Our current time zone: GMT +8 (We're home in Singapore!)

Saturday, July 18, 2009

On Board the Carnival Victory: Pirates of the Caribbean

I remember when I was working in MAS, in the Organising Secretariat for the Singapore 2006 IMF & World Bank Annual Meeting, we would receive RSVPs from various governors and Heads of State in response to the social events that we were organising in conjunction with the main meetings. There were a few names from exotic-sounding countries like St Thomas and St Kitts & Nevis. I knew little else about these tiny nations, other than the fact that they were part of the Caribbean. My mind would draw a total blank when I tried to picture their location on the world map.

So the thought of visiting a string of these exotic Caribbean isles proved very exciting to us indeed. Out of the 7 cruise destinations that we covered, we had a couple of favourite ports-of-call while others didn't quite appeal to us very much. This is going to be a picture-book entry. Mainly because writing about 7 places in detail in a single entry is going to keep me up all night. And also, having more pictures goes to prove that we did more on the cruise than check out the buffets.

1. San Juan, Puerto Rico

Dan's done a pretty detailed recap of our day exploring the city like a couple of wet dogs. Thankfully the weather cleared up in the evening and we got a view of the waterfront looking quite pretty in the night.

View from our ship, looking over at the Royal Caribbean vessel docked next to us

2. Charlotte Amalie, St Thomas

We woke up to a beautiful view of St Thomas. Pretty white houses capped with red roofs dotted the hills throughout. Little white yachts bobbed gently on the still waters of the harbour. Simply serene.

A picture of serenity that can still and quieten the most frantic heartbeat

We wandered around the shops a bit but didn't find anything to our liking or budget. There was a cable car ride to a viewpoint on the hill but we didn't go on it because:

(i) it was a gloomy, cloudy day - not the best for photography;

(ii) we had a pretty good view of St Thomas from the ship deck already;

(iii) we were quite fanatical about keeping our spending to the bare minimum after suffering some hard-to-swallow damage in the Bahamas and Puerto Rico; and

(iv) we were quite happy sitting in a Philippino Internet cafe under a speaker blasting songs from the late King of Pop and being amused at the sight of a bustling Philippino community on this tiny faraway isle.

Staying grounded in St Thomas, which has a rather pretty and colourful dockside scene

3. Roseau, Dominica

This is my favourite port-of-call. I loved the riot of colours splashed all over town - buildings in candy hues and old school murals depicting ketchup bottles and tins of luncheon meat (yes, that makes pretty good public art!) It was bloody hot walking around while lugging our laptops and cameras, and my blistered feet (thanks to the awfully long road march to Old San Juan the day before) were protesting like mad, but it was hard to tear ourselves away, even though we were absolutely dying for the air-conditioned comfort of the ship.

For charming the socks off us, Dominca gets the most number of photos in this entry.

Yup, it's true that Chinese food finds its way into every corner of the planet

Who needs to take out advertisements in the papers when you can just paint on the wall?

I love how they even painted half the packet of baking on the window pane, so that the picture looks complete even with the window open.

Maggi brand is really popular here! It's on walls, umbrellas, everything.

Making a big BIG statement

Only the stone facade was left of this old broken-down house. I hope the new owner preserves it.

Still smiling pretty even though I made him pose with this frightfully girly pastel combination of purple, cream and grey.

I love the stone facade and mosiac border on this wall. Man, I even like the swirly patten on the wooden board!

Fruit juice stand against a backdrop of green, red and yellow - a popular colour combination in the Caribbean.

Red, yellow and green combi again at the market place

Checking out the roadside stall selling pirated movies - a luxury we Singaporeans no longer have

Designed to make you thirsty

3. Bridgetown, Barbados

Barbados turned out to be a total disappointment. Maybe it was because we didn't head for the beach like everyone else. Yes, there ARE days when we really don't feel like being at the beach. Mostly cos we are too stingy to rent an umbrella (ever since we had to leave our K-Mart one behind in Miami) and it's sometimes hard to enjoy the beach without an ounce of shade.

We found Bridgetown messy, chaotic, un-pretty and totally charmless, and ended up trudging around town, seeking out unsecured WiFi networks to tap into. Even if it meant sitting on the hard dirty floor in a secret stairway until our butts turned blue from the lack of circulation (see Dan's upcoming entry.)

Excited at being in Barbados...

... but bored to the bones in Bridgetown

4. Castries, St Lucia

We found our way to Reduit Beach after navigating a puzzle comprising narrow city streets and a busy bus terminal, and doing some guesswork as to where we were suppose to get off the bus. We thought that we would finally have a chance to put our new US$5 snorkels to good use but the water proved too murky for us to see much, except for some fishy shapes at shallower depths.

Grilling in the full blast of the sun cos we're too ngiao to pay for an unbrella

Does anyone remember this cartoon from the '80s called The Snorkels?

Waiting for the spit in my mask to dry. It may sound gross but it keeps your mask from fogging up.

5. St John's, Antigua

Oleks, one of the waiters onboard the ship, told us that Antigua was a great beach destination with more than 365 beaches on the island - a beach for each day of the year! A cab driver approached us at the pier, offering to take us to Dickenson Bay for US$10 each way. We weighed convenience against price, opted for the lazy way and hopped on. Less than 10 minutes later, we found ourselves on a touristy patch of sand, dotted with other cruise passengers lolling around on their Carnival Cruises beach towels. As with all other touristy beaches, Dickenson Bay was teeming with vendors hawking banana boat rides, jetskis, handicrafts, etc. A little too crowded for our liking, but it made for a pleasant enough afternoon in Antigua.

Quiet time - in between being approached to buy grass hats, shell necklaces and beads

Pretty blue waters, but not clear enough for snorkelling

6. Basseterre, St Kitts & Nevis

Along with Roseau, we liked Basseterre for its colourful buildings and colonial charm. We settled down to a very simple afternoon programme which involved people-watching from an open-air balcony, WiFi, conch fritters and iced tea. On the way back to the ship, we chanced upon a small park and made a small detour to gawk at a brilliant Flame of the Forest tree in full bloom and to play in fire-engine red phone booths.

Striding through the streets of Basseterre

Watching the world go by at the main roundabout in town...

... from a cheery colourful cafe.

The only time we paid for a meal while on the cruise - conch fritters. A Caribbean specialty. In my opinion - all air (literally) and nothing to shout about

Under the Sea! (literally) Hee hee :P

The sky on fire

Paying homage to the Travellers Palm - in hope that we will be able to carry our year-long trip to full term

And that puts a wrap to our jaunt around the Caribbean. Unfortunately, we didn't get to fulfil our Kokomo Dream - Aruba, Jamaica, Bermuda and Monserrat were out of our reach this time. We'll just have to put our exploration of the Caribbean Sea on hold for now and come back when we're a bit richer. Maybe in 10 years time, maybe 20, maybe even more. Who knows? But in the meantime, the Kokomo Dream lives on inside us.

"There's a place called Kokomo, that's where we want to go to get away from it all...."


liming said...

I remember the cartoon Snorkels! The hero was a chap coloured in blue called Tracy or Casey...and there was also an annoying orange-coloursed chap called Junior.

Tracy Su said...

I remember the Snorkels! Sort of. Might have a couple of toys stashed away at home still. Wow, Dan's a walking encyclopaedia of 80s cartoon knowledge...or was that you, YL?

Yi Lin said...

Good on ya girls! Yes, Liming, you are right abt the blue Casey and orangey Junior! Trace - that was my memory, Dan has no idea what I was talking about when I asked him. You had the toys...wah!

iluzdaf said...

I remember but are they not called The Snorks?

Love the textures of the stone facades and the color of the wall adverts. Great pictures, I am jealous!

Yi Lin said...

Fadz, yeah, I finally looked them up no the net. Yes, they´re called The Snorks, and the lead guy is yellow, not blue.

Well make good use of your time in the US to venture down south. I think you would find S.America just as lovely, and a whole lot kinder on the budget than the Caribbean.

Dannie said...

iluzdaf, you´re right. It´s The Snorks. I don´t know why the wife keeps thinking I don´t know this cartoon though, cos I remember them! I just don´t remember the individual characters. Just an aside, anyone remember the cartoon that came out about the same time with characters that are a mixture of 2 animals? One in particular was Gloria, a hippo with butterfly wings.

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