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Cruise from Abu Dhabi to Singapore 2017

Cecilia and I, together with our son Leonard and daughter-in-law Jackie, took a cruise from Abu Dhabi to Singapore on January 10, trying to escape from the Canadian winter. Our ship was the Celebrity Constellation. The cruise took 15 days and we very much enjoyed the ship, the food, the ports of call and, above all, the beautiful warm weather.

We visited Abu Dhabi and Dubai in the United Arab Emirates; Mumbai, Goa, New Mangalore and Cochin in India; Colombo in Sri Lanka; Phuket in Thailand and last but not least Singapore. A 3-part travelogue video has been made for us to remember it by and for you to watch, click here.

Here are some highlights on those ports of call.

Abu Dhabi: We visited the Heritage Village, the boulevard for the Royal Emirates Palace and the Sheik Zayed Mosque. Among the places we visited, the Sheik Zayed Mosque was the most impressive. It was a stunning all-white structure and is the largest mosque in the United Arab Emirates. It was a must-see tourist attraction.

   

Dubai: We visited the old city and the Dubai museum as part of the morning tour. We took a ferry across the busy harbour to see the spice and gold market. The gold market was unique in its own way with various forms of gold glittering on display in front of you. We could spend a fortune here if we’re not careful.

   

Mumbai: It was a densely populated city and people were everywhere. Buildings in the downtown core were very British which was not surprising as it had been under British rule for close to three hundred years. We visited the Victoria train station, the museum, the Gateway of India and the public laundry where even hospitals send their laundry; kind of scary.

   

Goa: Goa is well known for its beautiful beaches but we spent most of our time in the Basilica of Bom Jesus (church of St. Francis of Xavier). The basilica held the mortal remains of St. Francis Xavier. The church was located in Old Goa, which was the capital of Goa in the early days of Portuguese rule. The Portuguese ruled Goa for as long as 450 years and the Portuguese influence was prominent everywhere.

  

New Mangalore: We visited two Hindu temples in Mangalore. The first one was Kadri Manjunath Temple which was small and there really was not much to see. The second one was Shree Gokarnanatheshwara Temple which was grand and had Gopuram (tower like structures) decorated with murals of various gods and goddesses. Murals depict scenes from Hindu epics and legends. It more than compensated for the disappointment from the first temple visit.

  

Cochin: Cochin was a small fishing port. If Chinese fishing nets were considered a major tourist attraction there, then one could expect that there would be not much to see in Cochin. We visited the church of St. Francis of Assisi where we saw the tomb of the Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama. He died in Cochin in 1524 when he was on his third visit to India. His body was originally buried in this church, but after fourteen years his remains were removed to Lisbon. The tomb could be empty. 

  

Colombo: We had a morning city tour which offered no surprises. The city had a lot more high-rises and a better city structure than those cities we visited in India. It was cleaner and greener too. Other than that, it was just another city. 

  

Phuket: If you like beaches and sun, you would like Phuket. We do not care much about beaches so we took an island tour instead. During the tour we had in Phuket, there was only one place worth visiting: The Chaithararam Temple, an architectural wonder. It was beautifully designed and the details were amazing. 

  

Singapore: It was the most impressive city we visited on our tour. Singapore has changed a lot since I visited it many moons ago. It was clean, green and beautiful. Some people say it's clinical but tourists like it. We visited Chinatown which was in full swing celebrating the Chinese New Year. We visited Garden by the Bay where we found rare plants in the misty Cloud Forest and plenty of subtropical flowers in the Flower Dome, the world’s largest glass greenhouse. We had lunch at Skyon57 (rooftop of Marina Sands casino hotel), and ordered Hainan Chicken rice and Laksa. Last time I had Laksa was over 10 years ago in Singapore and had never had the same taste since; this one really brought back that sweet memory. We also visited the Merlion, an iconic statue in Singapore and, of course, the Raffles Hotel where the famous Singapore Sling cocktail was invented. 

  

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