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20 Mar 2016

Mekong local day, Vietnam 2016

 

 

From Saigon we took an all day back road trip to really see how local rural people are living these days. Virtually nothing has changed.

We stopped at Go Cong local market. It was jammed and we were the only Caucasians in sight. They loved us taking their pictures.

The little chickies are sold to produce fresh eggs.

 

 

 

 

Many of the fish are in water and still splashing.

 

 

 

 

We drove to Tan Hoa motor scootering through remote farm villages.

 

 

 

 

Rice is the main crop, but there has been much devastation since China continues damming the river upstream.


 

 

We visited goat farms.

 

 

 

 

We saw duck farms.

 

 

 

 

We even saw bird's nest farms.  Bird's nest soup is made using the nests from the swiftlet bird, whose nests are made from its own gummy saliva which hardens when exposed to air.

 

 

 

 

After we took a boat ride on the Mekong River.

 

 

 

 

 

Then it was a small sampan ride on the Amazon-like Tan Thach creek.

 

 

 

 

Finally it was a late, lovely, local lunch and back to the ship. Probably it was a bit more upscale than the locals usually eat.Great day.

Everything was arranged for us by Water Buffalo Tours. I recommend.

 









13 Mar 2016

Singapore, S.E.A. Aquarium

 

We love aquariums and have been to many around the world. Here we visited S.E.A. Aquarium, the world’s largest. Their numbers:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 









09 Mar 2016

Langkawi, Malaysia 2016

by Allyn

 

 

Our last Malaysian stop is Langkawi, a beautiful port, actually the only UNESCO endorsed geopark in SE Asia. This area took 550 million years of erosion to form.

 

 

I visited Kilim Geoforest Park, a spectacular nature reserve, reached only by boat on the Kilim river

 

 

We even saw the Brahminy Kite Eagle.

 

 

 

Visit a floating fish farm for a close-up view of an upside down stingray and a Mangrove Horseshoe Crab that I am holding.  Barry asked me if the crab was on a plate.  Uh, no honey; it’s UPSIDEDOWN!

 

 

 

My number one attraction was visiting the bat caves where upwards of 1,000 bats live along with spectacular stalactites (icicle-shaped mineral formations that hang down from the ceiling of a cave) and stalagmites (upward-growing). 

 

 

There are even tree roots shooting down from the ceiling of the cave!!

Just before entering the bat cave, our guide cautions us that a bat hanging from both feet is awake.  One foot - he’s sleeping and WATCH OUT!  That’s when they poop.  I quickly look around.  I am the only hatless participant.  Nooo, not again!

 









08 Mar 2016

Penang, Malaysia 2016

 

 

 

 

Our tour of Penang had two stops today. First off was Penang Hill, 2,750 feet up a 10-minute funicular ride. The main attraction is the city view. That’s great except we were enshrouded in fog.

 

 

 

Not to be dissuaded, we climbed up even higher to the top to visit the Hindu Temple, one of the oldest in this part of the world.

 

 

 

I have no clue what their art means, but it sure is interesting.

 

 

 

Then it was off to Kek Lok Si Temple, a Buddhist Temple requiring another 500 steps. It’s the largest Buddhist Temple in Malaysia.

 

Its seven story Pogoda is quite impressive just by itself.

 

 

 

Half way up is the Laughing Buddha.

 

 

Seeing the 99 foot bronze statue of Guanyin, the Goddess of Mercy is quite a culmination. This statue is the tallest of Guanyin in the world.

 

 

Even her disciples are impressive.









07 Mar 2016

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia 2016

 By Allyn

 

Our tour began at 7:15AM because there was so much to see in Kuala Lumpur.  The National flower of Malaysia is the Hibiscus, which is creatively displayed on lampposts.  

 

 The world famous “Batu Caves” is a limestone hill with idols and statues inside and around the caves. The main attraction begins with a large Hindu statue at the entrance of the temple.

 

On the way up to the temple, you meet friends along the way. 

 

Climb 272 steep stairs to enter the temple.  Sometimes a person has to take a selfie because their spouse is busy having a luxurious massage in dimly lit an air-conditioned room!

 

 

Go further inside the temple and see beautiful caves, bursts of light, fires where prayers are said and bright Hindu statues.

  

Back down at ground floors there are other temples that can only be entered without shoes.  This priest was blessing worshippers by placing ash on their foreheads. 

When the priest was close to me, I put my camera down to show respect.  When he looked at me, I instinctively bowed and he blessed me with ash on my forehead.  I loved it, until I got back to the bus and our guide explained it was cow dung.

Next, we visited the Petronas Towers, also known as the Twin Towers, which are the tallest twin towers in the world. The 88-floor towers are constructed largely of reinforced concrete, with a steel and glass facade designed to resemble motifs found in Islamic art, a reflection of Malaysia's Muslim religion.

 

On the long ride back to the ship, we passed Independence Square (Merdeka Square) where the Malayan Flag was placed on August 31, 1957 signifying independence from British rule.

Back on the ship, it was naptime after a well-spent ten-hour day.