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Circling the Eastern World

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Circling the Eastern World
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Circling the Eastern World

    My husband, Amar, and I traveled with Camille, our two-year old daughter on a month-long journey to Hong Kong, Singapore, Thailand, India and the United Arab Emirates. Camille is still talking about the airplanes, trains, boats and about the cycle rickshaws in India.

Hong Kong

    After a 14-hour flight, we were in Hong Kong! We took a harbor cruise and saw stunning skylines and waterfront attractions. I got a great photo of two fishermen wearing traditional bamboo hats in front of a small pagoda.
    There’s much to do in Hong Kong. The outdoor markets have hundreds of stalls selling everything from scooters to casual clothing, mobile phones, Chinese souvenirs and plenty of toys, big and small. There are botanical gardens, amusement parks, and the impressive Ten Thousand Buddhas Monastery along with plenty of temples and museums and a waterfront promenade.
    Camille enjoyed the Far East culinary specialties of deep-fried taro rolls, shrimp dumplings, and assorted noodles. The “hot pot” was one of her favorites. A pot of hot broth cooks a variety of meats and veggies. Vermicelli adds to the fun.
    My favorite snapshots are of Camille playing with the local children. Like the picture of her with a Chinese boy in Hong Kong’s waterfront park and another of her sitting on a three-wheeler bicycle with four Indian girls in their blue school uniforms.
 
    Note: Always travel with plenty of film.
 

Singapore    

    Our next stop was Singapore, called Singapura, or Lion City. The tropical city is a bit like Hon- olulu but with an Asian flavor. You have all the comforts of home –fast foods, efficient roads, comfortable hotels, clean taxis and numerous public rest rooms. The highlight of our Singapore stay was Santosa Island, a theme park with a cultural twist and a fabulous beach. The scenic tram ride took us around the entire island filled with beautiful fauna, manicured gardens, musical fountains and oh, what a beach! You can cross the Singapore River by ferry or cable car to get to Santosa. I recommend doing both.
    Camille got a kick out of the people walking in the parks with their pet birds in small dome-shaped cages. This is so popular that the proud owners bring their birds to Singapore’s bird singing concert, a Sunday morning event.
    You won’t want to miss Night Safari, at Singapore’s zoo. You can view the animals while they go about their nightly activities. Walking trails add to the adventure.  
    Jurong Bird Park is an abso-lute paradise for birds and visitors. We spent a delightful afternoon strolling through the manicured gardens. Camille was thrilled with the bird shows, penguin parade, panorail ride and the “thunderstorm” in the aviary. Right across the street is the alligator farm with snake shows and alligators as far as the eye can see. An absolute thrill for the kids!
    If shopping is your passion, you can walk along Orchard Road with its crafts, malls, boutiques, designer shops, restaurants, and cafes. Clarke Quay, along the wharf is a favorite for the ultimate seafood dining experience. I’m still smacking my lips, just thinking about those delicious shrimp satay sticks!

Thailand

    We left Singapore and our next stop was Bangkok, Thailand. An hour and half drive from Bangkok is Damnern Saduak and the popular floating market tour. This picturesque trip takes you through the jungle on narrow sampans to a floating market of vendors who paddle alongside and sell everything from rice, fish, and flowers to exotic fruit, sweets, and trinkets. I took great snapshots of women doing laundry and men reading the newspaper, and advertisements for live cobra shows. One of my best shots? A fellow lying in a hammock, arms crossed behind his head, a string attached to his big toe with the other end attached to a bassinet -he was rocking an infant to sleep!  
    Ask your van driver to stop at the coconut plantation on the way out to board the boats for the floating market. I bought wooden spoons made from coco-nut for rice and salad dishes. The hot coconut syrup with fresh biscuits is a delicious treat.

 Note: I would not recommend the narrow boat ride to the floating market for small children. Amar instead took Camille to the crocodile farm–she’s still talking about those amazing animals.
    I recommend booking all tours through the hotel. The friendly tour companies at the airport leave out costly details like en-trance fees and boat costs.

      
    I’ve found that the best classical Thai dance and dinner show is at The Oriental Hotel. It’s called The Sala and is worth every bhat–that’s Thai currency.  You sit on a cushion on the floor with your legs and feet hanging into a hole beneath the table. A multi-course meal is served in separate dishes all at the same time so that you can savor each dish in whatever order you prefer. The show starts after dessert and lasts about an hour and a half. It’s just spectacular. A free shuttle boat crosses the Chao Phraya, River of Kings, to the restaurant. It’s a romantic ride for couples and an exciting ride for the kids! If your budget allows you could stay at The Oriental Hotel for it’s impeccable service, gorgeous lobby, beautiful and delicious restaurants, and fabulous pool area–a nice way to relax.
    We also toured the Grand Palace. Kids will love to pose next to the monkey and goddess statues. The guides showed us beautifully manicured gardens and fountains galore and shared stories about the amazing paintings and murals on the palace walls. Camille had fun touring the palace grounds.



 

Where is Lizzy?


Lizzy relaxes in a hammock at one of the more popular tropical resorts. Where is she?
Click here to find out.

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