The most exciting part of our cruise was visiting a new country, Cambodia and for me, first time to Bali.

We were saving for another big trip in 2020 so could not choose anything expensive.  However we did need a work holiday break to take away some of our daily stress.  



Cruising is a holiday that allows one to see other parts of the world but not have the worry of accommodation, food, drinks and entertainment. The only thing I had to plan was our day trips at port. 

So I locked in this 2 week cruise early in the year and we got about the business of saving.  

Not only were we going back to Singapore to check out the new boat building and  the awesome Bay of Gardens, but our cruise itinerary was going to include Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand and Bali.

We were excited!

This time I did not even consider taking photos of the cruise ship or life on board.  If you have never been on a cruise before, I suggest you give it a try.  

Cruising Tips -

Don't bother with a verandah cabin unless you get a really good deal.  Inside is just fine as it's only your sleeping quarters.  Better off saving the extra to enjoy your day trips. 

Don't bother booking the cruise day trips.  You are better organizing your own pre-cruising.

Don't bother going onto Cruise Critic and asking if someone wants to share your day trip booking with you.  We got let down.  Won't go into that.

However if you like your cocktails and daily drinks without having to add up your tab - then it is worth it to pay for the drinks package.  The earlier you book that, the cheaper it is.  Look out for the deals.
I headed to the jazz and cocktail bar every morning at 10.30am with my computer and played with my photos over a few cocktails.  It's amazing how creative you get after some interesting 
margarita mixes.  😋

So....  without further adeu...  Let's start in Singapore.





We stayed at the Hotel Grand Pacific as I got a deal.  This did not include breakfast so most mornings we walked across the nearby intersection to a food court for breakfast and the occasional dinner.  Plus it had a 24/7 downstairs that was useful to buy snacks and beer.

The thing I liked about the Hotel Grand Pacific was that it had transport at the front door including the Hop On, Hop Off bus and there were a couple of nice restaurants in the small plaza connected to the Hotel.  

Apart from that, our favourite Hotel in Singapore is still the Carlton.  So if you can get a good deal there, don't hesitate.



We could not wait to check out the not so new Marina Bay Sands Hotel.  Last time we were here in 2009 it was under construction.  

What an amazing building. 

We walked along the Boat Quay and decided to go on a cruise.  This was a great decision and took us to the area where it had a lot of fun looking restaurants and than back to the Marina Sands Hotel so that we could get some real cool shots.  

Back along the Boat Quay, we walked along and found a nice restaurant overlooking the river where we relaxed over a few beers and lunch along with some photo opportunities and people watching.  

It was a lovely day.



Famous Raffles

The Hop on Hop off Bus is the best way to explore Singapore.  Having the bus stop right outside our Hotel was a bonus.

First stop was in Little India.  After a stroll we were hot and I needed to have a rest, so we found a small restaurant with a shady outdoor seating area including fans.    We enjoyed a couple of cold Tigers and did some people watching.



Next stop - Gardens By the Bay.

This is a nice place to wander around.  Of course being our first time we paid to go up in the big building and check out the lovely indoor gardens and waterfalls which was well worth it.  However it is a tourist attraction and once you have done it, it's probably not worth it to do it again.  The day we were there was a public holiday so it was crowded.

And a few choice flower pictures 😄




Next up, First Cruise Port


We were up at the crack of dawn.  Remembering how wonderful it was last time cruising up the river towards Ho Chi Minh, we were again looking forward to it.

I love sunrises on board a cruise ship.

The river as always was a hive of activity with all sorts of vessels.  Sunrise was a bonus.




The port that we sailed into was Phu My 
which was different to the last time and further away from the city.

Last time we did Ho Chi Minh and the Mekong Delta which was absolutely fabulous.

This time I wanted to experience more authentic Vietnam so I chose somewhere closer.  I was intrigued to see what Vietnam beaches look like so decided to head in the other direction from Ho Chi Minh City to a place called Vung Tao.   Hubby and I love nature so searching the area I came across a small nature park that we could visit along the way as you can see in the above map.

So we caught the bus arranged by the cruise out to the front of the port and waited for our driver for the day that I had pre-arranged.




Bung Bac Eco Park is not touristy.  It is definitely off the beaten path.  There is not a great deal here except for beer.  Which was very welcome.  😉

So it was a little run down and in need of a little loving care.  But hubby and I still found some nice scenery to photograph.

Of course there are the more touristy things to see and you will find them on google if you are searching.  But I would not rule out this little nature park to see a bit of authentic Vietnam.






This cruise was all about some R&R.  Hubby and I still love experiencing new places and new culture but these days we have slowed down alot.

Our idea these days is to avoid the busy tourist attractions and find one or two hidden treasures then enjoy a lazy couple of hours at a nice restaurant with a view and enjoy the local food and a couple of beers whilst taking in the atmosphere including a bit of people watching.

Ganh Hao restaurant came up on my Google search with great scenery overlooking the beach and fresh seafood.  

We enjoyed our long lunch here and our driver was waiting out the front as pre-arranged.




  We stopped in the main street of Vung Tau to stroll along the promenade.  

Just the half a day that we had here has wet our appetites to come back again sometime and stay to explore the surrounding area some more.

Next Port of Call -



We arrived at the port of Sihanoukville, Cambodia.

The arriving bit was good. As we slowly made our way into port, this is the gorgeous view.


A bit of research reveals that this place has not kept up with the amount of cruises that dock every week.  

Sihanoukville has a reputation of being dirty and ripping off the tourists.  It is also Casino city frequented by sleezy Chinese gamblers which has also marred it's already bad reputation.  Such a shame because I can see the potential for this town to thrive and make it a nicer experience for us tourists to mutual benefit.

So, until the locals realise this and make this little village a pleasurable port of call, then unfortunately not many people will leave the cruise ships to visit for the day.

Our stay here was not very long.  I looked at a few islands nearby as the beaches on them seemed to be quite stunning.  However weighing up the travel time, we would have been to rushed and that is not what this holiday was all about.

So we jumped in a taxi and headed south about 15 minutes to Independence Beach.


Now we're talking.  Check this place out.


So we spent a lazy hour and a half swimming and sitting under the shady trees.  There was also a beach bar that catered to our thirst.

Lunch was fantastic.  Siting in the Independence Hotel Restaurant with a view to die for and equally great food.

All in all we enjoyed our day which was far from the dirty town of Sihanoukville just minutes away.

Heading back to the Cruise Port was fun.  The Hotel got us a Tuk Tuk and negotiated the price for us up front so no being ripped off like we were with the taxi driver before.  Which wasn't even a taxi.  Just an old bomb of a car lol.

So there's a tip for you.  Jump on the cruise ship bus to the front of the port where you will find the Tuk Tuks.  I would do some research too for the going price for a 15m ride.



Next Port


We docked in Laem Chabang Port which is quite a long way from Bangkok as you can see in the map below.

So again, we chose not to spend most of the day driving to and from the city.  Plus Bangkok is not really a place that hubby and I are interested in visiting.  We much prefer to check out the Thailand countryside.

We met our driver in the Cruise Port.  I had hired drivers in advanced as it's cheaper than doing the cruise day trips plus we got to pick what we wanted to do.

So we jumped in and headed to the Pattaya Floating Markets.

With a bit of prior Google searching I found 3 things to do for the day.  This time we didn't want to fit in a lot sightseeing, but just enough to enjoy a bit of touristy stuff and not so touristy stuff with a long lunch in between.



We are glad that we got here early because this place can be real busy from lunch time on.

It was interesting navigating through the maze of cute wooden stilted shops with cute bridges in between and boats selling their goods.

I bought a pair of batic half calf pants with elephants on.  Btw, my favourite pic above of the  red elephant was taken here from a shop selling velvet pictures.



Thailand has a Vineyard?  Alright!!   🍷

Well I sniffed it out.


This Vineyard is huge.  They have a little train that takes you around.
However, today Hubby wasn't feeling too good, so we just enjoyed a nice lunch here overlooking the beautiful vineyard and surrounding countryside.

The Thai spicy salad was superb.



On the way to our next destination we could not resist stopping for a couple of shots of this.

Hey an Upside-down house in  Thailand!



Hubby and I laughed our way through this place.  

It seemed to be a strange mix of nature and gardens from around the world but included these larger than life monster animals from now and in the past.  

You can see how this would be popular with the kids.  And I guess it made for some interesting photos from the kids at heart.

Nah...  don't think we will be back.



Next up is Bali.

We stopped at Koh Samui but Hubby was still sick so we decided to give the day trip a miss and stayed on board.

We had visited Koh Samui before on our big family cruise holiday in 2006 so we were not too disappointed.



Hubby has been to Bali before.  I haven't.  It was the only place I would let him go on a holiday without me.   Well, except for South Australia lol.

So I was looking forward to seeing what all the hype is about in Bali.  After all, most Western Australians holiday here every year because it is cheap and not too far to travel to from WA.

First of all, again sunrise on the way into Bali was stunning!

So we met up with our driver Gusti that Hubby had made friends with when he visited Bali previously.

We were not interested in going to Kuta.  Better to get out into the country and experience true Bali.

So I found a 5 Star Resort outside of Ubud which is in the mountains and very different from the hustle and bustle of Bali Cities and much cleaner.  




So we wanted to give a little extra to driver Gusti because like our dricer in KL Patruck, he is doing it hard.

We paid for Gusti to have lunch with us and enjoy sitting with us on our day beds.

It was funny to see Gusti order a Western Burger and chips.


And some quick photos on the way back through the rice fields.


We stopped in at the Hotel that Hubby went to and where Gusti works.

We checked out a room.  The thing I like about this Hotel is that every room has it's own private pool and the rooms are very clean.  

Although located in Seminak, it is surprisingly quiet.  The Staff are very friendly and it is not too far from restaurants and the beach.  Not like our beaches so we don't see that staying on the beach has any advantage.  I reckon it's better to stay in Ubud up in the mountains.

Anyway, that was my introduction to Bali.  Not real fussed in coming back.  The only reason that I would come back would be to see lovely Gusti again and meet his family.  

And probably spend most of my time at the Gili Islands not far off the eastern coast which look totally like my kind of holiday.


No comments: