TR: Asia Trip 2015 – Part 14: Singapore Zoo (10/30/2015)

My blog makes it quite clear: my wife and I go to many zoos. Zoos here, zoos there, zoos just about everywhere. We like them. Singapore, we’ve heard many times over, has a zoo. Not just a single zoo either: there’s really four zoos, each separately gated, each part of “Singapore Zoo.” I didn’t totally understand that until I was, well, at the gates. We arrived at those somewhere around 11AM after grabbing some breakfast up at the lounge of the Marriott and I had been down the street to Tang Plaza to haggle over a charger for my camera battery. Shopping in Singapore is most assuredly a contact sport if you want a decent deal. Continue reading

TR: Asia Trip 2015 – Part 13: Universal Studios Singapore & Sentosa Island (10/29/2015)

After the cruise ship pulled into port, we were off to the races. Self check gets off the ship first, and after the process of departure, we wanted as much time as possible to try and make it to Universal for opening. As time started to back up on the boat and off in the lines, I began to think that perhaps we’d move the Universal day back to Friday and do the zoo. Ultimately we didn’t make up our minds until we were in Orchard metro station, free of bags and without a hotel room to get situated in. Screw it – we can make Universal!

Making one’s way to Sentosa Island is a process – there’s a walkway that’s free to use, but for the sake of saving ourselves a few steps, we used the monorail. There’s also buses and a cable car as options, but none of those will get you as close to the Universal Studios entrance. Ultimately, that was the goal here, not really anything else this hour of the morning. Even with all the changes and learning the metro system (a lot like Dubai’s, for what that’s worth), we managed to make it to the gate just in time to see a significant crowd built outside and 5 minutes remaining to turnstiles spinning. Continue reading

TR: Asia Trip 2015 – Part 12: At Sea/Cruise Conclusion (10/27-10/29/2015)

As the ship headed away from Phuket on our final leg of the journey, most of our on board activity actually lie ahead. We were forecast to see some haze and rain heading back, but soon enough the weather would clear up and we’d be in as good of shape as anyone can expect at the start of rainy season in the tropics. Indeed, the rain issues forced Royal Caribbean to twice postpone the Dreamworks Character Sailaway thing on the top deck, a fact that had absolutely no real effect on our trip whatsoever. Continue reading

TR: Asia Trip 2015 – Part 11: Phuket, Thailand (10/26-10/27/2015)

The final port of the cruise would be at a place I had mixed feelings about. Phuket was a rarity as both a tender port and overnight stop, which gave us tons of time to do all sorts of things ashore. And to be very fair, Phuket has a large number of options for entertainment. One could argue that it occupies a space for Australians kinda similar to something like Cancun or Montego Bay does to Americans. And to that end, the combination of Europeans, Aussies, and backpacking Americans that have been coming here in droves have led to massive amounts of construction and development. As is often the case in the developing world, this development has been haphazard and led to a number of unintended consequences. Indeed, Phuket might be best called “the land of unintended consequences.” Continue reading

TR: Asia Trip 2015 – Part 10: Langkawi (10/25/2015)

The next stop for our cruise was the port of Langkawi in Malaysia. Only a smidge north of our previous port of Penang, there was a noticeable reduction in haze present here upon waking up. Unlike Penang, you aren’t in the middle of the action when you disembark. Instead, the port of Langkawi is a few minutes from the center of town at a pier set up over by the Resorts World Langkawi Hotel. Given that most of the tour options from Langkawi were based more around ecotourism, that was the direction we chose to take.  Continue reading

TR: Asia Trip 2015 – Pt. 9: Penang (10/24/2015)

Day Three of the cruise was upon us, and with it, the freedom to do basically whatever the hell we wanted. We were docked in Penang, a Malaysian island known for food and beaches. Unlike the other Malay ports we had, this one plunked us square in the middle of the action. That was sweet. I put together a very rough itinerary – find a vegetarian restaurant that looked appealing, walk around, catch the Hop On Hop Off Bus, and do our thing seeing the sights. Not too tough to accomplish, right? Penang’s main town is Georgetown (a UNESCO Heritage Site!), and the pier lets you out right by the Queen Victoria Memorial Clock Tower. Continue reading

TR: Asia Trip 2015 – Pt. 8: Disembarking & Kuala Lumpur (10/22-10/23/2015)

The boarding process went smoothly, and our bags arrived separately but efficiently enough for us to have everything stored away by the time we had to leave for our muster drill. Disembarking Singapore, we drove ourselves out into the haze and through hundreds of idle boats. Sailing out of Singapore is really quite the experience. As we did on our Navigator of the Seas cruise, we planned out an excellent attack. First, dinner was procured at Johnny Rockets. Burgers and fries sounded great. As is often the case, it was nowhere near full, and customers who came in were miffed (as they always seem to be) at the paying extra for a meal here. But compared to fighting our way through the main dining room or buffet on the first night, this is so much more relaxing. We got in some mini golf and pool time too while skipping the first night’s show in the theater. I doubt I missed anything. Continue reading