At Sea – Monday 9th March 2015

I was really violently sick overnight, think I must have had an allergic reaction to something I ate.

I stayed in bed this morning as I couldn’t face watching Vance eat his fry-up. When he got back from breakfast he ordered me Twinning’s earl grey tea and plain toast from room service then left me in peace and went up to the pool deck.

I followed him up at 10:30 for some fresh air (still can’t sit out on our balcony…no to passive smoking!!) but after half an hour I came back to the cool of our suite – it was too hot on deck even in the shade…the captain said that it was 87f in the shade at twelve noon…I even missed my noon beer…I must be feeling poorly!!…I just had bread & butter and water for lunch.

While I was having lunch I realised there were three guys sitting at the next table that I recognised…it was the group Blake back on board for another performance. We last met them on our Sojourn 2011 World Cruise. It was great to catch up and amazing that they still remembered me. They will be performing later in the week and this is one show we will not miss.

Off We Go Again

Off We Go Again

Techie bits …here they are:
Time: 14:39
Location: 07.51 north, 117.08 east
Speed: 8 knots
Temp: 33c/91f
Distance from Puerto Princesa: 169 nms
Distance to Kota Kinabalu: 145 nms
Humidity: 55%
Sunrise: 06:21
Sunset: 18:22
Winds: 17mph from north east

Puerto Princesa, Philippines – Sunday 8th March 2015

Folklore attributes the name ‘Puerto Princesa’ to a maiden who was said to roam around the city on certain nights of the year…more practical people however say it is due to the geographical advantages of the place as a seaport – naturally protected the whole year and endowed with a depth that can accommodate any size of shipping – a virtual Princess of Ports according to the early Spanish colonists.

Woodwork

Woodwork

We didn’t fancy any of the tours today (all too long) so we took the shuttle into town and were dropped off at a local craft market. Some of the wood carvings were fabulous but wouldn’t fit with our minimalistic decor at home so that was a no-no…but I did buy a pair of cotton trousers , in a bright pink batik design for when we go to Mexico next year…a bit loud for Westbury-on-Trym methinks. We bartered with the kai-thai (ladyboy) who was selling them and got a good deal…not quite sure if he/she fancied me or Vance more…but I think Vance won…

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When we got back to the ship the locals had set up a few stalls on the quayside…so after more bartering I bought myself a bluish/purple pearl necklace – not a bad days bartering.

Coron, Philippines – Saturday 7th March 2015

Coron is a municipality in the province of Palawan, Philippines and the main industries are fishing and tourism. Tourism is the top industry these days due to the pristine beaches on Coron Island. There are also a dozen sunken Japanese warships at depths between 10 and 40 metres off Coron Island which make this a popular diving destination.

We had trouble getting into the dock this morning, the wind was so strong it kept blowing the ship away from the jetty and as there were no tugs available the coast guard boat had to take the rope connected to the rear hawser (the thick rope used to moor the ship) to the jetty so the port staff could pull the hawser in and secure it to the large mooring bollards. Then the Captain had to winch in the hawser to pull us ashore…very slowly so that the hawser didn’t snap.

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We didn’t take a tour to Coron Island mainly because I don’t snorkel so instead we took the shuttle into Coron Town. Apart from the harbour area where you could hire outrigger boats to take you to the Island and one or two floating restaurants there wasn’t much to see. We walked over to the local market but the pig heads and the smell soon sent us back to the shuttle to return to the ship.

Piggy In The Middle?

Piggy In The Middle?

Techie bits …here they are:
Time: 17:15
Location: 11.52 north, 120.09 east
Speed: 13.5 knots
Temp: 28c/82f
Distance from Coron: 7.6 nms
Distance to Puerto Princesa: 203 nms
Humidity: 58%
Sunrise: 06:11
Sunset: 18:09
Sea Depth: 80 ft
Winds: 45mph from East

Boracay, Philippines – Friday 6th March 2015

Boracay is a small island about four miles long and half a mile wide in the southern Philippines. It is best known for its powdery white sand beaches, azure waters and stretches of coconut palms – all the makings of a tropical paradise.

After breakfast we hired an electric multi-cab for the 5 minute journey to White Beach, a 2.5 mile stretch of white sand where we paddled for a mile or so, then Vance went in for a swim, not me though as you had to wade through small patches of algae (which apparently is common here in February and March) to get to the clear water…ugh!!

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Running parallel to the beach was a promenade with plenty of restaurants, bars, clothing and gift shops, massage studios and small hotels. There was also various leisure activities ranging from boat trips to learning to paddle board, parasailing and I think I saw a bungee jump station. We walked through the D’Mall, actually a small street selling everything from clothing, shoes, handbags and cosmetics to local crafts, to catch the shuttle back to the ship.

Hey Hunk!!

Hey Hunk!!

We had a fabulous morning…what a great island for both guests and crew to enjoy.

Manila, Philippines (2 Days) – Wednesday 4th and Thursday 5th March 2015

Manila is the capital city of the Philippines and is on the west coast of the biggest island, Luzon. Surrounded by the Pacific, the South China Sea and the Celebes Sea the Philippines is Asia’s only predominantly Catholic country. Manila is a mix of east and west, where people with oriental faces have Spanish names and speak English.

In the heart of Manila is the Intramuros – the Walled City – constructed in 1571, during the period of Spain’s colonisation of the Philippines, it houses the Manila Cathedral, San Agustin Church and Fort Santiago. The Manila Cathedral was first built in 1581 to replace the church that burned down in 1574, and was then rebuilt seven times after becoming the victim of earthquakes, fire or war. In 1981 Pope John Paul II gave the new cathedral the rank of minor basilica.

Wednesday 4th – We arrived at 10:00 to a fantastic welcome from the locals with music, dancing and stilt walking. A marquee had been set up on the quay so that the Sojourn’s Filipino crew could have lunch with their families.

Welcome

Welcome

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As we have an overnight here we decided to stay on board and enjoy the pool virtually to ourselves again…wonderful.

Thursday 5th – As the shuttle was going to a Mall today (and we are all Mall-ed out) we took a taxi from the port to the cathedral…we asked the price and were told 1 US dollar, so off we went but when we arrived the driver said he wanted 10 dollars…our own fault as one of the waiters had told us to make sure the taxi was on the meter…anyway we settled on 3 dollars and we were all happy with that. The cathedral was beautiful and we enjoyed exploring all the side rooms where we could read about the history of the building.

From the cathedral we decided to walk to the Fort and then to San Agustin church but were talked into taking a pedicab (a bicycle with side car) …definitely scary but good fun…and only 10 dollars… and our driver took us back to the port gates…a bargain.

All aboard this evening was 17:30 for the 18:00 sail away and the local band, dancers and the crew’s families came to cheer us off. I’m sure it was both a happy and a sad occasion for the crew.

Goodbye

Goodbye

Hundred Islands, Philippines – Tuesday 3rd March 2015

Hundred Islands is a national park, consisting of 123 islands at high tide and 124 islands at low tide, although only three islands have been developed for tourism.

We woke to sunshine but rough seas, we are at anchor today so hope we can get ashore via the tenders…could be a rocky ride. There is only one big tour today around the hundred islands…a great opportunity for some snorkelling. But we are just going to catch the tender over to Quezon Island for a walk around and a paddle…well Vance will have a swim in the warm sea and I’ll just paddle.

Quite a rough crossing from the ship to the island but when we arrived there was a fantastic welcome from the locals…we were welcomed with singing and dancing and everyone was given a local necklace and a sun hat. The crew (those who were not working that morning) loved it and were soon swimming in the clear, warm waters or sunbathing on the small beach.

Welcome

Welcome

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On our way back to the ship we were joined by a Philippine TV crew who were doing a small documentary about the Sojourn coming to Hundred Islands. It was quite rough on the return tender trip and at one stage I thought one of the cameramen was going to drop his camera overboard as he was leaning so far out of the tender in order to get good pictures of the approach to the Sojourn.

Film It Boys

Film It Boys

Then later, back on the ship, I was interviewed (in the swimming pool) and asked about our trip to Quezon. I’m getting quite good at this interview thing…first in Rio 3 years ago and now in the Philippines. That evening it was shown on ABS-CBN News…Vance was in the trailer but no sight of me…either my bit was in the actual documentary not the trailer…or more likely cut!!.

This afternoon the Marina was put out and guests could indulge in a variety of water sports off the back of the ship…not for me!!

 

At Sea – Monday 2nd March 2015

Really rough seas over night, bet the newbies weren’t expecting this. Our balcony was soaking wet this morning so either it had been raining or the waves were higher than I thought!!…

Almost There

Almost There

Between 09:00 and 10:30 this morning all guests had to attend a mandatory temperature check in the Grand Salon to confirm we were clear to enter the Philippines…I had visions of 450 people standing around with thermometers in their mouths but all we had to do was walk one at a time in front of a special camera which I assume showed if our temperature was within normal parameters…still think my way would have been more fun…

The temperature wasn’t brilliant today…only 24c/75f at midday and quite overcast…so not a great first day for the newbies but I really liked it, I sat out at the pool deck most of the day without getting too hot…usually I only sit out in the sun for an hour or so in the mornings because up until now it has been much too hot after 11:00.

Sunset At Sea From Our Balcony

Sunset At Sea From Our Balcony

Gala dinner in the main restaurant tonight, so formal attire required, but we are going to the Colannade…no dressing up for us!!

Techie bits …here they are:
Time: 07:07
Location: 19.59 north, 116.39 east
Speed: 17 knots
Temp: 22c/72f
Distance from Hong Kong: 119 nms
Distance to 100 Islands: 304.4 nms
Humidity: 80%
Sunrise: 06:32
Sunset: 18:18
Sea Depth: 3890 ft
Winds: 36mph from North East

Hong Kong – Sunday 1st March 2015

We sailed into Hong Kong at 08:00 this morning – a dreary, dismal start as Hong Kong was overcast and foggy.

After breakfast we walked into the city for an hour or so but as it was Sunday most of the shops didn’t open until eleven…not a problem as we just wanted a stroll and so we were soon back onboard for our noon Corona’s and lunch with friends at the Grill… watching the newbies arrive. Three hundred guests got off and three hundred guests got on…hope there are some that are non-newbies that we have met on previous sailings.

The Blogger In Hong Kong

The Blogger In Hong Kong

After lunch we both went to the Spa to enter the raffle for a chance to win some spa treatments…hope I win as I could do with a facial…we have to go back at 17:00 as you have to be there to claim any prize won.

At 15:15 we all went to deck four for the mandatory emergency drill (again!!) and the exciting part was that guests from two cabins did not turn up so were continuously tannoyed until they did… to a huge cheer and some boos from the rest of us guests who had been sat there for fifteen minutes…the final outcome being that the sail away was delayed by twenty five minutes…bet the captain was not pleased.

We went back to the Spa at 17:00 to see if we’d won anything…(ever hopeful)… and for a few minutes we thought we would win ALL the prizes as nobody else turned up but the spa personnel insisted on waiting another fifteen minutes by which time two people turned up, then another two, but with six of us the odds were still in our favour. So much for odds…unfortunately we didn’t win any of the main prizes but I did win a body composition analysis with the fitness instructor…duh!!…we all know what the result of that will be!!…and Vance…he won nada…boo hoo.

At 17:30 we went to the party for on-going guests…no newbies…at the back of the Spa but it was so cold outside I soon went in and laid on one of the heated beds to drink my cocktail. The idea soon caught on and all the heated beds were quickly utilised.

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At Sea – Saturday 28th February 2015

At breakfast this morning outside at the rear of the Colannade we were buzzed by two fighter jets…guess they were Chinese…shows how close we are to the Chinese mainland.

Also the captain had to navigate around large lobster pots (or whatever they were) that were in long lines across the sea. Luckily we sailed through without catching anything on the propellers although from the engine noise change I wouldn’t be surprised if he stopped the engines and just floated through…just to be on the safe side. Just a thought, I wonder if we have divers onboard who could have cleared the propellers if it had been necessary.

The day was cloudy with outbreaks of squally showers and the temperature was a disappointing 21c/69f at mid-day…brrr…hope it’s warmer in Hong Kong tomorrow…

On Our Way

On Our Way

Techie bits …here they are:
Time: 16:48
Location: 20.25 north, 111.24 east
Speed: 17 knots
Temp: 22c/72f
Distance from Halong Bay: 261.4 nms
Distance to Hong Kong: 216.7 nms
Humidity: 93%
Sunrise: 06:55
Sunset: 18:38
Sea Depth: 140 ft
Winds: 17mph from South East

Halong Bay, Vietnam – Friday 27th February 2015

Halong Bay which means ‘descending dragon’ is an UNESCO World Heritage Site. The bay features more than 1,600 limestone karsts and islets in various shapes and sizes, sometimes compared in local folklore to a dragon’s back. Among the islets are caves filled with stalagmites and stalactites.

This morning it was raining and misty …and depressing. We watched over 300 guests depart the ship to board converted fishing junks that moored alongside to take them on various trips within Halong Bay. When we did this tour several years ago it was in bright sunshine and we took some fabulous photo’s…hopefully they will get some sunshine later in the day but if not at least their photos will be eerily spooky.

At 09.30 we caught the tender over to the mainland (it was still drizzling) had a (very) quick look around, decided it wasn’t for us, so caught the same tender back to the ship…the round trip took half an hour, this must be our all time record!!

Our Ghost Ship

Our Ghost Ship

It stayed dull and drizzly all day, although we still had our noon coronas at the Grill bar, so we spent the rest of the time blogging, watching TV and catching up with news from home. Quite a change from our usual routine…but I actually enjoyed it.

Clocks go forward 1 hour tonight so now 8 hours ahead of UK time…again…

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