Monday, April 6, 2015

Journey of contrasts Part 3

China definitely beats them all. The island of Sanya also known as Chinese Hawai (not sure where that came from). Best known for it's wonderful and mild climate and (for Chinese conditions) extremely clean air. The island is fully loaded with holiday housing for government officials.

We've chosen to go and see the Chinese Minority Village hoping to be able to some real life. Nothing farther away from it. It was like a Jurassic Park or Disneyland. Fully commercial entertainment park where absolutely nothing was real ... even wood-looking-like cottages were made out of plastic! Our tour guide still kept repeating that she was born and bread in that "village" ... The whole experience was not really worth taking photos maybe except for local 75% strong alcohol tasting and Avatar like landscape:

The most interesting stuff was again seen only through the bus windows and the few moments we managed to sneak out after lunch.

we did enjoy the one on the right


didn't know Apple was into seat covers!

At the end of our day trip we were forced to spend time (over an hour!) and money in a jewelry shop specialising in pearls. Not many were interested but we still had to go and do it. We walked around the shop instead ...

The above pictured group of gentleman was coincidentally present wherever we stopped and disembarked the bus. They seemed to minding their own business, playing cards, talking, drinking water and watching the world go by. Well, the guy in green was too easy to spot everywhere and this is how we found out about their real business. Seriously guys? They were very photo-shy too. This is the only shot I've managed of them. They liked to disappear in the bushes for a while and then magically appear somewhere on the other side. Not many have noticed. Again, we had the advantage of experiencing that system before ...

We hopped of the boat in Hong Kong and got a nice private car to the airport where we boarded a Qantas A330 back home.

tenders go down

shallow waters ...

it's not clouds ... it's the air quality ...

brand new cruise terminal

drive through Hong Kong

last Asian meal before boarding the plane

Journey of contrasts Part 2

We visited a port every other day so there was plenty of time to explore the ship and it's endless entertainment options on see days. We really enjoyed all the lectures, music shows and other activities we decided to participate in. Dinner was the highlight of each day and we had lots of fun with our table company from USA, Singapore and Australia.

Zig ready for dinner

Chef's parade

late night entertainment - international band. Guess which one is Aussie?

Our port in Vietnam was Saigon. Extremely interesting not only because of it's history. It was probably much more obvious for us than other travelers (just because we experienced communism and the interconnected propaganda in its full glory some time ago) but many things we saw there were manufactured just for us to see them. It's kind of like a show and you are the audience. The tour guide kept us busy talking about their great government and how much better they have it than China or North Korea ...

The tour program looked like the pics below. Note that there are no locals to be seen ...

And this is what you see through the bus windows but you never stop there:

And the preferred form of transport below. All of these were taken a day before Chinese new year so people were on the move to see their families and the great government gives all of them 14 days of fully paid holidays to celebrate this event with their loved ones. How wonderful!
Unfortunately I never captured a family of 4 or 5 with a few suitcases on one of them. I was just too busy starring in disbelief:

Journey of contrasts Part 1

We've done it. A great treat in a stressful time of great changes. We hopped on Queen Mary 2 for the Singapore-Cambodia-Vietnam-China-Hong Kong sector. All I can say is that it was an amazing trip and a great convenience to travel this way visiting few extremely exciting countries.

sun bathing on see days

Cambodia was in the end a quite sad but a very eye opening experience. To see poverty in these dimensions makes you appreciate even more what you've got and how lucky you are. We probably will never go there again but it's only because we have a choice. People born there don't really have a choice ... We had a lovely tour guide who was still proud of his country and wanted to show us all the highlights. It was very challenging for him not to show us the real life though.
So here are few shots from Cambodia:

isn't she beautiful?

our tenders going back and forth to the shore

Cambodian fishing boats

extremely good housing

gorgeous kids @ school

people trading whatever they can get their hands on

kitchen in a display home

At the end of the day we were taken to a 5-star resort for refreshments. This is what you will see in the colorful travel brochures and guides:

But even from there, with an average lense, you can capture the real life ...

It felt good to be boarding the tender back to the ship. Our tour guide had to stay on shore and kept waving good bye till we lost sight ... This was Queen Mary 2's very first visit to this place.

no real port or terminal, just our tents and a little market set up just for us

just back in time for a fancy dinner - how pathetic ...