2006 - CRUISE from SINGAPORE




Ahhh, yes!   Our first celebratory drink.  
😎
 
This was our family trip of a lifetime.   It cost a small fortune but was well worth it. This trip that gave our children a desire to travel we all experienced different cultures which has made us all appreciate what we have and has given us a yearning to see more of the world. 

The cruise went from Singapore to Koh Samui in Thailand and then to Ho Chi Minh.   Great destinations!

Obviously this is a record of our memories.   My photos are not fantastic because that was when I had my old point and shoot.   Koh Samui was nice.   Unfortunately with just a day there we could not see everything, but one day I would love to go back and explore some more, especially the nice beaches.   Ho Chi Minh City was a highlight, especially our trip to the Mekong Delta.   Vietnam is one place that is on our 'must see' list.   Hubby and I will one day go back and explore the northern region.

We have great memories of elephant riding in Koh Samui, practicing our "xin chΓ o" and "cαΊ£m Ζ‘n" hello and thank you in Vietnamese, having an amazing banquet on the banks of the Mekong Delta, crossing the streets of Ho Chi Minh City!! and much more.

But for now, here is the story of boarding the big cruise ship, our first thoughts, the exhilaration of hearing the horn to signify departure and actually moving!!   That was so exciting for all of us.



The Superstar Gemini is relatively small compared to its sister ship the Virgo.   This was our first sighting as we joined the line.   Hubby and I cringed when the kids found out which ship we were going on, the small one in the front!   So ungrateful kids can be hey,  lol.   Cost us a fortune this holiday!!

Then, to top it all off!!   In the line they remarked that this was going to be a boring holiday. "Look at all the old fogies"!! 

OMG, I was deflated!   I wanted the ground to open up and end it!!   Gee!!!


Ok.   Let's play happy families!  Smile for the camera.


The welcome party was fun.   This was a real nice touch, to have the entertainment welcome us aboard.   Hubby and I have been on another cruise since then and it was bigger and felt more impersonal.   I much rather be on the Gemini.


I will explain bits and pieces of cruising life as we go along.

So following our departure and dinner, we hit the top deck for a swim, spa and a few evening drinks.


Cruising is great in the food department.   You can sit down in the restaurant or dine casual buffet as well as select bbq food in the outside bbq area.   There was always an array of carved food decorations and one day we even had a chocolate buffet around wonderful carved ice animals.






Hubby and I had not long had our anniversary.  We were surprised by a lovely little anniversary cake decorated just for us.
In fact the staff were so nice that they knew us all by name and even our children.  That is so sweet and something that you don't experience on the larger cruises.



One evening we were waiting for our food at the restaurant and young 4yro Jesse was getting a little impatient.   So the waiter came over and suggested that Jesse have ice cream. 
Hey, why not!   We were on holiday.   Jesse thought that was wonderful!



~~oOo~~


KOH SAMUI



Having plenty of travel tips we were well equipped to deal with a 1 day trip itinerary ourselves instead of wasting money booking on the cruise ship - which is tip number 1. 

We wandered off the boat and past the greedy taxis all vying for customers and found a small cafΓ© to try a local snack.





2nd tip - we found our taxi, not the other way around.   After a bit of bargaining for a day fare we all jumped in and headed to our first destination - the Elephant Safari. 

Knowing what I know now about these places and how sometimes the elephants are treated poorly, I won't be doing this again.   However back in 2006 most people were naive about this sort of thing.   We certainly were.







I had been given a tip on a restaurant in Chaweng Beach.   We were looking forward to a nice relaxing lunch.

Our taxi found us a Bottlo on the way.  Singhas all round.





Little boat seafood restaurant - Chaweng Beach.

3rd tip - this tip I received was from a member of my old travel site Virtual Tourist.   The little boat seafood restaurant in the main street of Chaweng and across the road from Chaweng Beach Resort was fantastic.  It's a family business and we had the pleasure of meeting the owner and explaining how we came to pick his restaurant.

The atmosphere was cosy and casual and we felt very comfortable.   The staff were attentive and the food was tasty.   My girls and I loved the cocktail and mocktail glasses.








And young Jesse, after polishing off his burger, checks to make sure that his lemonade is really green.  πŸ˜‰



We had enough time after lunch to wander down the street.   Hubby and I found a tailor and made an on the spot decision to have leather coats made and shipped back home.   Mind you it took ages and at one stage we thought that we had been duped out of the money that we paid.   But finally they arrived and we are still to this day happy with our purchase!

Meanwhile, eldest daughter Kelli went across the road and got her tongue pierced.   She also decided to get something else pierced.  😏  Turns out the guy liked that bit.
So he said that piercing was for free!!  πŸ˜†
More about that story later.

Anyway.....   Walking the streets of Koh Samui was different.   We were puzzled by the mangle of wires everywhere.   How do they sort out this when there's a problem?


What a fun time we were having by this time, we were getting to know our driver and forming a nice friendship.   He suggested a nice spot to stop off on the way back for a walk and photo advantage point.   This spot was so nice that Hubby and I could envision coming back to enjoy the lovely scenery and beaches here.   Sometimes a cruise is good to give you a taste of what you could experience at a later date.





Back in town there was just enough time to wander through the markets and buy some cheap hippy pants that the girls and I love and then hit the jetty to walk back to the Gemini.


A warm goodbye to Cockeet, our taxi driver for the day.   
By the time we got back to town we were all great friends.


~~oOo~~

FUN AND GAMES ON THE 

SUPERSTAR GEMINI



Goodbye Koh Samui.   We are on our way to Vietnam.

Life on board the Gemini is all about fun and games.
Every day after breakfast we would come back to our cabin and check out the daily activities brochure to plan our day.   Below are some of the great activities that we enjoyed.

MR SEXY LEGS COMPETITION


This was fun.  😁  Daughter Kelli was one of the lovely 3 young lady judges who had to vote on which guy had the sexiest legs as they modelled around the pool area.  It was hilarious and they were all good sports.


Mr Sexy Legs Winner.


DECK GAMES

The boys cleaned up on medals in the deck bowling and mini golf.






TRIVIA

Trivia night.   Dylan blitzed it!   He has always had a picture book memory.   Never studied, and yet has always got straight A's.   Not sure where he got that from?   But anyway young Dylan annihilated the opposition and won the medal.


PLASTIC FRUIT PICKING

And finally Kelli and I got a medal yea!!  
😎  
For our great team work in collecting the most plastic fruit out of the pool.



And a lovely couple and family that we met on board had fun playing imagination games with young Jesse, after having a few drinks that is.



Casting minds back for a moment to my opening blog where I mention that the kids were not really happy that they were boarding a 'small boat' with a bunch of 'old fogies'.  

Well that idea had swiftly faded.   They were all having a bunch of fun and had also made friends with ..... wait for it!.......  πŸ€ͺ
other young ones on this cruise!!! 

HAPPY HOUR

It's always happy hour somewhere on the boat the daily activity brochure lists which bar and at what time.   We had that covered every day on a cruise everything is free except for the grog so we needed to ensure that we got the best possible deal.

Of course  Kelli and I had to celebrate our win.


Happy hour with friends at any time of the day.




And young Janine loved her Mocktails.  😊


~~oOo~~


STORY ON THE PIERCING 

Remember back in Koh Samui where Kelli got a couple of piercings?   One on the tongue and the other somewhere else that she got for free.  😜


Well not only did she show off her tongue piercing but the boob one as well.  😏


Kelli has always been shameless!   But then I suppose she got that from me, being a hippy in my younger days lol.


~~oOo~~


VIETNAM


I woke up early in the morning, looked out of our porthole and saw land.   We were slowly motoring up the river towards Ho Chi Minh.   On deck we exchanged warm waves with the locals.




When we arrived in port there was a nice welcome party for us.



It's pretty cool the way they work the customs entry into a country.   We all had a ship pass to scan and then they just stamped our passports and we were welcomed to Vietnam.

Unfortunately, it was raining.   We were all given raincoats which was a great idea.


Tip.  Again, as in Koh Samui, we didn't take the boat tour of the Mekong Delta that Gemini offered.   We heard later that they spent 4 hours there and back on the bus.  
Ours only took 1 1/2hrs each way by taxi.

But first of all we headed into town for a look around.









The post Office is worth a visit.   It is a magnificent building inside and out. 
  
I posted a few postcards to my Virtual Tourist friends.



Crossing the road was fun.  I had learnt from my friends on VT a tip.   You just step out, hold out your hand and keep walking.   Do not stop!   The zillions of bikes, cars, buses and trucks will just go around you.   The roads here are mad!    No rules whatsoever but very few crashes because there is no such thing as insurance and people do not want to mess up their only means of transport.






~~oOo~~

MEKONG DELTA


We found a taxi, did a bit of bargaining and headed off to the delta.   Fouk, our taxi driver knew the best place, only 1 1/2hrs down the road.   A place called Ben Tre.



Here, there are a few islands to explore all very close together and separated by small canals and bridges.   It was absolutely awesome!   On the way, Fouk arranged for a boat to be waiting there for us.   Obviously he's done this before.

The canals were gorgeous, with overhanging rainforest trees, vines etc.





On the first island, we were greeted by the locals selling small homemade gifts, honey tea and coconut candy.   We did some tastings and then watched a few young ones sing "if you're happy and you know it clap your hands".   We sang along and then gave them all some small notes.   

We noticed after that they in turn gave it to their parents.   Shame.   We would have liked the small children to have had that money.




We headed over a small bridge to another island where a local showed us a lunch table decorated nicely with red tablecloth and asked did we want to have a banquet lunch?   Why not?   

It was a magical setting overlooking the delta and in the shade of the cabana with tropical palm trees and rainforest bush surrounding. 

We had king prawns, elephant fish, snake and tortoise.   And yes, the tortoise was very tasty. Snake, not so.   But the prawns and elephant fist were devine!   All washed down with a few local beers.   Yuuum! 

Yes, it cost a lot, and that was also by western standards.   But sometimes you just have to lash out and enjoy the experience.  
πŸ˜€







What a view!


Time to hit the road back to Ho Chi Minh.  

 This was an amazing adventure and writing about it again only just makes me want to go back!!




Back in the City, the markets are fun to visit.   We all had a try at bargaining.   I was conservative at around 3/4 of the original price.   Kelli on the other hand was ruthless!  She would offer below half and only accept half the original offer, sometimes even less than that.



Then on to the famous Rex Hotel for a Vietnamese coffee - another tip from my VT friends totally yuuuum!

We also enjoyed practicing our hello "xin chΓ o" and thank you "cΓ‘m Ζ‘n".   The locals always appreciate it when visitors try to speak their language.


It was a long day but wonderful. just one more thing, a little VT meet that I had teed up.

Meeting up with locals Johnny and Vy was so nice.


I miss VT.  😒

~~oOo~~

MORE GEMINI CRUISE FUN



One of the best things about cruising are the nightly shows, many of whom are interactive.

We also had fun in the Karaoke bar and danced until we dropped in the nightclub.





We all formed friendships.





Special thanks to the entertainment director who did a fantastic job.


All good things have to come to an end.  
It was a sad day when we cruised back into Singapore.

At least we beat the big sister ship Virgo yea!!  😝



Gotta have that special family photo.  πŸ˜‰


And a big goodbye hug to Jesse.


~~oOo~~


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