Wednesday, January 12, 2011


The day before Christmas break, we had "Splash Day," where the kids simply got to play in the pool. Don't know who was more tired afterward, me, or them!

Friday, January 07, 2011

Final photos from the cruise

In most countries (other than China, that is) we didn't have to physically clear customs. Instead, the customs officials would come on board while we're taxiing into the harbor, and clear us for entrance into their country. This is the customs boat that from which the officials boarded our ship

And here they are, boarding the ship. Tricky business, I'd say, seeing that our ship kept moving during this process (albeit at a slower speed)

Nha Trang, Vietnam, here I come! This is a great dive spot, but our ship came in too late for me to join some dives. I might have to go back to Vietnam to dive...

The sign says it all

Kiptoo took the shuttle to town to explore. Water? Check. Sunglasses? Check. Camera & money? Check. Sense of adventure? Check!

Nha Trang's bicycle rickshaws. These drivers were relentlessly going after tourists, offering to take you around town for $5/hr. Kiptoo and I decided to explore on foot

The little guard dog at a little convenience store along the road

Despite the busy-ness of the market, it felt like I was walking in a scene from the 70s

I love the colors of the different fruits. Can you identify the different fruits??

Coconut vendor

Yummy mandarin oranges
The chickens were almost as orange as the mandarin oranges...
In Indonesia, as in Vietnam, quail eggs are often sold alongside chicken eggs. In fact, some of my kids sometimes bring boiled quail eggs in their lunch packs
I love walking through the markets and smiling at the vendors and getting permission to take their photos
Mushroom vendor
These Vietnamese clay pots reminded me a lot of some of the pots I had seen in Ethiopia
Amazingly, motorbikes (even with sidecars, such as this one) and rickshaws would squeeze their way through the narrow market alleys
Buddhist ghost money (burned for ancestors to use in heaven). But Vietnamese dong aren't worth much (around 20,000dong to a US$), so they were selling US$100 bills as ghost money so it's easier to burn (or can one say, wire) more money faster...
Though this girl doesn't look friendly, she explained in broken English to me that these banana leaf wrappings contained raw pork to be steamed

Dried seahorses and what, a flying rat or bat? Not sure!

After walking around for long enough, I found a halfway-decent-looking salon where I got a hair wash and blow dry, massage, manicure and pedicure for $4.60. If you're ever in Nha Trang, check these guys out :)
The next morning, we docked in the not-so-nice port of Phu My. Seeing that bad traffic is our nemesis in Jakarta, I chose not to take the day trip to Saigon, despite wanting to see that city. (The return journey would've been up to 6 hours.) So I took the shuttle to the nearest town. These water buffalo were simply out in the fields alongside the highway
Since there was little to see in the town we were dropped off in, I hooked up with some Aussie ladies and we negotiated a deal with a taxi to take us to nearby Vung Tao, where we saw this statue of Jesus. It was a bit surprising seeing this statue in a Communist and Buddhist nation
After seeing the beaches and the statue, the other ladies wanted to go shopping at the central market. One half of the market had clothing, shoes and jewelry, and this half had fresh goods. It's much more fun walking around the wet market and take photos!
I guess sitting on top of the tables makes for good use of space. Chicken, anyone?

Or do you simply prefer some chicken feet? (The toes, I'm told, are handy for cleaning your teeth after dinner)
This vendor gestured that I should take a look at what she had in this bag... Only two furry feet were sticking out. I peered in and lo and behold, there were three slaughtered rabbits, ready to be made into rabbit stew
More quail eggs. Aren't they pretty?
All over town, one would see ladies wearing these funny toed socks with sandals

Back to the ship for the last leg of the trip

It was fascinating watching these fishing boats/house boats, with entire families seemingly living aboard. Behind them are the mangrove forests of the Mekong. I kept wondering what these forests have witnessed over time...

The skies were beautiful that night!

Kiptoo tried some coconut juice
Some of my new friends from the cruise... I met this family when racing around Xiamen, and ended up playing translator for them in Shanghai. Originally from Jo'burg, they all live in Perth now. Getting to know them was one of the nicest surprises of the cruise (and I'm not saying that because they might be reading my blog!)
Same family, but here you see some of the men. This was last night, the final night of the cruise, and the chefs and waiters were bringing in a parade of baked Alaska. People were twirling their napkins and clapping. It was a nice ending to a fun cruise
Mohan, the junior waiter at our table, with the baked Alaska. I didn't care for this dessert at all. It was way too sweet!
Another guest I was blessed to get to know on the cruise, a lady named Anne (pronounced in the German way, not the American way) from Geneva, Switzerland. She, along with a German friend of hers (from Texas) have been on the ship for the past 10 weeks! They started their journey in Rome, all the way to Cape Town, then to Asia. What fun!

And the final view from the deck where I had breakfast every day: Sentosa Island, Singapore, with the Hard Rock Hotel in the foreground and Singapore's mascot, the merlion in the back
We had a couple of hours to kill in Changi Airport. Kiptoo and I agree that we love Singapore! And we love exploring. Bottom line, we love life. :)

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Nha Trang, Vietnam

Today, I'm adding a new country to the list of places I've visited. It's my first time to Vietnam, and I must say, it's a bit odd being in a country where I cannot speak any of the language! Right now, I don't have the cables with me to upload photos from my walk through the morning market in Nha Trang, but rest assured, they will come.

I had hoped to scuba dive while here, but our ship docked at 9:00 only, too late for the boats to the islands. Just got a message from one dive operation that they would pick me up at the ship at 9 with a private speed boat and I could do two dives, but alas, didn't get the news in time. So I walked around the sprawling markets of Nha Trang... One funny thing about Vietnam is that the ladies here seem to like wearing toed nylons. As in, there's a special spot for your big toe, but the rest are all like regular nylons, making it possible for them to wear nylons with flip flops or similar sandals. Personally, I have no idea why anyone would even consider wearing nylons in subtropical climates. But that's me.

After I had done enough walking, I slipped into a decent-looking salon where I got a manicure, pedicure and a hair wash & blow dry (with a good massage, of course) for a whopping $4.60. That's my splurge for the day. I figured since most of the nail ladies around the world seem to be from Vietnam nowadays, getting a mani/pedi while here would be a good thing. And it was. I'll return to the ship a happy camper.

We're leaving for Phu My sometime in the middle of the afternoon today... Now that we're in warmer waters, I might actually hop into my bathing suit for the first time on the trip! Not sure what I'll be doing in Phu My tomorrow, as the traffic to Ho Chi Minh City (or Saigon) is purportedly worse than that in and around Jakarta. No guarantees you'll get back to the ship in time for its return to Singapore... So I'll stay closer to the ship. Maybe.

Speaking of the ship, I'm heading back. It's raining. Glad I brought my rain coat. :)

Till next time,
Adele (and Kiptoo, who is still convinced he's staying vegan after his second morning market visit this week)

Monday, January 03, 2011

2011, so far

These are the people I have dinner with most nights.

In Hong Kong yesterday, I went to Wan Chai to have my iPhone worked on. The computer center was not yet open, so I walked around the area, visiting the local morning market

After seeing these pigs, Kiptoo didn't want to show his face in the market

This was very hard for me to see, a soft-shelled turtle. Though it had been slaughtered, the mouth was still moving, as if it were breathing!

Fish with the egg sacs showing

These guys were slaughtering frogs

Kiptoo announced he's going vegan!

He was happy to come out when I arrived in Sai Kung and sat down at Starbucks, waiting for my friends, the Eitemillers

It was WONDERFUL to see Jessica and her sweet baby Josaiah, Joelle, and to meet Seth, Jessica's husband. Of course it was great to see Sue and Dave, too, but I've seen them more recently than I had seen the girls. :) I always enjoy visiting with them.

At the MTR station

Back on the ship, this morning, we had a cooking demonstration

The cook and the Maitre D', having just made a black forest cake. Wonder why I am craving black forest cake now!