Tiff’s Travels from Singapore to Phuket | Part One

14th December 2017

Day 1 London Gatwick – Dubai – Singapore on Emirates

Our adventure began with a 1-night pre-cruise stay at the magnificent Shangri-La Hotel near Orchard Road. We were greeted by a friendly doorman with a welcoming smile. Walking through the impressive lobby, we were handed a refreshing lime juice which slipped down easily as we admired the sophisticated décor. Our host arrived as we checked in and showed us around the hotel, which oozes luxury and opulence. There are several culinary choices within the hotel. Our hosted dinner was in the Italian restaurant – and it was homemade Italian food at its very best, in an impressive setting.

Singapore Super Tree

Too full for deserts, we set off to visit the Gardens by the Bay’s Supertrees. The 50-foot super trees made of wire and steel light up at night and are a truly stunning spectacle sitting against the backdrop of Singapore’s central business district. We treated ourselves to a drink at the alfresco rooftop bar, at the top of the tallest supertree, boasting unobstructed views of Singapore’s iconic cityscape. After that, it was back to the hotel for a quick Singapore Sling before bed – well it had to be done… And it was worth every dollar!

Day 2 Singapore

After a few hours’ sleep, we dragged ourselves from comfy beds to make the most of the morning we had in Singapore, planning a quick breakfast before heading out to see the sights. But how can you have a quick breakfast in the Shangri-La with such an amazing breakfast buffet? The extensive choice made it feel like an international tour. Singapore is a world-class cosmopolitan city but, rather than hit the shopping malls, we wanted to see Little India – the buzzing historic area that shows off the best of Singapore’s colourful Indian community with many unusual shops and a vibrant culture.

Sri Veeramakaliamman

Sri Veeramakaliamman - Little India’s prettiest, busiest and most difficult to pronounce temple – is well worth a visit, with its hundreds of tiny colourful statues on the outside. From Little India to Chinatown, a bustling mix of old and new, with culture bursting out onto the streets and fragrant smells of traditional cuisine. There was no time to sample the street food, but we managed a quick Tiger beer before making our way to the cruise terminal.

The check-in process was quick and easy and, in no time at all, we were boarding the Star Clipper - greeted by the Captain Sergey Tunikov, a smiling crew and a welcome cocktail. The sail away was at 7 pm, while the sky was a beautiful shade of blue - lit up with a dramatic storm throwing lighting across the horizon. The haunting music of Vangelis' Conquest of Paradise fills the skies and sent shivers down my spine. An hour later, we were tucking into our first dinner on board before dancing the night away in the Tropical Bar until our feet couldn’t stand any more.

Day 3 Malacca, Malaysia

Malacca

Breakfasts on the Star Clipper ships are always worth getting up for. There’s a choice of continental and full English breakfast options available, with tea and coffee served at the table and - my personal favourite – the omelette station. After breakfast, we went to the lifeboat drill and got to meet all of the officers and crew. Before we knew it, we were back in the dining room for our first lunch on board while the ship anchored off the port of Malacca.

Known as the “City of Dreams”, Malacca is the oldest city in Malaysia - retaining the influence of all the cultures that settled there including Chinese, Portuguese and English. We headed to the historical Heritage Area of town, named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2008. This was a charming area of town, with red painted buildings and a beautiful canal. It’s easy to forget that Malacca is, in fact, a huge city, until we ventured beyond this area and found colourful street markets, modern buildings and lots of shopping malls. Naturally, we made a few purchases – clothes, spices and some fake designer goods!

All in a day’s work. We were back on board by 5 pm - in time for afternoon snacks, with live music provided by the resident musician Jerby. 6 pm was sail away – never to be missed – as the Star Clipper sets sail towards Langkawi. After dinner, we headed to the Tropical Bar to watch the Star Clipper Fashion Show – where the sports team model many of the clothes from the Sloop Shop and some of the clients get involved too. It’s all very tongue-in-cheek and provides some great entertainment – finishing in some classic dances such as YMCA, which gets everyone up dancing and laughing the night away. Then, suddenly, its midnight and the snacks come out... Oh go on then, it would be rude not to.

Day 4 Malacca Strait – At Sea

Today was our only day at sea – time to CHILL and RELAX as we sailed through the Malacca Strait, one of the world's busiest shipping lanes. We took the opportunity to lay on deck and recharge our batteries after yesterday’s busy day. The afternoon was taken up with a treasure hunt, where we were given a list of things to do. This ranged from collecting the signatures of four of the officers to finding out the cruise director’s shoe size.

Once this was done, we took our place in the piano bar to sing songs with Jerby and the sports team whilst sampling the cocktail of the day. Later, the entertainment was the popular Frog Race, (wooden, not REAL frogs) which has the sports team displaying their competitive nature as they recruit clients to help them win. Divided into teams, it involves pulling a wooden frog along a bit of string from one end of the deck to the other, and is much more difficult than it looks. I lacked the skill needed to move my frog at any speed, so our team didn’t win. However, we weren’t last either… And then it was time to dance some more!

Day 5 Langkawi, Malaysia

Langkawi

A quick breakfast this morning as we arrived by 8:30 am at Langkawi – the biggest island in Malaysia and with plenty of tax-free shopping opportunities! Yes, more shopping! But there is much more to Langkawi than shopping and beautiful beaches – with a choice of three organised excursions.

The first one was an island tour through rice paddies and rubber plantations, exploring mangrove swamps aboard local boats. This excursion continues with a drive through the countryside to reach a typical village for a lunch stop. From here, you take a cable car and glide over the rainforest past tropical trees and waterfalls until you reach the peak of Gungung Machinchang. There, you will be amazed by panoramic views of many of the 99 islands surrounding Langkawi and out towards Thailand, Ko Butang and Ko Toratanu.

The next excursion is jungle trekking and kayaking in tropical rainforests. The trails take you through Langkawi’s ancient rainforests, with flora and fauna at its best. Look out for different species of monkeys, birds, butterflies, rare birds and much more wildlife. After jungle trekking, you go to the Kilim River and a fish farm for lunch before kayaking through the mangrove forests along small rivers. This provides an opportunity to catch a glimpse of various species of land crabs, lizards, squirrels and if you are lucky rare monkeys. After kayaking, you go by small boat to the Bat Cave, an ancient dark cave filled with hundreds of bats before heading back to the ship.

Finally, for the more adventurous, there is the ultimate adventure tour - a jungle trek up 700 steps to reach the first challenge of a series of challenges: a river crossing by a steel rope followed by abseil training. This is followed by a tree-climb and the thrill of a breath-taking 60-metre zip line before facing a 6-metre ravine and the notorious “Postman’s Walk” to get to the other side safely. The expedition continues with a 12-15 metre abseil, a 20-metre traverse climb and then another 30-metre abseil down a sheer rock face. After a hike through the jungle, it’s back to the ship for a well-deserved rest!

And speaking of rest, that’s exactly what we did…. With the discovery of a massage parlour, we treated ourselves to a reflexology session. Rejuvenated from our pampering, we then walked along the beach before making our way back to the ship.

Tonight’s entertainment was one of my favourites – The Quiz with the Drum - testing our geographical knowledge. The Cruise Director, Peter Kissner, fired the questions, and then it was a race to run to his drum and come up with the correct answer - which earned you a disc. My pile of discs wasn’t enough to put me in first place, but it was lots of fun and the passengers loved it.

CONTINUE TO PART TWO >>

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