I’m obsessed, it’s rather obvious. Merely thinking of this cruise fills me with tiny champagne bubble-like sensations. Just being able to safely tour most of the fantasy cities of faraway Asia perks up my desire for untold adventure. I’d be willing to eat sardines out of a can and put up with a great many inconveniences just to spend a day or two in Bangkok or Singapore, to visit Ho Chi Minh, or what was once Saigon. So much history…the more I read, the more my curiosity grows.
I have visited Thailand before and was bewitched by Bangkok and by its smiling residents. Singapore captivates me for forever more, mainly for its amazing Jewish community, for its Kosher restaurants, for the traditional discoveries I found every time I passed by. I admit to highly adhering to current rules and regulations such as flushing public toilets and not chewing gum or throwing any trash. Easy. As is wearing relatively long dresses and sleeves. In fact, three of my favorite dresses come from Singapore and Bangkok and I have cherished them since 2007. Few countries cut as perfectly to fit me. Yet I was merely a passerby, on my way to New Zealand.
One thing is certain: We had not a true sense of community at the end of the day. No gathering around a beautifully set table, lights low, air fragrant with delicious food. And friends, comrades to share the days adventures. ;
No Jewish traveler has ever felt the awesome comfort, safety, reliability and beyond all – the luxury, incredible Pas Yisrael and Chalav Yisrael, gourmet Glatt Kosher delicacies served up plentifully, with five star presentation, as one soaks up the culture of Far East.
A sweet memory popped into my head about staying at one of Bangkok’s best hotels for the night. I was starving. A whole gaggle of beautiful girls came to my room to bring me bottles of sparkling water, exotic fruit and laughter. I was starving but had to make do with fruit and water. Amazing thing the brain is: I was enamored of their sweetness and beauty and seemingly they felt the same about me. They liked tall girls with yellow hair and I liked their exotic delicate loveliness. One of the them, Minh, or Jenny is a lifelong friend.
But of course, I’m straying from the subject at hand. The next stop of the trusty Holland America ms Westerdam is Shanoukville, Cambodia. It’s Monday and if you feel like stretching your legs then do that. Don’t have lofty expectations, maybe then you’d bump into some miraculous discoveries. Or not. You’ll certainly get some color in your cheeks and a ravenous appetite for the exquisite gourmet food Kosherica will serve.
One more day at sea and the next stop is Vietnam and the spot is the stunning UNESCO World Heritage Site – the exquisite Halong Bay. The place is the first stop in Vietnam and is a natural wonder captivating any poet, painter and anyone with an open soul to nature’s beauty. Imagine 2,000 islands, with underground caves and diverse wildlife. Kayaking, Islet hopping or, best of all, enriching your spirit by expressing gratitude to Hashem for the magnificence. Attempt to draw or paint, write about, let your spirit soar.
The next stop in Vietnam is Nha Trang. If you are organized and prepared with a guide (private or group) then you are in for an entire unexpected delight. Polite guides will be sure to lead you to take advantage of the best the place has offer. From the moment the ship embarks, the passengers eat their breakfast and the day begins in earnest. There is so much to do…
Thap Ba hot Spring Tours ought to be on the itinerary. The most wonderful natural baths coming from this ancient site bring up mud and mineral water said to heal ailments, soften the skin, relax and beautify. Bonding, relaxing and the price of admission is reasonable. There are communal baths, individual baths and couple baths.
There is a private Nha Trang City Highlight shore excursions and full day city tours. River tour and temple tours, a visit to the Oceoneographic Museum of Vietnam.
The final stop is Ho Chi Minh City (in the past known as Saigon). It’s not a pretty city, large as it is, but it’s filled with monumental things to see. A city of markets, bargains, noise, music blaring all around. The pagodas and Chinatown must be seen.
A profound moment in history which still stands at city center is a memorial of the single victorious North Vietnamese tank which crashed through the city gates signifying the downfall of Saigon. It is both a reminder of the end of the war on Vietnam and the infighting within the country.
Ho Chi Minh city got back its name on April 30th, 1975. The American forces withdrew and with that came the of the war and the return of peace. ;