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Beijing/Shanghai and a Princess Southeast Asia Cruise - Dec 2009
Recommending a great tool to better understanding your personality!

Shorthand link:


At the time I am writing this bio (Jan 2010), I, Meredith, am a 28-year old woman living in Virginia Beach, VA with my husband of almost 6 years, who works in New York 4 days a week. We are both avid travelers and beach lovers and I enjoy writing and reading. I am also a fastidious recorder of details and love to write travel journals with lots of small details so I can remember all of our trips clearly. I even kept a detailed journal for every day of my 6-week working internship in Melbourne, Australia!

I hope that you enjoy my travel blogs -- which are more like journal entries -- and you can learn from them as you do your trip planning.

Happy travels!

Personalysis Diagnoses Travel Behaviors!

Virginia Beach, United States

My husband and I live in different cities 4 days/wk as he consults for a company in Jersey City, NJ from Monday through end of day Thursday each week. I live and work in Hampton Roads, VA, and have carved out a nice weekly routine between alone time at home and high productivity at work.

The Personalysis tool and concepts have greatly helped my husband and I understand each other and be able to make the difficult adjustment between separation during the work week and close couple time on the weekends. We both have our own separate lives during the work week, and when we finally come together on the weekends we have to readjust to one another and our different behavioral styles and preferences. Understanding the 4 colors/3 levels of personalysis makes this easier. I am a very "red/green," needing structure & action. He is a "blue" thinker, content to spend hours pondering the unknown while I just want to make decisions & start "doing". Personalysis helps us to readapt to each other every weekend and to respect our differences.

In 2007, I had the opportunity of participating in a Personalysis training session with my financial services recruiting team. Out of 13 individuals, I was the only significantly "red" person on the team. It helped me realize why I was sometimes frustrated at work and at meetings, because the environment I was in and the personalities I was working in were more possibilities-oriented than action-oriented.

In my personal life, I often find myself meeting new people and trying to size them up in terms of the personalysis quadrants. I've recognized that my husband and I are on opposite ends of the spectrum, giving credence to the phrase "opposites attract."

The best example of my "red/green" personality is the way I behave when traveling. I will do very thorough research to gather all possible details of the trip (the information in this travel blog demonstrates all the preparation I did prior to departing for Asia), which speaks to my need for structure and knowing what is coming ahead. My "red" comes out when I am in the midst of traveling, always looking to cram in the most sightseeing as possible, and identifying the very fastest way to get from one place to another.

There was one situation that stands out to me as an example of my "red" action focus. I was traveling from Las Vegas to Hartford, with a connection through Atlanta. My flight from Las Vegas was delayed one hour, causing me to miss my connecting flight. The next flight to Hartford wasn't leaving for another 3 1/2 hours. I was anxious to get home and immeditately whipped out my smartphone to look up flight schedules. I was able to find a flight to Washington, D.C. that would get me in on time to catch a flight from DCA to Hartford. Although it required an extra flight leg, and it only got me home 30 minutes earlier, I was so much happier because I felt I had taken control of the situation and I was "moving" physically towards my goal of getting home.

When a similar travel situation happened to my husband and he missed his connecting flight, I immediately jumped online looking for alternate flight paths. However, I didn't realize that my husband's "red" levels were so low and that it didn't bother him to sit in the airport for another 4 hours instead of taking an extra flight leg. We had a terse conversation, until I realized "he's not red - he's heavy blue" and would actually appreciate the opportunity to sit in an airport for 4 hours to think and work on his personal goals.

I have many other stories to share in which Personalysis has assisted me in my personal life, but this should be a good first start! If you ever have a chance to participate as a family or as a couple in a Personalysis examination, I would highly recommend it!

Till next time.....

Next trip: Cabo San Lucas, Mexico....October 2010

permalink written by  mohicanfan on September 1, 2010 from Virginia Beach, United States
from the travel blog: Recommending a great tool to better understanding your personality!
tagged Personalysis

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Day 24: Flights from Bangkok to New York

Bangkok, Thailand

Day 24: Monday, January 4th, 2010

Flight home from Bangkok, Thailand

2:15am started our very long travel day back home. Our adventure has come to an end :( We had showered the night before and just had to throw on clothes and check all our bags were packed before heading downstairs. There were actually a lot of people working in the resort and we checked out quickly, with the receptionist bowing the formal Sawaskeekdat, the traditional greeting meaning “good morning,” “good afternoon,” “good evening,” “hello,” and “goodbye.” It is nice to have just one word for all those meanings! I had 733 Baht left and the taxi ride was only 500Baht + 100 Baht tip and was a quick 30 minutes (no traffic – including the one police check point inside Bangkok) and we got to the airport before all of the Princess Cruise transfers. We had a short line but it was a bit slow moving. We got our tickets and seat assignments for Bangkok – Narita and then cleared passport control. The airport was beautiful. It looked brand new and had a very open feel to it with super high and curved ceilings and gates that were below the main walkway. We had to go through several levels of screening – the traditional carry-on baggage screening, and then a full body pat-down and shoe search at the gate, along with a hand search of the carry-on luggage. Finally we were on board the plane and we were one of the first ones on, so we had plenty of time to fall asleep before the plane even was completely boarded!

The flight to Narita, Japan was over 5 hours and we ate a breakfast omelet meal and a turkey sandwich snack. Hunter and I slept the rest of the time and didn't even watch movies. Once in Narita, we had a good 4 hours before the flight was to depart, so we sat in the nice Continental Lounge and had free drinks (another Gin and Tonic for Hunter) and snacks of chips, pretzels, apple pie, etc. I left for a short time to go to the transfer counter to get a seat assignment as it wasn't printed on my ticket (although I had it on my itinerary). There was no line and I made it back for another half hour in the lounge. The outlets accepted US style plugs and there was free internet, so we easily passed the time catching up on all we missed in technology and entertainment in the US these past three weeks!

We boarded as silver elite on the flight to EWR and had the same style plane (with plugs) and the same seats 17A and 17B as we did on the flight from EWR to Beijing. We had just as many meals – a dinner within the first hour of Chinese style beef and rice and noodles or a choice of perch and salmon (we chose the beef), followed by a mid-flight snack of a sandwich and ice cream cup, and lastly another full meal (fettuccine with cream sauce or an omelet – we chose the pasta) before landing. Hunter and I watched 500 Days of Summer, followed by the Pixar film Up, and then slept for a full 6 hours, thanks to our 2 Tylenol PM tablets.

The flight landed at 4:45pm (12 ½ hours later) and we were one of the first ones off the plane, as we were seated at the front. We had no wait for the passport control and only a small wait for our checked baggage to come through. At this time I couldn't tell if my connecting flight to ORF was on time, and if it was, I would be cutting it close. I dropped off my two large suitcases to be checked through and said a teary goodbye to Hunter who headed for his taxi. He had to work the next day! He had a long ride as there was bumper to bumper traffic due to a truck accident. I cleared through another round of carry-on baggage screening and then learned my fight was delayed until 7:20pm. That delay turned into a much longer delay and the plane didn't leave EWR until 10:30pm. I finally landed in ORF at 11:35pm.

Hunter and I agree that this was by far our best trip yet. We spent great quality time together and experienced so many new sights, together. We wouldn't have changed one thing about the trip and are thankful it all went so well. Now, we just need to decide when and where our next adventure will be!

permalink written by  mohicanfan on January 4, 2010 from Bangkok, Thailand
from the travel blog: Beijing/Shanghai and a Princess Southeast Asia Cruise - Dec 2009
tagged Thailand, Asia and Cruise

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Day 23: Bangkok, Thailand

Bangkok, Thailand

Day 23: Sunday, January 3rd, 2010

Disembarkation: Bangkok, Thailand

Our day started early with our alarm going off at 5:45am. We grabbed our last breakfast in the buffet and then returned to our room to find our bill waiting for us. There was an incorrect charge, and I waited in a slow-moving line at the Purser's desk to get it corrected. Luckily they took off the charge without giving me any trouble, but it delayed our disembarkation for about 10 minutes. At 7:40am we walked off the ship (we didn't sit in the Cabaret Lounge like they told us to) and luckily our bags had already been pulled off and were waiting for us outside. The driver from Saliathaitravel was waiting with a sign with my name on it and he didn't speak any English but made a signal to wait for him by the curb while he pulled the car around. We had a large 9-seater passenger van because we had so much luggage they were afraid it wouldn't fit in a sedan. We were offered towelettes and chilled small bottles of water. I fell asleep for most of the drive and it was only 90 minutes to the Marriott Resort & Spa hotel. When we got out of the van, we asked the driver what time we were supposed to meet him and the tour guide, and he couldn't communicate and drew faces on my watch which I didn't understand. So I took off my watch and kept winding it forward until he told me to stop at 12pm. He said “minicar” and pointed to the watch, which made me think that a minicar with our tour guide was going to meet us at 12pm. That seemed late to me, as we had much sightseeing to do, so Hunter and I decided we would come down at 11am to check to see if they arrived early.

This plan became unnecessary because as soon as we walked into the Marriott, our tour guide, Tuk, stepped forward and greeted us. She had been waiting in the lobby and said she would wait while we checked in and grabbed some pants for me to change into for the Royal Palace. The check-in process was quite long as they needed to record the information from our passports, but we had some drinks and continental breakfast from the Executive Lounge. We were finally escorted up to our room, which was beautiful. There was a lot of cherry colored wood throughout the room and we had a nice queen or king sized bed and a balcony with two chairs and a table that overlooked a lot of vegetation and the pool (I think). The lobby, too, was gorgeous. All open spaces, lots of comfortable looking couches, lots of large floor-to-ceiling glass windows. This was definitely a 5-star resort!

At 10:15am we were ready to go. We hopped in a sedan and started getting lots of Bangkok information and history from Tuk. We learned, over the course of the day, that Tuk is 34 years old, married, and is trying to have a baby. She is studying for her PhD in Food Technology and grew up in the north area of Thailand in a family of 3 girls to parents who are farmers. 80% of the country are farmers, and mostly all remain farmers, except if they go to a big city for school and do something else like tourism. She would love to own her own tourist company but doesn't know much about the internet or computers and wouldn't be able to find her own clients. She thinks over time she is likely to return back to her hometown as her parents, grandparents and other relatives are still there. Tuk told us the Thai do not like business professions as they are very peaceful people and don't like the aggressiveness and confrontation of business. So, lots of Chinese have moved down from China and are filling all the business roles in the city. We didn't get to learn anything about our driver, and weren't even introduced to him, so there is nothing to share there!

Our first stop was a local temple, paid for by the people in the area, which housed the famous Golden Buddha. There was a great story about how the Buddha was discovered, and it is very beautiful. It was a good size, weighing 5.5 tons of gold, all of which were contributed from locals in the village in which it was originally carved. People donated earrings and necklaces and rings, all to be melted down. Gold is very precious to the Thai as it symbolizes wealth and there was a gold shop on every corner. The gold that is sold is 24k, vs the standard 18k in the US, so it is very soft and pliable. The temple was very, very crowded as Sunday was a day off for the locals and the start of the New Year, where most local Thai use as a good time to come in to the hundreds of temples in Bangkok to pay their respects to the thousands of Buddhas. We pushed our way into the temple, after removing our shoes, and stayed long enough to get the history from Tuk and to snap some pictures. There were monks and other men outside the temple narrating sermons to the people.

The next stop was Wat Pho, the Reclining Buddha temple. We first visited another special smaller temple with another Buddha, before moving to the long building housing one of the world's largest Buddhas in a laying down position. It wasn't the longest in the world, but the most beautiful large Buddha. This was made of cement and covered in gold leaf. Along the walls were 108 metal pots that symbolized the 108 Buddhas in a mural (or around a shrine, can't remember), and people would exchange money for coins that they would drop, one per pot, into the metal pots around the wall while meditating about good deeds.

Leaving Wat Pho, we crossed the street into a market area near a river. We crossed the river on a ferry and were dropped off at Wat Arun, The Temple of Heaven, which was built in Thai and Cambodian architectural style. This temple was VERY tall and had the steepest steps I ever climbed. It was made out of cement and covered with thousands of pieces of colored broken china. It looked almost like a mountain and we had to hold tight to railings to pull ourselves up the steep steps. It felt like rock climbing! We got a nice view from the top perch, but it was also very, very crowded, and very, very, hot, so we quickly climbed back down. Rejoining Tuk, she took us back to the river and we hopped into a long tailed boat for a private motor boat ride down the Canal. It was awesome – it felt like we were speeding through the Bayou! There was lots of vegetation along the river, although everything still looked dried-out from the hot sun. Hundreds of homes lined the many canals, some more luxurious than others. The small, run-down ones were made of wood and you could tell they were sinking or deteriorating and would soon be replaced by a sturdier, more expensive cement structure. We also passed many different temples and shrines that had been constructed along the canal. We saw children jumping into the river with swimming tubes, and other people hand-washing clothes in the dirty water. Tuk acknowledged that most people like us wouldn't swim in the water, let alone wash our clothes, but that it was common for the local people. At one part in the canal, we got stuck waiting for a dam lock to switch.

We were reunited with our sedan driver after the boat ride and we were hot and hungry by this time. Luckily he had chilled water bottles and towelettes for us. We only had a few minutes to enjoy the cool air-conditioned car, as we were soon dropped off at the Royal Palace and Emerald Buddha Temple. I brought my sweatpants with me and slipped them on once inside the gate, after we scarfed down the sandwiches we had packed from the cruise ship. Tuk took us first to the Emerald Buddha Temple and explained that it was one of the most revered Buddhas in all of Bangkok. No pictures were allowed inside the temple. The Buddha wasn't really made of emerald, but was carved from Jade, but it sparkled in its protective case in the shrine. It was much smaller than the other Buddhas that we saw. The Buddha wears a gold garment that changes based on which of the three seasons we are in: Summer, Winter, Rainy. Moving on, we walked next door to the Royal Palace section and saw a beautiful palace that was built in a Thai and Western European architectural style, with the base and main walls of the palace looking like European palaces, and the top of the buildings covered in the pointed colored roofs of the Thai culture. The grounds were fashioned after old English gardens. The palace was much smaller than those found in Europe, and we were not allowed inside. Instead, we observed the gas lit lamps from London and listened to Tuk explain more history about Rama V, who constructed the palace, and about the design of the place.

Our last main stop on the tour was across town, to the Jim Thompson house. He was an American silk merchant who built up a famous and thriving silk business and built a beautiful Thai house/complex in Bangkok. He mysteriously disappeared during a walk though the jungle in Malaysia where he was camping with friends. We toured the house and looked at Jim Thompson's impressive art collection of 7th and 8th century carvings and sculptures and looked at the way he lived in the mid 1900s. It was a very different experience from all the temples in Bangkok and one of the must see tourist spots. We saw a LOT of Americans there, and had to wait almost 30 min for the next tour to start (Tuk waited for us as the tour was led by the museum tour guides). There was an expensive Jim Thompson shop and a restaurant on the grounds.

It was getting late at this time, close to 4pm, and we headed back to the car. We made a stop at a stone factory – which was really a gem factory – and had to watch a 7 min video about the carving of beautiful Red Rubbies and Sapphire stones. We were then taken to the showroom where a very annoying woman tailed us like a hawk trying to sell us VERY expensive sapphire and ruby jewelry. We stayed less than 10 min and then rejoined Tuk who took us back to the hotel, where we arrived right at 5pm.

We are so glad we organized this tour as it would have taken us double the time to negotiate the crowds and hassle with taxi drivers to get us to the places we needed to go. The old city, which housed all the temples, does not have good public transportation (just buses) and has lots of traffic. Only the downtown business section has a Skytrain to get around. Tuk was able to slip us in back entrances after laughing it up with a few guards, and that saved us from waiting in long lines. She knew exactly where to go, where to stand, etc. Even getting on a private long-tailed boat was pre-arranged, so we got to cut the line and wait only a few minutes while our boat driver pulled up. Everything was flawless and perfectly timed. Tuk herself was a joy. She was humorous and so full of knowledge about Buddhism and Thai culture and history. She always made sure to check in to see if we were tired or if we wanted less narration, but we were able to keep up with her pace. She agreed that we saw the main highlights of Bangkok and said we didn't need to stay in such a nice hotel to see those sites, but we told her the hotel was free. If we had more time in Bangkok, she said we should visit the floating market, which is about 110 km outside of the city. We felt good that we saw the most important sights of Bangkok. Tuk had even driven us through Chinatown so we could see the bustling flower and vegetable and fish markets. The whole tour, including the pickup from Laem Chambang, cost us 9500 Baht + 1050 Baht tip, or a little over $300 for both of us for the full day. It was well worth it.

It was hard to form a full impression of Bangkok as we didn't see all of the city, just the old temple part. But I would definitely return for another two days to explore the city. The downtown area has a lot of skyscrapers and looks like a nice built-up area, and we passed a few large shopping malls we would have liked to explore. Plus, the goods and shopping items are so inexpensive, I probably could have spent a few hours in different markets, picking up some more souvenirs. I am slotting the city under Shanghai, but I think Hunter is listing it further down his list. The city was a lot more dirty and older looking buildings and streets than does Singapore, but it had an Asian and exotic feel to it, which I preferred to the Americanized feel of Singapore.

At 5pm, we went up to our room to wash up and then quickly headed back downstairs. The executive lounge had food set out for cocktail hour and they had a great spread of mini sandwiches, ravioli, chicken bits, fruits, veggies, pizzas and a whole dessert spread, including gourmet chocolates. There was also free wine, beer and hard alcohol, so Hunter had a gin and tonic. We filled up on the appetizers and didn't need a sitdown dinner in one of the 7 restaurants contained in the resort. We walked around the pool area and checked out the restaurants, spotted a giant water lizard, and then crossed the street to a nearby shopping mall. I bought antacids in the pharmacy and then walked straight into the glass door on my way out, not seeing it at all, because I was so tired! I thought the door was open! We decided at that point that I needed to go to bed, and my stomach was hurting pretty badly, so we headed back to the room. We took long hot showers, which felt so good after getting sweaty in the 90+ degree weather of Bangkok. As I was waiting for Hunter to finish, I fell asleep sitting up in bed, with the TV on.

We had a full 6 hours of sleep, but it was a restless night as there was very loud music blaring from the pool. They must do nighttime club/dancing music as it continued well up until 2am, and our alarm went off at 2:15am! Luckily we were so tired we could keep falling back to sleep, through the music.

permalink written by  mohicanfan on January 3, 2010 from Bangkok, Thailand
from the travel blog: Beijing/Shanghai and a Princess Southeast Asia Cruise - Dec 2009
tagged Bangkok, Cruise and Aisa

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Day 22: Ko Samui, Thailand (17th cruise day)

Ko Samui, Thailand

Day 22: Saturday, January 2nd, 2010

17th cruise day: Ko Samui, Thailand

We had another time change last night and so I awoke late (7:15am) and it was only 6:15am! I was able to dose for a few more minutes before waking up to the sunrise and to the lowering of one of the tender boats which passed right by our window! We got up and put on our bathing suits, grabbed breakfast from the buffet and then met in the Cabaret Lounge to queue up for our tender. Our tour to Chawang Beach was supposed to be from 8:30am – 12:30pm. At 8:15am we were called into the tender and took seats up at the front so we could get a good view of the island as we approached. The ship had dropped anchor pretty far away and so we had a good 15 minute tender ride.

We pulled into a pier where there were several minibuses that housed 9 people. It was about 8:50am at this point and we started our ride across the island. The drivers were pretty crazy, as all seem to be in Asia, and they constantly passed the cars/trucks in front of them and weaved around the motorcycles that were supposed to be staying in the half lane that bordered both sides of the roads. Unlike Saigon where the drivers constantly honked at one another to pass, these drivers just flashed and blinked their headlights as they pulled into oncoming traffic in the opposite lane.

The island itself looked like a typical Caribbean island with small buildings housing stores, internet cafes, restaurants, and the odd bike shop. The buildings sat among rows and rows of palm trees and other vegetation that had a sickly green-brown, dried out color. It was hot, but not oppressively hot, as it was probably only in the mid 80's today with a nice breeze. There were stray dogs all over the island, but they looked well fed and nourished and they never came over to bother us. The island wasn't as dirty or impoverished as some parts of St. Maarten are or other poorer Caribbean islands, but it wasn't a very upscale island either. It was well developed as we passed through many busy streets crowded with supermarkets and other retail shops. Ko Samui is one of Thailand's most popular beach islands and it has its own airport to cater to the tourists.

The minibus dropped us off at Chawang Beach, which is the most popular beach section on the island. It had back to back resorts, each one very small in size and built almost on top of each other. We poked through one resort which was painted in very bright oranges and blues and would have been an eyesore had there not been a lot of beautiful dark wood bars and lobby areas to counteract it. The resorts were not glamorous at all – very bare bones, more European in feel. And as for the beach, we were very disappointed. Chawang Beach was supposed to have crystal clear water and pristine white sand beaches. I don't know how white the sand was, as there was so little of it! I think there was only 10 feet of sand before the surf pounded in. The water was a beautiful turquoise color, like what the Mediterranean must look like, but there was a lot of debris (sticks, leaf remnants) floating in the water. And the water was quite rough with waves large enough to body surf to shore. The beach had jet ski rentals and very, very cheap massages, which were offered on large wooden platforms on the beach. People from our tour jumped on those massages as it was less than $10 USD for a 1-hour full body massage.

Hunter and I laid on a beach towel and went swimming for about an hour before the heavens opened and a downpour started. We ran for shelter, ducking into a nearby resort, and then poked in a few shops on the main road of the beach, which held rip-off American brand clothes and fake purses, and lots of surfing attire. Several shops were actually closed and some restaurants didn't open until 12pm. There wasn't much to see or do so luckily the rain stopped after 15 min and we could head back to the beach for another 40 minutes of sun before meeting the minibus for the ride back to the pier. We got there just in time to take one of the few remaining seats in the stuffy tender and we were on board the ship before 1pm.

We spent the rest of the afternoon sunbathing on the 11th deck. It was the perfect tanning day as the boat wasn't yet moving (several passengers were quite delayed getting on the ship and then they had to raise up the tenders). We stayed out until 5pm when we showered for dinner. Dinner wasn't too bad, although our main courses (meatloaf and turkey) weren't too tasty. Luckily dessert was delicious, although we passed on the Baked Alaska because we didn't want to wait around for the waiter parade. We were at the table by ourselves again and really enjoyed the 4th night of eating alone.

After dinner, we went back to the room to pack. I had missed the passport pickup earlier in the day and they delivered it to our stateroom. Somehow I managed to fit everything in and we placed our bags outside the door on our way out to the 8:30pm final show, which was a comic magician (terrible) and a different comedian, Mike Flint (almost as terrible as the magician and the same guy Hunter saw the other night). I slept through practically the whole thing. We then walked around the ship to take pictures, dropped off some books in the library, laid on lounge chairs gazing at the stars, and then poked our head into the Tahitian Lounge to see the Ballroom Dancing with the crew – no one was there except Luke (the singer) and Ruth (the head dance captain), who are obviously dating :) We went back to our room to change and throw our evening clothes into the suitcase before it was taken away, ordered room service water and milk, and then set to typing up our final email of the day and use up our remaining Internet minutes. It was a very nice, relaxing day – just the way it should be on our last day of the cruise!

permalink written by  mohicanfan on January 2, 2010 from Ko Samui, Thailand
from the travel blog: Beijing/Shanghai and a Princess Southeast Asia Cruise - Dec 2009
tagged Thailand, Asia and Cruise

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Day 21: 15th cruise day - Day at Sea

Singapore, Singapore

Day 21: Friday, January 1st, 2010

15th cruise day: Day at Sea

We had such a late night New Year's Eve that we slept in until after 9:30am. I quickly got Hunter up so we could grab breakfast in the buffet (where we met Jim who was seriously hurting from the night before) before the culinary demonstration and galley tour began at 10am. That was fun, and we saw a working escalator in the kitchen, to transport workers from the 4th floor prepping area to the 5th floor food serving area. The head pastry chef demonstrated the preparation of a delicious looking tiramisu and the Executive Chef made some salmon cream cheese thing. He was preparing for the Executive Chefs dinner tonight, a 6-course meal without the everyday options. Both chefs and the maitre 'd were selling the Princess cookbook. After the tour, we went to the Tahitian Lounge in time for morning trivia with Anna, who looked like she was seriously hurting from late night partying the night before. She sat in a bar stool facing the mirrored bar the whole time and couldn't even look at the passengers as she read off the trivia questions. This was our 3rd trivia session and it had the hardest questions yet, but somehow we tied our top score of 8/20!

After trivia, from 12-2pm, we went back to the stateroom to write the Singapore debrief email and do some programming. CNN had the Anderson Cooper/Kathy Griffith New Year's Eve Special live from NYC so we got to see the ball drop in our hometown time zone and celebrate another turning of the New Year! At 2pm, we ate a big lunch in the buffet and then attended the passenger talent show at 2:45pm where we heard 4 singers (2 good, 2 bad), a 12-year old excellent violinist, and the Princess Choir (sang 4 songs). 3:15pm brought origami for Hunter and 3:30pm snowball Jackpot ($950) Bingo for me. I didn't win but needed just two more numbers on the big jackpot. I got back to the room at 4:30pm and quickly changed for the 5:30pm Captain's Farewell cocktail party. However, we then decided to stay in the room until 7:15pm (reading and programming) as we decided to skip the Executive Chef's sit-down dinner because the food was too fancy and weird and we wouldn't enjoy it. Finally, as an alternative dining option tonight there was a full dinner buffet on the 9th deck, which suited us just fine. We ate and then attended the 2nd seating's cocktail party at 7:45pm where we finally got served drinks. We wound up getting 2 drinks each, which made up for getting stiffed the first party! After that, Hunter and I used our buy 1 tournament entry slot, get one free coupon and entered the Blackjack tournament. I played first and played horribly, before retiring to the cabin to get a jump start on our packing. I watched a Harry Potter movie while packing and then worked on my journal, while Hunter prowled about on the ship, watching karaoke with Alan, John and Jim. Hopefully tomorrow the clouds will disappear and we can get one final day of sun!

permalink written by  mohicanfan on January 1, 2010 from Singapore, Singapore
from the travel blog: Beijing/Shanghai and a Princess Southeast Asia Cruise - Dec 2009
tagged Asia and Cruise

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Day 20: Singapore (14th cruise day)

Singapore, Singapore

Day 20: Thursday, December 31st, 2009

14th cruise day: Singapore

Happy New Year's Eve!

Today was a busy day as we started our adventure in Singapore at 7:45am and walked and explored different districts, and shopped until 5 min before the “all aboard” time of 4:30pm. Boy, is it getting harder and harder to pick our favorite cities! Several people had told us prior to our trip that we would love Singapore as it is a very livable city with much to do. And the city certainly didn't disappoint. However, it was a very different city from the others that we've toured on the cruise as it reminded us of a big American city. The whole day we did not feel like we were in Asia, but rather back in America. For this reason, I am ranking the city below Shanghai but above Taipei.

Singapore was the only city that we didn't plan out thoroughly in advance because I was tired of all my trip planning by time I got to that city, and because the city is so large we thought we would ride the Hop On-Hop Off bus around the different districts to get a feel of the city before starting our exploring. But after listening to our port lecturer and talking with other passengers, we decided the Hop On bus might have too many delays and that we would be better off taking the metro. So during one of our days at sea, we took out our guidebook and a map and planned an ambitious walking tour.

Our day started early and we were cleared from the ship at 7:45am vs. the 7am docking plan originally scheduled. Princess has been off about a half hour for disembarking at every one of their ports and has also requested passengers to be on board 30 min earlier than the original schedule in every port. We got off the ship at HarborFront, which is a big shopping complex at the southern tip of the city. We found the attached Metro easily and bought a single-trip pass as the ticket office (where you buy the all day pass) was closed until 10am. We were a little disappointed in the metro. Everyone said Singapore is the cleanest large city in the world because of all the heavy fines they enforce on littering and graffiti and spitting and chewing gum, so we expected the city and the metro system to be sparkling clean. It was pretty neat – especially compared to the NYC subway – but we wouldn't say the metro sparkled. The cars were modern and fast and had signs that told you when the next train would pull in, and we never had to wait more than 5 min for the next subway. The ride was smooth, but we hated the ticketing system. Because Singapore doesn't want littering or garbage, they issue metro cards that have to be returned/fed back into the machine in order to get back a $1.00 deposit. This was a pain, because every time we wanted to buy a new ticket, we couldn't add value to the card but had to take the time to first return the card to get our money back and then purchase a new card. This created long lines at the ticket booth. As an alternative, we could have bought an all day metro pass for $18, which had a $10 deposit, but the ticket booths were never open for us to buy one, and for some unknown reason, the ticket machines didn't sell all day passes. We are actually glad we never purchased one as the line at the ticket booth to return the all day pass was so long by the end of the day that we would have missed our ship if we had to stay in line. Singapore is so modern we expected it to have a much more efficient metro system and were surprised at the problems their metro ticket issuing system caused. But the metro was fast and could take us to any part of the city, so it was the best form of transportation.

The first hotspot on our list was to check out the Chinatown district. Singapore is a melting pot of cultures and has many Chinese, Malay, Indian, and Arab influences. As such, there is a district representative of each culture – Chinatown, Little India, Arab Street, etc. – similar to such little districts in NYC. We decided to check out each one to get the full flavor of the city. The metro dropped us off in Chinatown and we followed one of the walking tours detailed in our tour book. It was a nice walk and we could see how busy the area would be, but all the market stalls were still closed because it was still before 9am. We really liked the setup and thought it would have been the least hectic, and most easily navigable of all the Chinatown districts we've seen as each market vendor and food vendor had its own distinct space, not just movable carts. We visited the flashiest temple in Singapore which had a room with 1000 mini Buddhas, organized around larger Buddha shrines. It was very pretty and reminded us of the prayer candles that are organized around statues of Mary in a Catholic Church. Someone could purchase a mini Buddha for $88 Singapore Dollars (~$68 USD). We also visited a Muslim mosque, and we had to wrap shawls around our bare legs or wear a robe provided by the mosque and also remove our shoes before entering. We heard we will have to do this a lot in Thailand too.

One of the highlights of the Chinatown area was stopping at the free admission City Planning Center. We walked through a 3-floor exhibit that showed the history of Singapore and how the modern city was developed. The exhibit included several miniature models of the whole city so we could gaze at the skyline and different districts and see how much of the land was covered in beautiful parks and water ways. This helped form our overall impression of Singapore as a very “balanced city.” There are tons of shopping malls, different culture districts, official “city centers” with government buildings, but despite all the concrete buildings, the city has a beautiful, relaxed feel to it because interwoven among all these buildings are peaceful, green parks and lots of trees and flowers planted on walkways and around the buildings. The other reason we think it is “balanced” is that even the architecture is a great mixture of old Colonial and new, modern chic. Shanghai was all modern, slick “wow factor” buildings, but Singapore has the nice balance of the Old English Colonial presence with its columns and shuttered windows.

Leaving Chinatown, we took the metro up to Little India and followed a walking tour from our guidebook. We were pretty disappointed in Little India as it was more rundown than the other parts of Singapore and we saw a lot more street garbage and rough roads – potholes, narrow street sidewalks, etc. The district was filled with eateries and markets and had a distinct aroma of Indian cuisine. However, we felt that there was a much more vibrant Indian community in other cities, like NYC, and this was a small one. The buildings that house these food markets had apartments above which were brightly colored blues and oranges and had brightly painted window shutters which made them look so pretty! We then walked from Little India to Kampong Glam, which was the Arab section of town. There we walked through rows and rows of tailor shops and silk merchants that made us wish we had more days in Singapore so we could get some dresses and suits tailor-made. The materials were gorgeous – we can see how Holly got such a beautiful wedding gown made here!

From Kampong Glam, we were able to walk down to Raffles Hotel as the distances in the city are quite close. We had a good map and were afraid things were very far, but it was all walkable if you had the time. The weather was holding up although it always looked like a downpour would start any moment. The thick humidity made the heat seem much worse, as it was only 86 F but felt like over 100 F with the humidity. Because Singapore is so hot all year round, the shops all have large awnings and the streets are covered in huge arching trees to provide shade, so even when the sun peaked out, we always felt protected from the intense rays. It is just another example of how the city is so well planned!

We LOVED Raffles Hotel! I wanted to sit there all day as I felt like I was in a movie, transported back to the early 1900s, living in the tropics under colonial rule. The hotel is still as beautiful as it probably was at its debut. It is a large crystal-white building complex with pointed roofs and large window shudders and colonial columns. There is a shopping arcade around the hotel with high end stores and boutique shops, but they were all closed as it wasn't quite noon yet. We ate our sandwiches in the Garden, sitting in white painted cast iron garden lattice chairs, facing the fountain. We then went up to the 2nd floor Long Bar and had a famous Singapore Sling drink ($24 Singapore dollars!), which was created by a bartender at that bar. It was sweet but very refreshing in the hot climate! It was such a romanticized atmosphere, sitting in the room covered in dark wood panels, sitting under spade-shaped bamboo fans moving rhythmically from the motorized poles suspended from the ceiling. Again, you felt like you went back in time. It was my favorite spot in Singapore!

After the short break, we kept moving and walked to Orchard Road, the busiest shopping street in Singapore. This one major thorough-fare had no less than 10 distinct shopping malls! Of course we went into one of them and were amazed at this 9-story mall as it was all decked out in glittery sparkling streamers to celebrate the New Year. The whole Orchard Road was covered in New Years lights and red and orange decorations. Inside the mall, there was not one great toy store for Hunter, but 6 in a row! However, we didn't buy much in Singapore as the prices were extremely high. We talked to another cruise passenger who was in Singapore 4 years ago and was shocked at how high prices for everything had risen – from hotel rooms to food to clothes. It is a very expensive city. We'll keep our money reserved for Thailand!

We continued walking down Orchard Road until the next metro stop, which we took to Clark Quay. This was Hunter's favorite spot in Singapore! It was a riverfront promenade that was filled with outdoor cafes and gelato stands and shops. The shops were brightly painted in pastel colors and there were large overhangs the provide shade on the outdoor eateries. It was so nice to just walk up and down both sides of the river – the Boat Quay and Clark Quay. On the Clark Quay side, one block in from the river was a pedestrian only street of more restaurants and cafes, with a big musical stage in the center. If we lived in Singapore, we would come here to eat all the time and listen to the music! We walked down the river to the Raffles Landing Site, where the founder of Singapore landed. After the requisite photo opp, we headed north to the “Civic Center” to see the Supreme Court building and St. Andrew's Cathedral – the first church we've entered in these last three weeks! It was pretty but stark compared to the cathedrals of Western Europe. By this time, it was approaching 4pm and we decided we needed to get back to clear immigration, so we took the metro back to Harbor Front and poked around the market stalls before heading back on the ship.

Overall, we really enjoyed Singapore and think it is a beautiful, balanced, city. It doesn't have the impressive skyline of Shanghai, but has old world charm mixed with modern comforts. Aunt Kathleen remembered a big disparity between the rich and poor sections of Singapore, but in all our walking, we did not come upon any portion of the city that we would consider to be “poor”. Perhaps the city planning department has really cleaned up those areas, and if the rising prices in the city are any indication, Singapore is only going to get more upscale as the years go by. Granted, there was still so much of the city we couldn't see in one day and we would enjoy a second visit, adding the Botanical Gardens/Orchid Garden and Sentosa Island. We would love to come back on business! The city had so much of an American feel to it because English was everywhere, English chain restaurants were everywhere (remember Swenson's ice cream shops?), and the locals dressed and acted more American than any other city.

It is probably a good time to recap our list of favorite cities, from our favorite to our least favorite. We are both in agreement with this: Hong Kong, Shanghai, Singapore, Taipei, Beijing, Saigon. Okinawa and Hue aren't included because they were such small ports of call. We are looking forward to seeing where Bangkok slots in to this list! Hunter later changed his list to tie Shanghai and Singapore in second place.

We had a really fun New Year's Eve, once back on the ship. We attended the 6pm dinner seating and actually enjoyed the New Year's Eve menu and then retired to the stateroom for a quick 1-hour nap before returning to the Cabaret Lounge to watch the “Motor City” motown dance show (fun!) Then it was time for my 2nd nap, until 11:45pm when we went back to the Cabaret Lounge and ordered champagne-based drinks just in time to clink our glasses and toast to the New Year. They had a large screen projecting a countdown clock, and we all threw confetti and streamers all over. Shane was dressed as Old Man Time an Ian as the baby in a full fledged diaper. We stayed there watching the dancing until 12:30am when we switched to the Tahitian Lounge and realized that was where the real action was. We stayed there until 2:30am, dancing the night away with the crew and Jim and others and also enjoyed a second drink. We packed it in right as the Captain was heading out – he was there partying alongside us into the wee hours of the night! Side note on our captain, Stefano Rivera. He is great and a lot of fun. He is always out and about, mingling with passengers, and every day makes a shipboard announcement that he hopes we have a pleasant day on board “the beautiful white lady, your home away from home, the Ocean Princess.” We and our other passenger friends joke that the Captain never takes command of the ship as he is too busy socializing with the passengers!

We had such a great time today – it was the best New Year's Eve we have ever celebrated! How are we going to top this next year? We crawled into bed after 2:30am and watched a little TV to try to unwind and then turned off the lights at 3:15am!!

permalink written by  mohicanfan on December 31, 2009 from Singapore, Singapore
from the travel blog: Beijing/Shanghai and a Princess Southeast Asia Cruise - Dec 2009
tagged Singapore, Asia and Cruise

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Day 19: 13th cruise day - Day at Sea

Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

Day 19: Wednesday, December 30th, 2009

13th cruise day: Day at Sea

We had another relaxing day at sea today! We didn't do any activities except the shuffleboard tournament at 2:15pm and only Jim showed up so we played a 3-man tournament, which I won! It was overcast all day, with an occasional sprinkle, so Hunter stayed in the room most of the day to program, while I laid out on the lounge chair on the 11th sundeck and read most of my book. I had had a very bad night of stomach pains which had awoken me several times, so I didn't think having a late night dinner sat well with me. We slept in until 10am and I stopped at the doctor to ask him to change our dinner seating to the 6pm early seating. We were sad to abandon Connie and Tony and hoped to see them during the day to explain! I decided to start to drink milk, using it as a coating for my stomach and that seemed to work miracles.

At 6pm we showed up for dinner and got our new seat assignments at a table for 6 that was always empty. It was Italian night, one of the first fully edible dinners, although Hunter ordered the wrong thing of spaghetti and meatballs. We went to the show at night, which was a “Ports of Call” extravaganza, the most racist cabaret show we've ever seen! We exchanged a library book upstairs and then headed in for an early night.

permalink written by  mohicanfan on December 30, 2009 from Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
from the travel blog: Beijing/Shanghai and a Princess Southeast Asia Cruise - Dec 2009
tagged Asia and Cruise

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Day 18: 12th cruise day

Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

Day 18: Tuesday, December 29th, 2009

12th cruise day: Day at Sea

Our day started early with Hunter waking up at 5am and me at 6am, but we then dozed back to sleep until around 9am. I got started on the laundry, which was packed! I picked the wrong day to do laundry – or the wrong time. It only opened at 9am so I couldn't have gone at 6am if I wanted. Hunter and I grabbed breakfast a little after 10am and then got set up by the lounge chairs. I ran back and forth to the 7th floor laundromat a few times as I only have dibs on one washer and then later on one dryer and I had 2 separate loads to do. I was finally done with the laundry and back up on the 11th deck by 12pm. While I folded laundry on the bed, I watched Twilight in the room, which was playing on a loop for the last two days. It would be nice to reach elite status with Princess as they have free laundry! Now I realize why that is such a perk – most of the elite passengers take very long cruises and they must have to do laundry several times.

Hunter and I grabbed lunch separately at different times and then spent the rest of the cruise suntanning. It was nice and hot, but there were intermittent clouds and a light breeze to keep us cool. I wore my pointed hat which I bargained for $1 at the market stand outside the ship in Phu May. We are on our 3rd bottle of suntan lotion because this sun is strong, and we are heading closer to the equator every day. We have our 4th time zone change tonight (we keep jumping ahead an hour, than back 1-2 hours, than forward again) and I think we'll go through a 5th time change before the trip is over. We have another day at sea tomorrow and are looking forward to more sun before a busy sightseeing day in Singapore. After 4pm, Hunter and I went back to our stateroom and typed on our laptops and showered. Hunter checked out the dinner menu and thought there would be some edible and light dishes, so we decided to try and make it to the sit-down dinner. I was feeling guilty that I was sick and we weren't spending time at the activities, like trivia or dancing. We did check out “bar wars” today by the pool and watched the ice carving demonstration, but “bar wars” wasn't as fun as the martini demonstration, so we left after the ice carving was finished. We made it to dinner with Connie and Tony but had to leave before dessert as I wasn't feeling well. I think tonight was the champagne waterfall, but I just stayed in bed and fell asleep quite early. We skipped the show, which was the lead male performer singing a set.

permalink written by  mohicanfan on December 29, 2009 from Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
from the travel blog: Beijing/Shanghai and a Princess Southeast Asia Cruise - Dec 2009
tagged Asia and Cruise

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Day 17: Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam (11th cruise day)

Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

Monday, December 28th, 2009

11th cruise day: Ho Chi Ming City / Saigon, Vietnam

After a fitful sleep, and dozing after the alarm went off, we got up by 7am and I decided I was stronger in the knees and could make it through the day. Laying in bed was not comfortable as all I could think about were the stomach pains, so I decided I would rather be distracted by the sights of Saigon.

And so our adventure began early in the morning with a 8am bus ride departure to Saigon. We had decided the day before to cancel the “shopping excursion” tour we had pre-booked and instead to book the shuttle tour which allowed us to do Saigon on our own, since we didn't want to spend an hour touring an overpriced toy lacquer factory. After speaking with people on the ship, we were comfortable we could navigate Saigon on our own. And so back to the bus ride -- the roads were paved highways, but the paved roads were full of potholes and loose pebbles and rocks, so the ride was pretty bumpy. Luckily the air conditioner worked well so we were comfortable and slept most of the whole way. We stopped once for a bathroom break at the half way point since the coach buses in Asia, although very comfortable with reclining seats, don't have restrooms on-board. At last we got to the outskirts of the city, and the traffic began. There were lots of buses and construction vehicles on the roads as construction was everywhere!! But unlike Hue, this construction was being done by bulldozers. We were amazed at how many bulldozers there were....really, the construction was everywhere on the outskirts of the city – and then even in the city itself as new tall skyscrapers are going up.

We were surprised to see an actual skyline of Saigon. We had set our impressions of Vietnam on the city of Hue, and we were unprepared at how huge and modern Saigon had become! We were expecting dusty roads and a lot of short, older buildings in the French architecture, but instead we pulled into a huge bustling city that had just as much activity as New York! There were new, gleaming skyscrapers that were mega-complexes of restaurants and high-end shops. Signs for new skyscrapers even taller were located at construction sites around the city. There was just as much traffic, but it was always moving – we never saw the standstill gridlock of New York. Our first impression was “wow – look at all the motorcycles!” Our tour guide on the bus told us there are 4 million registered motorcycles in the city alone. Luckily, these riders all rode helmets, but they still rode dangerously. We saw a family of three all packed together on one bike – dad and mom, with mom holding a baby covered in mesh netting! A lot of people wore face masks to keep the dust out of their mouths. The surprising thing about the traffic was that there were very few traffic lights or stop signs which made crossing the road impossible! Saigon traffic makes Jaywalking a must-have survival skill. Since we've spent lots of time in NYC, jaywalking wasn't a problem for us, but in the beginning, we tailed a few locals as they ran into the street amidst the on-coming motorcycles and small vans and we figured if the cars stop for them, they'll stop for us too! You literally had to walk into on-coming traffic or else you would be stuck on the corner forever! There were many large circles in the city which helped the traffic continue moving, but those were the most difficult ones to cross!

The shuttle bus dropped us off at a shopping mall directly across the intersection from the famous Rex Hotel. We got a map from the tour guide and planned out our route. It was very hot and humid, reaching 91 degrees. We walked two streets over to the famous Dong Khoi street (formerly known as the Rue Catinat or Tudor Street) and came face to face with the National Theater (very well maintained) and the Caravelle hotel. Dad had given me a photo taken in 1965 of him in front of the hotel and we set out to recreate the photo. However, our tour guide had told us that the hotel had been completely rebuilt, and so it was. It is now a huge complex, with a tall tower of rooms that probably went up 20 floors. Attached to the base of the hotel, off to the left of the lobby was a huge Gucci store. And across the street, diagonal from the National Theater was a flagship Louis Vitton store! Imagine that – Gucci and Louis Vitton in Saigon! We saw the original pavement in front of the hotel, and tried to imagine the old outline of the hotel. After picture taking, we retraced our steps and walked down Le Lui street, past the Rex Hotel to the Ben Thanh Central Market.

The Ben Thanh Market was the ultimate flea market. Out of all the market shopping we have done in Asia, this was by far the most jam-packed market. Stalls upon stalls were arranged in a giant square, with handfuls of rows running up and down the middle of the square. There were so many stalls that the aisles between them could barely accommodate two people walking side by side. You had to shove your way through and avoid the women carrying platters of food and soup back from the attached food market. It was much cooler on the outside ring of the market so we did most of our shopping at those stalls. But we did venture into the middle of the market for some of the jewelry and shoes. And so many shoes!!! We didn't know that shoes were a specialty production item in Vietnam but there were mounds and mounds of shoes at these stalls. Mainly many fancy flip-flops and dress shoes. Meredith bought a pair and said it was the most comfortable pair of flip flops she's ever owned. The best part of the market was that everything was inexpensive. Unlike China, where the prices start very high and you have to bargain them down by 50-75%, at this market, the starting price was so reasonable you felt guilty bargaining! And most of the shops were “fixed price” so they wouldn't bargain at all. However, that didn't stop Meredith, who wanted to bargain out of principle! We got some good deals, and thought the quality of the goods being sold in the markets was just as good as department store quality, unlike in China and Hong Kong where the markets sold only junk.

After a good time in the market, we decided to walk outside to get some air. We had been guzzling water in the market as it was so hot and sticky. We only had a total of 4 hours in Saigon before we had to head back on the long bus ride, so we couldn't see much but decided to walk the streets (and run across the intersections!) We found some more little items in the side stores and found it easy to bargain there. It was so hot and I wasn't feeling well so we ended our day by going in to the Rex Hotel and walking around (but you couldn't get up to the roof where the war correspondents would gather) and in the department store where the bus would pick us up – both were air conditioned. The Rex Hotel was beautiful inside, which wasn't surprising as it was a 5-star hotel. According to our tour guide, there are only 5-star hotels in all of Saigon. The department store had a marketplace inside of it, and they were selling old military cigarette lighters that had the location of the place and the year (ie. 1968-1969) but we didn't recognize any of the bases that were inscribed on there.

We were sad that we didn't feel better and have more time in Saigon, but we got the general feeling of it. Dong Khoi street, which was the main street in the 1960s, was still one of the main attractions of Saigon, but we didn't spend time walking up and down it as it was now filled with all International and American high-end brand stores, like Gucci. The streets were all decorated for the holidays. There were huge arches placed at the start of the busiest streets, sparkling Happy New Year type of signs. Santa Clauses adorned store windows and you could tell the city was in a festive mode. There were tons of tourists abound. Besides all the cruise passengers, we saw many small parties of tourists from Europe who were walking up and down the busy streets with guidebooks. Who knew that Saigon was a hot spot tourist destination? Everyone spoke very good English and Saigon is winning so far out of the cities we've visited on this trip for most accessible locals!

If it weren't for all the communist flags waving about, and some billboards with pictures of soldiers hailing the President, we would have thought we were in a large European city (it doesn't have much of an American feel to it because of all the motorcycles). Almost every building, and every street block had the two red and yellow flags of the star and the sickle/hammer. Coming in to the city, the bus passed by the American Consulate and then stopped in front because of traffic. Hunter and several other bus passengers took out their cameras to take a photo and the guards outside of the consulate were watching the bus windows closely and made wild gestures to us that no picture-taking was allowed. We couldn't believe that the guards would be watching tour bus windows to stop harmless photos!

The main streets had lane dividers that were filled with beautiful palm trees, which reminded Hunter of Savannah – sort of a dirty, built-up city with streets adorned with palm trees. The other thing that caught our eye were the massive coils of cable wire that were strung from each telephone tower. Rows and rows of wire were strung together, forming giant nests of wire. We hope one of the wires doesn't short or else it would be a mess trying to get in and repair one of those! We are guessing the roads and infrastructure are still too bad for all the wiring to be run underground and so it's just hanging there in the air.

At 2:15pm we met up with the other Princess passengers and boarded the bus and navigated traffic out of the city. We had some near-collisions with buses in the adjoining lane, but made it back to the ship unscathed and with 5 minutes to spare. Our tour guide was very nice and tried to teach the bus passengers some Vietnamese phrases and a Happy Family song, which was kind of weird. The tour guide was only 24 years old but had a much older face. However, his body looked like that of an 11 year-old. He was the skinniest man we have ever seen. In both Hue and Saigon, all of the locals are on the short side and painfully thin, like they look malnourished. It must be their genetic disposition and diet, but everyone looks so frail. And despite the presence of the high end fashion boutiques, we could not say that they were well dressed. In all other Asia cities – especially Shanghai and Hong Kong – the locals were dressed to the nines, wearing expensive clothes and fashionable shoes. But here in Vietnam, the clothes were cheap button-down cotton shirts and tiny tight-fitting pants, or loose cotton sheathes on the old beggars.

We got back to the ship by 4:25pm and everyone was supposed to be on deck by 4:30pm. At 5pm, the Captain announced to the ship that all paperwork was completed for our departure but that one of the Princess tours was stuck in traffic and wasn't yet here. It wasn't until 5:30pm that the small tourist van dropped off the last 5 passengers! It turned out to be the group that sits next to us during dinner.

We skipped the sit-down dinner again because the food was too fancy again and I didn't feel like eating, and it was a good thing, because we heard that one passenger got sick in the dining room from motion sickness and it was a mess. Hunter got some sandwiches and snacks at the buffet as soon as we got onboard at 4:30pm and then ate a cheeseburger from the Grill once we realized it was open until 6pm. I ordered a room service sandwich around 7pm and he got one around 8:30pm, at which point I was fast asleep. I was so drained from the day and had a lot of stomach pains, I just crashed! Hunter stayed up until midnight, watching tv with the volume low and typing on his netbook. I slept right through it all.

permalink written by  mohicanfan on December 28, 2009 from Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
from the travel blog: Beijing/Shanghai and a Princess Southeast Asia Cruise - Dec 2009
tagged Asia, Vietnam and Cruise

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Day 16: 10th cruise day - Day at Sea

Hue, Vietnam

Day 16: Sunday, December 27th, 2009

10th cruise day: Day at Sea

I woke up to a feeling of deep naseau and thought it was from the bad swaying and rolling of the ship. We expected the ride along the coastline from Chan May to Phu May to be less rocky because we were hugging the coastline, but the winds on the open sea were strong, which cause the boat to sway. We slept in late until 8:45am when I got up to get ready for 9am mass. The table holding the hosts and chalice wasn't level and kept swaying back and forth with the ship! We grabbed breakfast around 10am and then set up our lounge chairs on the 11th deck sun deck. At 11am, we walked down to the Club Lounge for the CruiseCritic.com gathering, set up by Heather and Ed. We met another nice couple Nayla and Igor, from Toronto, and Suzie and Bob from Seattle, and spent almost a good hour chatting about different cruises and the various tours we have taken through Princess. It was good to meet and interact with people. We then headed back to the sun deck where we remained for the next 4 hours, stopping briefly for lunch.

A little after 4pm, we went back to the room to the shower. I really wasn't feeling well at all and was getting nervous that I had contracted another weird bacterial infection, and decided to go to the doctor. He spent a good amount of time with me and listened well and then said I was probably suffering from an acid reflux flare up as I didn't show any symptoms of a bacterial or viral infection as I wasn't vomiting or running a fever. That made me feel a little better and so I got back to the room and changed for dinner. I made it through the meal – salmon steak – but then we left before dessert as I was feeling very nauseus with stomach pains. I spent the rest of the evening typing up my email from Hue and sending an email to our tour operator in Bangkok to see if we could change our port pick-up. I fell asleep pretty early and didn't have a great night. I woke up close to midnight and could barely pick up my head to sip water and felt feverish (but wasn't running a fever). I began to think that the doctor may have misdiagnosed me and that I had H1N1 or something else and would have to be airlifted from Singapore. I was worried I would miss Saigon the next day and Hunter was really worried about me. Somehow I made it through the night.

permalink written by  mohicanfan on December 27, 2009 from Hue, Vietnam
from the travel blog: Beijing/Shanghai and a Princess Southeast Asia Cruise - Dec 2009
tagged Asia and Cruise

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