Monday, December 31, 2012

Bangkok video

Video and images from our adventure travelling from Anchorage to Bangkok in September - October 2011 aboard the Diamond Princess.  Enjoy again with us the few days we spent in Bangkok post cruise.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Sunday visiting Temples

Sunday 28 October – Bangkok, Thailand

Today was our day at the temples.  With the help of a private driver, Chai we visited in order:

·       Vimanmek Palace/Mansion

In between temples, we got to see a lot of Bangkok – a very large Chinatown, an extensive government and regal centre (that reminded us of London).  By taxi was the only way to cover these sights especially as the ferry service runs less frequently on Sunday.  Wat Arun was a bonus but it was a small ferry ride across the river from the Wat Pho.  

We were then dropped in Siam at the Centralworld for some shopping, following which we caught the Skytrain back to the hotel.
Another great day in Bangkok.

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A day in rural Thailand

Saturday 27 October – Bangkok, Thailand

Today we had a private guide to visit the Floating Market at Damnernsaduak, & then to the Bridge on the River Kwai, museum and cemetery.  Also see this museum link.

Thailand's remaining floating markets are a symbol of what life was like in days gone by.  The floating market in Ratchaburi (in a canal called Damnoen Saduak) is one of Thailand’s largest.

During World War 2, the Japanese used Allied prisoners of war to build a railway from Thailand to Burma so they could supply their army without the dangers of sending supplies by sea.  Many prisoners died under appalling conditions during its construction, and the line became known as the 'Death Railway'.  The Bridge on the River Kwai is of course the 1957 film but the bridge exists and we visited it today.

Our day started at 0730 and we returned at 1630.  Where we travelled

A full, interesting day in rural Thailand.

Tonight after our complimentary cocktails, we dined at the hotel’s Italian restaurant.

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Saturday, October 27, 2012

A day on the river

Friday 26 October – Bangkok, Thailand

After breakfast this morning, we took to the Chao Phraya river to visit the Grande Palace.  It was hot (heat reflecting off the granite paths) and we stayed for about 90 minutes.

Then a tuk-tuk ride to see the Royal Barge Museum.  We were dropped at the entrance and walked some distance along narrow passageways through residences to find that the barges were all out preparing for the upcoming procession of barges on 9 November to mark the King’s 85th birthday.  He has reigned since 9 June 1946. 

Back to the road and a taxi to the Jim Thompson House.  We did not take the tour but had some refreshments before visiting the shop.

Then a tuk-tuk to the river via a silk shop – the detour giving us a discounted fare and the driver some free fuel.

Another ferry downriver, then the return trip to Central and our hotel (which took about 40 minutes).  An excellent buffet dinner in the hotel tonight.
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Friday, October 26, 2012

The end of our cruise

Thursday 25 October – Bangkok (Laem Chabang), Thailand

We arrived in Laem Chabang at 0400 and disembarked at 0915.

Our cruise from Alaska took in over 8,500 nautical miles or 17,638km at speeds ranging from 21.3 Knots from Whittier to Muroram (Japan) to 11.5 Knots from Nagasaki to Shanghai.

Of the ports/cities we visited, Beijing clearly was the most impressive for us.  Nagasaki ranked up there as did our second visit to Shanghai.  The transit in Victoria Harbour for the Hong Kong light show was special.

The cruise itself was most enjoyable – doing things we don’t do at home (reading included) and not doing those things we do at home.  It was very much like a resort but with a different port every so often.  We met some interesting people (including our dinner partners from Texas, & the Maitre d’ who accommodated our table requirements especially at breakfast and met some staff whom we had met before).

BangkokWe took the Princess transfer (two hours) to the Ramada Hotel, then we went by taxi to the Shangri-La Hotel on the river.  New suitcases were required so we strolled out through the markets to the local Department Store.  Then cocktails were complimentary and dinner was by the river at Salathip restaurant (incl. Thai dancers).  And of course the river traffic was beautiful.

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Tuesday, October 23, 2012


Monday 22 October – Singapore

Diamond Princess was the first ship to call at the Marina Bay Cruise Centre when it was inaugurated or opened today.  The Captain hosted the Deputy Prime Minister as well as the President of Princess Cruises on-board and there was a ceremony later in the day that delayed our sailing.  We had also been asked to arrive two hours early in the morning, before arrival of the Voyager of the Seas.  They have quite some improvements to make in the processing and crowd movement area.  The immigration and security checks were the tightest of any port on this trip.  The port roadways are still being completed.

The cruise centre is only 10 minutes away from the shuttle stop at Marina Bay Sands but despite that the bus took 35 minutes to get there. 

Once we arrived at the drop off point, we walked across to the Mandarin Oriental and into the shopping centre.  We exited the shopping centre and continued walking towards Orchard Road.  A taxi took us to the Hilton for refreshments, and another to the aptly named Arab Street to see some silk.  Then back to Marina Bay Sands and up to the Skywalk.  That was well worth the entrance fee, as was the drink. 

A great day in Singapore.  Hot but cooler than Saigon!

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Sunday, October 21, 2012

Vietnam 2

Saturday 20 October - Ho Chi Minh City (Phu My), Vietnam

This morning we took the transfer to Saigon and experienced some hawkers, honking horns (to let them know we are coming), and buzzing motorbikes.  The bikes were a real sideshow - clinging families (we saw 5) and we learnt how to navigate the street crossings.

Our self-guided walk took in the Opera House, Continental Hotel, Notre Dame Cathedral, the former Presidential Palace now Reunification Hall, & the old Post Office before we retired to the roof bar at the Rex Hotel for refreshments and relief from the very hot, humid day.  Unfortunately the church and palace were closed by the time we reached them.

The drive west from Port up the Saigon River took less than the mooted three hours and only 90 minutes for the return trip.

Leaving port this afternoon, the ship needed to be swung around.  The Captain said this was the furthest inland the ship has been and it cannot go further as the Saigon River narrows even more further west.  At this point, he only had 20m clearance aft & foreward!  Easy-peasy and worth the applause!