Well, it has been a few days since the last post.
Aurora is sailing slowly from Semarang on the island of Java towards our second Indonesian stop at Bali tomorrow.
We are still having a wonderful time. These are the highlights of the last week or so.
Wednesday 8th February – Sea Day
On the balcony at 7:30 it was already 26°C. It rose to 29° during the day. We continue with the tropical theme and it is sticky again, and there were a couple of moments in the afternoon when we had a bit of a shower.
Deb and I went to a port talk on Semarang (Indonesia) this morning. It was to try and decide if there is a tour suitable for us. In the end we went for a short 4 hour ‘Glimpse of Semarang’ trip to let us see a little of the area around the city.
After a cup of coffee we set off for a walk around the Promenade Deck. Today we did 4 laps plus a bit, and that brings my total so far to 10 miles.
To round off the morning I stared at the sea in the back garden and watched the flying fish again.
At midday the clocks magically shot forward another hour, and we are now at GMT + 7.
By the time we had enjoyed a bit of lunch there was hardly time to catch a breath before Salsa and Cricket increased our pulse rates a little. Of course once they were over it was an excuse for a cup of tea and a scone.
It has been too hot and humid to spend time in the sunshine today, and I have enjoyed just snoozing on the balcony.
The evening entertainment features a concert pianist in the theatre called Tian Jiang, but I think we might go to Carmen’s at 9:30 to watch the Headliners perform the Abba Tribute show called ‘Thank you for the music’. This sector has had a much more varied selection of cabaret acts.
We were showered in time to go to the Individual Quiz in Champion’s and Deb succeeded in winning our first ‘gold sticker’ for the cruise. She managed 19/20 and beat me by just a single point. Yes it was an easy quiz today.
It was dinner time, and I still didn’t feel very hungry. This constant high temperature and high humidity, is sapping my energy, and killing my appetite. I enjoyed a chicken with a Chinese twist salad as a starter, and then picked my way through a Gammon Steak as a main course. I rounded off the meal with a couple of scoops of ice-cream. It sounds like my appetite was quite good, but I never finished any course.
Carmen’s had a technical problem. The Abba tribute show was cancelled, and the girl singer with the favoured Alto singing range, performed her personal portfolio of songs as an alternative show. Deb and I had a rest in the cabin and then went to the Crow’s Nest thinking we would be watching Caravan perform. We found the gang from the dinner table playing Trivial Pursuits so joined in as they struggled to get the final cheeses. It was the usual girls verses boys challenge, but neither were victorious as the pink cheese proved totally illusive.
The clock ticked towards 9:30, so we abandoned the game, and dashed to Masquerade’s. It was time for another quiz hosted by DJ Martin.
This evening the challenge was all about TV Quiz shows, and our team was sensational beating our nearest rivals by 7 points. Another bottle of wine for our virtual cellar.
This was the end of the second sea day as we crossed the Bay of Bengal towards the eastern rime of the Indian Ocean. The captain has promised more of the same weather tomorrow with a warm breeze and sunshine from dawn till dusk.
“Gad Carruthers, it’s hot!”
Thursday 9th February – Sea Day
We have been at sea for a calendar month today. If I have made any inference that we are not having a good time, then it was purely accidental. This is a sensational way of spending the winter.
Sorry for upsetting anyone at home.
I had a good night’s sleep after changing the pillows around. Better still, I haven’t woken with a stiff neck and a headache.
The weather is as predicted with the balcony at an early morning norm of 27°C. We are on the shaded side of the ship so just imagine how hot the balconies on starboard must become with this wall to wall sunshine. The breeze is also quite obvious as it is coming from the north east quadrant straight onto our balcony from the garden. Talking of the garden, it is a little lumpy but less active than yesterday when there were a few small hills and valleys with several groups of white horses playing in the distance.
After breakfast we spent an hour in the sunshine. It was a little energetic at times retaining towels in the breeze but Deb and I are persisting in attempts to give our pale skins some colour. From sun worship we went for a walk and my total has now reached 11 miles.
I think that I should clarify that we have walked considerably more than 11 miles on the cruise while on our tours, and we do avoid using the lifts for most of our climbs and descents through the decks.
…unlike a high number of other passengers!
It was time for coffee, and we went to the buffet. And yes, we avoided the cakes this morning.
Well, we are heading towards midday, and the clocks are being bumped forward another hour to make us GMT +8. That will set us up for our visit to Penang in Malaysia tomorrow. Sadly it means the post lunch sessions are squeezed once more.
Today at 2:15 the Aurora Choir performed in the theatre and we went along to listen. It was a really good 30 minutes, but I was a little sad knowing that I could have been singing.
Hopefully I will be on stage with them in the next sector.
We spent the remainder of the afternoon avoiding the worst of the heat and enjoying the air-conditioning in our cabin. Deb and I did crawl out to take part in the individual quiz, but that was the total expenditure of energy for the afternoon.
It was the final Formal evening of the sector and we all looked rather splendid at dinner. The menu was a Marco Pierre White special, and it so inspired us that hardly any of us actually chose his dishes.
After eating we went to the theatre to listen to the MacDonald Brothers, and were rather glad we did. Between them the two young men play the piano, accordion, guitar and violin, as well as giving us some really good harmony singing.
From the theatre made our way to Carmen’s for the Ball. We took to the floor for five or six dances and by the end of that I was overheating and out of energy.
It was time for bed. Aurora is moving quite smoothly now across the Straits of Mallaka for an early arrival at the penultimate port of this sector.
We have a tour in the morning when we arrive in Penang, so the alarm was set, although I doubt it will be necessary.
Friday 10th February – Penang, Malaysia
I was right about not needing the alarm. As Aurora made her final approaches to the busy port of Penang, the noise of the thrusters woke me.
It is hot again, but only around 25°C on the balcony when we finally got out of bed. Later in the day it pushed up towards the later 20s again…and typically, tropically, sticky.
We are parked with a view out over the water towards mainland Malaysia.
Our tour is called ‘Butterflies, Fruit and Spices’ and was due to leave at 8:45 so we had to be in the theatre by 8:30. There was plenty of time for a relaxing breakfast.
One of the regular events at ports is the appearance of the local authorities. Once they have boarded, checked paperwork, and checked for any unsavoury characters such as former Spice Girls, the officials are let loose on the buffet for breakfast. Many are prepared for this and make the most of the delights on offer, but sometimes you wonder if they have been given some bad advice about the food on offer.
Today for instance I noticed one of the men with a croissant. He initially folded it over and then spooned a little pot of Marmite over one side. This was followed by a dollop of butter and rounded off with a pot of marmalade. I couldn’t look away as he squeezed the croissant together and took a bite. Initially there was a slight glint of surprise in his eyes and a concerned stare at what he was eating. It may have been a pleasant surprise, but I think it was more a shock at the taste explosion in his mouth. He continued eating this newly discovered delicacy but the look on his face suggested he just wanted to get it swallowed and forgotten. I wonder who suggested the tried this unusual breakfast treat?
We returned to the cabin and got ourselves ready for the morning out in Penang.
The tour was superb. OK, it was tiring from standing, or walking for around three hours. Firstly the spice trail in a rain forest tested our climbing skills as the enthusiastic guide described the different plants to us. By the time we got back on the coach we were already 15 minutes late.
The next stop was a fruit farm where we had another excited farmer filling our heads with the names of fruits. His descriptions and obvious passion for the sweet and juicy fruit showed that this was more than a job to him. The visit was rounded off with a tasting session of freshly prepared fruit drinks plus a buffet of pineapple, mango, melon, as well as sweet treats that I did not recognise, but which I thoroughly enjoyed.
Back on the coach again and we were almost an hour late now.
The final stop was a butterfly centre. Oh, this was sensational.
There were butterflies of all colours and sizes ranging from what we see in Britain through to some the size of a tea-plate. Alongside the beautiful insects flying freely around the flowers, there were lizards, snakes, birds, fish, strange flat horseshoe crabs and various creepy crawlies to keep my camera busy. We were told we only had thirty minutes here, but by the time we had bought a souvenir, we were a further ten minutes late.
The return journey to the ship was a chance to snooze (if wives allowed) while the guide, Ronny, described and explained more about his home. He also told jokes, and they were new to us, although I did miss the last one while I got away with shutting my eyes…for a moment.
Back on Aurora we dashed up to the buffet to get something to eat. It was 2:30 and our trip had been longer than we anticipated, but it really was very good.
After eating, we went to reception to find out when we are moving from our current cabin to the new one. No-one seemed to know, or to care, but after standing our ground at the deck for long enough, we discovered we are moving on the first day in Singapore and Sunday. Of course this means we have to make an effort at packing tomorrow as we make our way south towards our next stop.
We also found our cabin steward and to be sure he knew we were leaving on Sunday morning. He was still unsure of how many of his cabins will be changing occupants, so our little bit of warning was welcomed. He suggested that we might be lucky and find our new cabin will be ready during the morning on Sunday. He will have ours ready by 10:00 for new passengers, and other stewards will be attempting similar time-scales.
This evening Maurice Grumbleweed was performing his final show in the theatre, and if we are enthusiastic enough, there is a tropical deck party out on the decks later. Aurora will not be leaving port until after 10:00 tonight, so it may not be as breezy as it usually gets for these parties.
Well we were alone on the dinner table with the two ladies that joined us in Dubai. They are far chattier than when we first met, but now it is almost time to say goodbye to them as they leave in Singapore. Our late return with a mid-afternoon snack in the buffet meant neither of us was hungry. We both decided on a bowl of soup, followed by a starter for our dinner….plus some ice-cream of course.
As we wandered back towards our cabin there was a tap on my shoulder from Richard. He was tempting us into Masquerade’s for the early evening quiz. We were actually very successful with 18/20 but another team beat us by one point. The four of us agreed to meet up later for the deck party.
The theatre show from Maurice Grumbleweed was a lovely, and amusing, 45 minutes. From there we went up to the Riviera deck and our dinner table six camped at a table for an evening together. It was a really fun evening and we all danced and laughed.
The captain interrupted procedures for a moment to announce we were leaving Penang. He also described a change of plans. Aurora would be arriving in Singapore at midnight tomorrow rather than the following morning. It means we will have two nights in port allowing an early getaway for some on the Sunday morning.
Aurora gracefully turned around in the harbour area before setting off down the Mallaka Straits again for a gentle 26 hour journey to the Island of Singapore. On Sunday and Monday some 800 or so of the ship’s passengers will be going home, and replaced by a similar number for the third sector.
Our dancing resumed and DJ Martin was so happy having a really happy group of people dancing to his music.
…then it began to rain
Well we discovered the suddenness and heaviness of tropical rain for the first time. It persisted for half an hour and that was enough to convince our little gang, and many others, to call it a night.
It reminded me that the first truly delightful tropical deck party we had in 2012 ended in a similar fashion. On that evening as we neared the Caribbean, the DJ played a series of songs about rain, and many people attempted to stay in the mood until their clothes were soaked through.
Saturday 11th February – Sea Day
We woke to a cloudy morning. Within a few minutes while we drank our morning cuppa, it was raining. I moved my trainers away from the edge of the balcony, and it was the usual hot and sticky tropical morning.
Breakfast was a quiet affair with few people up and around at 8:00 in the morning. There was another reminder of five years ago with plastic buckets strategically positioned to catch the rain water that has collected in the rood space of the buffet.
As well as having some fun, our plans for the day include a degree of packing away our clothes and belongings. We don’t have to put everything in suitcases, as they will move our hanging clothes as they are. We will have to restore the original hangers in the wardrobe of course, and that may take some time to achieve.
At 9:00 we were up in the Crow’s Nest with high numbers of ships in view. We were warned that the Straits of Mallaka is one of the world’s busiest waterways.
..it has stopped raining.
At one point during the morning, while enjoying the breeze on the balcony, I spotted 35 ships (just on Port side). Amongst them was one tiny fishing boat that was nowhere near as big as one of Aurora’s lifeboats. It was working in the middle of this maritime M25, oblivious of the mayhem all around it with vast ships carrying oil, cars, liquid gas, dry good, and thousands of metal containers going in both directions, carrying vast amounts of something to fuel the lust of mankind for MORE!
Late in the morning it was apparent that out cabin air conditioning had failed. I reported it, but was told to wait for 30 minutes to stabilise after having the balcony door open. After lunch I reported it again and they promised to send the ‘ventilation’ man. During the afternoon the temperature actually rose to 28°C inside the cabin. This was only 1 degree lower than outside on the balcony. It took until almost 5:00 before the engineer came to tell us it was working again. It had actually been all of the forward end of C Deck that had been affected.
I had a chance to play cricket again. It was a match between those who were leaving and those who were staying n Aurora beyond Singapore. The ‘remainers’ were victorious, but the tempers were a little heated as the banter went further than usual.
At dinner we had a chance to say goodbye to out temporary lady visitors, and also to Cyrus the assistant waiter who is going home tomorrow. There is a chance than no-one will be going to dinner tomorrow because of our various tours.
After dinner we packed away the bulk of our bits and pieces in the cabin in readiness for our move tomorrow. We are hoping to move between 9:00 and 10:00 and will hopefully be in our new cabin by then.
We didn’t bother with the entertainment on offer during the evening. Instead we played trivial pursuits with Angie and Richard before the six regulars joined up for a quiz at 9:30. It was themed on the Best of British and we were very successful…and beaten by just one point.
It was time for bed. Aurora was already making her final approaches to Singapore at 11:00 and although we went to sleep almost straight away, we were woken by the docking procedures at midnight. There was a very well placed floodlight shining into our window so we had to pull the curtains properly tonight.
Of course, by now I was wide awake and sleep became illusive again.
Sunday 12th February – Singapore
We were awake by just after 7:00. Tea was made and pills consumed. The bulk of our bits and pieces were packed away and we made our way to breakfast at 7:30.
It is a strange morning with a lot of people in tidy clothes in readiness to leave the ship, while others were in their usual scruffs, and staying aboard.
By a little after 8:00 were had camped in the Crow’s Nest and listened to the announcements for disembarkation and immigration processes.
By 10:00 we had moved to our new cabin…and by 11:00 we actually had keys that worked. It then took until midday to pack away our clothes and bits, but at least we now have more room to store things away in.
We had our lunch quite early and then prepared ourselves for the afternoon tour. We were off to Raffles for afternoon tea plus a bit of a historical show around the city of Singapore.
OK, so the Raffles Hotel is a special place, and the afternoon tea was quite outstanding, but the service left a lot to be desired. It took three attempts to get some milk, and nearly twenty minutes for the Singapore Slings to arrive. They cost about £20 a glass, and I expect faster service at that sort of price.
We looked around the hotel as well, and even checked out the souvenir shop to find something as a memory. Unfortunately the prices were worse for souvenirs than the drinks. At about £14 for a fridge magnet we decided to save our money.
We couldn’t really enjoy the surroundings too much as we had the second almighty tropical shower that sent everyone under cover.
Eventually we re-joined our coach and had a tour of the city plus a walk and look at the area where Mr Raffles actually landed on the island. The city has expanded greatly since then. That original landing site is now a long, long, way from the sea.
The city has certainly got a vast array of different styles of architecture. The older colonial buildings have been preserved and modernised, and other Dutch style buildings are also kept, to maintain the history. Alongside all of the history there are skyscrapers, but many are imaginative, and few seem to have any straight lines. It is quite a pleasure to look at the way the city has developed.
The coach took us back to Aurora and we were exhausted from the humidity. We decided to give dinner a miss, and simply had a snack in the buffet to keep us going.
The ship is full of new people going the wrong way in search of their cabins and restaurants. We try to help them, but many are just too stubborn to listen.
Deb put a load of washing on while a machine was free. This will get our wardrobe full with clean clothes to last us another couple of weeks. In the meantime I had a shower to freshen up my body from the walk in the tropics. I am not sure if we will do anything else tonight. There is only the local Folk Laureate show in the theatre and that means putting some clothes on. Maybe we will just relax in the cabin and have an early night.
Tomorrow we have another tour. This time it is early in the morning, and we are going to the Botanical Gardens.
Monday 13th February – Singapore Day 2
Hey, we had a very good night’s sleep. It was quiet, cool, and somehow the bed and pillows felt more comfortable.
We were awake just after 7:00 and set ourselves up for the day with a cup of tea.
The buffet was busy, with a lot of strangers trying to feel at home on Aurora. We were welcomed by a cheery waiter bringing pots of tea and coffee. It’s feels good to be a local.
Our tour was due to begin at 9:15 but with the possible delays having to go through Singapore immigration again, we set of a little after 8:30. Of course we were in the departure lounge in less than 10 minutes with ages to wait for the coach.
At least one couple were less successful getting through the immigration process, and we eventually set off 15 minutes late.
The first stage of our tour was at the Botanical Gardens to look at the Orchid collection. Wow, it was spectacular. Unlike Britain, or Hawaii where we have seen collections, they have been housed ij special greenhouses, but not here. They were growing and flowering in their natural tropical climate, and it was a glorious display of colours, shapes and sizes.
From the beautiful gardens we had a narrated trip through the colonial area of the city before stopping to look at the waterside developments area. Our guide (Peggy) was so knowledgeable about her home and the humour she was able to bring into the tour made it very special. Onwards again and our final stop was in China Town. It was meant to be a chance to look at the earliest Mosque, and earliest Buddhist Temple, but we went walkabout amongst the stalls looking for souvenirs.
BY the time we headed back to the coach our stash of Singapore dollars was spent, and 12 US dollars were also parted with to get what we wanted. Alright, so we bought one of those cats that wave their arm.
As we arrived back at the cruise terminal, it allowed us to sample a tropical rain storm again. Fortunately we were already under cover as we got back onto Aurora. It was 1:00 so we trotted quickly to get some lunch, before unpacking our treasures and putting things away.
Across on the other side of the terminal there is a Royal Caribbean ship just beginning to let her new passengers board. It is the ‘Mariner of the Seas’ and very similar in size to Aurora. I suspect we will both be leaving at a similar time this evening.
I did try having a few minutes on the balcony in the warm sunshine, but the rain came again. It is no surprise really. We are just over one degree north of the equator, and this is the monsoon season. At least the rain is warm.
Casual dress code tonight, and I think the six of us will be at the dinner table to check out our new people. I suspect we will be going to the theatre tonight to watch the Headliners show, but maybe a late night quiz will bring the table quizzers together again.
Our departure from Singapore was delayed for over an hour because a number of people didn’t return their passports. I will be polite and say that they must have missed the continued requests, and but I think it was more because of several stubborn ignorant people. The Singapore authorities won’t let a ship leave until they can see with their own eyes that all passengers are back on the ship, and passports are safely locked away.
Many of us would have preferred the ship to name and shame the worst of the offenders, who refused to comply for over an hour.
Well, the new people at the dinner table turned out to be a couple who had simply requested a change of dinner time. Hence it wasn’t the surprise that we were expecting. As we sat and introduced ourselves Aurora was finally leaving Singapore. It is a beautiful city with so many historical buildings hidden away below glass and glitzy skyscrapers. As I said earlier, the architects seem to have thrown away rulers and set-squares and slopes, wavy lines, and non-symmetry appears to be the normal. Of course they have made mistakes. They copies two segments of the Sydney Opera house as stand-alone buildings, but the excess of glass created ovens that people couldn’t survive in. They overcame the problem by engineers coming up with metal segments that cover the outside of the glass buildings like the shell of an armadillo. They look nothing like the Sydney Opera House, but are iconic buildings in their own right.
Anyway, with dinner over, and after getting to know the new people a little, we went our separate ways. First an early evening quiz, that we won, and then onwards to the theatre for the Headliner’s ‘Modern Romantics’ show. This was excellent, and only the second time we have seen it.
The captain promised a change in the sea conditions and he wasn’t fibbing. Aurora is bumping and thumping around in seas described as ‘Moderate’ and a wind that he suggested would be a Force 4. There is a low pressure system nearby that we are sailing along the southern edge of. This will be with us for a while.
After our trip to the theatre, five of the dinner six met up in Masquerade’s for the late evening quiz. Rosemary is not feeling well again. This Flu virus is a persistent little devil. The quiz was from DJ Martin and quite a good test for everyone. We failed this time, but we were very close.
It was bedtime, and our first in our new bedroom while actually sailing. It was going to be a bumpy night, but I had taken a little white pill and felt quite confident of a good night’s sleep.
Tuesday 14th February – Sea Day
I had a very comfortable (if a little noisy at times) night, and slept very well. There is nowhere near the same level of noise as we had from the balcony door in our previous cabin. I do hope the new occupants are not disappointed.
During the night we crossed the equator and are now sailing south east towards our next stop at Semarang in Indonesia tomorrow.
It is raining. The wind is walloping into Aurora at a Force 6 or 7 and the sea is distinctly angry with the ship for daring to cross the magic line without permission from the Gods.
The rain is tropical and is bouncing off the open decks. To get to breakfast we had to paddle. The only positive note is that the temperature is in the mid-20s at 8:00 in the morning.
It is Valentine’s Day. And no, I have not bought a card or several very expensive roses for Deb. She is the love of my life and we have never had to sink to the commercial depths of this celebration.
In fact the captain sent every cabin a single red rose.
After breakfast we went to the office to catch up on diaries and journals, and I intend to go online later today to tell the world where we are.
At 10:00 we have a Port talk on Bali where we had such a strange and disappointing day five years ago. This time we have a tour booked to take away the hassle of shuttle bus issues that began a day when 1500 of Aurora’s passengers were stranded on this beautiful, but rather lonely island for over six hours.
After the talk we cancelled the tour we had booked for Bali. It wasn’t right for us. Worse still we couldn’t see anything that interested us enough to put up with 45 minutes each way on a tender plus a minimum of six hours driving or walking around the island. That day will be a simple ‘stay at home’ day.
Later today there is the ‘Crossing the Line’ ceremony around the pool. Hopefully the weather will have changed before this afternoon, or that will be a wash out.
There is another chance for me to join the Aurora Choir at lunchtime, and both Salsa and Cricket is back on if we want to take on the exercise.
Tonight we have ‘Ukebox’ in the theatre. We saw these five guys playing Ukuleles on Oriana in September and they were a breath of fresh air compared to the usual abundance of vocalists. There are also some new people on board giving talks as well. A lady historian (Jane Robinson) is going to talk about successful women, another person (Clive Catchpole) is going to talk about the wildlife of this area of the world. Finally Martin Roberts (Homes under the hammer) is obviously going to talk about his life in house buying, as well as his television programme and an appearance on ‘I’m a Celebrity…’
There is a young couple who are classical musicians with the man playing the trumpet alongside his wife on the piano…interesting mix!
I believe there is also another comedian to cheer us up as well.
The ship now has a large number of people talking with that so recognisable Australian accent. They are such lovely people, and a joy to meet, but they really do speak very loudly when having a private chat with their country mates.
Well, it is 9:20 and I think the rain has subsided a little. Aurora is travelling very fast to presumably try and escape this bad weather.
By late morning the weather had indeed brightened up and the sunshine was becoming hot again.
After a quick lunch I went to the choir and thoroughly enjoyed myself, even if a few of the notes are stretching my voice a little.
Deb and I abandoned the ’Crossing the Line’ ceremony, and while Deb enjoyed a Salsa session, I had a game of cricket. Goodness it has become hot, and at the moment it is not the humid tropical heat that we have had recently.
There was a letter warning us that tomorrow’s trip in Semarang has been extended by over an hour to include new places to visit, plus some refreshments. There doesn’t appear to have been a price rise either. So what we lost of the 10% penalty for cancelling Bali has been made back on a longer trip in Semarang.
After a mid-afternoon cup of tea, we had a laze on the cool balcony before our showers. Tonight is a formal dress code evening with the ‘Welcome on board’ cocktail party.
We will be in the theatre after dinner, and there is no late evening quiz. Instead there is a version of Mr and Mrs in Masquerade’s. We did this a couple of cruises ago and I think we have done our bit with that particular gameshow.
The cocktail party was a real hoot. We met up with Angie and Richard and in 30 minutes succeeded in consuming far too many glasses of ‘fizz’ and even left with full glasses of red wine each for the dinner table. I was slightly inebriated….no very inebriated.
After dinner the visit to the theatre was a success. Ukebox were brilliant. Yes it is the same act as we saw in September, but it is still different to so much that turns up on the stage. Our dinner table mates also agreed that it was a really good show. After 45 minutes in the theatre headed for Carmen’s for a dance, but on the way we said good evening to Mike Mullane (entertainment boss). We had a candid chat in the corridor, and we expressed our concerns about the lack of entertainment hosts, the abundance of vocalists, and stated our disappointment that Café Bordeaux was changed to the Glass House, and stands virtually empty all day every day. We did eventually get to Carmen’s but decided to give dancing a miss and went for a late night drink in Anderson’s.
It was a late bedtime and Aurora was only a few hours away from an early morning rendezvous with the pilot to assist us into the port of Semarang for a 7:00 arrival.
Wednesday 15th February – Semarang, Indonesia
I woke during the night with a hangover. I also had a very sore little finger where I caught a ball very awkwardly in the cricket yesterday. The clocks went back an hour (GMT +7) during the night even though we have sailed further east that Singapore.
Just before 7:00 I switched off the alarm clock and put the kettle on. A quick glance through the curtains told me we were nowhere near our port, and Aurora was going extremely slowly. The captain had warned us that conditions needed to be just right to get us safely into this port where the approach channel is shallow and narrow. Any wind would make it hazardous, and it looked like we were struggling.
Well, we were very late arriving, and all the tours were set back by an hour.
We set off on our coach for ‘Semarang at a glance’ with a police car at the front of the four coaches on this same tour. Even with the Police escort the journey was sometimes a nightmare with the vast numbers of motorbikes and cars with drivers who seem to have no appreciation of what other road users are doing around them.
Anyway our trip wound its way around the island of Java for five and a half hours. We visited a Roman Catholic Church that was built by the Dutch and is now used by Protestants as well. From there we went to a massive Mall to shop for 45 minutes. We didn’t buy anything, and the lack of bags suggested we were not the only ones to keep hold of our money.
Then we had a Buddhist temple complex that was stunning. The food was interesting to say the least. Sadly our arrival coincided with a tropical storm that dumped thousands of gallons of rain on us for the next hour. Look around the factory was less than inspirational, and it preceded a mad dash to the coaches which left everyone wet, and many soaked to the skin.
Off we went again and it was to another temple complex that was even more spectacular than the first one.
Semarang is a beautiful place to visit with lots of older colonial style buildings. It also has a high number of churches and temples to reflect a very religious nation. Sadly like our experiences in India, it is not the cleanest of places we have visited, and there are a very high number of poorer people who exist while others nearby are living a very good lifestyle.
The island of Java really suffers from its tropical weather. The monsoon rains in the higher parts of the island cause floods and landslides that regularly damage the road infrastructure. More importantly the floods wash away the soil at the lower coastal areas and the port of Semarang is getting significantly lower every year. The only solution is to plant Teak trees with root structures that will stabilise the soil, but they grow very slowly. There doesn’t appear to be any quick fix available to the people of this island.
As we left this final temple called ‘Sam Poo Kong’ we thought we had finished for the day, but our guide said we were going to a museum now. Several of us questioned this, and eventually our coach broke away from the convoy and headed back to the dockside and Aurora. We were exhausted, and a lot of wet clothes needed to be dried.
For the first time today the mobile phone was used. It was the Golden Wedding Anniversary of my brother Ernest, and his wife Joyce. It was only a short call to wish them the best, and to let them know that we were both thinking of them on this very special day.
It was another first this evening as we had invited our dinner table mates around for a pre-dinner drink. It was a chance to get through some of the wine we have won over the last couple of weeks. The plan was to use our balcony, but we had another tropical shower making it a soggy out of bounds area.
Better luck next time!
Richard and Angie are eating in the Beach House tonight, and we are going there tomorrow. Hence our dinner table will be shorthanded for a couple of nights.
Aurora was late leaving the port because of a seriously delayed tour, but at around 6:30 she let go her ropes and setoff for a day at sea before arriving in Bali on Friday morning.
There is nothing on in the theatre of Carmen’s to interest us this evening. There is a female singer (Helen Ward-Jackson) giving an Adele tribute show in Carmen’s, and Monique Montez at the other end of the ship giving us yet more singing.
Instead we are all meeting up at 9:30 for the late evening mind boggling in Masquerade’s with a challenge from Coral that appears to be about literature. We lost by a couple of points, but kept up our proud record of doing very well.
Deb and I said goodnight to our friends and made our way to bed. Sadly one of the major things on my mind was a very sore little finger. It won’t affect my singing tomorrow lunchtime (clocks go forward again to GMT +8) but it might mean having to give cricket a miss.