Saturday, February 28, 2009

Day 54 At Sea

Today was great! It was just what I needed, a nice relaxing day at sea. The weather was nice, sunny and a nice breeze. Today we cross the equator again, crossing from the southern hemisphere to the northern. We have 4 days at sea before we arrive at wonderful Hong Kong. As a result of crossing the equator we had the King Neptune Ceremony which is a bit of craziness and fun… After a wonderful day of pool and sun I went and had an hour long massage and feel just great!!!!

Friday, February 27, 2009

Day 53 Semarang, Indonesia

Absolutely wonderful day! The highlight was meeting Yan Yan’s family, pictured on top. We started out around 0900 this morning heading for the Ambarawa Antique Train Museum. We boarded a small train and took a nice journey through the countryside. We then went to Tlogo Agro Plantation where we saw the growing & processing of coffee and rubber. It was an interesting visit. Our final stop was the Sam Po Kong Chinese Temple. It was a beautiful temple which made for a nice visit. The day was nice. I especially liked traveling through the countryside seeing villages, crops and people going about their daily lives. Java Indonesia is a nice place to visit. The people are warm and friendly and are happy to host visitors to their country. It was a very special day for the crew. There were hundreds of family members who travel far to spent but a few hours together as a family. It is a very touching thing to see. I ‘m happy that they were able to have their day…. I respect the crew so much for the sacrifices they make being away from their families for many months to make a better life for their children….. It was a great day!!!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Day 52 At Sea

Today was a much more comfortable day then we have been having lately. There was a fair amount of overcast that helped take the sting of the sun away which was accompanied by a nice breeze. It was great to have a relaxing day after a couple of fabulous port days. Tomorrow is a big day for a lot of our crew. The largest segment of crew population is from Indonesia and many will see their families…. I will be doing a ship’s tour, exploring some new areas of Java that I haven’t done in the past. Here is the description: Tlogo Agro Highland
Leave Semarang for a one-hour drive to the historical city of Ambarawa. Here you will visit the Antique Train Museum. After a brief introduction to the colonial-era locomotives, board a Lori train for a ride past beautiful tropical scenery, crossing the legendary swamp of Rawapening en route to Tuntang.Tlogo Agro Plantation is located around 1300 feet above the sea level with average temperatures between 60 and 75 degrees. The plantation was founded in 1856. Enjoy the fresh air of Tlogo Agro Highland and see the various tropical plants grown here, such as coffee, rubber, mango, banana, avocado, clove, cocoa and guava. Learn about the coffee-making process from the bean to powder using old machinery. You'll also see a rubber processing machine from England. Enjoy a traditional live Javanese gamelan music. Proceed to Sam Po Kong, a Chinese temple built to honor Chinese emissary Sam Poo Thay Jin who landed in Semarang in 1401. The temple presents an interesting combination of Chinese and Muslim cultures. This temple also offers the optional services of its resident fortune teller. The fortune teller will "read" your future in exchange for a small tip before you return to the pier. Tonight I will be dining in the Pinnacle Grill…. Yeah!!!! I really like eating there. I will be dining with a member of the cruise staff, Lori Seymour, whom I have sailed with on numerous occasions. It should be fun.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Day 51 Slawi Bay, Komodo, Indonesia

Today was destined to be a very special day fro me…. For some time now I have hoped some day to travel to Indonesia and see Komodo dragons in the wild. Well. Today was to be that day! We arrived very early into Slawi Bay, Komodo, Indonesia. The only way ashore was to take a ship’s shore excursion and here is the description: Komodo Island Trek
Komodo National Park lies with in area known as the Wallacea--a transitional zone running roughly north-south where the Asian fauna from the Sunda Shelf west of Lombok intermingles with Australian species from the Sahul Shelf further east. This is the desolate domain of a fierce and rare species of
reptile that looks like a dinosaur, but is called a Komodo dragon and, of course, is not even remotely related to either a dinosaur or a dragon. Instead, the Komodo Dragon is the remnant of a once widespread ancient order of monitor lizards that today survives on only a handful of the islands. With fewer than 300 of this protected species remaining, the Komodo's very existence hangs in the balance. This giant reptile often measures up to 11 feet in length and can weigh more than 300 pounds. Like other monitor lizards, the head is tapered, the ear-openings are visible, and the neck is long and slender. The Komodo dragon is a carnivore, and lives on the deer and wild pigs that inhabit the island.
It is a good swimmer and for short distances, quite agile and swift on land. The island of Komodo itself is about 60 squares miles in area and volcanic in origin, with dramatic landscapes of 2,000-foot craggy mountains, deep arroyos, canyons, savannahs and monsoon rain forests. Fresh water is scarce on the island, collected during the monsoon season in a few isolated areas. Human habitation is therefore limited to only one settlement in Slawi Bay. Once ashore, you will be escorted on foot to Komodo National Park for a walking tour in search of the Komodo dragon. Walking about one mile accompanied by the rangers and an English speaking guide to the fenced area at Banunggulung to look for the dragons. You'll have a chance to take some photos. Guests with minimum walking ability can walk halfway or just stay at the ranger station where Komodo dragons are occasionally seen. An open bar with soft drinks and mineral water is available to you at the ranger station and reception area. The monsoon forests of Komodo teem with activity of other wildlife, particularly in the morning before
the sun is at it peak. Squawking cockatoos flock in often leafless trees, disturbing large green Imperials pigeons, black-napped orioles, sun bird, flowerpeckers, and noisy friarbirds, while shiny black dragoons and enormous crows soar nearby.
Well…. The day was just amazing! The largest of the Komodo dragons was about 3 ½ meters long. They are pretty fierce looking. One of the people who work at the Komodo National Park was bitten by a Komodo Dragon 3 days ago. He is in the hospital in Bali recovering. It was a smaller one that came into the office and attacked his ankles, he ended up with ankles and hand injuries. One of the Komodo Dragons charged after my friends Glenda & Ron while they were on their trek…. I wish I had been there. The other cool thing I saw was this incredible red & black bee…. Pretty fierce for someone allergic to bee stings. The photo of the deer is a sad thing. I was able to get a nice close photo because this deer has been bitten during an attack by a Komodo Dragon and has a pretty bleak future…. The park rangers don’t feed the dragons; thye feed on pigs, deer, etc. We had a nice sail away as we left the Komodo Island park and we are off to Java Indonesia. My head waiter, Yan Yan, is pretty excited since his family will be there for a visit. Tomorrow, a day at sea!!!!