ItÂís a treat to experience three exotic cultures with such diverse religions presented in a cacophony of geographic and demographic settings. Big words are needed to describe the breadth of an experience that covers sophisticated cities, through to remote beaches, coral cays and thousands of islands. By starting in the reborn, exciting and sophisticated Singapore, the scene is set to head north across balmy seas and enjoy the very best the Gulf of Siam can bring you. The cuisine for this voyage will appropriately reflect the cultures that inspire it.
Day 1: Singapore
The British East India Company established a strategic trading post on the island of Singapore in 1819, which was to become an important post along the Spice Route. Although a thriving and modern metropolis, remnants of these early colonial days can be enjoyed in many traditional pursuits such as a rickshaw ride and Singapore Sling at the famous Raffles Hotel. A compact and efficient city, Singapore offers easy access from most international airports.
Day 2: Tioman Island, Malaysia
Lying only 30 odd nautical miles off Malaysia's east coast, Tioman Island (or Pulau Tioman) has everything one would expect from a tropical island paradise; mile after mile of coconut palm-lined white sand beaches, crystal clear water teeming with marine life, friendly villages and smiling people. Part of the island is covered in thick forest and is home to much wildlife. There are several protected species of mammal on the island, including the Binturong, Long-Tailed Macaque, Slow Loris, Black Giant Squirrel, Red Giant Flying Squirrel, Mouse Deer, Brush Tailed Porcupine and the Common Palm Civet, from a total of 45 species of mammals and 138 species of birds. Moreover, Tioman has species that are endemic to its shores, such as the soft-shelled turtle and the Tioman walking catfish. Explore the island of Tioman with your expedition team. Several walks are available into the interior of the island, or simply sit back and enjoy the beautiful beach. The expedition team will run snorkel tours and your sea kayak fleet will be available (weather/conditions permitting). Depending on conditions, there are several landing sites to choose from today.
Day 3: Kuala Terrangganu, Malaysia
At the mouth of the Terengganu River, this city of 350,000, is surrounded by the South China Sea on three sides. Despite its size, the pace of life here seems unhurried. Your planned landing site is right in the middle of the city, beside the famous market and a short walk from the historic buildings of China Town. You will easily be able to access this hustling market city throughout the day. The Waterfront of Kuala Terengganu is a must see and you will be in awe of and fascinated by the hustle and bustle of activities taking place there. Stroll down the waterfront and watch fishmongers haggling for the price of fish and other seafood. The local market is another must see, locally known as Pasar Payang and located by the Terengganu River, it is one of the most popular tourist spots in Kuala Terengganu. Housed in a modern building complete with a shopping arcade, it offers visitors a variety of traditional handicrafts such as batik, silk, songket, brocade and brassware, along with other fresh produce such as fruits, vegetables and 'Keropok Lekor,' which is a special local delicacy made from a mixture of fish and sago. Visitors to this market will have a delightful experience shopping in local fares at reasonable prices.
Day 4: At Sea
Enjoy the time at sea to take advantage of onboard amenities, including a gym, Jacuzzi, library, sun deck and scenic views.
Day 5: Ko Samui, Thailand
Surrounded by sixty other islands in the Gulf of Thailand, Ko Samui is Thailand's third largest island. Appearing on maps since the time of the Ming Dynasty, the island was probably first settled by Malay fisherman and people from Southern China. Historically Ko Samui and its people survived in a subsistence style, but that has steadily changed since the 1980s as tourism took over as the predominate industry on the island. Despite the dominance of tourism, Ko Samui has not lost its charm. There are still undeveloped quiet beaches (as well as the more well-known busier ones), the people are friendly and the villages welcoming. You will Zodiac ashore and land on the less-populated side of Ko Samui. From here you can explore the beaches, take a swim, snorkel or wander through the beach side village with its small restaurants and cafes. Take the inclusive shuttle to Chaweng Beach, the main tourist strip on the other side of the island for shopping if that takes your fancy.
Day 6: Ang Thong Marine Park, Thailand
Ang Thong National Marine Park is made up of 42 islands featuring limestone massifs, tropical rainforests and deserted beaches. This fascinating group of islands, within sight of Ko Samui to the north and west, is geographically different from the other islands in the region. The Ang Thong islands rise from the sea as dramatic walls of rock soar hundreds of meters high. Besides the many small coves and beautiful beaches, erosion has shaped some interesting formations. Orion II will anchor just outside the Marine Park and your Zodiac fleet will allow you to explore the reefs and islands for the day. There are walks to be had in the Marine Park and ample opportunities for snorkeling.
Day 7: Ko Kut, Thailand
Ko Kut, while officially part of Thailand, sits right on the maritime border with Cambodia. What draws visitors and many locals to this island is its completely pristine nature, both inland and underwater. The rugged hills inland are home to several waterfalls and fast flowing streams while the coast has the white sand beaches and surrounding reef life one would expect of such a pristine island. The original inhabitants were Thais and Cambodians who fled to the Thai territory when the French took over the city of Padjantakiri in 1904. Many of the local residents still make a living out of planting rubber trees, coconut trees and from basic fisheries, just as they always have. Zodiacs will take you on an exploration into the interior of Ko Kut following a meandering mangrove river all the way to a small waterfall. Some walking is required to get to the base of the falls over potentially slippery ground. After returning from the falls, the ship will relocate to a small offshore coral island, just off the coast of Ko Kut, where a beach BBQ is planned. Snorkeling and swimming over the fringing reef is possible here. Your expedition team will conduct snorkeling tours here this afternoon (weather/conditions permitting).
Day 8: Bangkok
Bangkok was a small trading post at the mouth of the Chao Phraya River during the Ayutthaya Kingdom and it now the capital of Thailand. Since its inception, it was at the center of European colonial plains. It acted as a buffer-zone and brokered power between European forces. Through this it gained notoriety in the world as an independent, dynamic, and influential city. Bangkok boasts some of the country's most-visited historical venues, such as the Grand Palace, Wat Pho, and Wat Arun. The Orion II will be berthed in the city center.