Cruise from Singapore, to Malaysia, and Thailand on Holland America
Arriving at Changi airport in Singapore is a comfortable place to land. For instance, travelers get in and out of the airport quickly. What makes it easy is that passengers clear immigration and customs in minutes. Follow the signs, and it’s impossible to get lost. Once through the airport, visitors are about to meet the Holland America ship. The ship departs the next day. Therefore, it’s time to see Singapore’s sights before we head to Malaysia and Thailand.
This article is the second post in my series of four articles about the Holland America Maasdam Cruise to Southeast Asia. At the bottom of this post click to read previous parts of my story.
Singapore, The Gateway to Asia on Holland America
Singapore is an island nation of some 5 million people just off the Malaysia mainland. It’s one of the most densely populated countries in the world. English, in Singapore, is spoken widely. About 75% of Singapore residents are ethnic Chinese. Singapore is one of the safest and most tech-savvy countries on the globe. For example, the internet here is one of the fastest in the world. Singapore is also spotlessly clean. It is illegal to chew gum, with laws like this, the country ensures the country stays this way. Be careful to obey their rules.
Holland America can meet guests at the airport or check out the Singapore Cruise Center for transportation options to the ships. If traveling with a lot of luggage, Holland America’s pick-up and delivery might be the best option. Those who have health issues might also prefer this method.
I like trains, and they are a travel value. Buy Singapore dollars at an ATM then purchase a train ticket to the Singapore cruise center from the machines. Tickets cost about @2.00 to go from the airport to the ship. Hop off the MRT at the Harbor Front station. From there, walk to an inside shopping mall complex and the cruise ship, is waiting for guests to board.
Singapore, Half Day
On a comfortable MRT train, my friend took it to Gardens by the Bay. The botanical gardens and a nature park of about 100 hectares or 247.105 acres. In the garden, six “supertrees,” covered with over 160,000 plants light up at night as part of a light-and-sound show. I recommend visiting in the evening, to see the light show choreographed to classical music. The lights, music and soft, warm equatorial breezes lull a sense of calm and amazement. It’s a romantic experience. In addition, the music and lights help my anxiety, relaxing me for a few moments.
I didn’t have time to go, but guests might consider the Singapore Flyer as an excursion. The Ferris Wheel, delivers an overview of sprawling Singapore, from 165 meters in the air. The Flyer is the largest observation wheel in the world.
Buy a Singapore Sling
Consider going to the spectacular laser light show at the Marina Bay Sands Hotel too. Also, walk along the marina harbor and visit the famous Singapore Lion. Afterward, have a drink at one of many restaurants in the marina. Above all, expect to pay more for alcohol in Singapore than the United States. Try a Singapore Sling, a classic gin-based drink developed at the turn of the century in Singapore. If gin is your drink, you might enjoy it.
Singapore, Day 2
As a hiker and walker, take a walk on Southern Ridges. The Southern Ridge is a 10-kilometer trail that connects parks along the southern ridge of Singapore. The trail passes by lush greenery, bamboo, and other equatorial flora. I felt like a jungle explorer. Guests get some great views of sprawling Singapore, in the distance. The paved trail winds to a partially suspended portion above the treeline. The heat becomes oppressive by midday. Don’t forget to bring a hat, sunscreen, sunglasses, and water. Don’t forget, visit Little India and the Singapore mosques. Monster Day Tours provides good tours, and I recommend this company because we used them.
The city of Malacca is in the southern region of the peninsula with about a million people living on the island. Most people know, the nation is predominantly Muslim, and a large portion of the population is ethnic Malaysian. Because of the population mix, the Mosques are worth visiting, but, with limited time at port, it is hard to decide which sites to visit. We opt for street art or a graffiti tour. The Malacca’s street art project built in 2012 is worth seeing. Visiting the street art fit perfectly, for our time on shore.
Some of the wall art is quite impressive. Art seems to adorn the walls in Malacca. A group of us took a long walk along the promenade along the Malacca River. Walk to Chinatown. Take time to shop, watch and enjoy the street food. For those that want to hire a boat to cruise the river, they are also available.
Georgetown (Penang), Malaysia
Georgetown is presently the capital of the Malaysian island of Penang and once a British colony. Passionate about colonial architecture, take a tour here to learn about the fascinating architecture. Almost 200,000 people live in Georgetown. Visit the Clan Jetties, a series of wooden walkways on the waterfront. We enjoy this type of walkway and recommend it for those who are fit enough to walk. Each jetty is a community, built over the water on stilts. Also, there are crowds of authentic fishing boats anchoring in the harbor waters.
Phuket is Thailand’s largest island and lies off the western coast of Thailand in the Andaman Sea. Most of Phuket’s 400,000 residents are Buddhist. Phuket is about half the size of Singapore. Historically, Phuket prospered from the tin and rubber industries. However, today, tourism is the primary industry. The countryside is lush, with many rubber tree fields dotting the gorgeous landscape. Also, wild elephants along the highway can be spotted. We spotted a few.
We took a two-hour taxi ride from the port to Phang Nga Bay, also known as James Bond Island. James Bond fans will appreciate the island. I did because I love the iconic movie. For just a moment, I felt like Roger Moore. Our group took a thirty-minute-ride from the island.jumped on a colorful wooden longboat. Out final destination, on this day is Koh Panyi island. This island with about one hundred of houses built on stilts makes the location iconically Thai. Select any restaurant for lunch, and dine on authentic Thai food.
We stopped briefly in old Phuket, enjoyed coffee and ice cream during the hottest time of the day, to beat the heat. After that, we took a leisurely drive back to the Maasdam.
Departing Phuket, the Maasdam headed to sea for three-days to reach Sri Lanka. The cobalt blue sea is beautiful. Passing through the Malacca Strait, the Bay of Bengal and the Andaman Sea our time at sea relaxed all of us and offered natural air-conditioning. Most importantly, everyone avoids seasickness, because the sea voyage is smooth.
On The High Seas
On day three at sea, the ship captain spotted a fishing raft adrift. The captain slows the ship, carefully easing towards the raft. Soon as the ship approaches, a tender is lowered into the sea to investigate. Shortly after closer examination, the Captain successful maneuvers the ship, without finding anybody on board the raft. In summary, I don’t think most cruises run into a fishing boat adrift.
Singapore is the gateway for cruising Asia. In other words, Holland America is the choice for seeing some of the best that Asia offers. A blockbuster, Holland America itinerary makes this a great vacation. Above all, guests have the ease of travel carefree, with the convenience of modern-day cruising. Say hello world, and keep traveling.
Travel Tip: Always bring two camera devices. Losing your only camera can ruin your vacation. But, if you do forget your camera, buy a new one at the next port.
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