Monday 30th October 2006

While packing and preparing we decided to take the laptop with us so we could see our photographs as we go. We also realised it will be a useful resource for finding information as we travel.

The blog idea naturally suggests itself. Not only is it a way of keeping in touch it will be a lasting record of our holiday. This is something we both agree we miss from our previous holidays. We will try to update the blog every day but may not be able to upload to the web quite so often.

Thursday 2nd November 2006

Manchester - Heathrow - Singapore

The thirteen hour flight was reasonably comfortable and the hotel transfer very smooth. We are 8 hours ahead of the UK and as the Sun set, armed with a street map, we set off to find The Raffles Hotel. It was hot and humid and good to stretch our legs. We found a table in the Long Bar and got ourselves a couple of Singapore Slings.

Rather tasty! Job done we had snack and got a taxi back to our hotel.

Friday 3rd November 2006

The Furama Riverfront Hotel is very good. We discovered the internet access in our room and connected successfully! Then we spent the morning and afternoon going around Singapore on the Sightseeing Hop0nHopOff busses. The tropical heat and humidity are alleviated by going inside malls and shops. We gave the Yu Kee Food a miss though.

In the evening our bus ticket included a trip to see the Magic Fountain Sound and Light Show on Sentosa Island. The show was disappointing. The fountains were not very special and most of the time was spent projecting laser images onto a mist of water. After this we visited The Bugis Street Market where we bought a CD of Pop Music and a couple of fruit drinks which were great. It seems Mr Raffles decided that the diverse races should all be separated and so there is a China Town, Indian Quarter, Arab Street and Bugis Street which is Malay. Now Singapore is changing this and making every effort to integrate all the races in a melting pot. But these quarters survive and are wonderful to visit. Before returning to the Furama we took a boat trip from Clarks Quay up and down the river. It was very special to do this at night. The riverside cafes were very busy. Almost back at the hotel as we crossed the park we saw some lights in the sky. We investigated and discovered it was a large group of kite enthusiasts.

The Kiters Web Site

But these kites were motorised and had no strings. Each kite carried lights and the operators were very skilful. We were lucky to watch as six of them flew the most advanced models in a synchronised display reminding us of the Red Arrows.

Saturday 4th November 2006

Lizzie's bit. The picture is of a tree

- obviously - but it is outside our hotel room window and... we are 9 floors up! All the foliage is big with English pot plants the size of bushes. Had authentic breakfast yesterday - sugar cane juice to drink and glutinous rice, noodles, steamed lotus balls (didnít know lotus had balls), Japanese accompaniments and fish porridge. Today I had cornflakes, beans, fried egg, bacon and hash browns. Mmmmm very nice. Had a quick look round the shops but the overweight ladies here are a size 8 so had less interest than usual. Ended up in an IT mall (6 floors of IT Geek stuff) which was more interesting and there was never a queue in the ladies toilets - not many ladies in the place. Looking forward to Peter enjoying his first tropical downpour. There was one yesterday (apparently) but we missed it - inside a Mall eating chocolate dipped things and when we came out in had finished. The only clue was wet seats on the tourist bus.

We also went back to Sentosa Island today by the cable car. There we found a rainforest walk which was very enjoyable and educational.

The noised of the Circadas was unexpected. We had a good curry in a rooftop setting then went for nightcap cocktails at the Fullerton Hotel. Ever-so-slightly sensational.

Sunday 5th November 2006

This morning we explored the far reaches of the MRT.

The frequent trains are inexpensive but you run the risk of catching a cold. Things are not quite so Utopian at the end of the line and we felt more like we were in a foreign country. We ended our journey at Chinatown where we walked through the open air market getting very hot. A CD of Cantonese Opera was purchased for 3 dollars. No fireworks in sight. Not surprising as the posession of them is punished by the cane.

Singapore - Bali

Monday 6th November 2006

Arrived in Bali and on our transfer through the streets it was obvious how different to Singapore things are here. The Bali Hyatt Hotel is a maze of balcony rooms surrounding tropical gardens and located on the beach. We arrived at 00:15 to find Tottenham v Chelsea live on TV. Watched the 2-1 defeat with JT sent off. Awoke to daylight and heat. We now realise a forrest fire somewhere had caused a haze over Singapore while we were there. Although there was no hint of polution there were no blue skies. Here in Bali there is no effect from the fire and we feel the strong sunshine for the first time. However on our first explorations to the beach there was a rainstorm lasting 20 minutes or so.

We strolled outwards along the seafront declining massages at regular intervals. Then went into town and explored the local department store. We came back with this hat, just the job and we will try to sell it back to the shop before we leave.

The beach is steep and when the tide is in the water is deep, but this afternoon the tide was out leaving a very long walk through knee deep water to the reef. So we spent the afternoon in the pools. Dinner was Bali cuisine (spicy) with 'Frog Dance' - a traditional story of good and evil.

Tuesday 7th November 2006

We took a guided tour of the hotel's award winning garden. 30 years ago there was only the large trees here beside the beach. Now there are all sorts of plants growing. The use of water and fish (just visible in the photo) naturally stops any mosquito problems.

Afterwards it was a dip in the sea which is like a fairly warm bath and back to the pool which is like a warm bath, next to the jacusi (40 degrees) and finaly into the cold dip (10 degrees). The Sun rises everyday between 5:45 and 6:15 setting everyday between 17:45 and 18:15 depending on the season. Although some regions cater for the surfing nightlife, here in the Sanur region everyone has finished dinner by 21:30 and are getting set for an early rise as by 8:00 you can get some rays on the beach.

Wednesday 8th November 2006

We booked a trip to the volcano. The tour would take in some shopping stops and refreshments. As we travelled inland we climbed slowly and the scenery changed to rice fields on either side irrigated by water coming down from the mountains. This then gave way to fruit farming and then wilderness as we approached the volcano.

This is as close as we got. We are on the rim of the caldera which can be seen in the right of the photograph on the other side of the lake. The rim circles the volcano which rises in the centre. The 1927 lava flow can be seen as the black section spreading out towards the camera. It destroyed a village. This spot is very commercialised and street sellers abound. The shopping stops were strangely expensive compared to the meals, drinks and other goods we had seen. The shop to customer ratio seems extreem. For eample we travelled for over 8 minutes by coach along a street with carving shops either side passing 2 every 5 seconds. Do they export it? We recognised some tall painted cats we have seen for sale in England.

Thursday 9th November 2006

Chess is very popular here, being played by many people on the streets, in shops and at our hotel. Manilla (not far away) was the venue of Karpov v Korchnoi in the 1980's (?). Peter's annual correspondence game for Lancashire is uninterupted by holidays for the first time, continuing by email.

We are usually at home at this time of year and watching the 9 Ball Pool World Championships. This year they are in Manilla and there is a lot of TV coverage here. Of course we are not watching too much TV but Steve Davis is through to the final 32 today and we hope to see his match. The food is wonderful, especially the fruit, especially when it is squashed into a cocktail. The hotel has lots on offer and does not hold back on the spirits.

Friday 10th November 2006

Just time to chill at the pool for a few hours

...before leaving for Denpasar airport which is a surpisingly pleasant and efficient airport with lots of interesting shops and services. The flight is just over 4 hours due North, so no time difference. We fly over Borneo and are surprised that it takes an hour or so.

Bali - Hong Kong

We arrive in the dark and our transfer takes us 40 minutes constantly passing blocks of huge skyscrapers which all appear to be residential. Our hotel is near Victoria dock and set in brightly lit streets full of people. We checked in quickly, there being 6 people on reception and a single queue system. Our room is one of 70 on the 14th floor. Modern, with TFT TV and a central control panel for everything except the curtains which have to be drawn by hand. We do not appear to have the 9 Ball channel though. Things look like they will cost more here. Perhaps that will change tomorrow when we get outside the airport/hotel system.

Saturday 11th November 2006

We took the funicular tram to the high point overlooking HK. Despite the haze there were some great views. Take a look at the movie on Their Web Site.

Amazed at how popular poppy day is here. We bought a poppy from an English gentleman who said we were lucky to be seeing HK at its best. He reccomended we go to Lamma Island for lunch. We took his advise and used the ferry to go to Yung Shue Wan. Upon landing we followed the walking trail to Sok Kwu Wan on the other side of the island. The walk was 1.75 hours and quite steep and remote in parts. At other points there were shops selling drinks, food and just about everything else. Our destination was a seafront complex of small seafood restaurants each with the fruit de la mere swimming in tanks in front of the kitchens. We gave them a miss and headed back to the mainland for a Chinese. We planned to use the famous Star Ferry for our return but were amazed to find a huge queue...

Wikipedia is out of date!

We discovered that after all these years, today was the final day that the Central Pier was in use. The whole of HK had turned out to make one last voyage and we were caught up in the excitement...

Sunday 12th November 2006

Today is the first day for the new Central Pier to be in use.

We were back and forth a few times as we tried to get onto the new skytrain cable car. But, being Sunday, the entire population of HK also wanted a ride. We hope to do it tomorrow when, we are lead to believe, you can just walk on.

Read more...

We chilled out on the Star Ferry Harbour Tour and followed it with a Chinese.

Monday 13th November 2006

Back to Central Pier and up the worlds longest continuous escalators which took us to the HK residential 'Mid Levels'. We stopped half way to visit HK oldest temple 'Man Mo' where the incense smoke is very strong and extractor fans help clear the smoke. Drinks, lunch and a trip to HMV all helped to use up our last HK dollars. We also used our 'Octopus' travel card up with a few trips on the trams.

Hong Kong - Bangkok

Long transfer to Arnoma Hotel unpacked at 23:30 so just settled down for the night.

Tuesday 14th November 2006

Went out to find ATM into bustling streets selling food and clothes. It is the King's 80th Birthday this year and many people are wearing yellow shirts to celebrate this fact. Peter bought one and we got a taxi to Wat Phra Kaew which is a magnificent palace reminding us of 'The King and I'. Here Liz availed the holy water on the head using a flower treatment.

The guy in the front is wearing one of the yellow shirts Peter was wearing. The journey back by taxi was 40 minutes to cover 8 miles for 1.6 Pounds through a mix of Tuk-tuks, mopeds, pedestrians, bikes, coaches, limos, cars, taxis, lorries and buses. Then we had booked a river trip and we were off again into the traffic to get back to the river. It was worth it. The Chao Phraya was full of flood water and some of the dwellings built over the river were almost overcome. They are built on poles normally high above the river but the photo shows how high the river is.

This was a fantastic experience. We were treated to a fruit buffet. Among the everyday fruits were Pomelo, Mango, Cocunut, Jujube, Guava, Dragon Fruit, Sapadilla and Jack Fruit.

Bangkok has the worst traffic problems either of us has seen.

Wednesday 15th November 2006

The first early start of our holiday to go to the Damnoen Saduak floating market 70 miles outside the city. A wonderful trip with a very informative guide. We shared a boat with some friends from our coach. And we all drove some hard bargains.

After this we had lunch at the Rose Gardens. This is a beautiful park 40kms outside Bangkok. They look after elephants here and the animals put on a little show of the way they used to work in the logging industry. This was followed by a cultural show of music, dancing, some very scary swordfighting and a Thai Boxing match which was 'rigged' in a most amusing way but nevertheless demonstrated what moves are available and how tough the boxers must be.

Now wise to the traffic, we jumped off the coach near the first Skytrain station we got to and returned to our hotel by foot.

Thursday 16th November 2006

We set off for the bar on the observation floor of the Sky Tower Hotel by walking through the market. The cooking in large woks full of oil on the stalls added to the heat and the smells alternated between mouthwatering and stomach turning.

At the 83rd floor the view is fantastic, but the haze spoils it a little.

After this we went to the Oriental Hotel for afternoon tea and came back on the Skytrain for a swim at the hotel and a drink in the bar. We began to warm to Bangkok today as we spent a lot of time on the streets.

Friday 17th November 2006

Our flight is at 00:10 today and is 12 hours to Heathrow. We arrived at 05:40 GMT on Friday morning and transfered to our Manchester flight. Well that is about it! Seven flights with the laptop, four different locations to log on from. Was it worth it? Yes, without a doubt. THE END