Archive for September 2014

Viking River Cruise April 2014   2 comments

 

Corner House hotel in Amsterdam

Corner House hotel in Amsterdam

Stroopwafels! Yummm!

Stroopwafels! Yummm!

Anne Frank hug

Anne Frank hug

Heineken Experience

Heineken Experience

Our ship, the Viking Jarl

Our ship, the Viking Jarl

Canal cruise tour of Amsterdam

Canal cruise tour of Amsterdam

Enjoying sweets in the lounge

Enjoying sweets in the lounge

P1030105

Roger with Karen & Kim (mom & daughter) from AZ

P1030148

This is our party group that danced every night in the lounge.

Dancing to Charlie's music after dinner

Dancing to Charlie’s music after dinner

Paleis Het Loo the summer residence of the Royal House

Paleis Het Loo the summer residence of the Royal House

Kinderdijk windmills

Kinderdijk windmills

Kinderdijk: Got Wooden Shoes?

Kinderdijk: Got Wooden Shoes?

Antwerp statue of Brabo, a Roman soldier throwing the ogre's hand into the river

Antwerp statue of Brabo, a Roman soldier throwing the ogre’s hand into the river

Madonna by Michelangelo

Madonna by Michelangelo in Bruges

Keukenhof Gardens

Keukenhof Gardens

Keukenhof Gardens

Keukenhof Gardens

Keukenhof Gardens

Keukenhof Gardens

Tulips at Schiphol Airport

Tulips at Schiphol Airport

 

ROGER AND LARI’S 2014 SPRING VACATION

Presenting the latest episode of

Hawaiians in Netherlands & Belgium

Viking River Cruise

April 20 to 29, 2014

We have been to Amsterdam a couple times before, but never in spring, so this year we booked a Viking River cruise, called Tulips & Windmills. It was a 10-day cruise from Amsterdam to Belgium and back.

We flew into Amsterdam and took the train from the airport to Central Station in the heart of the city, where we purchased 3-day passes for unlimited public transportation. Amsterdam has a great system of trains with trams for the city center. We stayed 2 nights at the small Corner House Hotel right on the tram line next to Dam Square, a very convenient location. On Saturday, we went to Winkel for apple cake next to Noorder Markt, where I shopped. Then we caught the tram to Heineken Experience. It was so much more than just a tour of the beer-making process and very entertaining. Of course, we drank beer! Cheers!

Jarl, our Viking riverboat, was docked far from the train station, where most riverboats dock, so we found a free shuttle to the Jarl. We settled right away in our cabin, which was very roomy and comfy. The first day, the ship stayed in Amsterdam and we had a walking tour of the red light district. The very first day, we met 2 couples from Canada, who were so much fun to hang out with. Every night, after dinner, we’d go up to the lounge with Donna, Jeff, Stewart and Brenda, where Charlie plays music and we’d sing and dance the night away.

The next morning, still in Amsterdam, we had a boat ride through the canals of the city and learned about the history, culture and architecture of the city. After lunch, we had a bus tour to Delft, where they make the special blue and white porcelain.

We toured the village of Hoorn, and had a Home Hosted visit to have tea, coffee and apple cake in a private home, arranged by Viking. After lunch, we walked over to a small herring shop, where they let us sample some pickled herring. After dinner, they had a clog demo. Clogs are made of poplar or willow, which repels water.

Next stop was Arnhem, where the Allies lost a battle to the Nazis. We toured the Paleis Het Loo the summer residence of the Royal House of Orange. After lunch, I walked back into the village with Shelby and we went to the top of the church tower and went shopping and to the Battle of Arnhem museum.

In Kinderdijk, our guide was Jack, who took us walking to see the windmills. We were lucky to watch them turn the windmill to face the wind, saw the guy at the first windmill hanging his laundry, then watched the guy at the second windmill put the canvas on the blades to catch the wind. We were able to walk into one, which is a museum for tourists to see how they lived in that small space. Even though there are modern and more technically advanced ways to move water, they maintain the old windmills so that this part of Dutch heritage is kept alive.

Antwerp, Belgium is a large port city. We went to the Cathedral of Our Lady to see three of Peter Paul Rubens’ paintings. We walked through the cobblestoned streets and saw the famous Brabo fountain statue in Grote Markt. “Antwerp” means “hand throwing” from the legend of the evil ogre that cut off sailors’ hands if unwilling to pay the toll to pass his bridge on the river. Brabo saved the town when he slew the ogre and cut off his hand and threw it into the river. Free time after lunch allowed us to meander the city streets on our own, to sample or buy Belgian waffles, Belgian chocolates and Belgian beer.

The next day, we arrived in Ghent, Belgium and rode in buses to Bruges, a beautiful old medieval city. We visited the famous Madonna by Michelangelo in Our Lady’s Church. Free time to buy more chocolates!

In Walcheren, we learned about the great flood of 1953 that broke through the dykes in the middle of the night with causing 1836 deaths and no communication. After the great flood, they built a museum to commemorate the flood and a massive storm surge barrier to protect the area.

The highlight of our trip was our visit to Keukenhof Gardens on the last day of the cruise. This 70-acre garden with winding streams, tranquil ponds and meandering paths, is a feast for your eyes! Over 7 million tulips and other flowers of every color are so dazzling and enchanting.

We made some wonderful friends on this cruise and we had such fun at dinner and after dinner in the lounge dancing and singing along to Charlie at the piano. The crew and staff on the Viking Jarl were very fun and made our cruise so enjoyable.

Posted September 1, 2014 by lariyasui in Europe

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Indonesia July 2014   Leave a comment

Presenting the latest episode of
“Hawaiians in Indonesia”
starring: Lari and friends
July 10 to 28, 2014

               Marie Milks invited me to join her and her friends on a Journeys tour to Indonesia. So seven of us ladies had a wonderful adventure: Marie and Sandra, Jean and Vicki, Janice and Lauren. We started in Ubud, Bali on our own, where we went shopping, had spa treatments and a day at the Bali Zoo, where we were thoroughly entertained by Jacky, the orangutan, who threw a banana peel at Sandra. 

               We started the tour in Sanur beach on the southeast shore of Bali. We went to a large family temple for the royal family and Pura Tanah Lot, a temple that was surrounded by water at high tide. Next we flew to Java, where we spent a day in Semarang with Johnny, our singing guide. We visited the Alas Kedaton Monkey Forest, home of hundreds of monkeys, where we could take photos holding a snake and a bat. Then we went to Tay Kak Sie Buddhist temple where we poured oil offerings for a bright future and released birds to symbolize letting go of bad karma. Sam Poo Kong Memorial is designed like the Forbidden City, in honor of Zheng He, who was a sea explorer.
                In Kalimantan, Borneo, we spent three days in the jungle at Rimba Lodge on the Sekonyer River with our guide Azie. Each day, our klotok, (a traditional motorized wooden boat), Harapan Mina, took us miles up and down river to various feeding stations of the Tanjung Puting National Park, where we could watch the orangutans. They did not disappoint… they put on entertaining shows for us! We watched as they ate and hoarded bananas, flew from branch to branch high up in the treetops, and we especially loved the little babies hanging on to their mamas. Arie, the chef extraordinaire on the Harapan Mina cooked the most delicious meals of our entire trip! On the last night in the jungle, we had a special treat… Azie and the Harapan Mina took us downriver from our lodge and parked our boat at a spot along the river where the fireflies lit up the trees like Christmas lights. It was a magical and ethereal experience, with dinner under the stars while watching the fireflies dancing in the trees. I shall never forget that special treat!
               We flew back to Java and stayed overnight in the lovely Manohara Hotel on the grounds of Borobudur, the world’s largest Buddhist temple, a UNESCO world heritage site. We rose early the next morning before sunrise, and walked over to Borobudur, which was constructed in the ninth century with over 500 Buddha statues. We climbed several steep stairs up to the top to sit and wait along with other tourists for the sun to rise. It is shaped like a giant square pyramid and we walked around one of the levels and back down to the bottom. Close by, we visited 2 small temples, Pawon Temple and Mendut Temple with 3 Buddhas. Then we drove to Yogyakarta to visit the Sultan’s Palace and had a buffet lunch. After checking in, we rested before we went to dinner at Purawisata where we enjoyed a Ramayana Ballet performance.
                The next morning our guide Kukuh took us to Prambanan, another UNESCO World Heritage Site, and the largest Hindu temple in Indonesia. It was built in the 9th century with 240 temples. In the 16th century, an earthquake completely destroyed it. Early in the 20th century, restoration began and today, 18 temples have been rebuilt. It is like a giant puzzle, putting together huge stone blocks that fit together like giant legos. Next to Prambanan, we visited, by small train, 3 Buddhist temples that are also being reconstructed.

                We visited 3 factories. We watched how they make the puppets out of leather, cutting designs and painting them. We also learned how batik is made. It is a time consuming process of waxing, dying, removing wax, rewaxing and redying over and over for every color. We visited the silver factory, and watched them make intricate silver jewelry. My favorite shopping was at the outdoor street markets where I could bargain for items such as batik sarongs, blouses, tshirts, dresses, jewelry and so much more. Every chance we had, we took advantage of spa treatments. All over Bali there are so many small and large spas that offer body massage, foot massage, head massage, body scrub, ear candling, manicure, pedicure, facials and more, for around $5 to $10 per hour. We often spent $15 or less for 2 hours of treatments.
                Our last adventure was to fly to the Flores Islands where we lived on the schooner Tarata for 3 days. Our guides Paul and Wilson took us to see the Komodo dragons on Rinca and Komodo islands, and took us snorkeling twice a day. The snorkeling was simply amazing! In the clear blue waters of different islands, we saw all kinds of fish, coral, and sea life, such as jellyfish, manta rays, and more. We combed the beaches for shells and other sea treasures. And the crew on the Tarata, took such good care of us! They fed us 3 meals a day, helped us get on and off the boat to snorkel, and took us to watch the flying foxes at sunset: bats flying out of the mangrove island.
                At the end of the tour, all six ladies left Bali to go home and I stayed by myself for 3 more days, on Kuta Beach, on the southwest shore of Bali, where the sunsets are awesome and surfing is great. Many tourists, mopeds and cars crowd the streets, where I ate, shopped and got more spa treatments. Bali is a wonderful and beautiful place to visit with bargain shopping and spa treatments. I got body massages, foot massages, body scrubs, facials, manicure, pedicure, ear candling, and my favorite, a hair spa treatment with scalp massage. This trip was truly an adventure.

Lari’s Top Ten:
10. My favorite food: nasi goreng (fried rice) and Bintang beer
9. Wonderful, delicious, and cheap meals: our favorite meals were prepared by Arie on Harapan Mina, our klotok on Sekonya River in Borneo. He made the most delicious crunchy fried chicken!
8. Guides Paul and Wilson with the crew on our Schooner Tarata, who took such good care of us for 3 days in the Flores Islands -Komodo Islands and snorkeling
7. Johnny, our charming and informative singing guide in Semarang, Java
6. Prambanan (soul of universe), a Hindu temple, struck my soul as movingly beautiful and spiritual. Not sure why, but I liked it more than Borobudur, although both were special.
5. Snorkeling in Flores Islands was amazing in clear azure seas
4. Enjoying the antics of the orangutans in Tanjung Puting National Park
3. Getting spa treatments almost every day in Bali
2. Flying Foxes flying out of a mangrove island after sunset in Flores Komodo Islands
1. Fireflies and candle light dinner under the stars on the Harapan Mina, in the jungle

Janice Top Five:
5. Borobudur
4. Trying not to get mosquito bites or contracting malaria
3. Eating dinner under the stars while watching fireflies
2. Seeing flying foxes
1. Snorkeling and seeing beautiful reefs

Sandra’s Top Five:
5. Shopping in Ubud
4. Snorkeling at Komodo Islands
3. Sunrise at Borobudur
2. Eating good Indonesian food
1. Visiting Jacki, the orangutan at the Bali Zoo

Vicki’s Top Five:
5. Dinners provided by Journeys
4. Spa treatments
3. Komodo dragons
2. Orangutans
1. Snorkeling

Marie’s Top Five:
5. Being serenaded by Johnny
4. Dinner of fried chicken while enjoying the fireflies and stars under clear skies
3. Being transported back in time to the glory of Borobudur and Prambanan
2. Being up close and personal with the orangutan
1. Snorkeling opportunities

Lauren’s Top Six:
6. BINTANG!
5. Borobudur & Prambanan (soo amazing!)
4. Eating awesome food, especially Arie’s (even when I was sick)
3. Seeing orangutans & komodo dragons in natural habitat (and all the other wildlife)
2. Fireflies in Borneo w/ candlelight dinner under ALL THE STARS!
1. SNORKELING IN KOMODO ISLANDS!!!!!!!

Jean’s Top Five:

5. Borobudur

4. Holding a python and fruit bat

3. Seeing komodo dragons

2. Boating down the Sekonyer River with delicious meals and seeing monkeys in the wild

1. Snorkeling

Our room at Rouge Bali villas in Ubud

Our room at Rouge Bali villas in Ubud

Rouge Bali villas in Ubud

Rouge Bali villas in Ubud

Bali spas are wonderful! $5/hour for most treatments

Bali spas are wonderful! $5/hour for most treatments

Shopping in Ubud

Shopping in Ubud with Sandra, Vicki, Marie & Jean

Bali Zoo

Bali Zoo

Jacky the orangutan, Bali Zoo

Jacky the orangutan, Bali Zoo

Royal Family temple, Bali

Royal Family temple, Bali

Monkey Forest, Bali

Monkey Forest, Bali

Lauren holding snake at Monkey Forest, Bali

Lauren holding snake at Monkey Forest, Bali

Janice holding bat at Monkey Forest, Bali

Janice holding bat at Monkey Forest, Bali

Pura Tanah Lot, temple in the ocean

Pura Tanah Lot, temple in the ocean but this is at low tide

Sam Poo Kong memorial hall, Semarang

Vicki, me, Sandra, Jean, Marie, Lauren, Janice @ Sam Poo Kong memorial hall, Semarang

Rimba Lodge, Borneo

Rimba Lodge, on Sekonyer River, Borneo

Rimba Lodge, Borneo

Rimba Lodge, Borneo

Roger, the orangutan, Tanjun Putin National Park

Roger, the orangutan, Tanjun Putin National Park

Wild proboscis monkeys on Sekonyer River

Wild proboscis monkeys on Sekonyer River

Tanjung Puting National Park

Tanjung Puting National Park

Tanjung Puting National Park

Tanjung Puting National Park

Sekonyer Village

Sekonyer Village

UNESCO World Heritage site, Borobudur, Java

UNESCO World Heritage site, Borobudur, Java

Sultan's Palace, Java

Sultan’s Palace, Java

Prambanan, Java, UNESCO World Heritage site

Prambanan, Java, UNESCO World Heritage site

Prambanan, Java, UNESCO World Heritage site

Prambanan, Java, UNESCO World Heritage site

Labuhan Baho in Flores Islands

Labuhan Baho in Flores Islands

Tarata, our floating hotel in Flores Islands

Tarata, our floating hotel for 3 days in Flores Islands

Cabin on Tarata, our floating hotel in Flores Islands

Cabin on Tarata, our floating hotel in Flores Islands

Flores sunset

Flores sunset

Komodo dragon

Komodo dragon

With Marie on Tarata

With Marie on Tarata

Komodo Island

Komodo Island

Snorkeling in Flores Islands

Snorkeling in Flores Islands

All of us with Tarata crew

All of us with Tarata crew

Kuta beach, Bali

Kuta beach, Bali

Kuta beach, Bali

Kuta beach, Bali

Kuta beach, Bali

Kuta beach, Bali has great shopping & much traffic

Posted September 1, 2014 by lariyasui in Asia

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