Ubud is a town but it is also the name now of the surrounding area that includes stone and wood carving factories and shops. Ubud itself is horribly touristy but there are some areas such as the traditional market that appear unspoiled. Here we got drenched in a torrential downpour, one of the two or three that occur daily at this time of year. Nothing much seems to stop while it rains though.
Indonesia is a wonderful place (actually >15000 islands) but Bali is special even by those standards. There is something magical about this predominantly Hindu island. Is it the temperament of the people? Is it the natural beauty? Is it the peacefulness of its main religion? Not sure but it is one of our favourite destinations. We were first here in 2009 in Padang Bai. This time is even more special as our friends Chas and Gisela (who left the ship in Singapore) flew to nearby Sanur last night! Two days of sightseeing and food coming up!
We arrived to see a wonderful group of dancers with gamelan music. And then wind followed by rain. This is the port where you go to see Borobudur, a 9-11 trek well worth the effort. But having done that in 2009 we decided to take it easier this time. Initially the appeal of the port was the promise of free Wi-Fi, which of course got overloaded by passengers. But it was enough for getting emails and a few apps for my new smartphone. A free shuttle bus was offered so we went into the city. Lots of evidence of flooding along the way, this was also evidence of work being done to avoid future issues.
We heard many stories about this city before we arrived. Most said it was a traffic zoo, regardless of day or time. And they were right! They also said there wasn’t much worth the trouble but on that we think they are wrong. This is a huge city, residents total approximately 12M, with day time workers it bloats to 16M.
Singapore, what a wonderful city to visit. This is our third time here and it is not often enough. Today there are 360 passengers leaving the ship, over 500 getting on! We aren’t hanging around to watch the boarding, we are off to China Town! Two goals today, buy our first smartphone and eat in the China town food market.
Today we toured with a group of 18 to see the sights.This is actually an archipelago of 104 islands. The port itself is a Mediterranean inspired marina and resort, with the pier having been built /sponsored by the Chinese cruise company Star Cruises. This is one busy tourist destination! And to make matters busier it is a holiday.
Until recently you needed a special visa endorsement to get into Port Blair and the Andaman Islands. This is due to the fact that this set of islands is a major Indian Navy zone. This island chain closer to Malaysia than India but it is clearly a strategic location for the Navy.
It’s Friday so we must be in Cochin. We had to endure a face-face customs inspection. While this sometimes conjures up fears of mad rushes and pushing, on this cruise there is none of that. People actually pay attention to the announcements and get on with it. By 10:00 over 1000 people had been processed!