Voyage to a Golden Land
Burma (now known as Myanmar) piques the curiosity of many a traveller. Imagine then, a passage through the Andaman Sea, to the delta of the mighty Irrawaddy River, into the mouth of the Yangon River and a berth in the very heart of the country’s largest city, Rangoon (renamed Yangon). The Shwedagon Pagoda, the country’s most cherished Buddhist site, dominates the skyline. It’s a journey that began for Zoomer senior editor Jayne MacAulay, in Singapore. Here’s a look at her photo journal of the Voyages to Antiquity cruise, Burma: Land of Contrasts, aboard the Aegean Odyssey.
Architecture astonishes in Singapore. It’s as if the world’s best have tried to outdo one another on a grand scale. A ship on three lofty pediments? It’s the Marina Bay Sands, a resort complex that features a rooftop infinity pool, 57 storeys up, and (left) the lotus blossom-inspired ArtScience Museum designed by Moshe Safdie.
The Merlion, the half-lion, half-fish symbol of Singapore spouts off at Marina Bay.
Editor’s tip: Singapore surrendered to the Japanese on Feb. 15, 1942. The fateful decision was made in the Battle Box, a bomb-proof Second World War bunker that has become a unique museum. Amazing animated wax figures of significant army personnel and bomb-blasts sound effects transport you to that fraught time. It’s in Fort Canning Park, only a few blocks from major hotels such as the Fairmont Singapore. http://www.hfcsingapore.com/aboutus_battlebox.html
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
About 25 kilometres west of Kuala Lumpur, clouds over the Sultan Salahuddin Abdul Aziz Shah Mosque (also known as the Blue Mosque), prefaced a monsoon rain that flooded highways in and around the capital. We managed to visit the National Museum of Malaysia, but heavy traffic kept our buses from the twin Petronas Towers, still the world’s tallest twin towers. Half their height was obscured by clouds.
We didn’t land at Maya Bay on Phi Phi Leh Island, location of the 2000 adventure film, The Beach, which starred Leonardo DiCaprio. Plenty of others did. We headed for Hin Klang, to snorkel, then to relax on the beach at Bamboo Island.
Rangoon, Burma (Yangon,Myanmar)
Another fantastic area within the Shwedagon Pagoda.
Young nuns at a birth day shrine, Shwedagon Pagoda, where people pray according to the day of the week on which they were born.
Workmanship in the 210-year-old Dhammikarama Burmese Temple in Penang is so fine that much care and devotion must have been lavished on the carving and gilding. The marble standing Buddha fairly radiates welcome and love.
The fragrant flowers of the cannonball tree in the Penang Botanic Garden give way to hard-shelled unpalatable fruit that can grow as large as a human head – potentially lethal if it falls on one. Signs in the hillside garden provide interesting information on the flora – and warn against feeding the monkeys. It’s a great place to stretch your legs and we encountered many local joggers during our visit.
Built on an artificial island, the exquisite Malacca Straits Mosque may be the most beautiful in Malaysia. Our ship, the Aegean Odyssey, anchored offshore and we went by tender to explore the city.
Dutch Square, the must-see historic quarter of Malacca. (The Dutch controlled the area for most of 1641 to 1825, taking it from the Portuguese and eventually ceding it to the British.) Sadly, this was our last port before we headed back to Singapore for flights home. The Aegean Odyssey is a ship to return to again and again – as many on this cruise had. Is comfort and its good food are only surpassed by the welcome and professionalism of its staff.