Efficient, friendly, well informed tour leaders, peppy music, a live band, blue Pool, hot tubs, good food, fair weather, comfortable cabins, breathtaking sunsets. Thats the summary of our 3 day 3 night cruise along the Strait of Malacca to Port Klang and Georgetown.
As soon as our luggage was delivered we changed into our swim wear and got into the bubbling hot jacuzzi. We began the cruise in style. Then there was dinner. The foot reflexology made the wonderful evening fantastic. Cydric, that is Cedric with a y, our masseur who looked no less than a Greek God, albeit stunted (what could you expect? He was Filipino)had some interesting tit bits to share. About the way he spelt his name, he said, that Cedric meant Chieftan in Celtic and when he spelt his name that way, he feels like picking up a fight so he uses a y in his name instead. His magical hands had brains on their own. Despite keeping me engaged in his casual banter, he worked magic on my feet. His muscles rippled under his golden sun tanned skin, every time he ran his hands along my legs. He must really enjoy his job. He knew more about kapha-vaada-pitha of Ayurveda and that shut me up from flaunting my little knowledge about Indian massage therapies. He also said that he had had an Indian boss with a funny sense of humor in the past and that he loved samosas. Thank god the complimentary red wine in the room was left unconsumed. Else the wine, with the relaxing foot massage by a muscle rippling Greek God look alike masseur with a intriguing name like Cydric could have added up to something else!
Day two began with a damned headache. Should have dried my hair before I sat for the reflexology. Have you slept in a giant cradle that rocked gently? The night at sea felt like that. I woke up my half asleep brain < the other half was busy fighting the ache in the head> to what sounded like an SOS whooshing of a fire alarm sent into air, like they do when you are lost at sea. (Maybe I watch too many Hollywood movies). The Captain’s voice boomed on the radio announcing that all of us were to assemble outside on a lower deck for an emergency fire drill. Now I know what to do if I am on board a sinking ship.
We were expected to dock around 10a.m. at Port Klang. I had already spotted land as I peeked out the window. I felt a sense of relief when I saw land. (I have been dreadfully scared of meeting a watery grave and hence learned to swim much later in life). Seeing land was reassuring.. I did not have to put my rusty swimming skills to use. Land ahoy!!
There was a coach waiting to take us on a day long trip to KL. Frankie Pong, our over friendly tour assistant was just what I told you already, over friendly. He got a little education in the 60km drive to the city of KL from the port, on how to identify surnames in Chinese names. ( as it turns out, the first name of a Chinese name is almost always the surname). After a while I stopped listening to his boring monologue which was interspersed with many what can I say’s, corray-na?’s (that is Correct na?) and jokes only he could laugh at. We stopped at a few key points of interest, a temple, KL tower and The Petronas twin towers before we headed back for the 60 km drive back to Port Klang. We witnessed a magnificent sunset from Deck 10. A glass of Shiraz 2008 over dinner went down well. The high point of the evening was the Let’s dance Latin American dance company that danced the rhumba, the samba, the salsa, the ballroom dance and a few other dance forms along with acrobats from this part of Asia, an hour long program that finished at 11 in the night. We had another Port to anchor at the next morning, so we called it a night.
Day three in the middle of the Malaysian sea began with watching a magnificent sun rise. A clear blue sky and a beautiful morning breeze greeted us when we stepped out on the deck. The liner was unable to dock on time since the traffic at the port was heavy. So our tour of the Penang city was delayed by half an hour. Our tour guide Mae, was a lot more interesting than Frankie Pong from yesterday. The coach took us to a few stops through Georgetown, in the port town of Penang. The trishaw that took us to the grand clan house of one of Penang’s foremost Chinese clans, The Khoo Khongsi, was an enjoyable ride. We rode through parts of Little India in Penang. At the palace I learnt something more about Chinese naming convention. Members of the same generation share the same name unlike Western names. We stopped at a batik factory on our way. Our purchases from today included some batik stoles, wallets, Malaysian coffee, nutmeg pain balms and oils, chocolates and biscuits made locally.
We were back on board early in the evening, long enough to be in the cabin for a while before we went back on the deck. I opted for a Thai massage to begin my evening. The petite thai girl had more energy in her than I did. She threw her entire body weight on me to knead and stretch every muscle she found on my back, legs and arms. Boy did it feel good. I did not realize when I drifted to sleep with her rhythmic kneading. I stayed up late watching a movie on the VLC player on my iPad. The chef belted out some mean black dal and basmati for dinner. There wax x’mas goodies too plum cakes, cookies, etc. The crew on board were the star entertainers tonight. They had put together a few dance pieces to the tune of familiar tracks.
Black heavy clouds met us the next morning. I heard the rain before I saw it.We were headed back home and the plan was to tour the other decks and generally lounge about and relax. On our way we stopped at the store on board and picked a few knick knacks. We were packed and ready to disembark by noon even though we were expected to reach only in the evening.
I was already beginning to miss the cruise by the time we got off the Star Libra later that evening!