A CRUISE TO ASIA
What a lucky person I am to have the privilege of taking a trip that went from Bangkok to
India. I want to share some of the highlights.
As a beginning, the people who live in all the places we visited are amazing. In every country we found the most friendly, caring folks from those we met on the streets to our guides who became special friends.
We started in Bangkok. This is a mobbed city, s many people on the streets and in cars. Motorcycles are the means of popular transportation everywhere in every spot. Bangkok has tuk tuks and they get you around-not too far or too fast. Our guide was a wonderful lady who spent the day with my 2 companions and me. The markets bustle in each place as zillions of stalls full of fruits and vegetables are sold each day. You’ll find fish markets as well. The railroad market is a highlight here. You shop for food and merchandise walking the tracks. At certain times each day the train comes through-you jump out of the way and the merchants pull their awnings and wares back as the train is the boss! The water market is another must where you go in a boat-jump off and shop in the bazaars. People prepare food on their boat and you buy it and eat on the landing. Our favorite-the lady who has been there for 54 years in her tiny boat (72 now) and prepares noodles with broth and chicken and aromatic spices. After this sticky mango rice is a must-nothing here tastes like this. Of course, we visited the palaces as well. Vertigo is an open-air restaurant on the 59th floor where one views the entire city while dining on fine food.
Gaggan is rated number one in Asia-and wow—seated we are handed a menu with 25 imogis on it. We were informed we were dining on 25 courses-not described!! A few of the favorites included the liquid explosion and lick it up. I did not mention the serving dishes are magnificent, but we were minus silver for much of the meal. Lick it up said that on the plate and we picked up our colorful plates and did lick it all up. This is a once in a lifetime experience in a gorgeous setting with top food. They do provide a description at the end of your meal.
Singapore is the cleanest city in the world-you cannot even chew gum here. It is pristine and beautiful with again, friendly people. A few highlights are the market-quite different as it is indoors and features foods that the local eat. The chicken rice dish has me looking for that item here. And again, sticky mango rice. The orchid gardens take your breathe away and the Garden by the Gate again is unreal with its beauty with plants and flowers from every area in the world. You’ll see a waterfall rain forest as well.
And before we left we went to Raffles for a Singapore Sling!
A tiny island where many went to the beaches and we were in town and found another wonderful spot with curries and pad Thai too.
Myranmar was very interesting. It is dirtier but not filthy with magnificent temples. We visited so many Buddhist temples where one must remove their shoes in everyone. They are city blocks in size with many gods to worship in each.
Colombo, Sri Lanka
Colombo is a bustling city and a must see. I was there 6 years ago, and it has built so much and is amazing. We did not visit the tea plantations this time, but one should. Their temples again are very special. This city now has many top restaurants including the Ministry of Crab-again rated in the top 50 list we followed. The crab was heavenly with one with garlic pepper sauce and the other hot chile. We had the homemade bread, clams, and chicken curry as well. Of course, beer is the drink-cold-as no ice allowed. If you are in Colombo, go. There is no air-conditioning but who cares.
Kochin is very small with the focus and churches and Jewish synagogues. There are 5 people at one and one man runs the other-he is the only member as all are gone. One is not offended by the term Jew Town as that is the name from ages ago and the shops are terrific. The Grand Hotel is a must with curries and rice. another must!!
We had other interesting ports but am going to the top. Taj Mahal-which lives up to all the beauty, but the country won our hearts. Mumbai was a favorite-22 million living here and it is huge over many bridges and areas to see. Hindu is the religion here and we visited their temples. There is Dollywood-with the places of stars, temples, a huge financial district, street markets where the spices star, and a top Taj Hotel. We chose a street restaurant with our guide with fish curry, other curries and more, and then dinner at a local favorite with crab that stars here along with other seafood and curries shine. The train station is beyond belief from the outside and in and lights up at night making it a two-time visit. The outdoor laundry is indescribable. It is gigantic, and they launder for hospitals, hotels, etc. and you would not believe this when you see it there is so much more here to see and do.
Agra is the home of the Taj Mahal—pretty dirty with sacred cattle wander everywhere-highways, streets, and next to the Taj. First time my line “A bull in a China shop” was for real! The Taj Mahal is breathtaking-one goes through much security to get in (this is everywhere in India) but once in, it is very peaceful and unreal. We went at dawn and back at sunset where the color changes from the lighting. Now it is checked off m bucket list with a big smile. One travels by bus or train to get to Agra with a nice stop along the way in a Jaypee hotel restaurant.
Delhi is cosmopolitan and again huge. Big hotels, finance, temples and more. One spot gathers to feed 40,000 a day-rich and poor come and prepare food for all to share. The fort is great with its tall tower, and the market put all the rest to shame. Again, spice reigns here.
Indian Accent was our last dining experience and possibly the bet-rated number one in India and on the top 50 list. It is gorgeous, the chef greets you at the door, and service is the best anywhere. One can order a la carte, but the chefs menu is the way to go. It says 6 courses but there are more. Every bite to die for. Some highlights here include the amuse bouche of soup with garam masala the spoon of potato and yogurt, the duck cone, the 5 tiny tastes of dal that you pour different spice waters on, and then the ice to refresh your palate. Next come fish, a pork rib, nan like none other and an entrée of chicken or crab. Several desserts end the feast.
I find it hard to describe the curries and dishes in these country-there is so much more flavor than we are accustomed to in the American version and something we all wish we could replicate.
We ended our stay with high tea at the Imperial Hotel-a bit of the British and then home.
I wish I could share more. On our ship, the Nautica by Oceania we met new-now old -friends who made it all better. The 5 of us who traveled together made this journey perfect. Thank you for reading a small version of a big experience.