This tiny speck of an island, originally known as Bourbon, lies in the Indian Ocean east of Madagascar. It belongs to France and is referred to as a “department.” I read in the newsletter, Traveller.com, that flying from Paris’ Charles de Gaulle Airport to Reunion is an 11-hour non-stop flight. That makes it the longest domestic flight ever!
Originally discovered by the Portuguese in 1513. This formerly uninhabited island grew with French immigration from the 17th to 19th centuries, supplemented by influxes of Africans, Chinese, Malagasy, and Malabar Indians. It became an important stopover on the East Indies trade route. This importance lasted until 1869 when the Suez Canal opened and changed shipping patterns. Reunion remained a colony of France until 1946 when its status changed to “department of the French Republic.” However, just as the Seychelles have a rich culture melded of many different ethnic groups, so too does Reunion share that creole architecture, cuisine, music and art. It’s an interesting place.
Now we are on the way to Maputo, Mozambique where we look forward to an exciting African Safari adventure!
For years, I’ve read articles about the Seychelles in travel magazines. So, it was a joy to finally go there! The Seychelles are composed of 115 islands. We docked at Victoria on the island of Mahe. This is the capital of the Seychelles and is the one of the smallest capitals in the world. The city is charming. First colonized by France in the 1700s and later controlled by Britain, the Seychelles gained independence in 1976. But the French charm and the colonial architecture remind one of the former history. The current population is descended from the Africans, Indians, and Chinese who were brought in to work the spice, sugar and cotton plantations. Their language, music and food reflect these global influences. They are called Creole, and their culture is very similar to that witnessed in New Orleans or the Caribbean!
Our next port is La Possession on the island of Reunion.
We have visited Colombo several times and always find something new and interesting to do. The one constant is a stop at the Galle Face Hotel for a Pimms before heading back to the ship! The following photos will chronical the day:
We first came to Thailand about 45 years ago. And to this day, I remember the thrill of visiting this exotic land! It never ceases to capture my happiest emotions. I felt it again as I went out onto the back deck to take the standard “on the dock” photos. This country is a very pleasant place to visit.
To quote the HAL brochure, “Singapore is an island city-state, a WWII battleground, a global economic superstar, and a crossroads of the world. British colonial administrator Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles arrived in what was then a tiny fishing village in 1819. In 1824 the Sultan of Johor deeded the site to the East India Company, and a major British trading post in Southeast Asia was created. In 1867 Singapore was put under direct control of the British crown and consolidated into one administrative unit. Though Singapore fell to the Japanese in 1942, it was restored to British rule after the war. Internal self-government began in 1959, and in 1963 Singapore became a semi-autonomous state within the Federation of Malaysia. On August 9, 1965, Singapore was separated from Malaysia and became an independent republic within the Commonwealth of Nations. Today Singapore has grown to an affluent and vibrant city that attracts visitors from all over the world.” I wrote about Singapore and posted lots of photos last year while on the 2017 HAL World Cruise. So today, I’ll simply show you photos from our day in Clarke and Boat Quays:
Cruising into Ho Chi Minh City (still called Saigon by everybody including the Vietnamese) is not a joyous arrival. First off, the port is not in Saigon—it’s in Phu My. Getting to Saigon is a long and arduous process involving a 2-hour bus ride. Once in the city, it is hot (96 degrees) and dusty. We have done this trek many times; but this time, we opted to visit the resort town of Vung Tau instead. Only a 45-minute drive from the port. Along the way, we passed through Tan Hoa and Ba Ria stopping to view Buddhist Temples and take some pictures. We had a great day and returned to the dock, shopping the tiny market shipside before boarding.
We will, I am sure, always think of Hong Kong as a beautiful, vibrant, cosmopolitan city. But it’s changing before our very eyes.
We noticed the first changes last year when we tried to find my favorite bookstore haunts only to discover many of them had been forced to close when both the owners and employees started to go missing. We read later that a few folks were reported to be in mainland China. And earlier this year, we read in the NY Times that one bookstore owner had escaped and returned to Hong Kong only to be found dead shortly afterwards. It’s a scary thing to contemplate. The biggest and best bookstore was Page One in the huge shopping complex attached to the Cruise Terminal. I had shopped there in 2016. Last year, it was no longer evident a bookstore had existed there. Today, a different sort of store takes its place.
Next, when we went to visit Optical 88 in The One shopping plaza, we encountered another difference. Two years ago, they had created a new pair of designer glasses for me using my own doctor’s prescription. They did it overnight and charged me about ½ of what it would cost in the U.S. Today, there is no overnight service. It will take, at least, three days or more. We never got around to discussing price but I wouldn’t be surprised if the price is higher now, too.
Of course, the biggest change visible to a cruise passenger is the dock we are assigned to use. Before, we would dock at Ocean Terminal. Last year, we docked at the new cruise terminal located on the site of the old Hong Kong Airport and then moved during the night to awaken at the Ocean Terminal. Ocean Terminal is right next to the Star Ferry Terminal; attached to one of the biggest malls in Hong Kong; near the Metro station; and within walking distance of shopping and attractions and taxis. A perfect location! Unfortunately, it is no longer available to us. We are now stuck at Kai Tak with an interminable walk from the ship into the terminal; another interminable walk out to the shuttles, buses or taxis; and an even more interminable drive into the city. No Metro. No ferries. No attractions. No shopping in the terminal. Only one well-hidden restaurant/bar. Dismal and disturbing.
So, we walked the miles for a taxi and after a 20 minute drive arrived in Kowloon. Our plan was to visit Kowloon Park; walk over to the mall and do some shopping; visit a pleasant café and then head back to the ship. We did it all, but not the café. The lovely little bistro style café I remembered was no longer there!
On day 2, we wisely decided to simply stay put!!! We did spend a couple of hours in the Kai Tak Terminal. Strolling across the roof garden, we worked our way over to the one and only restaurant/bar for snacks and a beer. Then we retreated to the ship and awaited the sail-away. I don’t know when we’ll next return and I wonder what we’ll find when we do?