minutes, about England and how we pronounced words and letters, then Florie returned, much to the joy of the two girls.

Florie and the girls.

Florie had managed to purchase three gold bangles for $10 US and the thickest of them appears to have a hallmark. We got the shuttle back to the ship at 3.30pm.

Since getting back I have been sat in the cabin writing this. I would like you to know, there has been very little opportunity for me to send my diaries on this cruise, so at the moment I do not know when this will come out to you.


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An Afternoon in Hong Kong

Saturday 23rd March

Our Ship berthed an hour late as usual, at 12 noon and of course, it wasn’t their fault. There were queues of angry cheesed off people aboard, trying to find out what was happening.

If you are a regular reader of my diaries over the years you will know, Florie and I have been here a few times. So, today is to be a relaxed visit, no queuing no waiting in line to board a coach. We left the ship just after 1pm and joined a throng of people so large; it seemed that all China had come to visit Hong Kong this weekend. Many of the young Chinese were in beautiful clothes. Every third person seemed to be pulling a suitcase.

We made our way across three streets. Walking against a tide of tiny people, filling the pavements to overflowing; on our way to Nathan Road. This is an expensive tourist area. The Hong Kong Authorities have added two more even more expensive roads. These are Canton Road and a covered two story walkway, all under cover, in Harbour City. These come complete with Dolce & Cabana, Gucci and many jewellers and watch shops. And get this ALL WITH QUEUES OUTSIDE with 20-30 people waiting patiently to be allowed in to buy their over priced goods! I’m not kidding you.

We crossed Nathan Road into Humphrey’s Avenue. Here we found a bureau de change where we changed our New Zealand, Japanese and Aussie money to Hong Kong dollars. We found a supermarket and bought 3 bottles of wine, 6 cans of lager, 2 packs of Pringles, a large tub of cheesy things, a bottle opener and deodorant for £32. This is good value as the cheapest wine onboard ship is £15 per bottle. Then we went for a walk in the beautiful Kowloon Park. We stopped in there to readjust the purchases to fit in my back pack. Then made our way back to the ship through the picturesque gardens.

Kowloon Park

Back on the ship, we dropped our things into the cabin and put our computers in my, now empty, back pack and went down to cruise terminal to use their free Wi-Fi. We chose to go in to ‘Mellow Brown’ an upmarket cafe/coffee shop, very pricey but we got a good seat. We ordered latte coffees and mixed berry fruit pancakes with soft ice cream.

“20 minutes,” the waiter told us.

Fine, we thought, that suited us. We got our computers out, a most unsatisfying experience, as the Wi-Fi kept dropping out. We only had a 30 minute free slot so, in the end, nothing got done. I got my laptop out with windows 7 on it. And that wouldn’t even accept the certificates saying “they were not what they seemed,” and it would not log on!! Well, of course, they are not what they seem, we are in China! Where all emails are intercepted and stored. When we went ashore past security, we saw face recognition cameras, heat sensors and grim guards.

Our coffees and pancakes arrived, large and looking good, each one the size of a side plate. The pancakes were fresh warm and melted in the mouth with a buttery flavour. The fruit compote was zingy and the large helping of soft ice cream was just delicious, it made our mouths tingle. I indulged myself and had two caramel coffees. My meal was a whole day’s calories on a plate and the two coffees were tomorrow’s calories. It was as expensive as it was calorific but worth every Hong Kong dollar!

At 8pm I was on the top deck of the ship in the centre of Hong Kong harbour awaiting the celebrated night time light show. And I am sorry to say that it was a disappointment, there seemed only few buildings participating, and some only had laser lights flashing.

Hong Kong Harbour at night March 2019

From its heydays when the whole of each side used to light up, it’s quite a sad show now, only lasting about ten minutes. Back in the cabin, I rested my weary feet and read some more of James Patterson’s “Along came a Spider.” Good Night.

Nib in Hong Kong

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