March 31, 2011
We Are Cunard
Posted in: Updates
Thank you as always for all your comments; I’m glad you are enjoying watching Queen Elizabeth as she continues her maiden circumnavigation of the world. Thank you as well, to Theodore & Soo-Leng Stoddard who were able to clarify what I thought was a Carnival procession in Vietnam, but turned out to be a funeral procession. I’m glad I now know, so thanks to Theodore & Soo-Leng for pointing that out!
Today Queen Elizabeth begins her sixth and final leg from Dubai to Southampton, but for this blog we go back to Singapore and Malaysia; and what great ports of call they were. I have more photos to share with you after this day in Cunard’s history for the week of 31 March to 6 April:
|31 March 2008||Queen Victoria makes her maiden call to Dubai|
|1 April 2009||Queen Elizabeth voyages goes on sale at 1pm (UK Time)and sell out in a record 29 minutes|
|2 April 2007||Queen Mary 2 returns to Fort Lauderdale having completed her 80 day Maiden World Voyage.|
|3 April 1934||Cunard receives a £9.5 million loan from the British government, so the John Brown workforce, led by the Dalmuir Pipe Band, return to work on Queen Mary and begin by removing 130 tons of rust and dozens of nesting crows.|
|4 April 1951||Caronia makes her maiden call to Piraeus for Athens|
The Republic of Singapore is an island city-state, located at the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula and is the smallest country in Southeast Asia. The name Singapore was derived from the Malay words singa (lion) and pura (city). Singapore consists of 63 islands, including the main island, Jurong Island, and is a fascinating country. It is scrupulously clean and has a great blend of the old and the new. One of the most famous spots for anyone visiting Singapore is of course the legendary Raffles Hotel;
Although you need to be a resident to enjoy the beautiful grounds, visitors can still enjoy the famous Singapore Sling cocktail at the Long Bar; just don’t think too much about the price!
The new does far outweigh the old in Singapore, partly because the main island has grown tremendously over the years; our taxi driver claimed that as much as a quarter of Jurong Island is reclaimed! If you like stunning architecture Singapore ranks among the most creative cities, such as Hong Kong, Dubai and Shanghai.
There’s one building though that has to be one of the most impressive in the world; the Marina Sands Hotel and costing a mere $4billion, it’s the most expensive hotel ever built. At 56 floors it towers over the nearby cricket ground, creating an amazing contrast to its surroundings.
The building’s boat shaped Sky Park on top of three towers is, according to its designer Moshe Sarfdie, based on a deck of cards, and as you get closer you realise the sheer scale of its structure.
The general public are able to take an express lift and arrive 650 feet in the air to the 55th floor. There, they can enjoy a glimpse of the facilities that the hotel guests have at their disposal, including the ‘piece de resistance’; the infinity swimming pool.
The pool stretches 150 metres which is three times the length of an Olympic swimming pool, and looking along the side of the building you begin to grasp the scale of the project.
The resort is huge with 10,000 people employed in the hotel, casino and shopping areas. The hotel itself has 2,560 rooms costing from £350 a night and it officially opened with a concert with Diana Ross in June 2010. Remarkably non residents are permitted to walk behind the infinity pool which is a bit of a shame for guests staying at the hotel, but gave us some superb photo opportunities.
There are amazing views from what is called the Sky Deck, and this photo shows the Singapore Flyer, (similar to the London Eye; but bigger!), as well as the grandstand areas for the Singapore Grand Prix
The area in this next picture is going to be Singapore’s version of Cornwall’s Eden Project with its Bio Domes. In the distance you can see how Singapore has become as prosperous as it is, as a major trading port, with all those ships waiting to dock at one of the biggest container ports in the world.
The following day Queen Elizabeth was docked at Port Kelang which is the closest that ships are able to get to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. We had already visited one Malaysian Port on our way up from Australia; Kotakinabalu which is the capital of Sabah, located on the northwest coast of Borneo at the foot of its namesake, Mount Kinabalu. The city is one of the major industrial and commercial centres in East Malaysia but is surrounded by beautiful national parks and a busy fishing harbour.
The day after Port Kelang, Queen Elizabeth made her maiden call to Penang which is the second smallest state in Malaysia, with the highest population density. We were docked at Penang’s capital city, Georgetown, which is on an island connected by one of the world’s longest road bridges to the mainland. Georgetown is a UNESCO World Heritage site and boasts a wonderful contrast of cultures and faiths, with Mosques as well as Hindu and Buddhist Temples.
The Temple on the right is called the Snake Temple which was completely renovated in May 2010, and is officially known as Hok Kin Keong. It was built to worship Chor Soo Kong and legend has it that the Buddhist monk and healer, Chor Soo Kong, from Fujian in China, gave shelter to the snakes of the jungle. When he built the temple, the snakes just started appearing and to this day the snakes are an integral part of the temple although sightseers are advised to keep away as they are very poisonous.
Back in the centre of the city there are still many reminder’s of Georgetown’s multicultural history and British influences.
Sadly many of the older buildings look somewhat neglected, but you can still imagine what these colonial buildings, such as this, the Georgetown Dispensary, would have been like in their heyday.
I’ll be back on Monday with some news from Queen Victoria as well as news from Queen Elizabeth’s maiden calls to India. Cheers for now, Alastair