Wednesday, 11 March 2009

Day Sixty: Between Malaysia and Sumatra

A day at sea today as we leave the Malacca Straits and head towards the Indian Ocean, as I write this I can see the northern coastline of Sumatra through the cabin window and earlier on dolphins were reported to be playing in these waters. Unfortunately we missed this particular pod but we are sure that more will be found as we hug the coast and head towards the southern tip of Sri Lanka – I still think of it as Ceylon.

Today is March 11th and it is my sister Margaret’s 73rd birthday so please join me in wishing her a very happy birthday, and if the arrangements that Hilary made before we left are working, a birthday card should have landed on the doorstep by now, Many Happy Returns Margie if you or Claude are reading this.

Our morning tour talk was about Mumbai (Bombay) and having seen it I am even more concerned as to how I will feel being besieged by thousands of people and many of them begging for money or trying to sell me something. We learned today that you can’t buy rupees on board the Oriana so we will be at the mercy of the money changers when we arrive at the terminal, not a good start, and we were also told that P & O cannot lay on shuttle buses as the Indian Taxi Mafia prevent them from doing so. It is going to be a culture shock alright but perhaps the visit to Cochin a few days earlier will help to acclimatise me to life on the Indian continent.

After the tour talk we went down to Reception to take back our unused Ringgits, pick up today’s Crossword and Sudoku and talk to them about the nonsense that has stopped Geraldine our cabin steward from putting cartons of Soya Milk in our fridge. The girl on the desk explained that we could get it any time but that we need to call Room Service and they would deliver it by the glass. As it turned out this was all bull as when we contacted Room Service a few hours later the first question that they asked was if we would like a carton and that is exactly what they delivered about 15 minutes later. Our morning was spent on the loungers of Promenade Deck 7 where we were shaded from the full sun and where a slight breeze kept us cool from the 82F ambient temperature, we watched quite a few tankers and small fishing boats going about their business in the Malacca Straits. We almost succeeded with the crossword but not only did I complete today’s Sudoku I also managed to finish another that was a few days old. I can’t say that I will ever get addicted to those things but they have given me some encouragement to have a go at those in the Daily Mail when we get back.

“When we get back,” what mixed feelings that expresses as we have become so comfortable on board Oriana and so used to our daily routine of not having to think about getting our own meals etc. that to contemplate being settled back in Middle Chub Tor is not easy. As Hilary has said several times, “nothing will be the same again,” and she is right for this has been an experience that we will never forget and almost certainly never do again, it will be one of those happenings in life just like the one that Lilian had when she did a similar voyage back in the 1960’s. She never stopped talking about it either so be prepared all of you.

For those of you that asked for the picture of Hilary holding a snake I have posted the best one that I can find, we took four or five and this one shows the snake completely in her hands if not under her control. When we get home – there’s that thought again – I will make a few CD’s with a selection of our photographs on them so that you can each watch a slide show and relive our experiences, this will tide you over until you get the video which at the rate we are accumulating footage may run into more than one DVD. Don’t groan all at once, the ship’s official video of the world tour actually runs to 10 DVD’s and costs about £75.00. So far we have managed to ignore all their requests to purchase the set but our resolve may be weakening, on the other hand we don’t have time to watch some of the DVD’s that we have in our collection so how often would we watch videos of the cruise?

Hilary has spent the afternoon cutting, pasting and sticking photos and text into the scrapbook while I have typed and started to watch I Am Legend on our TV, I gave up after a while as it seems to have been filmed in the dark and with the sunlight on the screen I can’t follow the plot. Tonight we have two new events happening on yet another formal night, the first is a meeting with the Portunus Club now that we are Sapphire Members – we think that this is just for a quick drink as it has been timed for 6.00pm and dinner is at 6.30pm. The second and more interesting event is a new production called Best of British by the Headliners Company and is in the Theatre Royal, we are really looking forward to that. OK Here’s Hilary…..

Tiz I. I’ve almost forgotten how to type – its been so long! OK, first I need to catch with some of the messages. Jess. The Singapore immigration system is a pain but the immigration officers were polite and efficient – love the place and the people. Sam. Sounds as if the jet lag took more of a toll on you than you first thought. You did the right thing in shutting down shop and relaxing with a book. Hope you are more rested now. Sharon. Well done on getting the garage sorted – a man with a boat eh! Seems like himself is never happier than when he is miserable – don’t join him sweetheart. Julian. We wish you were there too! You would have enjoyed the elephants and we have been to some spectacular diving spots too! – wasted on us. Liz. Thailand is very lovely and so is Vietnam. Well done on the pavlova front – its all in the vinegar and cornflour mix. Great news that the snow geese are back – they think it’s warmer in Devon? Now to KL. We took a tour and were disappointed that we did not get the opportunity to shop in any of the real markets. We did the heritage tour and stood around the streets trying to hear the tour guide above the traffic noise – unsuccessfully. We did try the tea which was incredibly sweet because it is made with condensed milk and the curry sauce with crepe pancakes which was quite nice. Our stomachs have been good since too – apparently this is unusual! Sam has just about covered our day – lazy to the utmost but the scrapbook is almost up to date to Hong Kong. Now I must get ready to go and be sociable – best bib and tucker again. Take care, God bless.

Just before dinner tonight we were invited to our first Portunus Club party and for those not in the know this club is for people who have sailed with P & O for a certain number of nights and in our case we are Sapphire members having been on board for 50+ nights. Because the group is so huge (I think that over 800 of us are going around the world which will automatically make you a Sapphire member) they held it on the open deck at the aft of deck 8. It was primarily a get to know you session plus a plug for P & O and a ‘come on’ offer of £750 per person cabin spend if you signed up for one of the cruises – my guess is that it is for the Aurora Grand Voyage next year. It would seem that the recession has finally reached the cruise industry. We also went to the theatre for the latest Headliners show True Brit and by golly those dancers have to work hard for that show, I talked to them afterwards as usual and congratulated but I do not envy them having to do a repeat performance at 10.30pm. That’s it, I am told that the internet connection is flaky again just as it was last night so you may get this late. Night night.


Pat said...

Sam's thoughts on adjusting to ordinary life when you get back to Chub Tor echo mine.How will you cope with cooking and making your own bed. Don't let it put you off coming home becuase you are much missed. Being able to talk to you via internet is great but not the same as hearing and seeing you.
Love the blue dress you were wearing when you were holdong the snake (eee) was it one of the ones you bought the other day.
Weather has improved over the last few days, lets hope it is much better by the time you reach Europe. Have just learnt to talk on line on facebook,i.e. talking to Kate.
Love Pat

samw7 said...

Hi there
Love the picture with mum and the snake. You look so happy! You are right it will be difficult to readjust but what an incredible opportunity you have had. Continue to enjoy every last minute. We are scheduled to have three days of cool and wet weather and we are so grateful as the drought has been so bad (although Jeff's softball folks are hoping that it rains hard enough that they don't have to play instead of being forced to play in the drizzle and mud.)Hope you see some more dolphins.
Love to you both, Sam
PS Pat I too have just joined the Facebook world. We'll have to become friends.

Sharon and Georgia said...

Hi Aunty and Uncle.

Have just had a chance to catch up on the blog. Sadly, as I read this on Sunday 15th March, Thursday onwards is missing. Obviously a problem has occurred with the internet connection.

The photos of all the animals are wonderful and I was astonished to see the beautiful white peacocks and of course the white tiger. Wow. Love all the pictures.

I personally really look forward to you sharing your cruise DVDs with us all and of course it is going to be a life changing experience.We can experience it all with you on your return. Can't wait!

Uncle, i have a copy of I am Legend, if you want to borrow it on your return.

I met up with John yesterday (Saturday) and he is a really nice guy. We didn't stop talking for 10 hours! I think my request for the universe to give me a great communicator has beem met! So far so good. Aunty Liz gave me some good advice and said to take things slowly and that is what we have agreed to.(I will fill you in with details later)

Keep on enjoying each and every moment. Much love xxxx

samw7 said...

I hate the internet not working. It is so disappointing to keep checking and nothing new is there. I didn't realize quite how much I had come to rely on hearing from you daily as a way of keeping in touch. Hope all is well.
Sharon - Glad that your encounter with John went well. I agree to keep it slow and light for a while. Just enjoy it.
Love, Sam

Liz said...

Hi there,

Everyone is checking daily for the next episode of the cruise only to find there has been no entry since 11th. It has become so much part of our daily routine that we are missing you both greatly!

I hope you are both OK and that it is just an internet problem. I even called P&O today, but they said they had no reports of any problems.

Just know that we are all missing you and looking forward to hearing about your experiences in India.

Look after each other,love Liz