SEAsia 2018

In January 2018 Janet W. and I met in Hong Kong to board the Celebrity Millenium ship for a two-week cruise down the eastern coast of Asia. Here are the pictures I took.

Clicking on a picture will take you to the Google Photos I've taken at a site, opening in a new window. I've annotated many of the pictures. Add your own comments, of course.

Our first stop was Hong Kong, disappointing because the weather was dreary and Victoria Peak was socked in. No view of the harbor. However, we rode around the area in our tour bus, were overwhelmed by how many skyscrapers they are, and took a sampan to Jumbo, a famous old restaurant on a little island in the harbor, for a very good dim sum lunch. With all the dragons around, it looked like San Francisco's Chinatown.

After a day at sea, much needed to combat jet lag, we arrived at the port at Halong Bay, near HaNoi in North Vietnam. The on-board lecturer reminded us that although the houses and public buildings look old, they really aren't - Hanoi was pretty well destroyed (by the US) in the VietNam war.

We took a ride around the teeming downtown in little electric cars that held 4-5 people. You can get a sense of the area by looking at the videos. We went to a westernized hotel for lunch, and later went to the Hanoi Hilton prison where John McCain had been held.

We were docked pretty close to Ha Long Bay with its strange limestone karst mountains rising out of the sea. This is a burgeoning tourist area, with many high rise hotels around. We were very interested in the fishing village in the bay, but there is a big new museum to visit, which the tour guide was determined to do. The walls are all polished granite and the acoustics terrible, especially when the school children descend. The weather was still cloudy.

The next stop was DaNang, in the center of VietNam. The rain was pouring down, I had coughed a lot in the night, and I decided not to go ashore. Janet may have some pictures to add here, but I stayed on board and played blackjack.

Finally to South Vietnam. I didn't really care about seeing another Asian city, so I opted to go to Ba Ria, a smaller town nearer the coast and the boat. A few interesting visits and interactions with kids, etc.

Thailand:

I had been to Bangkok a couple of times so this time Janet and I went to Ayutthaya, which had been the second capital of Siam but was destroyed by Burma in 1787.

First we visited the Bang Pa-In Summer Palace of King Rama V, "where European and Thai architecture come together to create dazzling structural masterpieces" - we went around in golf carts.

Next The ruined and reconstructed wats are similar in style to those I knew from the Phi Mai prasat.

Wat Phra Si Sanphet is handsomely reconstructed

Wat Phra Mahathat is much less so - it's the one with the head of Buddha.

Interesting day, but a very long drive (3+ hours) from the pier.

Our second day docked in Thailand Janet went in to Bangkok to see the Royal Palace. I went on the "Beyond Pattaya" tour. Pattaya had been an R&R place during the Viet Nam War, and my impression is that is was pretty much just a beach town. But it's only a couple of hours from Bangkok, and on the bay, so it's been developed into a resort, with Interesting Places to see:

"Explore the beautiful Wat Yannasangwararam monastery, an enormous temple featuring modern designs and traditional relics. Then it’s on to Viharn Sien, a museum containing over 300 pieces of Chinese artwork. Next, learn how grapevines are grown at Silver Lake Vineyard. "

Finally, last but definitely not least, Singapore. Absolutely gorgeous city. The cleanliness is not to be scorned, especially after visiting the more usual Asian cities. We were enchanted with it.

And finally, a few pictures from the Celebrity Millenium. I have no complaints about the ship. But neither Janet nor I feel that our future lies with further cruises. Just not our cup of tea.