Kota Kinabalu: Our first Malaysian Port

After visiting several Indonesian ports, we finally moved on and stopped at Kota Kinabalu, our first port in Malaysia. We decided to explore on our own here, as we did for many of the other ports. What’s nice is that Crystal usually runs a shuttle service from the ship to the center of town. (The only exceptions are when the country we’re visiting has restrictions against it.) This makes it easy to explore a lot on foot… if you don’t mind long walks in the Southeast-Asian heat!

In Kota Kinabalu, we first walked to the local market and actually ended up spending a lot of time there. Markets in different parts of the world can be fantastic for photography, and this one was especially good. It took up an entire city block, with the stalls facing the street making for the best photography (because of the light). There were crazy meat stalls, vibrant spices and loads of colorful chilies. The people were also great, and generally open to having their photos taken.

After exploring the market for a while, we took a taxi to a Malay museum and heritage village. The village featured different kinds of homes and structures that you would have seen in different places and time periods around the country. I didn’t shoot as much here, but it was nice to visit a place less bustling than many of the downtown areas we had been exploring.

Finally, we returned to town and went up to a viewpoint that overlooks the city. It’s at the top of a very large hill that you can hike to via a series of staircases that wind through the trees. There’s a little cafe at the top and that’s where we spent the final part of our day in Kota Kinabalu.

Here are some of the photos I shot there, many of which were from the local market:

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Eastern Islands: Lombok & Bali

Hi gang! In my last post, I left you in Komodo Island, home of the famous dragons. Well, after sailing a short distance west, we found ourselves on Lombok, Bali’s neighboring island. In fact, some people call Lombok the “untouched Bali” because it hasn’t been touched by tourism quite as much. We knew it would be harder to explore on our own here, so we went on a tour titled “Parks, Palaces and Temples.”

Driving through Lombok, we immediately noticed how dramatically different the lifestyle was compared to what we’re used to. It would have felt like we were going back in time, had it not been for the hundreds of motor bikes zipping through the streets in a seemingly unorganized fashion. Of course, there were plenty of horses pulling covered carts on the streets as well. Small homes are built lining a narrow waterway where the villagers bathe and clean household things. We actually read that, while the locals are very conservative, they bathe naked along the streets because they believe they are “invisible when doing so.” Interesting, for sure.

Anyway, our tour took us to a water palace and two temple complexes that housed dozens of temples. We found ourselves running out of time trying to photograph them all! Many of them are so old, covered in “greenage” and have overly unique statues at the entrances.

Here is a visual snippet of what we saw in Lombok:

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After leaving Lombok, we sailed the short distance west to Bali, where we stayed for two days. Karen and I did tours on both days. On the first day, she went to go ride an elephant and visit a bird park, while I went on another temple tour and orchid garden visit. All was beautiful, but I especially liked the “floating temple” we visited that was located on a beach. You actually had to walk through the water if you wanted to enter the temple.

On our second day, we did another tour that visited, you guessed it, more temples! We also visited the Bali Art Museum and had lunch at a place called The Dirty Duck Diner. We later learned that “dirty duck” is actually a type of dish you can order in Indonesia. It was also in Bali that we got to see a traditional dance show, with overly unique music and elaborate costumes and makeup. We were lucky enough to sit in the first row, which made for great photography!

So without further ado, here are some images I shot in Bali:

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Our next stop would be Surabaya, on the island of Java. More to come!

Playing Catch-up: Barcelona

Hi gang! I’m playing a game of blog catch-up right now, since the schedule has been a little crazy lately. With my recent creativeLIVE event, I haven’t been able to post the last batch of photos from my recent trip. I had one port to go: Barcelona. We were lucky to be able to spend two days in Barcelona, as we were docked there overnight. This was great because there is just so much to see there. Even though we spent all of our time exploring, we still want to return to see more. I think you really need a week in that city to truly take everything in. Barcelona has loads of buildings by the famous architect, Gaudi, who has a crazy and somewhat whimsical style that really stands out from you’re used to seeing. We spent a lot of time visiting his buildings, including the gigantic Sagrada Familia church, which is STILL under construction. We also visited the Poble Espanol museum, which is essentially a traditional Spanish village with restaurants, museums, craftsmen, etc.

Below are a bunch of images from our days in Barcelona. What’s funny is that I’m posting these images as I sit in an internet cafe in Australia. It was only a few weeks after our Spain/Portugal/Morocco cruise that we set off on another adventure, this one starting in Sydney. Over the course of the next two months, we’ll visit 10 countries and 24 ports of call, so stay tuned! The blog schedule will continue to be sporadic due to the equally sporadic internet situation.

For now though, I give you Barcelona:

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Port #9: Valencia

Valencia was our second stop in Spain, and what an interesting mix of old and new! In one day, we saw the Holy Grail AND some of the most modern, space-age looking buildings we’ve ever seen. The first half of the day was spent walking around the more historic part of the city, shooting the Basilica dels Desamparats, the large cathedral (home of the Holy Grail) and the local market. Valencia is where the famous Spanish dish, paella, originated, and we were happy to find some delicious paella while we were there.

The second half of the day was spent at the City of Arts and Sciences, and what a contrast that was to the old churches and such! The City of Arts and Sciences is a huge, futuristic, educational complex designed by the famous architect, Santiago Calatrava. It looks like something you’d see in a space-age movie and we spent hours photographing the many buildings there. The rest of the story, I’ll tell in photos. Enjoy!

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BenPaellaValencia is where paella originated, so we had to get some while we were there!

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Port # 7: Cádiz

After spending two days exploring Morocco, we sailed through the Strait of Gibralter toward our first Spanish port: Cádiz. Cádiz is the oldest inhabited city in the Western World, so we were excited to explore some old buildings and historic Spanish squares. Instead of doing a cruise excursion here, we went off exploring on our own, which was easy since the ship docked right in town. (It was so close to town that it literally looked like it was nestled in with the rest of the buildings!)

We started off in a big, beautiful square that was mostly occupied by the Cádiz Cathedral, which was huge. We took photos inside and out and then wandered around the surrounding cobblestone streets, which were lined with loads of old buildings and full of local vendors in some areas.  Walking through the local market, it was incredible to see how different and new-looking it seemed compared to the one we had visited two days earlier in Casablanca.

Most of the historic part of Cádiz is surrounded by water, and one of the places we visited was an old fortress that jutted out into the water and overlooked part of town. Right by the fortress, on the water, was a nice little tapas restaurant and that’s where we stopped for lunch, using their wifi to connect to the rest of the world for a while. A tapas lunch in Spain overlooking the water… not bad, right?!

As with many of the rest of these posts, I’ll tell the rest of the story in pictures. After Cádiz, we would sail to Valencia and explore another Spanish town. More to come…

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