Day 73/138 2022/2023 Viking World Cruise. A sea day on the South China Sea.
The internet is not good again so I’m not sure about photos today. It took me almost 3 hours this morning to upload photos into yesterday’s blog from Semarang, Indonesia. It is a very frustrating process using a slow internet in this day and age considering having internet nowadays is like eating. We need it. It is not a luxury. How can we do online banking or research upcoming ports without reliable internet?
We listened to a lecture this morning on the history of the countries that make up Southeast Asia, which was fascinating. The area we are in now is not one we are familiar with, so listening to the history of the region was really informative. Travelling around the world as we are doing really opens yours eyes to the fact that our educational curriculum in North America is so very Western or European focused. I have learned so much already through the enrichment lectures and also through visiting so many new places and experiencing different cultures.
We have decided that golf in Vietnam has ‘too much hair’ on it. To try and get to the golf course and back was just not worth the effort. We were trying to get the speedboat operator that we found to come and pick us up near where the ship will be docked south of Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam, but they said no. So that meant we would need a taxi from the port to the speedboat operator and it turned out that a trip in a taxi would be quite long because the traffic is so bad in Vietnam. Sometimes when things are not meant to be, they are not meant to be! We will try and figure out another port for golf, now that we know other golfers on the ship who are also interested in golfing at some of our upcoming ports of call.
In art class today we were again cutting coloured paper with scissors to make something interesting. Today we were to make ‘Canang Sari’ which is the Balinese offerings that Hindus place to thank the HIndu god Ida Sang Hyang Widhi Wasa. The offering is done every day as a form of thanks for the peace that has been given to the world. Canang sari is normally filled with colourful flowers which are usually white, red, yellow and green/blue. White flowers are placed to the east, Red flowers to the south, Yellow flowers are placed to the west and Blue/Green flowers are placed to the north. Canang Sari stays for one night after it has been prayed and offered to the god, before it is removed and a new one is offered. For traditional Balinese woman it is an obligation to know how to make Canang Sari.
Our art teacher wanted us to first think about what our offering was going to rest on. Whether it was the floor, the sand, or something else. And then what was our offering basket going to be made of. Lastly, we had to arrange flowers in our offering and determine if we were going to add coins or money, fruits or incense on our offering basket. We only had one day to finish the project. This is what I came up with:
I thought of a Balinese alter we had seen in Sanur and decided to do my Canang Sari (offering) on the alter. It is interesting trying to figure out how to do cut outs on paper when I’ve not done anything with paper cut outs in years, other than to make snowmen for CANUKUS! More to come on this art form, as tomorrow we have another paper cut out project in art class, as we have another sea day!
The view from the art room window. The art room is on Deck 2 in The Restaurant. The South China Sea is a beautiful turquoise colour! Stunning!
I spent some time quietly reading this afternoon as I am finally into the book ‘Summer Island’ by Kristin Hannah. With writing copious blogs and touring, I’ve been neglecting my reading, so it was nice to spend some quiet time reading while you know who took a PON (Pants OFF NAP!)
We listened to the port talk on Ho Chi Minh City today and when hearing that the bus ride to the Mekong Delta will be 3 hours, then 2 hours on an open boat on the river in the heat, and then 3 hours back on a bus, we immediately went and cancelled that tour and will get a refund in our onboard account for the tour. The entire optional excursion was supposed to be 10.5 hours. I’m afraid that is not happening! What frustrates me is that when I was signing up for tours back in Canada on the platform ‘MY VIKING JOURNEY’, the full details of how long the bus ride is and exactly where we are going and how long we are at a place, is NOT explained. The descriptions of the tours need to be better, to avoid what is happening now, which is cancelling tours at the last minute, and trying to find something else to do, and working with really bad internet. As it is we are about 1 hour and 15 minutes (depending on traffic) away from Ho Chi Minh City where the ship will be docked, so before any tour begins, this bus ride is mandatory. We did not decide to go on a World Cruise to sit on a bus for 6 hours in one day. We do not care what there is to see 3 hours away on a bus! If we want to come back to this area again, we can explore it fully over an extended period of time, avoiding 3 hour bus rides.
Because the internet was so bad this afternoon after the port talk, it took me about an hour of research with web sites not fully opening, to determine another tour option for us on the day we had originally planned to be on the Mekong Delta. After reading about 50 reviews on the tour that I booked, I was able to finally book the tour and I think it will be much better than the 10.5 hour tour we had originally booked as an optional tour with Viking. What is also frustrating is the lack of full transparency even after the Port Talk, which is usually two days before we arrive at a port on things like: 1) where is the ship going to be docked?; 2) will there be independent shuttles to the city?; 3) what time will the shuttles be running to and from the city? 4) where do the shuttles drop off and pick up in the city? and 5) will that spot we are dropped off at, be close to anything that we can walk to for independent exploration? If I had all of these details before I left home last year, I could have easily arranged our own tours which would not involve long bus rides, but now I’m behind the ‘8 ball’ so to speak, trying to figure things out. This is not the way we operate when we travel independently and we’ve done lots of that kind of independent travel all over the world. Regardless, we have a new option for March 10th and I’m relieved that we will have a private guided tour in Ho Chi Minh City and we will not have a 6 hour bus ride on buses that were built for smaller people, which is also another consideration when booking these long tours.
I feel like I’m ranting today, but that is not my intent. I like transparency and lots of details and I don’t feel like we’re getting that from Viking. They could do better.
Tomorrow we have a special treat coming up! We finally were able to get an onboard Cooking Class with one of the Viking Chefs! The class is called “Voyage to Vietnam” and I am really looking forward to the class. We start at 10am and the class goes to 1pm and includes the lunch that we have prepare. Other people that have attended cooking class on the Neptune have said they are really good, so I will let you know how it goes tomorrow. We had only 4 classes in the entire journey that would suit my taste in food, so I am glad we got one of our choices.
Yesterday while we were doing the included tour of Semarang, South Java, Indonesia, Mike our Canadian friend did the optional 10.5 hour tour to Borobudur to see the largest Buddhist Temple in the world.
Picture from Mike Schofield.
Built in the 9th century the Borobudur temple consists of 9 stacked platforms, 6 square and 3 circular, topped by a central dome. It is decorated with 2,672 relief panels and originally 504 Buddha statues. The temple lay hidden for centuries under layers of volcanic ash and jungle growth. It is a mystery why it was abandoned, but in 1814 when Java was under British rule, a Dutch engineer uncovered the complex by burning away vegetation and digging away earth to find this monument. Finally in 1835 the entire complex was unearthed. Amazing! I’m glad Mike and 199 others were able to see this amazing temple yesterday, despite the really long day and long bus ride.
Luckily the internet seems a bit better tonight, as you can see I was able to add some photos to the blog. Now I’m off to try and finish reading my book!