Posts Tagged ‘Explorer Academy’
0700, 10 Dec 10, Romeo & Juliet Restaurant
I plodded my way to the Romeo & Juliet Restaurant, a half pace behind Mui Yee. It was time for breakfast, and following that, it was time to say goodbye.
As we worked our way towards the Romeo & Juliet Restaurant, I relived the first time I had breakfast at Windjammers. I remembered how astounded I was at the sumptuous spread, and I remembered how excited I was, decking my plate up high with various niceties. There was no appetizer, no main course, no desserts – it was all one plate – everything and anything the plate could hold at one time. If only we could have breakfast at Windjammers today. A wistful smile spread across my face even as Mui Yee turned back.
“Cherie, they are all there already. Come let’s join them,” Mui Yee started.
I looked up at her, the same smile still on my lips, “Yeah, time for our last meal together. I miss sleeping with you already.”
“I am so gonna miss all of you.”
Mui Yee nodded as a sigh escaped her lips. Well I guess all of us had such fond memories of our shared moments aboard the Legend of The Seas and the tours on shore.
I settled into an empty seat beside Alvin and ordered the massive American breakfast platter which consisted of sausage, bacon, eggs and toast in addition to a dish of grilled herring and a platter of fruits to complement my hearty breakfast.
Everyone looked in a rough shape. I guess it must be a function of the ungodly hour that we had to congregate here at Romeo & Juliet Restaurant for our breakfast in addition to the activities we had over the last few days coupled with the constant lack of sleep thereof as we each whiled the nights away in the company of the OMY Group.
Even so, the mood was unusually somber this morning. As if in a waking dream, my mind drifted back to the beginning…
Thank you Royal Caribbean International and OMY for allowing me to partake in this wonderful cruise journey. “Cruise To Paradise” is specially written and dedicated to each and every one of you. I hope you like it ♥ We started off not knowing each other, then, we became friends that we can’t stand to be without. Like how I will always remember the times we shared together, I will definitely come back for more. How about a 7 Night Bali & Semarang Cruise?
Read all about my Royal Caribbean Experience
0930, 9 Dec 10, Centrum, Towel Folding Demonstration
I grinned in delight as I raised my towel poodle for all to see. Everyone had been talking about the goofy towel animals on board and it felt great to do one myself.
I examined my handiwork and decided that it was not too bad for a newcomer totally unskilled in the fine art of rearranging cotton towels into cute replicas of animals. Well, I couldn’t have done if without the guidance of the two fantastic instructors on stage of course, and also the occasional assistance of Philip who was beside me to give me a hand as well as to snap away at my creations with his camera.
Other than the poodle, I also tried a hand at creating the towel versions of a monkey and an elephant.
And then it was time for Pâtisserie Cherie to take the stage.
1030, 9 Dec 10, Centrum, Make a Cake Challenge
Donning on my apron and chef’s hat, I was in the mood for cakes, making them for once, instead of eating them as I had been wont to do for the past 4 days aboard the Legend of The Seas. I stood at the Centrum taken over by the rush of excitement as I came to terms with the fact that I was about to make a cake in front of an audience on board the Legend of The Seas.
The task was to create and design a Blackforest cake and I sunk right into my task, beside a fellow competitor and Pastry Chef Baktha. Chef Baktha was great but I was in my element and determined to prove my worth as a Pâtisserie on board the Legend of The Seas. Despite my relative novice status, I managed to keep pace with Chef Baktha (well I guess he was just trying to encourage me) as I joined the layers of chocolate sponge cake flavoured with Kirsch syrup and dark cherry filling on top of each other and applied a smooth layer of cream as a final coating.
The decoration was decidedly harder. First, I created a dappled coating of dark chocolate flakes, after which I piped 8 small dollops of cream on the rim of the cake face and 1 larger dollop in the centre of the cake. This was followed by anointing each of the cream dollops with a bright red cherry and mint leaves.
I beamed with pride when Chef Baktha appraised my work with an experienced eye and decided that it was fantastic for an amateur. I was happy as a lark!
“Voila!” Cherie’s Blackforest Desire.
1030, 9 Dec 10, Kitchen Tour
The troupe of 10 bloggers filed into the kitchen aboard the Legend of The Seas. This had to be the highlight of the day. For days, we have eaten till we could eat no more and yet still found space to pack a little bit more. For days, we have wondered how the amazing chefs on board delivered gastronomic wonders with panache and poise that leave us begging for more. For days, we have been blessed with culinary delights and today, we will how they were all invented and replicated in this kitchen on the seas.
The kitchen was a tantalizing mix of aromas. My nose tingled as fragrance of freshly baked bread, of juicy grilled meats and various crispy fried meats mixed with the fresh green smell of veggies. This was a pilgrimage to the source of fine dining.
Executive Chef Suresh Ballal promptly appeared and arrested our attention. He educated us on the various departments at the kitchen – there was a baking segment where fresh bread was baked everyday, there was a dessert segment where the sole function of the chef was to turn out sinful sweets and desserts, and there was the main segment of sous-chef and chef de partie who specialized at creating appetizers and main dishes of every cuisine.
Even as Chef Suresh moved on to the finer points of rank and positions denominated by coloured scarves within the kitchen, my attention wandered onto a delectable array of mouthwatering dishes displayed in a single long row on one of the longer counters in the kitchen. For that moment, I totally forgot that Chef Suresh was speaking.
This food had to be mine to eat!
1300, 9 Dec 10, Ship’s Bridge Tour
I peered out of the Bridge from my position of power. There was nothing but clear blue skies and cerulean seas. It was a brilliant day at sea. Whisking the Captain’s cap off Captain Ryan, I was quick to appoint myself as the new commander of the Legend of The Seas by placing the emblem of stewardship on my head. I am Captain Cherie!
I scanned through the wide array of navigation and communication equipment and laid my eyes on the wheel. I was about to assume direct control of the ship when Captain Ryan took his rightful place at the wheel, denying me my opportunity.
I was only Cherie, a blogger with no power, at the bridge simply by nature of the grace of Royal Caribbean who had invited us OMY Bloggers for a tour at the helm. Semi-chastised, I excused myself and wandered over to a picture board where I conjured up a state of wonderment at seeing the massive Legend of The Seas at the dry docks.
2000, 9 Dec 10, Romeo & Juliet Restaurant
It was time for dinner and the OMY Group settled down into their seats for our nightly routine of expanding our waistlines. As usual, I found Dong Biao nearby.
“Dong Biao! Today is our last night! Will you miss us?”
A warm smile spread across his face. “Of course! Now there will be no one to serve my honey her honey!”
My heart fluttered for a moment, touched and as I was by the sincere kindness and hospitality of Dong Biao. There was a “Awwwww…” coming from behind me at the OMY table. I felt a warm feeling on my cheeks. Was I blushing? Well I was definitely flattered by the attention.
From behind, someone wondered aloud, “Dong Biao is so nice, I wonder if I told him that I had no money, will he give me some?” A round of chatter and merry laughter followed right after that comment.
Brushing aside their comments, I continued chatting with Dong Biao and found that this was in fact his last trip with the Royal Carribean as he would be returning to spend time with his family in China. Just as we were resigned to leaving with a heavy heart the next morning, Dong Biao was also trying to come to terms on his last voyage. I reckoned it must be difficult to for him to leave such as wonderful place, where he has the opportunity with work with a gold anchor service crew, travel the world and interact with people from so many different countries and places.
I felt that I had found in Dong Biao the model waiter for Royal Caribbean. He was attentive to his designated table, was friendly and had the ability to make excellent conversation and connect with the travelers on board and across the last few days had built such a strong rapport with us that we felt our cruise would have been incomplete without him being around.
The OMY Group settled down and had our excellent dinner as usual. But something was different; there was a decidedly unusual mood in the air. I guess it was part solemnity, a lingering sense of sadness that took over some of us subconsciously as deep inside we had already started to treasure the camaraderie we have shared this last 4 days.
Before the end of dinner, I noticed more and more of the crew filed into the Romeo & Juliet Restaurant. Just as my curiosity peaked, the crew started clapping and cheering and the head chef took over the microphone to address the room.
He was then swiftly drowned out (of course this was planned) by an uproarious crew which started to sing love songs in Italian and Chinese, “O so le mio” and “月亮代表我的心” respectively.
It was a magical moment for me and I was deeply touched. I glanced around and noticed many of us with tears brimming in our eyes. This was a kitchen crew that made a connection with each and every one of us on board, and it was stunning that they have decided to come out to give thanks to us even as I believed that each of us should thank them for feeding us with delightful food on a daily basis.
2200, 9 Dec 10, Royal Caribbean International Shops on Board
The Legend of the Seas was such a delightful experience that I knew I could not leave this ship without a trusted souvenir to remember her by. Pictures I had, and these pictures I will keep. But I wanted something that was of this ship, something that I could immediately connect with and place in clear view on my office table or my bedside table to remind me of the wonderful times I have had aboard The Legend of the Seas, courtesy of Royal Caribbean and OMY.
“Lets go shopping! I want to grab a souvenir to remember this trip by,” I announced. Both Mui Yee and Calvin signaled they were ready to go. Each of them had the same in mind. Without delay, we moved the shopping district aboard the cruise.
“Hmmm…” I thought aloud. “What can I buy?” My eyes ran over the shelves of the shop, looking at the various perfumes and liquor. No, not those.
I moved around the other end of the shop and found myself looking at T-shirts which bore the Royal Caribbean Logo and other smaller paraphernalia. After a while, I settled on a square shot glass bearing “Legend of The Seas, Royal Caribbean International”. I brought it right to the counter, a satisfied grin plastered across on my face. I could already imagine where I would place it in my room.
2330, 9 Dec 10, Room 6094
Mui Yee was not around when I returned to the room. I placed the shooter glass safely in a corner of my luggage, well padded by my clothing and other items and looked forlornly at the room, a small room but a cosy one, and one I have come to love and to call home. This was my castle on blue seas, a bastion of peace, a place to recharge every night even as I looked forward to exploring the brand new day ahead.
Tonight was the last night aboard the Legend of The Seas.
I gazed out of the porthole window of the stateroom. There was nothing but darkness outside. Sitting on my bed, peering outside, I ran through my amazing journey in my mind. Tomorrow, I will be back on land again. I will miss everything aboard this cruise, especially the people who made it such a wonderful journey.
I collected myself as I wandered out of the room again, looking for the rest who were somewhere peddling ghost stories but basically just sharing more moments with each other.
Read all about my Royal Caribbean Experience
0800, 8 Dec 10, Rock Climbing Wall
“Just a little bit more,” I urged myself breathlessly. “Don’t give up Cherie! You can do this!” Rivulets of perspiration were creating watery pathways down my arms even as other droplets were dripping down my face, getting into my eyes. I squinted even as my forearms were trembling under the stress. I felt that my palms were wet. Will I be able to maintain my grip? I shifted my weight to my lower limbs as I sought desperately to relieve the tension borne by my arms. I looked down, and almost immediately regretted my action. It was a long fall to the bottom.
I could not give up this close to the top. Staring up the rock face, I pictured my route up to the top. I was barely four holds away from the top, safety was close.
With a last burst of strength, utilizing my calf and thigh muscles to push me up the rock face whilst using my forearm strength mainly as stabilizers to ensure that I didn’t fall off, I struggled upwards. I gave a triumphant grunt as I reached the top and pumped my right arm victoriously into the air. It was a mistake, I felt myself falling as my left arm lost its hold.
Even as I screamed, fearing that the belaying system will fail to work, I woke up sitting on my bed, decidedly in a situation without peril.
“Arghh, it was just a dream!” I was slightly irritated with myself for being sick when the others were having a glorious time out there climbing the rock wall. I was feeling feverish and had not joined the others after breakfast, choosing instead to head straight for the comfort of my bed covers.
1030, 8 Dec 10, Explorer Academy Waltz Dance Class, Anchors Aweigh Lounge
Soft lilting tones of music played in the background. I was washed in a surreal sense of peacefulness as I gave in to the music and moved gracefully in tandem to Yee Leong. His arm was firm behind me, supporting my weight, and joining my rhythm to his even as my left hand joined with his right in a clasp.
The appearance of grace and sensuality of the Waltz was broken in the next instant when Yee Leong promptly stepped onto my foot and I broke off from his calamitous embrace and sought safety more than an arm’s length away.
“Ouch!” I was almost tearing even as I gripped my poor tiny toes. Yee Leong held back a throaty laugh even as he tried to attend to my poor toes, though I could still see the grin in his eyes. With a smile, I promptly recovered and got back into position.
The OMY group was enjoying a refreshing lesson of Waltz with the instructors at the Explorer Academy. This being the first attempt at classic ballroom dancing for most of us, minor injuries and hiccups interrupted the lesson somewhat, and such hiccups were always trailed by laughter as each of us realized we looked decidedly unglamorous as we suffered in learning the new art form of Waltz.
After the Waltz, we moved on to the more vigorous moves of line dance. Those vigorous moves were much easier to understand and definitely more suited to our talents! Not that I couldn’t move with the music, but my dancing background was definitely more hip hop in nature and took me a short while to get accustomed to other forms.
Picking up a new dance act in the middle of the ocean was a refreshing experience and allowed us to further bond as we mucked and played around, lending our own personality to new moves, created solely by us, on the Royal Caribbean.
1300, 8 Dec 10, Legend of The Seas Arrives in Phuket
We stood on the stern of the ferry and waved goodbye to the magnificent hulk that was the legend of the seas. The ship’s deep draft meant that it could go no further into the bay and we had to squirrel ourselves onto a smaller craft meant to bring us to the golden shores of Phuket. Not that we were engaged in anything illicit, but, it definitely felt a tad less glamorous than our cruise ship.
The OMY group was armed to the teeth with their cameras and many had already started shooting, capturing the ferry and the oncoming shorelines, as well as pictures of each other. Everyone was brimming with excitement, which I could easily tell from the merriment in their voices as they spoke. I myself was not unaffected by their mood. It was going to be a fantastic day.
Before long, we hit the white sandy shores of Phuket, where tourists were already thronging the beach to enjoy the sun, the sand and the sea.
The sight was majestic. I was struck breathless by the view as I stood at the top of Khao Rang Hill overlooking Phuket Town. I gazed at a jigsaw of contemporary buildings amidst the sea of green below, as both modern architecture and nature sprawled all the way from the base of the hill to blue expanse of the ocean far beyond.
1400, 8 Dec 10, Wat Chalong Temple
The sun beat down on us from its perch on the azure blue skies. Clouds were a scant few on this bright and sunny day.
I almost forgot about the heat when I stepped off the coach and was met by the resplendent white and gold façade of Wat Chalong Temple. This imperious structure stood about 3 stories tall. The exterior of the first and second level was rimmed by golden statuettes of Buddha ensconced in windows carved out of the white walls. Higher up, there rooftop balcony gave way to the tip of the pagoda which reached up towards the sky with a pointy gold tip. This structure was further accentuated by an ornate fence, with 4 mini pagodas for its guards on the edges of a square and 4 gateway entries between each mini pagoda.
The other buildings of Wat Chalong were just as impressive. Each building consisted of white washed walls adorned with gold paint, capped by lofty layered red bricked roofs decorated by golden, blue and green filigree and adorned by figurines of gods, demons and beasts from ancient Thai myths. Inside the temple, were even more statuettes of various Buddha carved in gold and white marble.
Wat Chalong was indeed a treasure and true beauty. I left with deep respect for the artisans who carved and created this work of art which is a true testament to Thai culture and architecture.
1500, 8 Dec 10, Sri Burapha Orchid, Cashew Nut Factory
Sri Burapha Orchid is not an orchid in its traditional sense nor is it an orchard. It actually is a name for a factory which prides itself on producing cashew nuts and related products.
The fragrant aroma of cashew hung in the air as we took a tour of the factory and were shown the process of achieving ready-to-eat nuts from the parent fruit.
1600, 8 Dec 10, Metropole
I was in a beautifully adorned room. The lady serving me gave me a warm smile and greeted me in accented English. Her voice was light and lilting, typical of Thais, but her command of simple English was good. She placed a towel and bathrobe and some more private paraphernalia on the bed before retreating outside to give me some privacy.
I shrugged off my red sundress and changed into their items before calling the lady in. With a smile, she set herself to work. She started first on my lower limbs. I closed my eyes and relaxed, letting her do her work.
I felt her hands, small, yet with a firm grip, kneading my muscles, targeting various pressure points that I guess only Thai masseuses like her knew. At times, it was a luxurious experience, at other moments, pressure was applied in ludicrous positions which left me laughing uncontrollably and at other times, I was contorted and bent and cracked as the masseuse utilized her unique prowess at releasing the knots and stresses in my muscles. It was excellent. After the dedicated one hour, I changed back into my dress again and left feeling thoroughly relaxed.
“คุณขอบคุณ” (thank you in Thai)
It was time to go and we piled into the bus, which angled its way back to the ferry along quiet streets under the cover of a grey-tainted sky. It looked as if it might rain tonight.
2200, 8 Dec 10, Poolside
We returned to the Legend of The Seas tired, hungry and wished that dinner was not yet over. Apparently, it was not.
We were notified that a poolside party, anchored by an excellent spread, will be specially put up for everyone! Wow! This was great news. Everyone took some time to refresh themselves from their adventures in Phuket before congregating back at the poolside.
I was heartily laying into a piece of grilled chicken and talking to Calvin when the sky decided to grace our poolside dinner event by sending its compatriot rain drops from the sky. The staff nimbly moved the buffet spread to sheltered corners on the deck even as the party dissolved from the poolside and people clustered in smaller numbers under various shelters.
Interestingly, I found myself face to face to David Dimuzio!
“That’s another lovely dress you have on, Cherie” David quipped before I even said hi. I grinned stupidly at him as half my mind took in the praise (which promptly resulted in a rosy warm feeling on my cheeks) and the other half worked doubly hard to make conversation with the talented David.
“Thanks,” was all I could manage to reply in the interim.
“How was your day?”
To my amazement, I managed to contain my excitement sufficiently for conversation. We took a seat, and I continued devouring my chicken as I shared with David my activities with Calvin for the day.
The night drew long and I found out that David was actually fluent in Tagalog, having spent a few years co-producing music with artistes such as Nyoy Volante in Philippines and that he actually likes sleeping in his car due to the sense of freedom and liberation he achieves from the act.
“Wow, that’s new. Maybe one day, when I have a car, I will give that a try as well!”
We chatted a while longer before I bade him good night and returned to my room with Mui Yee. It was time to rest for another exciting day ahead.
Sleep tight Cherie.
Read all about my Royal Caribbean Experience