We woke up early to go to Masada and afterward we visited the Dead Sea Spa and went into the water which was incredible. We had lunch at the spa. After lunch, we drove to the top of a mountain to take a beautiful picture of the city and went to the ship.
July 17, 2018
Today we went to the Lebanon border and took a picture by the fence and spoke to a nice soldier. It turns out that he was half Lebanese and half Irish. At the Lebanese border is the Rosh HaNikra Grottos after the Grotto we then went to Acre (Akko) and walked through the souq and had a nice fish lunch at Abu Christo. After lunch, we went to this little town where we walked around a bit. Unforutanlety, I don’t remember the name of the town.
This is a side note about our Tour Guide Zvika he was one of the best guides we ever had. He showed us all the best Israel had to offer. His business card is the first picture below. Tell him you want the Selloni experience. I guarantee you will have a great time!
Today we were redirected to Haifa because the Palestinians were throwing missiles into Israel at the Gaza Strip. Our tour guide Zvika Livneh picked us up from Haifa and took us to see Caesarea. After dinner, Zvika took us for a walk around Jerusalem at nighttime. I recommend doing that if you get the chance.
Today is our second to last day on the ship we have arrived in Bangkok which is an amazing city full of waterways which give this city character. From the pier, we boarded a river boat which took us along the Chao Phya River through the canals (Klongs). Along the way, we saw floating grocery stores, water taxis, teakwood houses on stilts and some temples. Our first stop on this water tour was at the Royal Barge Museum which houses the ornately decorated longboats once used for royal functions. In the pictures below you will see a picture of the Suphanahonge, gold encrusted swan-shaped barge used solely by the king.
Our next stop on the water tour was Wat Arun or the Temple of Dawn. After walking up the steep stairs, we had fresh coconut milk which was delicious.
The next day we had a private tour set up where we took a James Bond style boat around different parts of Bangkok which were very cool. From our James Bond long boat, we got a chance to see The Grand Palace and Wat Phra Keaw Then in a car we drove to Wat Pho which is known as the Temple of the Reclining Buddha. The measurements are 45 meters long and 15 meters high. It’s so big it has to be viewed in sections. From there we went to see, Wat Mahathat, Ayutthaya where the Buddha’s head is embedded in a tree trunk. To end our day we had a chance to ride an elephant which was decorated with a red canopy.
March 27, 2014 – Saigon – Mekong River Cruise
Today we had a river cruise scheduled which was once again something I learned about in school. Our tour bus drove us to the delta port of My Tho where the Mekong River begins. The river starts in the Tibetan Plateau and is 2,795 miles to the Mekong Delta and the South China Sea. The river has what they call Nine Dragons that fan out covered with green rice paddies and orchards of coconuts, mangos, pineapples, and bananas.
From here we boarded a motorized boat to get to our paddle boat. We paddled through the jungle which was thick with vegetation you could barely see the sky. We then stopped on a small island and saw some handmade things being sold by locals. It was quite an experience. After a short ride through the Delta, we then boarded a motorized boat once again and went back to our tour bus to the pier.
March 28, 2014 – Saigon – Private Tour
We schedule a private tour today so that we can see more things without having to deal with 40 other people. Saigon began as a small fishing village; then it was rebuilt by the French in the mid 19th century. Modern day Saigon has a population of more than seven million people and is the largest economic center of Vietnam. We visited the Huyen Khong Monastery inside a cave which was cool. After that, we just drove by the beach and visited some stores that sold marble stone statues.
Today we had a half day tour scheduled for the city. Da Nang is a beautiful city considering all the conflict that happened years ago. It was a major US Marine base during the Vietnam conflict, Da Nang was a strategic air and seaport, and most of the brutal fighting of the war happened there. We visited Cham Museum it housed the most extensive collection of Cham art in the world, dating back to the fifth through the 16th century. After a visit to the museum, we stop at the Han Market for a little retail therapy. The last stop was driving to Marble Mountain. This mountain was made up of five hills, each representing one of the five elements of the universe: water, wood, fire, metal, and earth. Our tour guide said that both Vietnamese and the Cham used these mountains to build shrines, so it’s picturesque with numerous grottoes, caves, and pagodas. The caves were also used by the Vietcong to hide during the war.
Today we arrived in Vietnam and began our day with a short drive from the ship to the junk pier in Ha Long city. Once there we boarded the junk boat called Phuong Hoang, this was one of the wildest boat rides we’ve ever been on. To get out of the pier, all the boats were bumping into each other hence their name Junk boats. We began our cruise in the bay which is located in the Gulf of Tonkin; Ha Long Bay is one of the world’s outstanding natural wonders. This densely concentrated zone of Karst Islands, world famous for its spectacular scenery of grottoes and caves and is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. We weren’t lucky with the weather it was raining and foggy, but it was still pretty.
Tonight we boarded an open top double decker bus for our night tour. We drove through the heart and soul of Kowloon. We drove past the Peninsula Hotel and modern Hong Kong Space Museum. We then drove to the animated Golden Mile of Nathan Road, the longest street in Hong Kong. On Nathan Road we were dazzled by all the bright neon lit up buildings. We also had the chance to go shopping at the Temple Street Night Market. This was a long street filled with vendors selling clothing, knock-off watches, posters all sorts of souvenirs.
March 22, 2014 – Hong Kong, China – Lantau Island & Po Lin Monastery
Lantau Island is the largest of the 235 islands. The full day tour began with a drive to Tsing Yi Lookout where we had a panoramic view of the Tsing Ma Bridge. After a brief photo stop, we drove to Tung Chung Terminal to change bus’ to drive on Lantau Island. We drove along the winding roads to Tai O Village which is known as “Hong Kong’s Venice” because of its many crisscrossing waterways.
Upon arrival on Lantau Island, we began our walking tour of Tai O and the Po Lin Monastery. The monastery is located at an altitude of 1,700 feet on the Ngong Ping Plateau. We then walked to see the main attraction which is the 250 ton, 102 foot high Bronze Buddha statue called Tian Tan Buddha. This is largest seated Buddha statue in Asia. The pedestal of the statue is a three-story exhibition hall embellished with Buddhist figures and scriptures.
After taking a bunch of photos, we walked to have a vegetarian lunch prepared by the resident monks which was delicious.
The last stop on this tour was a cable ride by Ngong Ping Skyrail. This is a spectacular 5.7km (3.54 miles) cable car journey, traveling between Tung Chung Town Centre and Ngong Ping on Lantau Island the floor of the cable car was glass which was scary at first but after a few minutes we got used to it and were able to enjoy the panoramic views. We went to the South China Sea and the North Lantau Country Park. We saw the best views of Hong Kong on this complete glass Skyrail.
Our tour today began walking through Yangmingshan National Park which was nice. After walking through the park and taking in the beauty, we went and had a traditional Taiwanese lunch which was fabulous.
Our last stop was the Cal La Young Garden Resort to enjoy the therapeutic hot springs. We had a great time soaking in the mineral rich waters. The view while at the hot springs was amazing. After an hour of relaxing at the hot springs, we boarded our bus to drive back to the ship.
After cruising the East China Sea, we arrive at our next port Nagasaki. We began our tour visiting Nagasaki Peace Park, commemorating the city’s destruction by the plutonium bomb dropped on August 9, 1945. Fat Man was the second bomb dropped on Japan, missed its target by over a mile and a half, it leveled nearly half the city.
The park’s main attraction is this massive Peace Memorial Statue depicting a man with his right arm pointing to the sky to indicate the continued threat of nuclear destruction. The next stop was the Atomic Bomb Museum which had over 900 artifacts showing the city’s devastation.
Our tour began with seeing the Shanghai Museum located in People’s Square. This museum was huge it had 110,000 historical objects and 430,000 reference pieces. It had bronze, ceramics, calligraphy, painting, sculptures, jade, furniture, coins and artwork.
After the museum, we visited the Yu Garden. This garden was built between 1559-1577 A.D by the Pan family from the Ming Dynasty. I loved the garden the buildings, the bridges, and ponds were so lovely.
This was the first time we were taking a tour at night which was different and kind of cool. As we started our drive around Shanghai, the buildings were very pretty and brightly lit up. Unfortunately, there was a bug traveling through the cruise ship, and I was unlucky and was one of the passengers who got sick. The bad part was that it started while I was 15 minutes into this tour. I ended up getting sick at our first stop which was the Jinmao Building, the 2nd tallest building in China and among the top 10 in the world.
At this point, I had to make the best of it since we had two hours to go. We went up to the Observation Lounge on the 88th floor. From this vantage point, we saw the skyline of Shanghai all lit up on both sides of the river. After about an hour at this hotel, we then drove to our last stop which was People’s Square where we had some free time on our own which I didn’t even get off the bus. I thought I was going to die at this point of the evening.
March 15, 2014 – Private Day Tour
We are still in Shanghai and unfortunately, I stayed on the cruise ship because I was still sick. John had a private tour set up for the city. He did some sightseeing and some shopping.