We decided to take a break today from tours and buses. The pier is right in town, so the plan was to have breakfast in the sit down restaurant (first time in the whole cruise), wander the town and have lunch in a nice hotel. Didn’t get past the cruise terminal, when plans changed. We decided to hire a taxi for 2 hours and then go to lunch. I had to be back at the ship for a 3 PM hair appointment.
Mr D our taxi driver explained what he thought he could fit into two hours and gave us a map to see if we wanted anything else. First stop was two Buddhist temples across from each other. One was Thai and other Burmese. Very different in style. The Reclining Buddha was sparkly tiles and dragons. The Burmese was fantastic animals and toss your wish in the spinning bucket fountain, a bit theme parkish. Reclining Buddha contained a mausoleum underneath with burial urns. The burial spots in this temple are all taken, but for $80,000 Ringit ($20,000 USD) you can reserve a spot at the overflow temple up the mountain. Our Indian taxi driver prefers to have his ashes spread in the ocean to travel the world, same as Mel and I.
Next Mr D stopped at his favorite Batik, coffee and tea places where we saw a Batik demo. I am sure he will get a commission on the tablecloth we bought, but we passed on any coffee or tea. We were having fun so decided to go to Mt Penang and get the panorama view. Its almost straight up at 712M (2,100 Ft) high. Mr D dropped us off at the bottom of the cable car and we rode to the top. The view included beaches, skyscrapers and the lush forest. Mr D was waiting when we came back down to take us to the Kek Lok Si, a seven tiered mountain temple which combines Chinese, Thai and Burmese styles on the different levels. We started at the uppermost and worked our way about halfway down where Mr D was waiting. The complex is spread so far up and down the mountain, there is a funicular elevator that for $0.60 you can ride across levels. Of course we took the elevator. My knees are still recovering from 275 steps up and down yesterday. Many, many temples, gardens and ponds as we worked our way down, each with its style. From Chinese New Year month, they string lights everywhere. Its like Christmas Light fight… over the top from the pictures Mr D showed us. IN the small world category. Mr D had been at Batu cave last week for a pilgrimage (there is a formal name for it but I forgot it).
On the way back to the ship, we stopped to get KFC to take back to our friends Nora and Patty. Nora had wanted KFC for lunch in Singapore, but the closest one was across town. We surprised Patty and Nora at the bar when we showed up on the ship with the chicken. Its tasted just like back home except they have a few more things on the menu, such as butterscotch buns (rolls with a hint of Butterscotch). Passed out the extra pieces of chicken to several other friends on the ship. Got back just in time for my hair appointment.
It was a lot of fun being spontaneous and not pushed along with the herd. Mr D was a great guy and we had a ball with him. (He was appalled we wanted KFC when there was such good Asian food, but understood when we said its been 3 months since we had any home style food). He had been waiting at the pier since 7:30 AM looking for a fare when we showed up at 10:30. Made his and our day.
Back on the ship we finally get to FEED ourselves! Its been almost a week since the ship had an outbreak of intestinal something. Because of that, the pools and spa have been closed. A crew member stands at all the restaurant doors making you wash your hands for 20 seconds (Sing Happy Birthday twice) and worse is at the buffet, no salt and pepper shakers on the tables (cross contamination) and all food is dished out by the staff. That includes putting ketchup and mustard on your burger or dog. Its really nice to be able to fix your food the way you like it. Hope nobody gets sick in India and we start quarantine all over again.