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.






29 Feb 2016

Bali, Indonesia 2016


Today's blog is written by Allyn Shulman (because Barry didn't want to get up so early).  



In beautiful Bali, we visited the ancient Royal Court of Justice and the holiest temple on the island, Temple Besakih.


Set is a courtyard of lovely ponds and gardens, the former Royal Court of Justice in Bali (Kerta Gosa) was built in 1710. 




Inside the open air courthouse, there sits an elaborate table with six chairs where judgment took place.



Adorning the ceiling is an elaborately decorated array of Wayang style paintings depicting good vs. evil.



The above woman was childless and her punishment will be to remain in hell for all eternity with a disgusting caterpillar sucking on her breast.  Ew.




Commit adultery and your coochie will burn for all eternity!




You can just imagine what these criminals did!





Then we visited holiest temple on the island Besakih Temple located on the volcanic Mount Agung.  It is actually a conglomeration of 22 temples about 1000 meters high overlooking rice paddies and beautiful mountains. The temple was built before 1000 AD.



For the Balinese, rice is honored as it is viewed as a gift from the g-ds.





25 Feb 2016

Darwin, Australia 2016



Today was crocodile day in Darwin. Exciting.

Darwin info - If Australia were a clock, Darwin would be at 12, Sydney about 4:30 and Melbourne 5:30.

Darwin is in The Northern Territories. They are almost the size of Texas, yet less than half the population of Wyoming, our least populated state.










Last time we were here, 2010, it was snake day.



21 Feb 2016

Hamilton Island, Australia



Today we went right to the airport for an hour and a half seaplane ride over some of the Great Barrier Reef. 10% of the total fish species in the world can be found here. It is the size of 70 million football fields.




As anticipated it was quite beautiful.



We even flew over the famous Heart Reef that can only be viewed by air.





Then we landed on Whitehaven Beach. This 4 .5 mile beach is pristine bright white sand. Access is by sea only. No dogs or cigarettes are allowed.


They have been named the most eco-friendly beach in the world, the cleanest, the top South Pacific beach and among the top few in the world.


The sand is 98% pure silica, which gives it the special characteristics. It is so fine it squeaks when walked upon. It never gets hot. It is so fine it can ruin cameras and other electronic devises. It can even be used to polish jewelry.


Hamilton Island is the largest inhabited island in the Whitsunday Islands in Eastern Australia at the Great Barrier Reef.


It was developed at the end of the last century and went broke. The Bob Oatley family bought it is 2003.



Transportation is by golf cart, which we did in 2007 (photo from then).


Even though there are only 1,200 residents here, they have about 800,000 visitors annually.


It is the only island at the Great Barrier Reef to have a commercial jet airport.