07 Mar 2016
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.
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
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
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
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.
17 Feb 2016
Call me crazy, but what’s the first thing I do when arriving Sydney after three weeks on a cruise ship – I take a Harbour Cruise!
Then we had a delightful dinner at Catalina on the waterfront with our Sydney friends Stephen and Wendy Baer whom we met cruising previously.
Sydney has so much to see; both day and night.
Today, again we enjoyed the view and weather eating lunch outside at Café Sydney on top of the Customs House.
That was followed with a wonderful tour of The Rocks, Sydney’s historic area. Our guide, Alex, made it even better than one would expect.
Sydney was founded as a penal colony. Since England was overrun with prisoners, they used "transportaion" laws to sentence felons to be sent away to far away places to work in poor conditions, although not necessarily be incarcerated. The USA (prior to being the USA) was the place of choice for 150 years until the Revolution. Shortly thereafter Sydney was formed and used to transport felons for 80 years.
Then it was goodbye to Frankie and Dick who left today to return home.
Finally we took a walk through the Pitt Street Mall, Sydney’s iconic one block cosmopolitan shopping area.