Posted by: kaitlynann5678 | May 22, 2010

Good Morning Vietnam!

After going back in time and visiting the Vietnam of yesteryears we decided that for our second day in Saigon we would focus on all the wonderful things this fantastic city has to offer to us today.  With this as our mind set we decided to travel as the locals do… by scooter!  Now I have never been on a scooter or motorcycle or vespa for that matter and I was scared out of my mind to hop on the back of a scooter taxi and join the ranks of the hundreds of other people traveling in this fashion.  We first got this idea of taking scooter taxis from our musical director Dan back in Florida.  The only thing he told us to do in the entire world before we joined the ship was to ride on the back of a scooter in Saigon… so, I mean, how could we not!

We wanted to go to a local noodle house for breakfast so we gave our drivers the address and off we went.  And let me tell you… it was awesome!  The thrill of winding in and out of traffic, speeding up and slowing down… It was like an amusement park ride!  I don’t think I stopped laughing for a long time but once I settled into the groove of it all I could not imagine traveling any other way.  I felt so free with the wind full of city smells whipping at my face… It definitely beat sitting in the back of a taxicab!  Once we arrived at the noodle house our drivers insisted on waiting for us so we went inside and orders noodles with all the fixings.  I had no clue what most of the stuff was but nevertheless it all tasted really good and for about two US dollars we ate until we could eat no more!

After our noodles we wanted to visit the Ben Thanh Market, which is famous in Saigon.  Our scooter drivers happily took us there and we kindly thanked and paid them for their services. (Although they wanted to say with us for the rest of the day and show us the whole city.)  Inside the market was EVERYTHING you could possible want. From perfume, to handbags, to shoes, to clothes, to produce, to flowers I could keep going and going.  Think of it as the super Wal-Mart of Saigon, one stop shopping, however here you can negotiate the price of everything.  We walked around for a long time, amazed by all the sights and sounds and then we decided to walk back to the center of town and visit the Rex Hotel for lunch at the famous Rooftop Bar.  The Rex Hotel was were all the US reporters stayed during the war and the Rooftop Bar became THE hangout spot.  The rooftop of the hotel offered wonderful views of the city center and we had a lovely time enjoying our last few hours in Saigon lunching and sipping on the hotels specialty cocktails…

Posted by: kaitlynann5678 | May 22, 2010

A Day of Reflection in Vietnam…

Up to this point in my travels I have visited some pretty amazing places, all of which have been interesting to explore, experience and learn about.  However, Saigon, Vietnam is the first place thus far that I was a bit apprehensive to visit and unsure about what I was going to see and how I was going to be received by the local people.

The Vietnam War is something that I had read about in textbooks and studied in school, but to be honest (sorry to all my history teachers) knew very little about.  I knew it was a controversial war that took many lives from both sides and so I decided, out of respect for everyone involved, I was going to visit an area called Cu Chi and learn more.  Cu Chi is an area where much of the gorilla warfare took place and is also home to the Cu Chi Tunnels, an elaborate tunnel system designed and used by the Vietnam.  We had a guided tour of the area and I was shocked as we walked around to see that the ground was still littered with embedded pieces of metal from bullets, bombs and other warfare paraphernalia.  After only walking a short distant our tour guide informed us that a tunnel entrance was within a 2 meter radius of where we were standing and challenged us to try and find it.  The eight of us on the tour searched for a solid 5 minutes and failed to find the tiny wooden trap door hidden beneath the fallen foliage next to a tree trunk.  I was shocked at how small the entrance was and our guide explained that the reason for such a small entrance was because the average size of a Vietnam soldier was much smaller then that of an American soldier.  Therefore they were able to have very small entrances that prevented the American soldiers from being able to enter the tunnels.

Our guide then asked who would like to venture into the tunnel.  At first I shocked and overcome by a wave of various emotions… no way was I going to crawl into a space that was no larger then a rabbit hole where soldiers who were fighting against our troops once ran for cover.  But then once the initial shock of the question disappeared I decided that I was being given the unique opportunity to learn about the war not only by seeing these things but experiencing them as well.  With this thought in mind I squeezed through the rectangular opening, scraping my shoulders on either side as I made my way down and closed the trap door over my head.  I was completely underground… I took a moment in the darkness to try and think about what it must have been like… and I couldn’t.  I don’t even want to try and pretend that I could imagine what it is like to fight in a war or be shot at or have to run for my life.  All I can say is that in those few moments I spent underground I felt blessed and extremely grateful to be living the life I am living today.  I am not sure why I deserve all that I have, but I am so thankful for everything and everyone that has made my life so wonderful.

The day continued on and my head was spinning with different thoughts and emotions.  Our guide showed us the various horrible booby traps the Vietnams used, also how they used to wear their shoes backwards so their footprints would look as though they were going the opposite direction.  He explained that they only cooked during the hour before dawn so the steam that would escape from the tunnels would look like dew on the trees above and not give away their underground hiding spots… It was a fascinating day and we all left Cu Chi feeling intellectually and emotionally awakened by the days events.

Everyday on board the Seven Seas Voyager brings a new adventure, however some days the adventures are a bit more substantial.  Like today for example, we are in Vietnam, a place that I never thought I would go but I am so glad I got to see.  Our first stop in this beautiful country was Halong Bay, an area that is dotted with hundreds of limestone island/mountains that just rise out of the water for no particular scientific reason.  Now despite the fact that scientists have not idea how these islands were formed, they are also hollow and are home to some of the most unbelievable caves in the world.  These caves are full of textbook examples of stalagmites and stalactites and when you step foot inside you feel as though you have entered another world!  But I am getting ahead of myself, let’s go back to the beginning of the day…

The day started with some heavy negotiating as we tried to get the best possible price for a “junk boat” to take us out in the bay.  Despite the name of these boats they are actually quite beautiful and reminded me of old fashion ferryboats. (Like the Songo River Queen for all of you who have visited Brandy Pond.)  We were able to get one gentleman to agree to the price of $10 per person for the day and with that we set sail.  The islands did not look to be that far away but due to maritime law in the area we were only able to “put put” along at a snails pace so it took a good 45 minutes to get to the closest cluster.  Once we were amongst these gorgeous emerald colored islands a community of houseboats appeared. Men, women, children even cats and dogs were all going about their daily lives, cleaning, sleeping, playing games, selling fruit and other produce out of their little row boats.  It was an actual working town out in the middle of the bay!  I was amazed at how a community like this could actually exist out in the middle of such a remote area.

Our first stop was definitely the home of one of our driver’s family members.  They were selling lots of different kinds of fruit along with packaged snacks and soft drinks.  We all decided that we wanted to explore the area so we piled into the family’s tiny single engine rowboat.  Let’s just say that I am very surprised that I am here to tell this tale because we shouldn’t have had seven people in this boat let alone all fifteen of us!  Anyways, we all piled in and explored the natural lagoons and smaller caves in the area.  The scenery was absolutely stunning and the whole area had a mysterious, mythical quality to it.  You really felt as though you had left our world and traveled to another land, a place prior to today you could only have visited in your imagination.  I almost expected a fire-breathing dragon to swoop around the top of one of the islands or a giant sea creature to emerge from the blue green water below… It was truly magical.

After our family visit and tiny boat ride we boarded our junk boat and headed to the largest and most famous cave in the area.  I had no idea what to expect, but when we arrived and were greeted by about 50 other junk boats I knew this was definitely the major site to see.  We got on line and joined all the other tourist as we hiked up the side of the island to the caves entrance.  All it took was being inside that cave for two seconds before your jaw dropped and you were thinking wow!  First of all, it was extremely grand and I felt as though I was stepping into a European gothic cathedral that Mother Nature had commissioned to be constructed.  I have never before in my life seen such a phenomenal example of what I would call “natural architecture”.  The whole time I was walking through the cave I had to keep reminding myself that this was not a man made structure but rather was created by dripping water and other natural elements over thousands and thousands of years… Isn’t that crazy to think about?

The day ended with the same 45 minute junk boat ride back to shore.  I know that I live on a boat but I still love being out on the water and breathing in the sea air.  It was another amazing day and other amazing experience I feel so fortunate to have had.

Posted by: kaitlynann5678 | April 17, 2010

Fabulous Hong Kong!

Welcome to the fabulous Hong Kong, a city unlike any other in the world!  With so many things to see and do I am glad we were there for three days and two nights however, even with more time then usual we did not even come close to seeing everything this amazing city has to offer.  Kevin has been talking about where he would like to study abroad next year and my vote is definitely for Hong Kong, not only because I think he would LOVE it but then I would have a couch to crash on because I will definitely be returning soon!

Our first day in Hong Kong started out with a serious mission, find a tailor and place our costume clothing orders so they would be ready before we sailed in three days time.  I decided that I wanted to have a silk formal gown made along with a “boyfriend cut” navy blue blazer.  Prior to stepping foot off the ship we had done our homework and had the name and address of a tailor many of the passengers had used before so at least we had a place to start.  My first impression of Hong Kong as we stepped off the ship was that the entire city is a giant Chinese version of Times Square.  Everything from store windows to restaurants appeared to be larger than life, decorated with vibrant colors and hundred of lights.  My senses were a bit overwhelmed at first, but the stimulation from all the different sights and sounds created a fantastic energy that penetrated your body and made you feel wide awake and ready to go, go, go!

With the help of the tiny map on the back of the tailor’s business card we navigated our way through the city streets and successfully found the tailor.  The store itself was not large at all but the amount of stuff in this small space was unreal.  All four walls were covered in bolts of every kind of suiting material you could imagine, there were bags of buttons, bins of linings, trim hanging everywhere and what looked to be miles of zippers.  There was easily enough materials to make over a thousand suits and I was very glad that I arrived knowing exactly what I wanted because otherwise there were way too many choices.  First we discussed my dress.  I wanted them to copy a dress that Beckie already owned so I picked out a really pretty navy blue green silk and gave them the dress as a reference… easy enough.  Next was my blazer.  I picked out a rich navy fabric, a matching navy silk for the lining and navy buttons to finish off the look.  For the structure of the jacket, I decided on a rounded tuxedo lapel and with a single button closure in the front… It was going to look very smart.  After the design and materials were decided upon the tailor took a few quick measurements and our first visit was done.  He told us to come back tomorrow around 4:00PM for a fitting and that everything would be ready by 2:00PM on the third day.  I am still amazed at how quickly they are able to custom make things.  If I lived here I think I would have everything custom made!

After the tailors it was time to hit up some of Hong Kong’s famous street markets. Our first stop was the Lady Market, which sells anything and everything a lady may need.  Handbags, shoes, jewelry, perfume… you name it, they got it!  I do not know how we did not get lost in the maze that was created by the vendor booths.  Each booth looked the same with merchandise hanging all over the place and tables loaded down with sparkly trinkets.  I ended up purchasing two pairs of flats, a black pair with giant flowers on the toes and a navy blue pair with giant buttons on the toes.  Both super cute, both super cheap!  With the sun setting on our first day we decided to stop by the Night Market before heading to dinner.  The Night market was really no different than the Lady Market except for the fact that it was open at night… because heaven forbid that there is an hour of the day when you cannot find an open street market!

Hungry, tired and marketed out we stopped for dinner at The Spaghetti House.  (I know, stop judging me, yes we are in China but I really was not in the mood for rice and such… sorry about it!)  So after a lovely meal of pasta, pizza and garlic bread we headed back to the ship to get ready for the evening.  Not wanting to go “out out” we decided to hang out at a cocktail lounge called Aqua Spirit.  It was located on the 30th floor of a building and featured a panoramic view of the entire harbor and Hong Kong Island.  The skyline here is absolutely stunning and because there are buildings on both sides of the harbor you always have a beautiful cityscape to admire.  We each ordered a different signature cocktail and spent the evening talking about our days, our lives, the ship.  It was such a fun evening, but really how can you go wrong with fruity drinks, fantastic atmosphere and good people?

Day two was another crazy busy day filled with Buddhas, markets, fittings, high tea, light shows and a trip to Wonderland.  We decided to start the day with a trip to the 10,000 Buddhas Monastery and guess why it is called that… because there are 10,000 unique Buddha statues on site.  (No, I did not take the time to personally count all of them.  I thought I would just take their word for it.)  Anyways, Buddha statues lined each side of the 500-step walkway we climbed up to the monastery.  Once at the top we decided it would be entertaining to try and find a Buddha that matched each cast members personality.  It should be no surprise that the Buddha with the biggest grin on its face was chosen to be mine.  (My catch phrase on the ship is “I am so excited” or “This is so exciting”… is it such a bad thing to be a happy person???  I think NOT!)

After the Buddha Monastery it was on to the famous Jade Market were you guessed it, they sell everything and anything made out of jade, along with beautiful pearls and other knick knacks of all kinds.  I had been to a lecture on the many markets of Hong Kong earlier in the week so we had a list of all the best stalls to visit.  We wondered and shopped for a bit but we had an appointment with the tailor for our second fittings so we could not stay too long.  Lucky for us the tailor was right around the corner so we popped in and tried on mock ups of all the things we were having made.  I am SO excited about my navy blue blazer… It is going to be stunning!

The final check mark for the day was going to The Peninsula Hotel for high tea.  We quickly ran from the tailors back to the ship to freshen up and make ourselves look presentable for such a “la de da” affair, which wasn’t really necessary, however we are all actors and we always like to dress the part!  It was an absolutely lovely afternoon as we sipped our tea, nibbled on delicious cakes and of course gossiped about ship life, home life and everything in between.  As the afternoon quickly became the evening we decided to incorporate the tea party theme into our nighttime activities and go see the movie Alice in Wonderland, however not before we took in the famous Hong Kong skyline light show, which happens every night at 8:00PM.

Our final day in Hong Kong was no exception to the rule of cramming as much fun into one day as humanly possible! Today’s plan was to get out of the hustle and bustle of the city and make our way to the countryside to ride a cable car up to the Giant Buddha statue that sits high on top a mountain.  The cable car ride was stunning and the experience was made that much more enjoyable as we rode to the top with a group of Chinese businessmen.  There were many photo wonderful scenic photo spots along the way and once you reached the top you were greeted by a lovely “Disney version” of a Chinese village.  The icing on the cake though was there was a Starbucks… yes everyone that is correct… on top of this mountain I was able to get my venti vanilla latte and I was a very happy girl!  The giant Buddha statue was just that, a giant Buddha statue, but it was nice to do something different and see something other then busy streets and tall buildings in Hong Kong.

Before returning back to the ship for our sail away it was time to pick up our custom creations at the tailor!  I was so pleased with both my items.  The dress and the blazer both look so smart and I cannot wait to wear them both and have people ask me “Where did you buy that?” and I can answer “Oh, I had this made in Hong Kong.” : ) 

What a city… Fabulous Hong Kong!

Posted by: kaitlynann5678 | March 24, 2010

Shanghai and Sam!

I am so excited!  We are finally in Shanghai and I get to see one of my dearest friends, Sam!  I have been counting down the days until this port because you have no idea what it is like to spend 24 hours a day with the same people, doing everything together; working together, living together, going out together… it is just a lot of “togetherness”.  But in Shanghai I am going to have the opportunity to break away from the ship and go out with one of my best friends from home… what could be better!

So the original plan was to have Sam come on board the ship as soon as we docked.  I would show him around, he would be able to see one of our dance sets and then we would go out.  However, Chinese customs had a different opinion of my plan and without going into all the details Sam was unable to get on the ship that first night : (  However, I was not going to let this minor hiccup ruin my excitement and good mood so we just planned to meet each other after my dance set.  With all the drama behind us we headed to a bar that Sam occasionally DJs at called Da Da.  It was a great night full of good music, good friends and lots of dancing!  As the night ended we made plans to meet up first thing in the morning and explore the art district of Shanghai, something I didn’t do the last time I was here.

Bright and early (well actually it was rainy and cold but still early) Sam met me in port and we hopped in a cab to head to the art district.  In this area of the city there are about a dozen old warehouses that have been sectioned off into hundreds of different galleries featuring artists work in every medium.  Alongside the road that leads up to these warehouses there is also a wall about a quarter mile long that is covered in a graffiti mural that is forever changing as graffiti artists can continuously add to it whenever they please.  We spent the morning wondering in and out of the warehouses and finally made our way to a cute little coffee shop to warm up and catch up since we haven’t spoken since Sam was back in Maine this past summer.  About two hours later we decided we needed a change in scenery and Sam suggested his favorite rainy day activity, foot massages!  That sounded like an excellent idea to me so off we went…

If I could get an hour long foot massage for only 5 dollars a day back in New York I would go everyday no questions asked.  Can you believe that is all they cost in Shanghai!  Sam says he goes once a week just to chitchat with the locals and work on his Chinese.  It was lovely and everyone in the massage parlor kept asking Sam questions about me and why I was here and what I was doing… It was fun being able to somewhat communicate with them through him.  After our massages we headed back to Sam’s apartment to make a quick costume change before meeting up with a bunch of his friends at one of their favorite Chinese restaurants.

What an enjoyable start to the evening!  Sam’s friends are wonderful and the food was great. (Not to mention super cheap!)  It makes me happy to know that Sam has so many good friends even though he is living so far away from home.  After dinner we split from the group to go back to the ship and pick up some of my cast mates before meeting back up with Sam’s friends.  We had a little extra time to kill once we got back to the ship, so Sam and I headed up to the Observation Lounge to enjoy a cocktail and the view of the Shanghai skyline and the bund.  It was very beautiful and reminded me of the last time I was in Shanghai visiting Sam and we had dinner at a restaurant that offered us a similar view…

Next it was on to Bar Rouge, a trendy roof top establishment on the Bund, to meet up with everyone else and really get the evening underway.  The place was packed but we managed to secure a table.  After lighting the bar on fire a couple of times (it was some sort of drink… don’t ask because I don’t really remember why) we decided to switch venues completely and head to an underground warehouse rave party Sam’s friends had found.  Talk about two completely different scenes!  The warehouse party was a lot of fun but had potential to be wicked if they had a bigger and better sound system that really filled the space.  Regardless, they were passing out two liter bottles of Heinekens so no one was complaining.  The night finally ended at Logo, Sam’s “home away from home” as he refers to it.  He says most of his nights out end at Logo so I was glad to have experienced a full and complete Sam evening. 

Exhausted from a full 18 hour day it was time to say good night and good bye to Sam… With only a few tears (I tried really hard not to cry, but what are you going to do, I don’t know when I will see him again!) I got in a cab and headed back to the ship… Thank you Sam for a wonderful day one in Shanghai.  I miss you already and love you more!

After a crazy day one, day two did not begin until around 2:30PM (oops!) when a bunch of the crew went to see the Chinese acrobat show at the Hilton Hotel.  It never ceases to amazing me what people can do with their bodies.  The strength, endurance, balance and focus that these Chinese acrobats display was unbelievable and I am pretty sure my mouth hung open throughout the entire show.  Afterwards, it was back to the ship for sail away.  Until next time Shanghai…

Posted by: kaitlynann5678 | March 19, 2010

Family Time in Manila!

There is nothing like spending time with family… even if it is not your family, spending time with a Mom and Dad is wonderful and today our friend Mike was kind enough to shared his family with us.

Today we were in Manila where Mike is originally from and he offered to introduce us to his family and take us around for the day!  I had no idea what he had in mind for us, but we just said do what you would normally do and we will just tag along.  With that said, we got off the ship to find his mom, dad and god mother waiting for us on the pier.  What kind, warm, loving people!  Mike’s mom greeted us with a giant hug and a giant care package of snacks and pastries from the Philippines. (Aren’t moms the best!)  With our introductions out of the way we piled into their car and drove to the Mall of Asia to have lunch at Mike’s favorite restaurant, which specialized in fried chicken?  I have to admit I am still a little confused by Asians and their obsession with fried chicken.  I mean KFC in Asia is like Starbucks in New York… they are everywhere!  Anyways, it was nice to just relax and have a family meal together.  After lunch we explored the mall, which as you may have guessed in the largest mall in all of Asia (hence the name, Mall of Asia)… crazy!  I have to admit that it was not the cultural day in the Philippines that I had expected (fried chicken, giant mall) but like I said before, we asked Mike to make no special plans and just let us tag along.

Back at the pier there was a full party under way!  I don’t know if I have talked about this before, but about half of the crew on board is from the Philippines so the ship set up a bunch of tents with food and drinks for everyone and their families to hang out and visit with one another.  There was even a local marching band performing right up until we sailed away.  It was a very fun day, but it did make me miss all of you back home!  I cannot wait until May 15th when I get to see all my friends in New York, May 16th when I get to see my Rhode Island family, May 17th when I get to see everyone in Boston and May 18th when I am home in Maine.  It is going to be the best!!!

Posted by: kaitlynann5678 | March 19, 2010

Field Trip to Brunei…

I know this may sound silly, but sometimes when I sit down to write these blog entries I feel as though I am back in middle school writing about my experience on the latest class field trip.  As much as I love having a written documentation of my experiences in these amazing places it is a bit like having homework again!  However, reading all of your comments about how much you are all enjoying “living vicariously through me” makes me feel like it is all worth the effort so keep it up… I need all the encouragement I can get!

With that said, today’s class field trip was to a mosque in Brunei.  It was extremely hot and humid, but we were not about to let a little bit of steamy weather ruin our cultural experience.  It was a stunning structure, all in white topped with gold domes that sparkled and reflected the sunlight.  The sky was clear and baby blue which allowed for some brilliant photos.  We walked around for a bit, watching as people removed their shoes and washed their hands and feet before entering.  It has been amazing to witness so many different religious customs and ceremonies first hand.

So you know that comment I made earlier about not letting the hot weather dictate our plans… yeah, well it got to the point were it was really too hot to function so we cut our day a bit short and happily returned to our air conditioned ship : )

Posted by: kaitlynann5678 | March 19, 2010

Singapore… The Land of Many Many Malls

Before arriving in Singapore I had heard a couple of things about this island country.  One that it was very clean and two the shopping is amazing… Well I am glad to report that both are very true statements.  To be completely honest, Singapore was nothing what I thought it was going to be like.  It was a major city with nothing but contemporary high-rise buildings and modern architecture.  And every other building was a multi story mall… it was fantastic and dangerous all at the same time.

So what is the first thing you do in the land of many many malls… well shop of course!  However, I was good and only made one purchase, a beautiful blue silk cocktail dress with a floral puffy sleeve detail that is very unique and different.  I’m telling you… I am going to have to change the places I go out to in New York so I have a reason to wear all these cocktail dresses I now own.  It is going to be so strange when this is all over and I do not have to get dressed up every night!

Anyways back to Singapore… That night we took the shuttle bus to Orchard Road, which reminded me of a combination of the Las Vegas strip and 5th Avenue in New York.  It was stunning with all the lights and designer shop windows lining the streets, however if you didn’t bring your black American Express card to charge everything to, stores here were a little (major understatement) expensive.  Not wanting to torture ourselves any more we hopped on the metro and made our way to Clarks Key for dinner.  Clarks Key reminded me a lot of Downtown Disney in Orlando; very clean, very perfect, very “magical” feeling with twinkle lights in all the trees and river boats covered in flowers floating by…  We found a brew pub with a great selection of beers that they brew onsite so we claimed an outdoor table and got to sampling beer and conquering our hunger.  It was a great night was good food, good beer, good atmosphere and good company but we called it quits on the early side because we had a date with the botanical gardens bright and early!

As the saying goes, “the early bird gets the worm” well in this case the early world travelers get breakfast at the Singapore botanical gardens.  With only one day left in Singapore we were off the ship before sunrise (I wish I was joking) and on our way to see the botanical gardens and national orchid garden, which were both absolutely stunning!  The national orchid garden was the main attraction within the greater botanical gardens so we walked around and said hello to the swans and watched all the little old men and women doing their morning group work outs before we explored the hundreds of different kinds of orchids on display.  Because we got to the gardens so early we had the entire place to ourselves and it was a nice change of pace to be surrounded by green and natural beauty.  Before we left we grabbed breakfast at the cute little café located at the information center then hopped in a cab to hit up our next destination, the Raffles Hotel.

For those of you who may not have heard of the Raffles Hotel, it is a beautiful, old, majestic hotel where the now standard cocktail, the Singapore Sling, was first created.  It is a total tourist trap, but the “it” thing to do is go to the Raffles Hotel and sip on the signature drink either in the Billiards Room or at the hotels Long Bar.  Unfortunately, the early world traveler may get breakfast, but a cocktail at 10AM is another story… So I am sad to report we did not get the opportunity to pay the $30 American dollars they charge per cocktail, but we did snap a few photos and get to say we have been to the famous Raffles Hotel!

Our last and final stop in Singapore was another total tourist trap, taking a picture with the Merlion fountain in front of the downtown skyline.  We literally just jumped out of our cab took a photo and jumped back in our cab again.  Never the less, it was another must see on the list of things to do your first time in Singapore and now I can say, “I have been there and done that!”

Again… just throwing in a little musical reference from one of our shows, however if you haven’t figured it out yet I am now on the island of Java.

Java is a beautiful Indonesian island and is home to the largest Buddhist monument in the world, the Borobudur Temple.  This is where 13 tour busses of ship passengers and I spent our day.  It was a very early morning as we were only there for the day and it was a three-hour drive from the dock to the temple. (And it would have taken twice that if we did not have the full police escort that we did!)  However, once we arrived at the temple it was totally worth the long drive. 

What an incredible structure that for hundreds of years was buried under volcanic lava and ash.  It still amazes me that things like this can be hidden underground… I mean just think of all the stuff that has yet to be discovered! They are currently in the process of restoring and preserving this ancient wonder and there was even talk about the fact that there may be another temple similar to the Borobudur Temple located under a mountain of earth close by… crazy!

The temple structure itself was beautiful with hundreds of Buddhas lining each tier and every wall was covered with panels that told stories related to the Buddhist faith.  As I explored the temple and slowly made my way to the top I took a moment just to breath and looked out over the Java countryside and admire the still active volcano in the background.  It was a wonderful place to just sit, think, reflect and relax…

Posted by: kaitlynann5678 | March 19, 2010

I Heart Bali…

So I am in love… with Bali.  I was only there for two days but it was definitely love at first sight and I can promise you that if I were to spend more time on this magical Indonesian island my love would grow and I probably would never want to leave.

Day one started with a local guided tour of the island and our first stop was the Bat Temple.  Now many temples in this part of the world are dedicated to certain animals so I was thinking that there would be many statues of bats and so on… However, I certainly was not expecting the back wall of the temple structure to be an actual bat cave!  That’s right everyone, a bat cave, with thousands of bats inside all hanging up-side-down, squeaking and flying around!  It was an unbelievable site and I am fascinated by the fact that a temple like that actually exists.  Can you imagine anything like that being built in the Western world?!?!

Our next stop, the Monkey Forest, made me feel as though I was stepping into the pages of The Jungle Book.  This area used to be home to an ancient temple that was dedicated to the monkey, however over the years the temple has been taken over by its natural surroundings and the animal in which it was built to honor.  With that said, the temple structure itself is nothing more than ruins covered completely by vines and moss creating a perfect home for the hundreds of monkey families that now live there.  The monkeys were so adorable, climbing, swinging and running around everywhere.  They were not phased a bit by all the human visitors and actually were quite gracious hosts. (Especially if you brought them their favorite hostess gift, baby bananas!)

After the Monkey Forest we drove for a bit to another part of the island called Ubud.  This area has been made famous by all the little cafes, art galleries and boutiques that line its streets.  I would guess that you could spend a month just in Ubud and still not see it all.  It was definitely a bit overwhelming, but I have decided that when I finally decided to put down roots somewhere and have a home of my own I am flying to Bali and furnishing my whole house with purchases from Ubud.  The hand carved furniture, fabric and pottery were all unbelievably gorgeous and I guess for this reason it is a good thing that I am currently a gypsy and have to be able to carry everything I own, otherwise I would have spent all my savings!

As our first day came to an end, we made one final trip to the rice terraces, which are exactly that, dozen of terraces carved into the side of hills where they grow rice.  It was a stunning site, especially as the sun was setting… Day one complete now its time for a crazy night out in Kuta!

Kuta was about an hour and a half from where we were docked so we decided to pack an over night bag and spend the night off the ship at a fabulous beach side resort.  We arrived in Kuta around 10:00PM, checked into our hotel, changed for the evening and made our way out in search of dinner before hitting up one of Kuta’s hottest night clubs, Bounty.  Let’s just say it was a great night full of dancing, drinking and partying that ended with a pool party back at the resort at 4:OOAM…

Going with the motto “you can sleep when you’re dead” we were out the door at 10:00AM ready to explore Kuta during the daytime hours.  But before we could do any exploring we had to hit up the amazing buffet breakfast that the resort was serving.  On the ship they stop serving breakfast at 8:30AM and you know us entertainers are NEVER up before 10:00AM so it was the first time in a long time that I was able to enjoy breakfast food and it was good!  With a full belly and a Starbuck in hand, (There was one across the street from our hotel!)  We roamed around, checking out cute shops and galleries.  I purchased some beautiful white embroidered pillow shams and a traditional Indonesian parasol, which I love and cannot wait to find a home for in my next NYC apartment.

The day ended with one last dip in the pool before we had to drive back to the ship.  What an amazing two days, I will definitely be returning to Bali (hopefully sooner rather than later) and if you get the chance go to Bali; it really is an incredible place!

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