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Holland American Rotterdam
Passage to the Far East Cruise Itinerary
January 10 - April 8, 2013
Part 3

Click here to see the cruise itinerary
The new Singapore Gardens by the Bay had a climatron named the Cloud Forest with floating bridges for a bird's eye view of the tropical foliage and waterfalls.   Outside the Heritage Garden stood below the Marina Bay Sands Hotel.
In George Town, Penang, Malaysia we saw these musicians preparing to play for the funeral group behind them. The coffin, to the left, is ready for the awaiting hearse; while mourners are lining up for the buffet under the awning.   Fish heads the size of dinner plates and garnished with a spicy tomato paste were ready to be eaten.
Phang Nga Bay, Thailand is littered with limestone islands that have eroded into sharp cliffs and caves, like this one that our boat passed through.   This is Khao Ping Gun (aka. James Bond Island) where the movie The Man with the Golden Gun was filmed.
We were able to stop at Koh Panyi water village to visit some of the 400 houses, an elementary school (including a soccer field) and a restaurant all built on stilts and connected by wooden walkways.   These are spirit houses for sale. Many people are "anamists" who believe that all things, including the land itself, have a spirit who can cause good or bad things to happen. Homes and buisnesses have a spirit house filled with offerings of incense, flowers, food, etc.; so that the spirit will be happy there.
They do things the old fashioned way in
Colombo, Sri Lanka.
  Karla & Vicki traveled in style while shopping riding in a tuk tuk.
The Dhobi Ghat open air laundry area in Mumbai, India is where laundry from thousands of hotels and private homes is washed in concrete basins and hung to dry.   In a small area, some boys were playing cricket as we passed by. They cheered Paul when he skillfully caught the ball that one of them hit out of the court.
Across from the Dharavi Slums, trash smolders near the main pipelines bringing water into the city- a setting for the movie Slumdog Millionaire.   The Hindu Shiva festival attracted overloaded boats of pilgrims to Elephanta Island where a 1,500 year old World Heritage site temple is located.
The port of Mutrah, Oman was lit up each evening along with the Sultan's yacht.   The Walled City of Muscat sat on the coast between two desert mountains with only one road going in and out.
At the vegetable souk a vendor displayed mangos, limes, Omani garlic and figs.   In the governate of Dahra, the Nizwa goat market attracted hundreds of families.
Old men and masked women came from miles away to participate.

Our guide took us to Berkt Al-Mooz, a traditional mud village located in a wadi full of date palms. We were able to walk through the now abandoned homes.

  Only 20 miles from Yemen, the beaches of Salalah were the grazing lands of roaming camels.
Because of the dangerous riptides, the mostly vacant white sand beaches are only for strolling and fishing.   We climbed through the ruins of Samhurum, the main hub of ancient frankincense trade and the palace home of the legendary Queen Sheba.
In Jordan, Bab El Siq claims to be the place that Moses struck the rock to bring forth water.   We walked through the Siq canyon in Petra with granite walls that towered 120 feet over us. Some areas were so close that we could nearly touch both of the walls.
After walking nearly 20 minutes through the narrow gorge, we emerged at the beautiful "Treasury", a tomb that had been elaborately carved out of the stone.
In Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt we had a fantastic day in the desert riding a quad ATV for miles out to a Bedouin camp. Along the way we saw several Bedouin tents, and herds of goats and camels.   Paul led us on a camel ride out into the Sinai Peninsula.
We were happy that our guide had shown us how to tie our scarves for protection against the sun and the blowing sands.   Paul's camel looked pretty tired at the end of our ride.
It was a thrill to walk in the steps of St. Paul on the Lechaion Road, the main street of Ancient Corinth, Greece. Above the ruins stands the walled acropolis of the old city where people escaped when threatened.   The city spread all the way to the Aegean Sea and archaeological excavation is still underway.
Street crews were still working to clean up the black ash - from the eruption last Saturday - that covered the white sidewalks all over Sicily. People placed bags of ash they had swept up along the roads for the trash collectors.   Garrit, Pat, Vicki, Paul, Sally, Elizabeth, Joan & Mason stood in the vineyard of an agro-tourism B&B with
Mt. Etna looming behind.
The gorgeous palm tree lined seaside promenade of Alicante, Spain was a great place to people-watch while having a glass of wine and tapas.   High above Almería, Spain a Statue of Christ looked over the city from Cerro de San Cristóbal.