New Year’s Travel: Cruising in Thailand and Malaysia
It’s almost a year late but allow me to share this first.
I welcomed 2018 with a new kind of travel experience: cruising. This trip got me looking forward to being sandwiched between two beautiful blues: the sky and the sea.
The port where we had to board the ship was in Phuket, Thailand and our flight from Manila, Philippines had a layover at Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. While waiting for our connecting flight, my aunt and I killed time at McDonald’s where we got to try the Prosperity Burger, a chicken sandwich with generous amounts of black pepper sauce and fresh onions.
After a few hours we boarded the plane to Phuket, Thailand. From the airport, we took a van to Patong beach. Being packed in a small vehicle with tourists from different parts of the world was exhilarating. There were backpackers and there were heavy travellers from Europe and Asia. Each had a different stop but each perhaps had the same vision: seeing more of the world one place at a time.
When we got off at the stop along the coast, we walked to the port where a small boat picked us up and brought us to the cruise ship. Upon arrival we were given the boarding pass, the card that functioned as the room key and meal ticket.
We stayed in an Oceanview State Room. This tiny room was generous enough to have two tiny beds and a tiny window that offered a view of the vast oceans.
Six meals were part of the cruise fee. Some restaurants offered a six-course meal while others had a buffet spread all day long.
Our go-to restaurant for breakfast was Mariners Asian and International Buffet. This restaurant had an open counter for salad, cereals, sausages, bacon, dimsum, and other breakfast basics. French toast, pancakes, and eggs were prepared upon request. The tables near the large windows always welcomed the morning right.
For lunch and dinner, we preferred Four Seasons Asian and Western Cuisine. This restaurant was the most elegant among the others so dress codes were observed. This fine dining restaurant also served as the venue for the Captain’s Gala Night. From the menu, one can select his or her desired six-course meal. They served steak, lobster thermidor, and other gourmet options. It’s a plus knowing that the head chef was a Filipino.
Snacks were served at the Blue Lagoon restaurant. I usually skipped the morning and afternoon snack but attended the night party and socials in the roof deck where passengers on board danced to the songs of a live band.
I joined a group excursion in our stop in Penang. One of the remarkable places we visited was the top of Penang Hill (more of the ride in the Funicular Railway that got us there).
There were gardens and lovelocks that set the ambience of the place. Lovely, yes. Extraordinary, not so much. It was still worth a visit nonetheless.
After walking around, we visited a couple of local shops. What stood out for me was Harriston Signature, a small chocolate shop where I bought a bag of assorted coffee mix. The shop attendant who showed us around seemed to be a chocolate connoisseur as he was knowledgeable enough to explain every product they had in the store.
Even though the ship had stops in Port Klang and in Phuket, I did not join the excursion anymore and opted to explore and see the facilities in the ship. Like a hotel, there was a gym, a theatre, a pool and jacuzzi area, and some shops around the place. A morning swim after watching the sunrise in the middle of the sea was nothing short of magical.
On evenings, there were jazz performances, magic shows, and circus acts, both the young and old loved. It was impossible to get bored.
After three days and three nights of new and delightful experiences, we headed back home.
Onism is a word of Danish origin which conveys “the awareness of how little of the world you’ll experience, the frustration of being stuck in just one body.” Sometimes I catch myself thinking of how much I will miss. Sometimes, instead of thinking, I move. I see for myself how far I can reach.