Piracy at Sea

Arabian Sea

You’ve heard the saying, “Great minds……..”?  Well, the Captain beat me to publishing info regarding piracy and cruise lines.  And since he is much more knowledgeable than I, please click on to “Captain, Who’s Driving” at captainjonathan.com to view his blog.  Jonathan Mercer is the captain of the MS Amsterdam.  He has steered her through many World Voyages.  If you are viewing this blog as a web page, you’ll find a link at the top of the page.  If you receive this blog via an email, then you’ll probably have to log on to captainjonathan.com where you can sign up for email notifications from his blog also.  You’ll find it interesting.

razor wire being strung for our sail thru a
razor wire being strung for our sail thru a “high risk area”
razor wire and a water cannon
razor wire and a water cannon
Razor Wire Deck 3 Promenade
Razor Wire Deck 3 Promenade
Preparing a Water Cannon
Preparing a Water Cannon
LRAD -- Long Range Acoustic Device, Port
LRAD — Long Range Acoustic Device, Port
LRAD, Working End
LRAD, Working End

Ships transiting between the Red Sea and the Arabian Sea convoy through the International Recommended Transit Corridor (IRTC).  Military war ships are never far away!

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Muscat, Oman

The Middle East

Our guide was eager to show us the new Sultan Qaboos Mosque.  It is the 2nd largest in the world and is, most unusually, open to non-Muslims.  It is BIG!  Oman, like every other country in the area, is on a major construction binge.  Something “new” opens frequently.  We saw the newly completed Grand Opera House.  Then, went to see the newly completed National Museum.

The Sultan Qaboos Mosque in Muscat, Oman
The Sultan Qaboos Mosque in Muscat, Oman
gardens of the mosque
gardens of the mosque

 

 

Interir of the Royal Opera House
Interior of the Royal Opera House
photo of the stage area.  No visit today because of rehearseals
photo of the stage area. No visit today because of rehearsals
The National Museum
The National Museum

The funding source for all this “new” is the oil discovered in Oman.  It is not a large oil field, but it is sufficient.  Not only are large edifices going up, but Sultan Qaboos has purchased a new yacht.  We thought another cruise ship was in port when we spotted her—she’s almost the size of the MS Amsterdam!

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Sultan Qaboos’ yachts (later today, a helicopter will land on the smaller yacht to the left)
Good Bye Muscat, and the Sultan's Yatchs
Good Bye Muscat, and the Sultan’s yachts

 

After viewing the 200 year-old Al Alam Royal Palace, we stopped at the Mirani Fort and harbor to take photos.  The palace is surrounded by the Mirani and Jalali Forts, built by the Portuguese in the 16th century. 

the 200 year old Royal Palace
the 200 year old Royal Palace
Royal Palace from the harbor side
Royal Palace from the harbor side
Ft Al Mirani to the left of the palace
Ft Al Mirani to the left of the palace
Ft. Al-Jalali to the right of theRoyal Palace
Ft. Al-Jalali to the right of the Royal Palace

 We ended the tour at the Mutrah Souq.  It’s a pleasant place where the shops are “up” several steps to withstand the monsoon flooding that drains through the Souq.  Obviously, the Souq is not the place to go if you’re trying to escape the deluge!

The Mutrah Sug
The Mutrah Souq

 All-in-all, we had a lovely day.  This was our second Muscat visit and yet we’ve never seen Muscat wine; only Italian Moscato.  We will try to find out why at 1:00pm this afternoon when the World Wine Guys treat us to a tasting!

Sandy at the Moscato Wine Tasting
Sandy at the Moscato Wine Tasting
Jeff & Mike presenting the Moscato Wine Tasting
Jeff & Mike presenting the Moscato Wine Tasting
Jeff & Mike presenting the tasting
Jeff & Mike presenting the tasting

 The wine tasting was a huge success.  We sampled 3 still wines and 3 sparkling.  All Moscato wines are sweet—some heavier than others—but every single one of them makes a good aperitif (perhaps with foie gras) or an excellent dessert wine (when you visit Florida, Key Lime Pie and Moscato pair well.)  Of the six different wines we sampled, here are our favorites:  1.) Fontanafredda Moncucco Moscato D’Asti DOCG, a still wine, great for dessert.  2.) Cinzano Sparkling Asti, great for an aperitif.

And take note:  wine is not produced in Oman. (Do any Muslim countries produce spirits, anymore?  They once did because archeological evidence proves that is so.)  Don’t know when the vines were removed.  However, they made their way to Italy, Greece and some others.  But Italy is most known for Moscato wines.  It is traditionally an inexpensive wine.

 

Mumbai, India

Indian Subcontinent 

Mumbai was a surprise!  We were braced for crowds, traffic, poverty and filth.  We certainly did find the traffic—not so much the crowds, poverty or filth.  Although all do exist.  The Mumbai population is around 23 million—that’s one huge city!  The traffic is mind-boggling, but I wonder how many people own their own cars.  So much of the traffic seems to be taxis! 

lots and lots of cars!
lots and lots of cars!

We began our Indian adventure with a stop at the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel.  It was built in 1903 by Jamsetji Tata after he was refused entry to the grand Watson Hotel.  Watson was restricted to whites only; dark skinned Indians were not allowed.  Our tour was arranged by the concierge at the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel, so I suppose it was natural the guide would show us the current state of the Watson Hotel.  Time was not kind to that grand old hotel.  She is now an apartment building.

Historic Taj Mahal Palace Hotel in Mumbai, India
Historic Taj Mahal Palace Hotel in Mumbai, India
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Watson Hotel. The original luxury hotel in old Bombay. This is where Tata was refused entry because of his dark skin. So Tata went and built the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel to serve everyone! It’s obvious how that turnd out.

In November 2008, the Taj Mahal Palace was attacked by the Lashkar-e-Taiba terrorist group.  There were a series of attacks in Mumbai.  167 people were killed.  31 of them at the Taj over a 3-day period.  Mostly Indian citizens, but Westerners with foreign passports were also singled out.  Indian Commandos ended the 3-day siege at the hotel when they killed the gunmen barricaded in the hotel. 

One of the iconic sites in Mumbai is the Gateway of India on Wellington Pier with the Mumbai Harbour as its backdrop.  Built in 1911 for the visit of King George V.   It also witnessed the departure of the last British Regiment in 1947 when independence was declared.

Gateway of India
Gateway of India

Today, Mumbai is the business capital of India, as well as the entertainment hub.  The city is home to India’ film industry, known as Bollywood.

The architecture in Mumbai is head-turning.  The British Colonial buildings are impressive.  And the Art Deco buildings surprising.  I was amazed to learn Mumbai is second to Miami Beach in the sheer number of Art Deco buildings.  Viewing Marine Drive and Chowpatty Beach from Malabar Hill across the Back Bay is evocative of Miami’s South Beach.

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A sweep of the bay with lots of Art Deco buildings. Mumbai has the second largest concentration of Art Deco after Miami.

We saw so much in Mumbai:  Ghandi’s House, the old Railroad Station, the first Hospital,  the Laundries.  But to me, the most exciting site was the outdoor book market located in the Fort District, not too far from Mumbai University.  We even saw the most expensive single family house in the world!

Victoria Terminus, Mumbai Train Station
Victoria Terminus, Mumbai Train Station
The Hospital
The Hospital
One of the Laundries.
One of the Laundries.
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This is a book stall! How cool! It goes on forever and includes a lending library.
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The most expensive single family residence in the world! 26 stories high with 4 levels of parking. Owned by a local billionaire.

Colombo, Sri Lanka

Southeast Asia…..cont.

I am so glad we returned to Colombo.  Our last visit was downright scary!  We discovered that tuk-tuk drivers are resourceful at augmenting their income.  They will kidnap you and return you to your starting point for a tidy sum!  So, this time, we hired a taxi at the port for the full day.  It was wonderful.  We saw temples and monuments and memorials.  We viewed lakes and parks and then had lunch at the historic Galle Face Hotel before returning to the ship.  A much better experience!

 

On the dock in Colombo, Sri Lanka
On the dock in Colombo, Sri Lanka

 

Vendors on the dock

Vendors on the dock

St Lucia's Cathedral, 1760

St Lucia’s Cathedral, 1760

 

Interior of St. Lucia's Church
Interior of St. Lucia’s Church

 

the confessional at St. Lucie's church
the confessional at St. Lucie’s church

 

 

 

 

 

tuk-tuks and pedestrians in Colombo, Sri Lanka
tuk-tuks and pedestrians in Colombo, Sri Lanka
a backyard shrine
a backyard shrine
Gangaramaya Temple
Gangaramaya Temple

Hindu Temple

Hindu Temple

cattle in the parking lot!
Cattle In Need of Some Real Grass
Cattle In Need of Some Real Grass
Cattle In Need of Some Real Grass

 

Beira Lake, Colombo, Sri Lanka
Beira Lake, Colombo, Sri Lanka
Independence Memorial Hall
Independence Memorial Hall
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Really interesting architecture. Would one suffer vertigo in the structure on the left???
Galle Face Hotel front entrance.  Built in 1864
Galle Face Hotel front entrance. Built in 1864
another view of the Traveler's Bar a the Galle Face Hotel
another view of the Traveler’s Bar a the Galle Face Hotel
Traveler's bar at the Galle Face Hotel
Traveler’s bar at the Galle Face Hotel
The one and only car in the Galle Face Hotel Car Museum!
The one and only car in the Galle Face Hotel Car Museum!
The car museum at Galle Face Hotel, Colombo, Sri Lanka
The car museum at Galle Face Hotel, Colombo, Sri Lanka

At Sea

Southeast Asia…..cont.

In Hong Kong, 2 authors from Wine Enthusiast Magazine came aboard.  Mike Desimone and Jeff Jenssen are wine and travel writers as well as regional cookbook authors.  After leaving Singapore, they held a mixology class in the Culinary Arts Center devoted to the famous cocktail invented by the bartender in the Long Bar at Raffles Hotel, the Singapore Sling!  After mixing several different iterations for tasting, they finished up with what is considered to be the original recipe.  It is very good.  And the recipe follows.

The original Singapore Sling recipe.
The original Singapore Sling recipe.
Mike & Jeff, The World Wine Guys, presenting an Asian beer tasting.
Mike & Jeff, The World Wine Guys, presenting an Asian beer tasting.

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Southeast Asia…..cont.

 

Here we are in Port Klang on the Strait of Malacca.  In days gone by, this area was a haven for pirates who plundered the ships of the Dutch East Indies Company.  And piracy still occurs.  In 2014, there were 48 cases of piracy or robbery.  In 2015, a whopping 104!  Today it is oil tankers that are attacked and their cargo siphoned.  Almost half the world’s trade passes through the Strait of Malacca; so, the good news is that with the assistance of Navy patrols from India—2016 saw only 1 case of piracy.

So, let me tell you about Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.  We took a Holland America excursion into the city.  It’s a long drive from Port Klang and heavy traffic makes it even longer—took us about 1 ½ hours.  But once in the city, we had a marvelous experience.  As in all of Asia, we marveled at the architecture.  This is where the Petronas Twin Towers are located.  They are really, really tall and may still be the tallest in the world—but with all the construction going on here, it’s possible that record was broken!  The following photos will tell the rest of the story:

Port Klang Cruise Terminal
Port Klang Cruise Terminal
Sail Boats on a lake in the city of Kuala Lumper
Sail Boats on a lake in the city of Kuala Lumper
The new Presidential Palace, built in 2011
The new Presidential Palace, built in 2011
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Entrance to National Monument, 1966. Memorializing WWI, WWII, and the Malaysian “Troubled” times 1948-1960.
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Largest Free Standing Bronze in the World, Modeled After Iwo Jima Memorial (both by Felix de Weldon)
National Mosque (Malaysia is Moslem Country by Law)
National Mosque (Malaysia is Moslem Country by Law)
View of the old railroad station dating from the British Colonial era.
View of the old railroad station dating from the British Colonial era.
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Nice building across from the old RR station that functioned as the Kuala Lumpur Railroad Headquarters.
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Independence Square (called Merdeka Square on the map) where old British Colonial buildings are located. This is the former cricket field of the exclusive Selangor Club.
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The Selangor Clubhouse is still in use but only for the elite Muslims of Kuala Lumpur. There is a fine restaurant inside.
The Selangor Club.
The Selangor Club.
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This former cricket field (Padang) is where Malaysian independence was declared in 1957. The flagpole is reputed to be the largest in the world. The domed bldg on the right was once the British Admn. printing facility. Today, it is the National Gallery
Sultan Abdul Samad Building across from Independence Square.
Sultan Abdul Samad Building across from Independence Square.
St. Mary's Cathedral, synod of West Malaysia.
St. Mary’s Cathedral, synod of West Malaysia.
National Textile Museum
National Textile Museum
Former High Court Building.
Former High Court Building.
MUD, the city theater.
MUD, the city theater.
This appears to be a lovely mosque reached by that interesting bridge.
This appears to be a lovely mosque reached by that interesting bridge.
Those little boys are so cute in their traditional dress.
Those little boys are so cute in their traditional dress.
Interesting juxtaposition of old and new architecture.
Interesting juxtaposition of old and new architecture.
Interesting high rise building growing greenery on its side!
Interesting high rise building growing greenery on its side!
The gardens outside the Petronas Twin Towers
The gardens outside the Petronas Twin Towers
View of the Petronas Twin Towers from the Gardens.
View of the Petronas Twin Towers from the Gardens.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

At Sea

 

Southeast Asia

While in Singapore, I picked up some magazines at the Kinokuniya Bookstore.  In the process of perusing the pages, I came across an ad for the Singapore Jazz Festival later this month at the Marina Bay Sands.  This ad was so eye-catching because just last night, we were entertained by a trio from Poland:  Wojciechowsky, who play classical music with a jazz/swing twist.  We are not big jazz fans, but we could certainly appreciate the talent and creativity of this group.  Filip Wojciechowsky on the piano; Pawel Panta on the bass guitar; and Cezary Konrad on the drums.  They are Grammy winners.  Understandably so!

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