Treasures of Southeast Asia
Day 1 - Singapore Singapore - the very name summons visions of the mysterious East. The commercial center of Southeast Asia, this island city-state of four million people is a metropolis of modern high-rise buildings, Chinese shop-houses with red-tiled roofs, sturdy Victorian buildings, Buddhist temples and Arab bazaars. Founded in 1819 by Sir Stamford Raffles of the fabled East India Company, the city is a melting pot of people and cultures. Malay, Chinese, English and Tamil are official languages. Buddhism, Taoism, Islam, Hinduism and Christianity are the major faiths. Singapore is an ever-fascinating island boasting colorful traditions, luxurious hotels and some of the finest duty-free shopping in the world. Lying just 85 miles north of the Equator at the tip of the Malay Peninsula, the island was a haven for Malay pirates and Chinese and Arab traders.
Day 2 - At Sea
Day 3 - Phuket Hailed as the "Pearl of the Andaman Sea," this island off Thailand's long southern coast boasts a colorful history. A crossroads for trade, Phuket has been a melting pot of Thai, Malay, Chinese and Western influences. Its importance over the past 500 years stemmed from the island's natural resources, which include tin, hardwoods and rubber. In the past half-century, Phuket has enjoyed wide popularity as one of the premier travel destinations in Southeast Asia. Travelers are drawn to the island's beaches, crystalline waters, and dramatic, forested hills.
Day 4 - Langkawi Langkawi comprises a group of 99 tropical islands lying off the northwestern coast of Peninsular Malaysia. The main island is known as Pulau Langkawi. The islands are shrouded with an intriguing heritage of myths and legends that feature ogres and gigantic birds, warriors and fairy princesses, battles and romance. Langkawi has been accorded the Geopark status by UNESCO, for its beautiful geological heritage of stunning landscapes, karsts, caves, sea-arches, stacks, glacial dropstones and fossils. With a geological history dating back 500 million years, the islands contain unique rock formations that stir the imagination and baffle the mind.
Day 5 - Penang In 1786 Francis Light persuaded the Sultan of Kedah to cede Pulau Pinang - the "Isle of Betel nut" - to the English crown. Legend has it that Light persuaded his men to clear the overgrown island of Penang by firing a cannon filled with gold coins into the jungle as an incentive. The island was renamed Prince of Wales Island, and its major town was christened Georgetown after King George III. Whether the story is true or not, Penang quickly became a major trading port for tea, spices, china and cloth. Here European, Malaysian, Hindu, Arabic and Chinese cultures met, melded and flourished. Today George Town is a cosmopolitan city that has preserved its unique heritage and its exotic blend of cultures. George Town is perhaps the best-preserved city in Southeast Asia. It boasts a European-style esplanade and a wealth of temples, mosques and Chinese clan houses. Listed as a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site in 2008, this virgin paradise has no shortage of cultural sights and natural scenery.
Day 6 - Kuala Lumpur (Port Kelang) From a lawless huddle of kampongs in the trackless jungle, Kuala Lumpur, the capital city has grown into a fascinating metropolis. Steel and glass towers stand side by side with graceful stone colonial buildings and mosques adorned with slender minarets. The commercial, financial, economic and cultural heart of Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur (better known as KL), is a melting pot. Its population of 1.6 million is comprised of Malays, Chinese, Indians, and a mix of different cultures including Eurasians and others.
Day 7 - At Sea
Day 8 - At Sea
Day 9 - Bali (Benoa) For over a century, Bali has fascinated the Western imagination. The island embodies the very essence of the exotic and mysterious East. Steep hillsides of tropical green reveal terraced rice paddies while plantations of coffee, banana, cacao and fragrant spices line the roads. Monkeys haunt the grounds of a sacred temple in a forest, while traditional villages produce intricately stylized batik, superb jewelry and beautiful paintings. And Balinese dance, with its angular movements and rhythms, remains somehow stirring and shocking. Bali may be accessible, but it remains forever exotic. For all Bali's scenic beauty, the island has weathered great natural disasters, from the 1963 eruption of Mt. Agung to a massive earthquake in 1976. The island emerged relatively unscathed from the great tsunami of 2004.
Day 10 - At Sea
Day 11 - At Sea
Day 12 - At Sea
Day 13 - Fremantle, Perth Lying at the mouth of the Swan River, historic Fremantle - founded in 1829 - is your gateway to Perth, the capital of Western Australia. Situated on the banks of the Swan River some 15 miles upriver from Fremantle, Perth is a bustling city where soaring high-rises co-exist with elegant sandstone buildings from the colonial era. Life here moves at a slower pace, so during your visit, relax and savor the bounties of Western Australia, from the wonders of the bush to the wineries of the Swan Valley, from excellent shopping to a leisurely cruise on the Swan River.
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