Copyright ©- 2000-2015
Malaysia With The Humber Valley UC
Malaysia With The Humber Valley UC Intrepids
Tuesday, September 13
It was a bit of a scramble getting ready, with things like the
purchase of a new car distracting our attention! But when the
limo came to get us at 9:45pm, we were set to go. We got to the
airport well before the 3-hour mark for our 1:40 am flight, but
there was already a long line of people, many of whom had several
large boxes to take along. Eventually, the plane was loaded and
we left on time.
Wednesday, September 14
Sometime during the 15-hour flight we crossed the date line, so
Wednesday more or less disappeared. We had a very nice dinner at
about 3am, then all returned to our dozing. Unfortunately an hour
or so later I awoke with severe nausea. No airsick bag to be
found! So I headed for the kitchen area where 2 lovely young
ladies plied me with hot water and lemons and brought me plastic
bags to be sick in. They gave Larry moist towelettes for my head
and neck and I was able ( with difficulty ) to take a gravol. In
a half hour or so I was fine, thank goodness and slept for the
next few hours. These Cathay Pacific seats are pretty
though sitting up isn’t my favourite sleeping position. Before we
finished the flight, we had a “snack” of chicken noodle soup and
then a hearty breakfast. So we were well-fed, but 15 hours is
just too long in the air non-stop!
Thursday, September 15 - Kota Kinabalu
It was a relief to arrive at the Hong Kong airport at about 4:30am. We
easily made our way through the airport and 2 security checkpoints only
to find that our gate was in an outlying terminal building and the buses
weren’t running yet. We were too weary to make our way back to the main
concourse, so didn’t get coffee until about 7:15. The rest of the Intrepids trickled in and we all boarded the Dragon Air plane for Kota
Kinabalu. It was about a 2 ½ hour flight and we had another breakfast.
At the airport in K.K. there was a very long line-up for immigration.
After about an hour everyone but Janet and Barry had appeared. When
they still hadn’t appeared after another 15 minutes, the search party
was sent out. Seemed there’d been an error on one of their forms and
they were sent to the back of the line! Eventually they got through, we
all found our luggage, our guide and our bus and were on our way. We
checked into the Hyatt Regency and immediately slept for 2 hours or
The Intrepids gathered near the pool for drinks and a view of the sunset
or the harbor. Then we took the bus to a floating restaurant for a
seafood dinner and some lively traditional dancing displays from various
Borneo tribes. Some of our group joined in the dancing and the blow
pipe demo. E-M was celebrating her 65th birthday so got to
wear a sparkly tiara for the evening. Finally back to the hotel and
time for bed. (Click the show below for large view)
After a great night’s sleep, we were among the first at the
breakfast buffet. Nice spread and attentive service. After breakfast we
strolled along the harbour-front and past a vast market area, enjoying
watching the local commerce. It was already getting hot! I went for an
early swim. I had the pool to myself.
Then we met up with the group for a city tour with our guide, Walter. We
visited the former government building, which is a hanging building
structure. Apparently its cables are unable to support the weight of
modern office equipment so most of the offices have moved elsewhere. It’s
a very interesting –looking place though. We all posed in some Orangutan
photo-op things, and our wonderful driver repaired the bus’s AC which was
on the futz. From there, we proceeded to the City Mosque, a beautiful
building, surrounded by a pool of water. It has a blue dome and minarets
and is truly impressive. Our next stop was a Chinese Hindu Temple, also
very beautiful. There were some lovely gardens around it. The rest of the
group also saw some smaller shrines but we had lost track and didn’t find
them. Final stop of the morning was at a very interesting museum. We saw
local tribal costumes and saw how they were made, as well as touring a
Since this is Borneo – head-hunters land – the village included a “skull
hut”. Our guide explained that the head-hunting originated with the
villagers defending themselves against pirates. Apparently a head also
formed part of most bridal prices. Back at the hotel, we enjoyed a
delicious thin-crust, garlic-free, pizza. We checked in with the Intrepids
lounging by the pool, but we were on a mission to find a source of
potassium and had heard that the nearby shopping centre had everything. We
wandered there for an hour or so – very crowded. A wide variety of shops,
mostly small, from tailors to food stalls, Body Shop and Guardian Drugs. A
huge “superstore” that was like a dollar store on steroids. Then it was
time to relax and cool off for a while. Dinner was a Chinese meal, with
unusual food and lots of good conversation and laughter. Back at the
hotel, some folks went to the café for dessert, some to the bar, and
others to their rooms to prepare for tomorrow’s early departure.
At about 10:15 we heard fireworks from our hotel room and realized that we
had a perfect view from our window. It was a great show, that brought
people onto the street below to watch. Super ending for Independence Day.
September 16 Kota Kinabalu
This was a big exercise day! We started with another great
breakfast at the hotel, then boarded the bus for the trip to Mount
Kinabalu. It’s about a 3-hour drive over very rough roads. Our first stop
was a market area, for a bit of retail therapy. Really nice handicrafts.
At a roadside stop we had the opportunity to hike into the forest and see
a Rafflesia plant in bloom. It is the largest “flower” in the world,
according to our guide, but apparently, in reality it is a type of fungus.
Not pretty, but impressive. The bloom lasts just about 5 days, with day 3
being prime. We saw one that was on day 3 so we were lucky. We saw another
that was several days beyond that and it had subsided into brown sludge.
The walk into the forest to see it was interesting though it felt somewhat
risky. We crossed a couple of streams on bridges of bamboo poles, climbed
downhill from slippery rock onto slipping rock and so on. But along the
way were other flowers, and the peace of the forest (jungle) itself. Oh –
and insects. Got a bite or two, so hoping they were benign.
Next was the Park area, where we had a look at the hot pools/bathes that
were very crowded. It’s a long holiday weekend and everyone had their kids
for an outing. (National Malaysia BD). It was fun to watch but didn’t
appeal for ourselves. Several members of the group headed for the
butterfly garden and the rest of us began the climb to the canopy walk. It
was hot and humid and the climb was long and steep. We were pretty wrung
out by the time we got to the beginning of the walkway. It was great to be
up among the treetops and see the forest jungle from that perspective. We
were a bit nervous about it, but everyone made it safely and enjoyed it.
Back down on solid ground we were more than happy to get on the bus and
head to a restaurant for la late lunch. It was yet another Chinese meal,
but tasty. The setting was beautiful, on the side of one of the lovely
mountains, surrounded by tall, stately pines of various types and flower
gardens with brilliant colour. Very peaceful and lovely.
As we drove along we could see many terraced fields. This is a vegetable
farming area, where crops like cabbage thrive. So there were vegetable
markets and handicraft markets along the road. Our views of Mount Kinabalu
itself were mostly obscured by cloud, but we did get glimpses of the peaks
now and then. Our last stop of the day was at the Botanical Gardens, a
National Park, where we toured an enclosed area featuring many of the
species of orchid that abound here. Some were nearly too tiny to see but
many were very visible and lovely. We nearly missed it because the doors
closed just a couple minutes before we arrived. However, Sally-Jo
convinced the attendant to let us in briefly. Glad we didn’t miss it!
Then back to KK, to refresh ourselves at the hotel before going to dinner.
(Happily we checked the window of our room at exactly the right moment to
witness a gorgeous southern hemisphere sunset.) The restaurant was small
and we ordered individually, so 22 people pretty much overwhelmed the
small staff. Food was tasty, we got beer and it was nice, but it was late
and we were very tired and happy to finish our meal and head to the hotel.
(Click the slideshow for large view)
Up pretty early for one last breakfast in KK (waffles for
us today) and then our bus delivered us to the KK airport. At the airport
we met an Australian couple with their new friend Koko, a huge-sie stuffed
orangutan they bought (…to fill their empty nest). We all posed for photos
then and when Koko was reposing in the overhead bin of our flight to
On arrival there we were met by our new guide and driver and whisked off
to the Pullman Hotel. After settling in we met to head out to Semenggoh
Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre. We were warned that this is not a zoo.
The 25 or so animals are free to come and go and it is hoped they’ll
return to the wild. However, food is put out for them twice a day and
usually at least some come and enjoy it.
As it turned out, 9 of them Came! We watched them for about an hour before
they all disappeared back into the forest. It was just amazing to watch
them swinging through the trees and clambering along ropes. One pelted a
covered bridge with coconut shells and other food debris. Another,
carrying a baby clambered down and crossed through the area where people
were standing, causing a scramble out of her way. Photos were difficult
because of the lighting unfortunately.
We stopped at a pottery shop on the way back where people picked up
souvenirs ( Larry and Jane couldn’t resist carved headhunters (with carved
heads on their belts)).
Back at the hotel most of us went for a swim and drink by the pool. Dinner
was Chinese (again!) but much more tasty and interesting than we’ve been
having. Gail, Doris and I had our own special dishes, free of garlic, crab
and MSG. Lots of variety and all good. At the next table a Chinese family
was celebrating a birthday. They had an elaborate cake, with candles and
sang Happy Birthday in English. We joined in the singing and I took over
one of our CANADA buttons as a birthday gift. They sent back a plateful of
small slices of cake for us. We were each given 2 cans of Tiger beer with
dinner, but few people drank both. As a result, we left the restaurant
with many cans of beer in purses and pockets.
Back at the hotel, some of the mini-bar fridges are not connected so we
may need to round up some ice tomorrow (or carry them to our next stop).
(There are rumours of a “Hall Party” tomorrow, an Intrepid tradition.)
All Photos Sept 18 Kuching
We took off fairly early to get to the Sarawak Culture Village in good
time. It was an interesting drive through lush vegetation and new housing
estates. At the village, we toured several traditional homes – a long
house on stilts, a Chinese farmhouse, a round building used for community
and defence purposes. We had an opportunity to try a blow gun and some
people did very well. People were practicing traditional crafts such as
weaving and cooking, and we heard traditional music and dance. The village
is in a lovely setting and it was pleasant walking around, though it
became very hot. The morning ended with entertainment in the theatre –
music and dancing for a series of the different tribes of Borneo, and a
terrific comedy act by 2 young “warriors”.
Then we had a large “lunch”
before heading back into Kuching. We visited the Cat Museum ( Kuching is
called the cat city – kucing without the h means cat in their language )
which was amusing, a Chinese temple, where Kenny explained some traditions
to us and returned to the hotel. Since it was raining, we didn’t meet at
the pool for a party as planned. Instead, the Wilkes had everyone to their
room and we had a “hall party”. Our dinner was at a vast seafood place
very near the hotel. Then we were “bad” and stopped at the dessert bar at
the hotel for more that we didn’t need. (Click Slideshow to enlarge!)
Sept 19 -- Kuching, Sarawak, Borneo
Travel day from Kuching, Borneo to the Belum Rainforest
Resort at the north end of Peninsular Malaysia. We left the hotel by bus
at 10am (with an almost immediate U-turn back to the hotel to empty a
forgotten safe – not ours ). We had an uneventful flight to Kuala Lampur (KL)
Airport, where we were met by our new guide, Rthyuan. He informed us that
we had a 6-hour drive ahead of us and that we needed water, snacks, etc.
We hit 2 airport stores for those necessities and were on the road about
3:30pm. Rthyuan pointed out the vast plantations of oil palms and
explained their importance for vegetable oil production. He described the
rubber industry and also the mining of tin. Both were key factors in the
development of this area. Some mountains appeared to be chopped in half
verticaly, where open mining occurred.
We stopped for a brief stretch and more stacks about halfway, then again
for beer and wine in the last town before the Thai border, called Gerik.
On arrival at the lodge around 9:30, dinner was waiting for us. We enjoyed
that and then fell into our beds. This is an eco-resort, much of it
open-air. Very comfortable, but basic – though it does have free internet
access which the 4/5 star hotels can’t seem to manage. We were just too
tired to use it then but it was handy later.
Wednesday, September 21 – Belum
Rainforest, Malaysia (near Thailand border)
We ARE Intrepid! Today was our big trek – bigger even than the canopy
walk. Last night Cathy announce that we’d be doing reduced version of the
excursion and many of us were disappointed. So it turned out, what we did
At 10 o’clock we walked down to the docks and boarded 4 motorboats. We all
got into our life-jackets and off we went down (or up?) the lake at high
speed. We saw very few signs of life (except, of course, the trees of the
rainforest) for the next 45 minutes. At one point there was a loud thump and
our boat pitched wildly and stalled. Scary! Both Larry and I immediately
looked for a hole in the bottom, but there was none and the driver got us
going very quickly.
We beached the boats and started along a trail by the lake, climbing over
logs and boulders, eventually coming to a long bridge (5 people at a time
max) and then a large shelter. After a brief rest, we started climbing.
After some time we came to an area with restrooms and large picnic shelters.
We decided to leave our extra belongings there with the drivers while we
continued climbing. At that point it became quite treacherous, steep and
slippery. We forded the stream a few times on rather unsteady rocks. A few
people slipped and got “soakers” and one person fell right into the stream.
The rope handholds were slack and difficult. That all added to the fun! I
think the several people who acquired leeches on their arms or legs didn’t
that added to the fun, but Rthyuan was ready for it. He dripped citronella
on the leech ‘till it dropped off, then put tobacco on the wound to stop the
bleeding. Very effective and I’m told, painless.
Eventually we reached the lower falls, where several of us decided to
stop, but quite a few continued to the upper falls. Very beautiful sight, in
spectacular surroundings. After a while there, we climbed back down to the
picnic shelters for lunch. By then we likely would have eaten anything, but
what we got was delicious. Salmon sandwiches – crustless and 3 for each of
us! A large piece of fried chicken, lots of bananas and apples and water. A
Then the climb back down to the boats and the fast ride back. We were
ready to hit the showers by then for sure! I suspect most of us had a nap
before we gathered on the terrace for BYOB happy hour. Dinner was another
delicious meal, and then we all dispersed to our rooms. What a great day!
All Photos Sep 21 Belum Rainforest Malaysia
Thursday, September 22 – Transit to Kuala
Lumpur Another travel day, from Belum to Kuala Lumpur by bus.
Beautiful scenery. We stopped to look at the Ubadiah Mosque and the
Sultan Palace, both spectacular and part of the Sultan’s properties ( each
province has a Sultan, like a king, head of state with no political power).
Our lunch stop was at a service centre on the main highway – totally unlike
any service centre in North America. There were many fruit stalls, other
small food stall, coffee shops, and Both Baskin-Robbins and Dunkin Donuts.
The washrooms were vast, clean and open-air. Very nice. Our highway planners
could learn a lot from this.
At the Renaissance Hotel in K-L our check-in was smooth, rooms very nice
and prices for everything much higher than we’ve seen. For instance in the
room there is an electric kettle , but a 1-serving container of instant
coffee is 12 Ringets or about $4. We all met at a huge pool and enjoyed a
refreshing swim. Many of our rooms look out toward the spectacular Petronas
Twin Towers. Our evening meal was definitely the best yet, at Bijan.
Beautifully presented –no lazy susan – and very testy. Attentive staff and
All Photos Sept 22 - Transit to Kuala Lumpur
Friday, September 23 – Kuala Lumpur
Fabulous multi-national buffet for breakfast. Something for everyone, for
sure. At 9 we set out for our city tour. It is a great city, with lots to
see and do. At the King’s Palace, Istana Negara, we could only look through
the fence since it’s only open 2 days a year for the public – Eid and the
King’s birthday. We were able to pose with the guards. While Margo and I
stood on each side of a mounted guard, the horse suddenly swung around and
bit her. Luckily, it was through her blouse, so no direct contact with her
skin. Shortly after, an Asian tourist was also bitten by the same horse. His
companions immediately applied a traditional salve to his bite and gave some
to Margo too.
Another stop was the National Monument, a dramatic, huge bronze statue in
a beautiful setting. We walked and drove through a wonderful park, Perdana
Botanical Garden, referred to as the “Green Lung of KL”. At the National
Museum, Muzium Negara, we saw great exhibits representing the geological,
social, military and political history of Malaysia.
At Dataran Square, Dataran Merdeka, we saw where the Independence
Ceremonies took place at midnight Aug 31, 1957. We also admired the Royal
Selangor Club (cricket) adjoining the square and the historic clocktower in
the Sultan Abdul Samed Building across from it.
We saw many other sites as we drove – the National Mosque, the Jamek
Mosque, the Petronus Twin Towers, the KL Railway Station, Menara KL Telecom
tower. We ended at the Central Market, where we lunched at Old China Café.
The surroundings there were very interesting – old furniture and screens,
many lovely statues and other artwork. The food was excellent too –
Chinese/Malay fusion. We then had about an hour to shop our way through the
Market area. Nearly everyone bought something or other, big or small. Then
back to the hotel for a rest and a swim in their great pool.
After a quick look at the Cocoa Boutique, we proceeded to the Saloma
Theatre Restaurant for a (so-so) buffet dinner and a lively, colourful
performance of several traditional Malaysian dances. The costumes were
spectacular but the dancing was not near as good as we had seen on Borneo.
All Photos Sept 23
Saturday, September 24 – Kuala Lumpur
This was a day on our own in KL. Different groups set off for different
adventures. Some visited the Birds and Butterflies at Perdana Botanical
Gardens, then moved on to Chinatown via the Central Market. Many of the rest
of us, including Larry an me, walked to the Petronus Towers and explored the
vast shopping mall there. We had intended to extend our explorations further
afield but there was so much to see there we didn’t. Others took the subway
to different points of interest. Everyone ended up at the pool sometime in
the afternoon and a few also enjoyed massages at the hotel spa.
By 6:30 we were gathered in the lobby, dressed in our best (including,
for some, beautiful new silk batik blouses) and ready to travel across town
to dinner at the home of Dave and Cathy’s cousin Jeffery. His house is one
of the most beautiful I’ve ever seen and very comfortable at the same time.
Antiques, works of art, colour, exotic flowers and plants a lovely swimming
pool. Breath-taking! He and Simon engaged a chef, Edwin, to prepare and
serve a 14-course dinner! Each course was uniquely and beautifully
presented. Our garlic-free versions were equally enticing. And lots of wine
and beer and liquor. Great conversation. Our driver and Rithzuan had gone to
the house with the bus earlier in the day to be sure they knew exactly where
it was and where to park as it was a very tight but luxurious neighbourhood.
So it was all as smooth as silk and a great experience. Bravo to all!!
Back at the hotel we discovered that our water had not been delivered
(the room had not been made u today, so no water), nor was our launry back.
We phoned the desk and the water arrived. The laundry came the next morning
before we left so all was well.
All Photos Sept 24 Kuala Lumpur
Sunday, September 25 – KL to Melaka
We enjoyed a leisurely breakfast before boarding our bus for the drive to
Melaka (Malacca). The tropical scenery is becoming very familiar so there
was little new along the way, but Rithzuan entertained us with stories about
golfing and higher education. His first job was as a caddy and he did well
at that and got into the tour guide business as a result of his contacts.
His eldest brother went to U of Texas at El Paso on a scholarship and didn’t
come back to Malaysia for about 20 years. Meanwhile he travelled all over
North America. He also explained to us that the arrows on our hotel ceilings
are nothing to do with emergency exits – they point to Mecca.
When we arrived in Melaka we left the bus and walked through the busy
crowded streets admiring the crafts, stopped at a Chinese Temple and went to
a café for lunch and a beer. A bit of shopping went on. Then on up the hill
to the St. Paul Church ruins from Portuguese times (16th century) and back
to the bus. We checked into the Renaissance Hotel and headed for the pool.
We are all always hot and sweaty and so welcome a dip in cool water.
Dinner at a nearby restaurant (Flavours – Nyonya Style) was very good.
Lots of interesting dishes and a really interesting local dessert.
Afterward a group went in search of the night market, but found nothing
to attract our attention. Frankly, it didn’t feel too safe out there and
Larry and I got separated from the rest, so it was a great relief to get
back to the hotel.
All Photos Sept 25 Kuala Lumpur and Melaka
Monday, September 26 – Malacca to
The Renaissance Hotel in Malacca was not up to the standards of the other
places we’ve stayed, but we had a pretty good breakfast. Then onto the bus
for the trip to Singapore. We realized that it’s forbidden to take alcohol
into Singapore, so at our lunch stop we had to ask Ruslan to unload some
suitcases to take out the beer. We added it to the mix on the table at
lunch. We had so much fun at lunch! It was a karaoke place and it turns out
that Rithzuan is a terrific singer - particularly doing Loi8is Armstrong
singing Wonderful World. So we sang and laughed and enjoyed a very tasty
lunch. Unfortunately, when we came out we found that some vandal had keyed
the back of the bus -- it seems to happen everywhere.
Crossing the border from Malaysia to Singapore went smoothly but was
complex. First we went through the exit process for Malaysia, which meant
our passports were carefully examined and stamped. Then back onto the bus
for a couple of kilometres across a bridge to the Singapore entry point.
There we had to take all our belongings from the bus. First we went through
immigration, again a matter careful examination of our passports – hats off.
Then onward to customs, where our bags went through security screening and
so did we, just like at an airport. No problems for any of us, so back to
Singapore is an eye-popper! Very densely settled with a wide variety of
architecture. A huge ferris wheel at the casino complex. Lots of traffic –
every car has a transponder which tracks charges for every kilometer
travelled on some streets. We also got several looks at the vast container
port – the biggest one in the world and still expanding. Wouldn’t want to
have to get something out of one of those bottom containers!
The hotel proved to be lovely, but sadly we had to say farewell to
Rithzuan and Ruslan. They were a really terrific team and we had a great
time touring with them. Once we checked in, we unpacked and headed for the
pool. Only 8 of us were there, so others must have headed out to explore. We
did a bit of that after a swim and a drink at the bar ( thought about a
Singapore Sling but found they were made with gin!!!). Then a light supper
in our room using some of the food we’ve been carrying.
All Photos Sep 26 Malacca to Singapore
Tuesday, September 27 – Singapore
We met our guide, Lawrence Ho, at 9:30 and set off on a city tour. We
passed many landmarks such as Fraffles Hotel, the “chopsticks” ware
memorial, the one remaining hill in Singapore (the others have all been used
for fill to extend the island but this one still has a war-time bunker in
the middle), many temples, mosques and churches. There is not state
religion, and everyone is judged on merit. There are no homeless and
government policies ensure that everyone saves for retirement (20% by each +
20% by employer). Living is expensive and earnings are high.
[The overall impression of Singapore is rich, rich, rich. Skyscrapers are
everywhere, streets are immaculate, cars are modern and never dirty while
the people all look young and prosperous. The guide pointed out that the
cost of car ownership is really high as the high taxes the cheapest car
would be over $80,000 US and apartments are $5,000-$15,000 per month.
High-end name brand stores are everywhere.]
We spent a while at the fascinating National Museum of Singapore, then a
brief stop at the Asian Civilization Museum to get a feel for the Singapore
River. Last on the tour was a “bum boat” ride around the harbour. Most of us
decided not to go back to the hotel and ate in the harbour area. Then we
walked back to the hotel getting a closer look at some landmarks. It was a
long, hot walk, necessitating a stop at Coldstone Creamery for ice cream.
A refreshing swim revived us for the evening’s outing. That started with
the Night Safari and the animal show and ended with dinner at Newton Circus.
That’s quite the place! Hawkers competing for your dinner business, many
people pushing and competing for table space. The food and beer were pretty
good. Finally back to the hotel and rest.
All Photos Sept 27 Singapore
Wednesday, September 28 – Singapore to
Our last travel day as a large group. So we enjoyed breakfast and then
hauled our ever-heavier luggage to the curb for loading into our bus. The
trip to Changi Airport took about a half hour, so we had a last view of many
parts of the Singapore island.
At Changi, Mr. Ho said goodbye and suggested that we check out the
butterfly garden in the airport. Several people did that, others pooled
their remaining Singapore coins to buy chocolate bars and some of us just
settled in to read until time to board. It’s a lovely airport, bright and
clean, quiet and efficient. Everyone is very polite and it was very smooth.
Going through screening the attendant asked me to open my bag and told me
what he was looking for. So easy – I could just show him. At most airports
it’s forbidden to help find whatever the problem object is and the security
attendants waste time looking through everything. Singapore is certainly an
orderly place! Mr. Ho told us about innovations to prevent peeing in
elevators and to protect the privacy of flat residents near the LRT lines.
He explained the use of microchips to track library books and hospital
On take-off we could see many ships in the harbour, this being one of the
largest ports in the world.
In Singapore English and Mandarin were chosen as the main languages for
schools, since that gives a clear edge for international relations and
The flight was uneventful and although the airport in Bali was chaotic,
we eventually made our way out. An agent had met us with our entry visas,
saving us the trouble of lining up for them. Our guide led us to the bus,
and a young woman presented each of us with a lei of frangipani.
On the way to the hotel we saw a interesting, old, crowded town. We were
told that most of the population here is Hindu and that is reflected in
beautiful temples and statues along the way. The resort hotel is quite
amazing! It is sprawled across a huge property with pool, ponds, a long
white beach, lawns pavilions, and beautifully-decorated, comfortable rooms.
From our balcony we could see what appeared to be preparations for a wedding
on the lawn.
Our dinner was served on the lawn near the beach and was delicious and
impeccably served. Afterward most of us strolled along the beach walk and
talked about what we plan to do for our four days here.
All Photos Sept 28 Singapore to Bali
Thursday, September 29 - Bali, Indonesia
A leisure day – lots of time on the beach and around the pool. What a
beautiful place this it! A long walk along the beach past several hotels and
seeing a couple of crude temples on the islands.
Later – drinks and dinner outside near the beach ( dark early near , but
south of the equator).
All Photos Sept
29 Bali Indonesia
Friday, September 30 - Bali, Indonesia
Celebrating Sally-Jo’s birthday today.
Early start for our excursion to Ubud. Amazing how crowded the roads are
here. Every tiny space among the buses, vans and cars is filled with motor
scooters. They whip in and out among the other vehicles. All the vehicles
here are narrower, so we’re really packed into the seats on our bus. We also
keep hitting our heads on low-hanging bits.
Our first stop was a handicraft market, with lots of very nice stuff at
reasonable prices. That was where Larry and I discovered that we each
thought the other had brought a credit card. We had only a small amount of
cash. That reined us in!
The next stop was a silversmith’s with very lovely jewelry. I couldn’t go
in for long because they were burning incense but I stayed long enough to
admire the workmanship. At a Hindu temple we donned temple sarongs and West
gave us a tour explaining that it was nearly 1000 years old and giving us a
brief explanation of the various shrines and associated practices.
Next on the itinerary was a woodcarving shop where the same family has
been working for 75 years. They use many kinds of wood, local and imported
for neighbouring islands, to carve a wide variety of things: large and
small, simple and complex.
Last stop before the drive back was a small restaurant where we burned
some cash from Maria-Angelica and had a drink.
[Janice ill and skipped dinner; Larry Substituting] In the evening
everyone was taken out to a nearby Balinese restaurant which specialized in
Indonesian Rijstaffel style. It was quite different and very impressive.
While hot and varied hors d’oeuvres were served, we were entertained by a
band playing very sycophantic xylophone and drum music and tiny Balinese
ladies in native costume performed traditional Balinese dances. There was
following a performance by a young boy doing a warrior dance. The main
course was delicious, often spicy hot but very delicious. The evening was
topped off with a birthday cake for Sally-Jo and much singing. We all shared
in the cake.
All Photos Sept
30 Bali Indonesia
Saturday, October 1 – Bali, Indonesia
A dozen of us went snorkeling this morning. It was quite the adventure. A
mini-van delivered us to the harbour in two loads; we signed away our
first-born and boarded two small boats. Most of us had done a fair amount of
snorkeling before and were fine, but a few who were less-experienced found
it harder as conditions were less than ideal. We did not get the kind of
instruction and assistance we would have in North America. At least one
person stayed on the boat. When it came to getting back to and into the
boats it was far more challenging!
It took 2 strong men to heave me in [Larry included] and I landed on my
back in the bottom of the boat with my feet waving in the air. I’m told it
was quite a sight!
There were some fish, though not great schools of them, but interesting
coral formations. We think the tide turned while we were out, because
suddenly there were strong currents sweeping us away from the boats. So
swimming back was a real challenge and we arrived tired. Then there were no
ladders or platforms to climb out, just a curved slippery bulge in the boat
and no hand-holds.
We also got a great kick out of watching the para-sailors, the banana
boaters, and the people on “flying mattresses” -- all going in every
direction across the crowded harbour. Para-sailors were taking off landing
on the sand among vendors’ huts.
Eventually we landed, hosed off a bit and all piled into 1 load in the
minivan (2 trips took us) to return to our peaceful, lovely hotel. There’s
such a contrast between this resort area at Nusa Dua and everything else
we’ve seen on the island.
Our farewell dinner at Jimbaran Bay was a real seafood feast! Our tables
were set in the sand near the surf and cold drinks were served from a
sailboat near our tables. The sail read "Exotic Intrepids Group". We watched
the sunset and the kids playing in the surf. Many of us took off our shoes
and stood at the edge of the ocean. The moon was a thin crescent above and
we could see some stars.
There were two dance shows – one at the restaurant next store and one at
ours. The food was abundant and good – we actually thought the platters were
for sharing but they were individual! Prawns, mussels, lobster, calamari,
scallops, steamed spinach, rice and lots of fruit. Wow! Margo shared her
poetic account of the trip. We stood in the sand sang: “Go Now In Peace”.
Myna B asked for the personalized sail and carried it home.
On the bus, Sally-Jo thanked Cathy for all her work putting together this
trip and read a poem to her from our poet laureate (how many travel groups
have one of those!). Cathy thanked West and our driver. We all trouped into
one of the bars to here the rest of Margo’s travelogue poem, then dispersed.
All Photos Oct
1 Bali Indonesia
Sunday, October 2 – Bali to Hong Kong
We slept in, so were at breakfast with some of our group. Then we
wandered the grounds for a couple of hours, packed up and got on the bus,
after lingering farewells with the 13 who were going on to Ubud.
Plunging into the absolute chaos that is Denpasar Airport, we were most
grateful for the services of our agent. We learned that there was an exit
tax of 150,000 Rupiah ($16), payable in local currency, so had to line up to
change money. Next we lined up to check in for our flight. Then our agent
processed our exit tax for us, bypassing that line-up. Next was the
immigration line, then security. We were then free to roam the concourse for
an hour or so. We, the Watts and the Wilkins had a drink and snack with our
left over funds. Then through one last security check and we were into the
boarding area, when we finally lined up to board our flight.
On board, few were told that a typhoon hit the Philippines yesterday
causing a list of problems and that we might hit some part of it as we
crossed the South China Sea. The flight was delayed by air traffic control
who didn’t like the flight plan apparently. Eventually we took off somewhat
behind schedule. We hit a few patches of turbulence but otherwise the flight
to Hong Kong was uneventful.
We hopped into a cab to our hotel, saying goodbye to Glenda, Barb, Dave,
Margo and Mike. Our cab was so speedy we thought we might have gotten to our
Kowloon hotel before they got to the airport one! Nice hotel, good to be on
the “Club Floor” where we’re pampered royally.
All Photos Oct
2 Bali to Hong Kong
Monday, October 3 – Hong Kong
After breakfast and poring over some brochures, our first order of
business was to book a city tour. We’d gotten a notice in our room of the
typhoon watch, Level 3, but weren’t sure what it meant. Turned out that some
things shut down at that level, such as the cable cars, so those attractions
are off the table. On the advice of the travel adviser at the hotel, we
walked to the nearest metro station and bough Octopus cards, good on all
public transit and in some stores ( eg 711). Then we walked to the Star
Ferry terminal and rode the ferry to the HK side, walked around, then took
the ferry back to Kowloon. The return trip was a bit rough (typhoon??).
After picnicking in our room, we caught the 1pm city tour. Our guide, Luna,
was lively and good. She took us first to a Chinese Temple, where she
explained the method of worship and the significance of what we saw. We took
the tram to the Peak. What a line up!! Luckily, tours get priority. The view
was somewhat obscured by mist; it was chilly and windy, but still a great
experience. The Aberdeen Fishing Village was quite astounding and perhaps
the high point. We boarded a sampan and cruised past some huge private
yachts and the world’s biggest floating restaurant, before coming to the
“village” itself – dozens of fishing boats anchored in the harbour with
families living aboard. I’m not sure why, maybe taxes, but some never come
ashore. Our last stop was the Stanley Market, and since it was raining a
little and chilly we didn’t enjoy it much. Back at the hotel we ate a burger
(a great one) in the coffee shop and called it a day.
All Photos Oct 3 Hong Kong
Tuesday, October 4 – Hong Kong
Totally on our own in Hong Kong today so we needed to get oriented! At
breakfast our waiter enquired about our plans. We told him that if the cable
cars were running, we’d like to see the Giant Buddha, so he offered to find
out. When he confirmed that they were running, he gave us ver clear
directions, so off we went on the subway – smooth as silk. It’s a great
system, easy to understand and navigate. It took close to an hour, but we
Then we plunged into confusion – do we have to buy tickets at the
entrance to the line-up or can we join it with not tickets?? What are all
these weird other options like Crystal Carriage, Fishing Villages? Yikes! Do
we need cash for yet another ticket? And do we have enough HK$. An hour or
so in line with no answers, eventually at the next ticket booth we had to
exchange the tickets we’d bought for other ones and found that for what we
wanted to do that was all we needed. Phew! It was a short wait for the cable
car (much longer for those who took the “Crystal Option” (i.e. glass floor
in gondola) and then magnificent views for about 30 minutes as we made our
way to the peak on Lantau Island. For the last 8 minutes or so we could see
the Buddha looming.
It’s quite beautiful, and huge. We walked through the village – which
bore some resemblance to a midway – and looked up at the Buddha from the
foot of the path (which we didn’t climb) then toured the temple adjacent to
it. By then it was time for a late lunch so we got a submarine sandwich (yes
a regular “Subway”) and some gelato.
Then we caught a bus back to the subway station – a precipitous ride. We
took the subway to Central Hong Kong and then walked to the big escalator,
which we rode up a many levels to Soho. By then we needed to stop for a
drink before we walked on overhead walkways back to the Star ferry terminal,
onto a boat and back to Kowloon.
We walked to our hotel (Marco Polo Gateway) through the vast Harbour City
shopping centre. We ran into a couple from Leads England whom we’d met
yesterday on our tour. They’d been to old HK and found it a big contrast to
where we were standing in Harbour City then a bit of down time. We had a
drink and snacks in the Club Lounge of the hotel (nice to be pampered), then
strolled to the waterfront to watch the symphony of lights. It’s
interesting, but not spectacular. Fun to be out with the crowds, though. We
wandered around the streets and through the complex, looking for somewhere
to get a very light snack, and finally settled on a little café. Then back
to our room for our last night. A Really good day!
All Photos Oct 4 Hong Kong
Wednesday, October 5 - Hong Kong and Home
With just a few hours left to explore Hong Kong, we headed out to see how
much we could deplete our Octopus cards.
First, of course, was a ride on the Star Ferry to Central Hong Kong. From
there we found our way to the tram lines on Queen/Hennessey and hopped
aboard. We rode to Victoria Park, then got on the subway back to Kowloon
Park near our hotel. We roamed around there, enjoying some singing and
dancing [ I think it was a "flash" event. ] and watching the birds (
Flamingos ), then back to our hotel to pack.
We were ready and out the door in plenty of time and with little traffic,
got to the airport in time for a quick meal before our flight was called.
Although we booked an aisle and middle seat, we ended up in 2 aisles, with
an empty seat between us. [ Yesssss!!!! ] Bonus!, Lots more comfortable for
a 15 hour flight!
Oct 5 Hong Kong