Review: MV Artemis
Cruise - Ocean Cruise
38 people found this review helpful
The Grand Voyage took us beyond India and to the definite Far East.
The great port cities of Singapore and Hong Kong were all that such fascinating places should be and a shopper’s wonderland of the old, the new and the strange. I even succumbed and bought myself a silk jacket embroidered with elephants for the huge sum of two pounds. True the sleeves were a little short but a bargain is a bargain. I would love to say it now hangs in my wardrobe but my wife thinks it suits, and fits, her better.
The Far East also has that large strange country that is China and the beguiling islands than form Japan. In China we saw the wall that stomped over the hills and valleys demanding respect from those countries on the wrong side and who would wish to be on the wrong side of China?
Some years ago my son, following a visit there, remarked upon the absence of trees. Now there is a tree every few feet along every new road. Our guide said that they intended to plant one billion of them.
In Japan we failed to see Mount Fuji because of the snow but our Japanese friends gave us a picture of it. Not that not seeing it was a loss for the hospitality of out three little Japanese maids was overwhelming. Japan is hospitality. In the restaurant our wet umbrellas were encased in plastic. Our outdoor coats were returned to us at the end of the meal – dried and warmed.
But to the title: “Java Jive” was a hit for the Ink Spots back in 1940 and we visited Java, safely negotiating the busiest sealane in the world.
Indonesia is not on every tourist wish list and it would not have been a special day on this trip except for a few minutes that made it one of the highlights, if not the highlight, in 98 days of travel.
We were on a tour which was called “Aspects of Semarang”. Having seen Lord Lloyd-Wbber’s “Aspects of Love” I was prepared for disappointment.
Now this port does not get many visitors. I know that because we were objects of almost wonder and everyone waved; the children, as ever, and the old, who had little better to do, and and those in between who could have pretended to be indifferent to us but paused from work and joined in that simple act of welcome, a big smile and a little wave.
What Semarang has can be summarised, probably unfairly, as Temple, Temple, Temple and Traffic, Traffic, Traffic. I am probably being unfair but that is what I have noted in my common-place book.
The guide was nervous and gabbled so his descriptions came out garbled. It is a surprisingly clean town with clipped hedges, a la France, on the roundabouts and there seemed to be a goodish number of Army and Armed Police bracks and Academies.
We were hassled and we visited an expensive shop with a mostrous exchange rate.
But none of it mattered because of the few magic moments.
We stopped at a Temple with a stay of thirty minutes to take the obligatory photographs. By its appearance the temple was an eighteenth century European building and obviously built as a church. I presumed that it was originally Dutch Reform or Lutheran.
Although our guide called it a temple it was, when we entred, still obviously a church. It was now Baptist and Indonesian. Being a Christian in Indonesia is not easy. Only this week the United Nations has requested the Indonesian government to uphold its citizens’ religious freedom and to address the escalating persecution of religious minorities in the country.
Inside the church a small choir awaited us fidgeting somewhat apprehensively. We sat down on teak chairs to hear the choir sing a couple of hyms in their own language. It was all very pleasant in a tourist kind of way with that friendliness between us and nods and smiles replacing words as none of us spoke the other’s tongue. We were all responding to that innate humane part of being human.
Then it happened. The conductor turned and beckoned us to rise.
The choir sang its heart out and some of us joined in – the Halleluiah Chorus from Handel’s great universal work. It was marvellous and so special it brought tears to more than one eye.
“Smell the coffee”: simple souls – one, hardened world travellers – nil.
Forget the Jive bring on Handel!
38 people found this review helpful
This review is solely based on the opinion of a Silver Travel Advisor member and not of Silver Travel Advisor Ltd.