Friday, March 18, 2011

Sailing into Manila Bay

Good morning from Manila!

It’s been a long time since I’ve written this phrase -- and I’ve had a whole lot of adventures since then – but, yes, I’m still on the luxurious Silver Spirit and we’ve just sailed into beautiful Manila Bay and are now anchored in Manila Harbor just behind the Manila Hotel.


I just woke up. I was still in bed after a rather late night of merrymaking, when some really lively music roused me from sleep. I thought at first that I’d been dreaming all this; but when I looked out my balcony, there were marching bands and two sets of dancers conjuring up a musical storm right on the pier to welcome us as we sailed in.

It’s been one fantastic voyage. I’ve been hooked on Silversea ever since my first voyage with them about eight or ten years ago; and it’s been over three years since my last cruise with them, not for lack of desire but because the last three years have just been incredibly busy. But this cruise with them this week, on board their newest boat, the Silver Spirit, just reconfirmed why I like them so much. It was an incredibly relaxing voyage that gave me lots of time to think about how my life is going so far, what I want to do with it from hereon, and about The Big Picture of my life. We’re all so busy with the everyday and I myself never do it enough; but I think everyone should get a chance to get away from the everyday and from everyone, and just have some thinking time.


Fortunately, I brought the perfect book for the voyage. It’s called The Greatness Guide: 101 Lessons for Making What’s Good at Work and in Life Even Better, by Robin Sharma. It sounds like a soapy book, I know, but it was really good for this trip. Ironically, I’d borrowed it very hurriedly from the library of the Tokyo American Club last Friday, March 11, just after lunch and just before getting on the bus for Narita Airport. 30 minutes later there was the massive Tokyo earthquake where I almost died, followed by 10 hours of isolation on a freezing bus. This book and, yes, almost 8 hours of continuous BBMs from J when all communication lines were cut off (he’s been teasing me these days that he saved my life – life’s too short, so I just let him think so) got me through the ordeal.

I usually don’t read self-help books, but this was quite interesting and all the chapters are short and easy to understand. Frankly, it’s nothing we all don’t already know, about how to live a good life and maximize your skills and abilities. But I’ll bet very few of us really think about this deeply because we’re all so engrossed with the everyday. So every so often, we just need a reminder to point us in the right direction.

So this was my book for my journey on Silversea. It was very nice and appropriate for nighttime reading – a chapter before going to sleep – and for reading out in the privacy of my suite balcony, with the sea breeze wafting gently and a pot of tea on the verandah table. It was a really enjoyable “Me” time.


Yesterday, on the way to Manila, we passed Amanpulo in the distance. So I sent an email off to my friend B who is now there spending the weekend. She’d so wanted to come along with me on this trip but unfortunately, logistics proved impossible. She had to be in Amanpulo by Friday for a trip she couldn’t cancel, and the cruise only arrived in Manila today. We’d tried all sorts of possibilities including having her get off midway at Sandakan and flying from there to Clark or Manila via Kota Kinabalu. But whatever way we’d thought of, there was no way she could make it to Manila by Friday morning to take the plane to Amanpulo in time.

But yesterday, it was Friday morning and there we were on the Silver Spirit, literally passing Amanpulo. How ironic! I thought. If only we’d had more time to plan, we might have arranged for the ship to stop for a few minutes and get the Aman boat to come out and pick her up from the ship and she’d be in Amanpulo from the Silver Spirit in five minutes! She could’ve made both the voyage on Silver Spirit and her Amanpulo holiday after all. And wouldn't she have arrived in Amanpulo in style!

I only extended the invitation to two people for this cruise because I was really picky about who I would spend a week with at sea. The other person couldn’t make it, which was really too bad as that would have been fun. Meanwhile B was simply beside herself about not being able to make her two plans merge seamlessly; and I was really sorry about that, too, because we would have had a fantastic time together on board. A last hurrah before she moves to New York.

But, in the end, it was really good to have this Me Time. I had enough friends on board so I was never ever wanting for company; but at the same time, I had enough time to myself to do anything I wanted whenever I wanted.


So it’s official. I’m a cruise junkie again. And I’m so glad I have several more cruises lined up with Silversea before the year ends. The next one is only a few months away, and it’s also on this very ship. I’m not even off the ship yet and already I can’t wait.

PS: Silversea has invited regular cruisers in Manila to a lunch onboard the ship today. If you’re one of those going onboard the Silver Spirit today at Manila Harbor, we’ll see you at lunch...

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