We weren’t expecting too much from the tour today, after all we were in a commercial port more used to handling tankers and freighters that they were in cruise liners, however it turned out into an interesting day. We arrived pretty much on time at 7.00am but Hilary and I were still in the land of nod and didn’t stir our stumps for the actual docking. The captain seemed to manage OK without us giving him advice from above (we usually go up to deck 12 where you can see him working his controls in the little side pod one deck below) and it wasn’t long before the crew announcement was made that we had docked, immigration had cleared us and that we could go ashore at our leisure. Being as we had booked a tour (B1-1 Kuantan on your own) we ignored the statement and proceeded to go to Deck 12 to get some breakfast and then down to Deck 5 to buy some Malaysian Ringgits, 480 of them for £100 sterling. Then it was time to play the Theatre Royal messing about game where you get a little paper stick on badge with hardly any glue on so it soon falls off and find a seat among all the other B1-1’s. You wait and wait until you are called and then ordered to go to Deck 5 where after swiping your card and listening for the “Goodbye” you can proceed down the gangway, across a hot and steaming car park to coach B1-1.
Our courier was called Zubir and he efficiently got us on the bus and underway, we had to make a quick seat change when we discovered that the air conditioning outlet above Hilary’s seat was broken and within minutes of sitting down she had freezing feet, but other than that the 90 minute journey from the port of Kemamam to Kuantan, where there was some semblance of civilisation, was uneventful except for a strange Australian lady who kept moving from her seat, talking to Zubir, sitting in the very back row on her own, and then going back to her partner. She did this on the way there and back and I still haven’t worked out what she was up to, but then most Aussies are barking from what I have seen of them on this trip.
Our journey to Kuantan, the capital of Pahang province ended at what all the locals call the Mega Mall and we were directed from our air conditioned coach into an air conditioned mall, very nice and very necessary as it was close to 90F by the time we arrived at 11.00am. Zubir asked us to meet him back at the Mall entrance at 3.00pm so with that ringing in our ears it was time for yet another shopping opportunity. It didn’t take us long to find the discount sections of the mall and wouldn’t you know it but what did I find but Kohl’s Croft and Barrow polo shirts at two for 29 Ringgits or about £3 each – so I naturally bought two and went looking for Hilary who had found something similar but without the Kohl’s label at two for 20 Ringgits. Damn I was robbed again! Time for a food break and between us we ate a very small seafood pizza (not to either of our tastes really), a tuna croissant, the largest butter and raisin bun that you have ever seen, and a small blueberry cream cake all washed down with one mango and one orange juice. It wasn’t our plan to stay in the mall all day so we took the advice of some of our other travellers and went outside to find a taxi driver who offered to take us to the biggest and most famous blue mosque in town for 10 Ringgits. We accepted his offer and in a matter of minutes we arrived just as the muezzin was calling out for prayers – it is Sunday and that may be a bit special – so we weren’t able to go inside but we were able to get some good photos of the outside. Our taxi driver had told us that it was a short walk to the river but it was not really true, we did get there but it was a good 20 minutes in steaming heat and although we tried to walk in the shade of the palm trees we were both pretty sweaty by the time we reached the river bank. It was good that we arrived directly opposite the Kuantan sign so that photographically it was a nice spot but the lack of fishing boats and general lack of river traffic was not what we had been led to expect. With the clock pushing 2.15pm it was time to look for another taxi to take us back to the Mega Mall and Hilary did a brilliant job in finding a taxi rank just a little ways up the river. We asked the price for a ride to the Mega Mall and we were told 8 Ringgits so now we knew why our first taxi driver had been so happy as we were twice the distance from where we had started. Naturally we didn’t argue over the price (in fact we gave the driver 10 Ringgits anyway) although the ride back was nowhere near as pleasant as the ride to the mosque as this taxi had no air conditioning other than 3 windows down (my window didn’t even have a winder handle), but he got us back in time to do some more shopping. This time it was a quest for orange juice – a big bottle – and a jug so that we can make up some Crystal Lite pink lemonade that we bought in San Francisco, and I am pleased to report that we were successful on both counts and we gleefully carried all our purchases onto the coach at 3.00pm ready for the ride back to the ship.
Again the ride back was totally uneventful except for the mad Aussie woman and we got back to the quayside around 4.15pm and this gave us just long enough to make more purchases from the little stalls that always set themselves up when a cruise liner arrives. We needed a fridge magnet just to say that we have been here and it didn’t take long to get one of those and just as we were about to join the queue to get on the ship we spotted some colourful dresses in Hilary’s size. Now these look like Batik but at the price we paid I am not certain that they are but they have that tie dyed look and we did a deal for two with one in red and one in purple. They look great and I will pass you over if Hilary has time – it is 6.10pm and we have to be at dinner at 6.30pm – good night for now.
Tiz I. No time to blog but I will write tomorrow when we have only a morning trip to see the orang-utans. I will blog first tomorrow and be sure of my turn. God bless.
OK just got back from the theatre and Hilary has gone off to the Pacific Lounge to retrieve our passports which apparently we have to carry with us all day in Singapore and then give them back when we come on board again, all this so that they can be stamped on the way in and on the way out. I have never seen anything so stupid in all my travelling days and the chance of losing a passport in the system must have been magnified many times by this craziness. I have no idea how reliable or how corrupt the Singapore immigration people are but if anyone wants to clone a passport this would be an ideal way of having 1800 of them in your possession. Ah well that’s enough for tonight, enjoy the few pictures that I have put up and we hope that tomorrow we will have pictures of the orang-utans. Goodnight.