Alotau, Papua New Guinea

Wednesday, Nov 23:  This morning we awoke to find ourselves in Alotau, Capital of Papua New Guinea’s Milne Bay Province. 

It seems that every new place we come to becomes our new favourite!  PNG to our surprise was no exception.  Not on our bucket list, but hey – we are always open to new experiences.  Some people didn’t leave the ship (I think there were a few concerns about the Zika Virus). 

Alex (being ex-army) went off on the Battle of Milne Bay tour, to see various memorials and find out how the Japanese naval forces were ultimately defeated in 1942.

 

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Japanese landing site at Milne Bay

 

Meanwhile I joined the tour for the Ahioma Cultural Experience and we were taken by mini buses along rough dirt roads to a typical Milne Bay village and were welcomed by the chief.  Very interesting morning and we learnt so much.

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Amazingly, 48 different languages are spoken here of which our guide spoke two, including excellent English.  We were invited to see how the people live, and what a relaxed way of life it is.  Even though the ground looked stony, crops seem to grow well.  Each person has a garden with a few crops such as sugarcane, taro, yams and coconuts, which they share among families.

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Food is cooked in clay pots wrapped in leaves.  The uses for a coconut alone, apart from eating, were amazing – from a body loofah, making string or cleaning their cooking implements, to name just a few!  They eat pork and when we went to the seaside village, we saw how they make nets to catch fish to add to their diet.

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Occasionally, they barter their produce for imported goods but mostly “go to the environment” as we heard so many times.  There are not many jobs to be had, out of a population of approximately 74,000 (16,00 in the town) only a few people own motor vehicles and they don’t have much need for money.  What a stress-free way life!

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Cairns, Qld

Monday, Nov 21:  Today we arrived in Cairns, working our way up the east coast of Queensland.  Cairns is a major tourist destination because of its proximity to two World Heritage sites – the Great Barrier Reef and Daintree National Park.

We have both visited Cairns at different times in the past, and travelled on the Kuranda Scenic Railway. I had fond memories of travelling in a steam train up the mountain past gushing waterfalls on a railway which dates to 1891. 

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This time we discovered that the steam engine had long gone, now replaced by a diesel.  All the windows were small and barred which made taking photos difficult, especially as we were sitting in the middle.  However, it was still a nice trip through the rainforest, crossing 40 bridges and travelling through 15 tunnels.  Unfortunately the dry weather meant that the waterfalls were not as spectacular as we remembered them. 

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When we arrived at Kuranda, we had time to explore the local market and shops where we hoped to find some local crafts;  unfortunately all we found were cheap imports for the most part.   So, our souvenir consisted of a couple of postcards showing the scenery that we saw on the way but could not photograph very well.  All in all, a bit of disappointing.

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Northern & Western Australia Explorer

Getting excited – our next cruise starts tomorrow!

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Ports of callBrisbane Qld, Cairns Qld, Papua New Guinea, Darwin NT, Kimberley Coast(Scenic cruising),  Broome WA, Geraldton WA, Fremantle WA.

We will have a couple of nights in Perth and then will be hiring a car to drive to the Margaret River for a further night.

Returning to Sydney on the Indian Pacific (train) across central Australia and then flying back to Brisbane.

15 Days, 8 ports.  Should be fun, hope you will follow along!

 

Afterwards

It’s always sad to say goodbye when our cruise comes to an end.  Back to the “real world” – shopping, bill paying, chores…..  However, the positives are coming home to our cats and sleeping in our own bed.  No matter how comfortable other beds may be, there is nothing like your own pillow!

The one thing that everyone loves on a cruise ship is the food!  So here are some average amounts of the food we consumed on a daily basis:

  • Fish:  1,700
  • Poultry:  1,400 lbs
  • Beef:  1,700 lbs
  • Pork/Pork Products:  1,400 lbs
  • Veal:  300 lbs
  • Lamb:  200 lbs
  • Salads:  1,600 lbs
  • Mayonnaise:  13 gals
  • Pasta:  500 lbs
  • Potatoes:  2,700 lbs
  • Soups:  550 gals
  • Flour:  1,500 lbs
  • Pastries:  6,000
  • Ice cream:  100 gals
  • Butter:  400 lbs
  • Coffee:  470 gals
  • Sugar:  400 lbs
  • Glasses washed daily:  21,500
  • Dishes washed daily:  70,000

Is this all?   Well, not quite.  After the passengers are served, then it’s time to feed over 848 crew members!  (And by world standards, the Sea Princess is not even  a very big cruise ship!)

So now our Asian cruise is a memory and I have some serious scrapbooking to do, but already we have booked our next cruise!  Around Australia from Brisbane to Perth with some friends who will be visiting from England in November.  We did this cruise once before, but this time we will stopping at two ports in New Guinea – the previous one went to Bali.

Meanwhile, I am having trouble remembering what day it is – I’ve already missed an appointment this week, so I must set myself a reminder to meet with my quilting group tomorrow!

 

 

 

Tokyo, Japan

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The weather was very nice as we set out on Wednesday, 30 March for our last stop in Tokyo.  Into the coach and off to see the Imperial Palace Gardens (we thought!)  Driving through the city, I was a bit disappointed – nice but nothing spectacular or memorable really, except for the Tokyo Tower…..  I’m not sure what I was expecting.  Some motorbikes and bicycles, but mostly cars on the road.

A city of 12.5 million we were told – with a floating population of 2 million.  Hard to imagine!

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Anyway, once we got off the coach we noticed an unending line of people making their way to the Garden and found out that the Emperor only opens the Gardens to the public two days per year – and this was one of them!  One million people were invited.  So we were taken to the Imperial Palace Plaza and a short walk to a bridge near the East Gate – very pretty, but only a 10-minute photo stop in reality …. we had an hour!!!!

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Next stop was the Meiji Shrine, with twin 40 feet tall Torii gates, one of the country’s largest.  Lunch was western-style at a Tokyo Hotel.  Very nice.

We continued on to Sensoji Temple, the oldest temple in Tokyo, and we saw a Japanese bride and many girls in traditional dress.  Lastly we spent quite some time at Nakamise-dori, the “street of Inside Shops”, an alley lined with souvenirs and handmade crafts.  Very crowded but very interesting – plenty of time to explore.  So much to see.

We have taken so many photos – especially in Japan.  It was difficult to only choose a few.  Many great memories…. and we have met some lovely local people.

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Now we are on our way back home – currently somewhere in the Pacific Ocean!  So we say goodbye to Japan for now, but hope to see you again.