Nagasaki, Japan- Flowers, a Walk in the Park and a Musical Sendoff

Nagasaki was our last port in Japan. While probably best known in the world as the second city the US detonated an atomic weapon over to conclude World War II, it is also a beautiful coastal city. Our day walking around after a mandatory face-to-face meeting with port officials was cut short by rain. 

First, in keeping with the Japanese and their love of pretty flowers, several images reimagined as paintings in various styles...

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These are the six I liked the best. Click here to see all the reimaginings. 

Now, on the way to the urban park.

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Music moving upward? Dum... ditty ditty ditty... dum


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Green frog!


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A lady and her dog


Nagasaki Seaside Park

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Entrance and "Pier C"

 

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Part of the Canal Promenade

 

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Ruins of the Nagasaki Customs Pier 4, redone as a water feature

 

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Three views from the walking bridge follow

 

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The park side of the bridge


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Looking back at the port and the approaching rain

 

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The Corridor of Memory

 

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Trees blooming along the Promenade


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Street Signs

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Nary a clue.

 

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NO

 

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No No No No No No No

 

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Absolutely no


Music to leave port by....

A high school band, with the addition of electric bass guitars and a drummer (who started all the songs). They were really quite good and VERY enthusiastic. Playing from the dock as we left.

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The source images for the flower paintings are here as well. 

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Nagasaki, Japan
03/31/24


Busan, South Korea- To a Terminal and beyond

Busan was our only port in South Korea, and it came between ports in Japan. A bus ride to downtown and back was our journey for the day.

Views from the port

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Two Small, Two Big


On the bus

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???????????


Busan Train Terminal

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The Train Station is the southern end for two of the most important railways in South Korea. It is also a station for another train line and a number of busses. Very new, very modern, very crowded.

 

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View of town from the 3rd level (of 5)

 

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Shops and eateries surround main Terminal. The train arrivals are underground.

 

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View from a designated scenic overlook at the back of the terminal. Our ride is on the left.


City Walk

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Downtown, including Chinatown

 

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Reimagined as a watercolor painting.


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Wilson makes an obligatory appearance.

 

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Odd entrance to Chinatown. Despite the Texas  appearance. none of the stores had a Western theme

 

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Continuing the Western theme


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One final Western-themed image

 

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I do not even want to know what Club Havana is about

 

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Finally, a Chinese entrance to Chinatown, three blocks down


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The big picture is made up of small images of plates of food, all apparently different.


Evening Departure

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Reimagined as a Carver pen and ink drawing


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Busan, South Korea
03/30/24


Hiroshima, Japan- Peace Memorial

Entering Hiroshima port harbor

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Early on the morning of August 6, 1945, as part of an ongoing effort to shorten the war with Japan and as an alternative to invasion, the United States detonated an atomic bomb approximately 2,000 feet over downtown Hiroshima. Fires and destruction covered a 4+ mile square mile area, and approximately 140,000 people, mostly civilians, died as a direct result, with additional casualties from radiation and other effects. Following a subsequent bombing of Nagasaki, the Japanese surrendered on August 15. 

The people of Hiroshima, to their credit, did not remove all the evidence of the bombing. Instead, they created the Peace Memorial Park as an effort to educate and prevent the future use of such horrific weapons. 

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The A-Bomb Dome is the skeletal ruins of the former Hiroshima Prefectural Industrial Promotion Hall. It is the building closest to the hypocenter of the nuclear bomb that remained at least partially standing. it was left standing as a memorial to the casualties


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The Aioi Bridge in the background was the primary target, but it remained standing after the detonation.

 

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Small local tributes continue to appear.


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Memorial Tower to the Mobilized Students. Young teenagers were used to help protect Hiroshima from attack, including razing buildings, building firebreaks, and supporting workers. Over 6,900 students were killed in the bombing.


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“This monument stands in memory of all children who died as a result of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima. The monument was originally inspired by the death of Sadako Sasaki, who was exposed to radiation from the atomic bomb at the age of two. Ten years later Sadako developed leukemia that ultimately ended her life. Sadako’s untimely death compelled her classmates to begin a call for the construction of a monument for all children who died due to the atomic bomb. Built with contributions from more than 3,200 schools in Japan and donors in nine countries, the Children’s Peace Monument was unveiled on May 5, 1958. At the top of the nine-meter monument, a bronze statue of a young girl lifts a golden crane entrusted with dreams for a peaceful future. Figures of a boy and a girl are located on the sides of the monument. The inscription on the stone block under the monument reads: “This is our cry. This is our prayer, For building peace in this world.” On the surface of the bell hung inside the monument, the phrases “A Thousand Paper Cranes” and “Peace on the Earth and in the Heavens” are carved in the handwriting of Dr. Hideki Yukawa, Nobel Prize Laureate in Physics. The bell and golden crane suspended in the monument are replicas produced in 2003.”


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The Atomic Bomb Memorial Mound is a large, grass-covered knoll that contains the cremated ashes of 70,000 unidentified victims of the bomb.


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Sidenote: Out of respect, I did not photograph inside the large Peace Memorial museum. Once past the crowds and touristy side, the images can be very explicit and heart-breaking. Worth the time and anguish.  

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Hiroshima, Japan
03/29/24


Kyoto (Kobe), Japan- An Urban Walkabout

Kobe is another beautiful Japanese city. As with the other cities we visited in Japan, Kobe is immaculate: clean, and no trash anywhere. Our tour today was self-guided, riding the Green Line tourist bus to different areas, including the local Chinatown.

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Sake display in the port building. Kobe is known for its sake as well as the Famous Kobe Beef.


A park adjacent to the port

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Wilson puts in an appearance. Sidenote: we came up to the display from the side and did not realize that across the walk, there was a longish line waiting to take a picture. The Japanese were so polite that no one said anything when we barged in the way and smiled at Wilson.


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The Japanese love their towers. This one was undergoing refurbishment and will not be open until later this year.

 

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I think the metal plaque is a well-worn diagram of the park.

 

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A roof


Signs of the City

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Street marker


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Spiderman puts in an appearance

 

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Fufu everywhere


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Etc.

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Green Line stop marker. Times were, at best, a suggestion!

 

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A seldom-seen site in the US: a large cigarette machine


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Chinatown was a busy place.

 

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An ice cream cone served on a pole.

 

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Not all shops were thriving.

 

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Even the covers in the street were colorful,

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Kobe, Japan
03/27-28/24


Tokyo, Japan- a Shrine, a Tower, and an evening departure

Tokyo has always had a soft spot in my heart because it is my birthplace. My early memories, however, may be suspect because I celebrated my first birthday on a ship back to the US. For those of you who say, "Whaaaaa...?," my father was in the Army, working under General MacArthur after the end of WWII, assigned to assist in rebuilding the Japanese whaling endeavors. His duty station ended shortly before I reached the ripe old age of one. There is a family urban legend about why I was born in Tokyo General Hospital instead of the military hospital, but that is best left for another day. 

Anyway,
Tokyo is a beautiful, big city. Tokyo is also a very crowded city.

Meiji Jingu

Meiji Jingu is a Shinto shrine in Shibuya, Tokyo, dedicated to Emperor Meiji and his wife, Empress Shōken. Mutsuhito, posthumously honored as Emperor Meiji reigned from 1867 to his death in 1912. He was responsible for rapid changes in Japan, transforming it from an isolationist, feudal state to an industrialized world power. 

Ahh, the peaceful surroundings and serenity of a shrine...

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Not so much, 

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The crowd envelops a traditional wedding


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Tokyo Tower

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We are going up where?

 

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A temple surrounded by graves


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Tokyo Tower was once the highest structure in the city. Then, another tower was built higher, and then this building was built even higher. Tokyo Tower is in third place and is now just a tourist attraction.

 

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Soccer from afar

 

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Shrine honoring the Tower


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A long way down


An evening departure from Tokyo.

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Tokyo, Japan
03/24-25/24


Kagoshima, Japan #2- Walkbout

Wandering around Kagoshima...

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A nice park by the port while we waited for the shuttle into town.

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The calming blue sea. Take a deep calming breath and slowly let it out, releasing all your tensions with it. Or just look at the picture.


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Another calming deep breath...


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Lots of little signs all around the park
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Downtown

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The Japanese love their vending. We saw lots of banks of vending machines, but seldom a single standalone.

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Outdoors

 

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Indoors

 

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A marker about something. No clue what.


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A VERY popular chain in Japan. They are everywhere. There is a rumor about the Best Egg Salad sandwiches in the country.


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Mount Sakurajima, which dominates the skyline, was "blowing off a little steam" the day we were there. It is an active volcano, and some say it may have a major eruption in the next twenty or so years.

Three views at different times of the day...

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The Best. Notice the birds.

 

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Volcano and Moon.


Sidenote: This was the second volcano we saw blowing off steam on this trip. The other was in Costa Rica. 

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Kagoshima, Japan
03/22/24


Kagoshima, Japan- One with the fishies

The Kagoshima Aquarium was opened in 1997 and features primarily marine life native to the Kagoshima Bay. It's five floors and outdoor show area host up to 10 million visitors annually. 

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We turned left

First, as a warmup, flowers outside the entrance reimaged as paintings by Van Gogh

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On to the residents...

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Dolphin in a pool

 

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Wilson: Close Encounter with a Dolphin, aka Wilson Gets His Just Reward


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Awwwwww...

 

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Awwwww.... #2

 

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The thing nightmares are made of...


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Happy Fish?

 

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Lobstah!


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<Ominous music> "It arose from the sands at the bottom of the ocean..."


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Hey, you lookin' at me?


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The little guy on the right looks shocked at what is before him.

Jellyfish Corridor (opened in 2017)

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Self-portrait


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Dolphin Show from afar

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Kagoshima, Japan
03/22/24


Taipei (Keelung), Taiwan from afar

A small but persistent back issue kept me on board during our day in Taiwan. So images of the Keelung port from the shipside:

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Taiwan Navy?

 

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The point of this picture was not the big building but to capture the figure up on the hill far in the background.

 

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More Navy


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Sitting by himself on the dock a good distance from the water.


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Taipei (Keelung), Taiwan
03/20/24


Ilocos (Salomague), Philippines- Vigan and back

Salamague Port, in the Philippines province of Ilocos, is a newly enlarged port and the jumping-off point for a trip to the Spanish colonial town of Vigan, often referred to by the locals as Vigan City.

Welcome to Salomague Port

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Off to the side, Security was present.


While Salomague Port can accommodate large cruise ships, it is still very much a fishing port.

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Honoring the crews expanding the port


Opting not to take a big bus excursion to Vigan City, we engaged the services of a private cab. Our young driver made up for his weak English language skills with enthusiasm over the trip. As the trip progressed, we found out his wife is a math teacher at the local High School, planning to pursue her Ph.D. in the near future (one of the reasons he was driving a cab). 

On the way to Vigan

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Wilson posing for our driver


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Vigan is "the most intact example in Asia of a planned Spanish colonial town, established in the 16th century." A rich blend of Chinese, Ilocano, and Filipino influences enhances the city.


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As an active rebuilding project was underway, many structures in and around the city were surrounded by scaffolding.


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Fountains in the center of the old town


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Gift of God

 

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House that Fried Chicken built (as if a drunken chicken could build something)


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Shopping


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"What beautiful artifact tops the building undergoing renovation," you ask.

 

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Hmmmmm...


Wending our way back to the port

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Typical small business with transportation available.

 

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'I'm not entirely sure why this old plane sits beside a provincial government building, but it has been there for a while. The trees have grown up around it.


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St. William the Hermit Church in the municipality of Magsingal


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This Reminiscence of World War II was in front of the building next to the church.

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"The killing of a Japanese soldier fixing the telephone lines northwest of the Catholic Church from the bullet of a Filipino soldier of Magsingal Constante Acebedo whose body could not be retrieved not until the 3rd day triggered the ire of the Japanese to jail the Military Officers & Townspeople in this building, formerly the South Central School Building, where they were tortured, suffered the watereure <sp?> & threatened to death. An appeal made by a townmate, Adela Tolentino, to the Japanese Provincial Commander, saved the people from being massacred & the town from being burned."

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Ilocos Province, Philippines
03/18/24


Manila, Philippines- Out and About... Hotel, Church, and... Eggs

Wandering around Manila. An excursion to the Manila Hotel and San Agustin Stone Church, with images as we go.

On the way

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Filipino Marines. Dress uniforms look familiar?


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Amongst its storied history, this was General MacArthur's WWII headquarters and one of our family "urban legends" is my mother had dinner with him here!

 

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Eggs!


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The Champagne Room. The tree is made out of repurposed Coca-Cola cans


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Yes, you sticklers, they are off-center, but I still like the image

 

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The Boss in The Boss Chair with her bag of hand-crafted chocolates... and Wilson


Manila has an "interesting" power grid.

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Hate to have to diagnose a break here.


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Urban Scenics

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Urban Transport

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KFC and Korea... in the Philippines

 

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Look closely. There is a US Air Force logo behind the rear tire

 

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Horse-drawn bus when reverse is used

 

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Mother Earth

 

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I do not believe this responds to calls anymore.

 

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There are more of these small transports on the streets than you can count



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A very popular visiting spot


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I realized they were not carved into the fountain when one blinked at me


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Beautiful end to the visit


Etc.

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A final nod to my mother and the family stories


This is the third of three posts of our day in Manila.
A great and, at times, touching visit.

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Manila, Philippines
03/17/24

 


Manila, Philippines- Fort Santiago and a Request

Fort Santiago is a historical landmark in the walled city section of Manila. Initially built by the Spanish in 1571, it has been occupied by the Spanish, the British, the United States, and, during WW2, the Japanese. American and Filipino forces heavily damaged it during the Battle of Manila in early 1945. The Fort also served as a prison throughout its history, and one of its notable detainees was Jose Rizal before his execution. In 1950, Fort Santiago was declared a "Shrine of Freedom" and is now home to open-air theatres, displays, and legacies of its history.  The Fort is a popular tourist stop and an area for picnics and promenades. 


A Request

The Japanese Imperial Army captured and occupied Fort Santiago during World War II. They used its dungeons and other buildings as a Prisoner of War camp for American and Filipino soldiers. Stories of suffocation, starvation, and other atrocities on the prisoners are well documented.  

Off to the side of the primary dungeon is a circular dirt area featuring a simple white cross. Many people visiting ignored it or gave it a passing glance.

In 1945, following the liberation of Manila during the Second World War, the US Army discovered 600 decomposing corpses inside the Fort Santiago dungeons. The conditions were so cramped that all prisoners died from suffocation and heat exhaustion. The bodies were subsequently buried en masse at this site and marked by a white marble cross.

Before you move on to the other pictures, please stop and consider the cross for what it represents. It struck me very close to home because both my parents were in the Philippines Theater during World War II. Many bodies were American soldiers who died under terrible conditions, serving their country and fighting for what we hold dear. They deserve more than a passing glance or a walk-by. Thank you.

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A walk around Fort Santiago

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Looking back across the Plaza de Armas,
parade grounds, to the man entrance.

 

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The old central fort was surrounded by a moat that was filled in when the US occupied the fort.


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Main entrance to Baluartillo de San Francisco Javier, the inner fort.

 

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Remnants of the two Spanish soldiers guarding the entrance.


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Ruins of barracks that became prison cells and is now an open-air theatre


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The gunpowder storage rooms, which were made into part of the dungeons, are now a Building Display sponsored by Lego.


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Dangerous steps leading down to the gunpowder storage/ dungeons

 

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Wilson.... and Ruth... helping guard the waterway.

 

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These two images are from the ramparts. More photos in a later post looking out over the water and the city.


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Young men were marching and "firing" a cannon on the Plaza de Armas.

This is the second of three posts on our day in Manila.

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Manila, Philippines
03/17/24


Manila, Philippines- Death of a Hero

Doctor Jose Rizal (Jose Protasio Rizal Mercado y Alonso Realonda) was a brilliant man. Born in the Philippines in 1861, he was by profession an ophthalmologist, picking his career choice when he learned his mother was going blind. He was a prolific writer, authoring books, poems, letters, essays, and vital political commentary.  He became a key writer for the fledgling Filipino Propaganda Movement, which advocated political reforms for the then-Filipino colony under the rule of Spain. Many of his writings advocated improved literacy and social reform. Despite not being actively involved in the planning or conduct of the Philippine Revolution, he was declared an Enemy of the State because he published a novel advocating independence and reform while exposing the evils of Spanish rule. During his exile to the remote city of Dapitan, he built a school, a hospital, and a water supply system. 

In 1896, the rebellion became a full-blown revolution. Dr. Rizal volunteered his services as a doctor in Cuba and was given leave by the governor to serve in Cuba to aid in the fight against Yellow Fever. In Barcelona, he was arrested en route and transported back to Manila the same day to stand trial.  While imprisoned in Fort Santiago, he issued a manifesto disavowing the current revolution in its present state and declaring that the education of Filipinos and their achievement of a national identity were prerequisites to freedom.

Dr. Rizal was tried before a court-martial and convicted of rebellion, sedition, and conspiracy. His key supporters had been forced out of office or relegated to minor positions. He was executed on December 30, 1896, by a squad of Filipino soldiers of the Spanish army. A backup force of regular Spanish troops stood ready to shoot the executioners if they failed to obey orders. Dr. Rizal was subsequently buried in an unmarked grave, later discovered by his family, to avoid martyrdom.  

Jose Rizal is considered one of the greatest heroes of the Philippines. While not an active participant in the revolution, it was inspired by his writings and ultimately resulted in Philippine independence.

Edward Bulwer-Lytton's adage, quoted in two of Jose Rizal's books, is true: The pen is mightier than the Sword.

(credit to Wikipedia for most of the source information)

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Jose Rizal is believed to have written this farewell poem days before his death and hid it in an alcohol stove. Filipino schoolchildren memorize portions of it. Our Tour Guide spoke the opening paragraph to us with his back turned to the words, and the emotion in his voice was evident.


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Death of a Hero

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This is the first of three postings of our day in Manila. Come back and see us!

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Manila, Philippines
03/17/24


Muara, Brunei- Mosque Walkaround

Brunei is a tiny nation on the island of Borneo. It became independent in 1984 when it ceased being a British Protectorate. Brunei is one of the few remaining absolute monarchies and is known for its oil and gas reserves. Because of its oil wealth, it is the second most prosperous country in Southeast Asia, second after Singapore, and fifth in the world.

Islam is the state religion of the country.  Male and female homosexuality is illegal in Brunei. Sexual relations between men are punishable by death or whipping; sex between women is punishable by caning or imprisonment. The treatment of women is concerning, with the US State Department expressing that discrimination against women is a problem. The sale and public consumption of alcohol is forbidden. 

Concern has been expressed that the oil reserves the country depends on will only last twenty-thirty years. In the meantime, the country's wealth is evident when you visit. For example, the Sultan's palace in Muara is the largest in the world. 

Muara is a port town and the country's primary deep-water port. Our visit corresponded with the second day of Ramadan. Most stores were closed, and the few open restaurants were carry-out only because of Ramadan fasting. Side note: one couple on our ship went to the local KFC in Muara, bought a bucket of chicken, and ate it on the shuttle bus. 

On the road to Muara

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Walking around the Mosque in downtown Muara

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Replica of a 16th century barge named "Mahligai," used as a podium for recitations


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View of the entrance to a <mostly closed> mall

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03/14/24


Surabaya, Indonesia- Technique Test and Night Moves

Surabaya is a port city on the Indonesian island of Java. The port was perhaps the busiest we have been to, with a large container presence and many ships waiting in the harbor. We had no scheduled excursion outside the city, so we took a shuttle bus to The Mall and back.

Commentary and an Explanation of Technique
(skip if you want, but it explains the images)
The Mall we visited was HUGE: five levels, plus a sub-level, and branched off in several directions, some branches connecting to hotels. Security was tight, with armed guards and scanners at every entrance. The Mall had almost every American store you could imagine and was immaculate, shiny and clean. It typified an over-the-top American Mall back when they were in their heydays. The entire Mall underplayed the Indonesian presence, up to and including most of the signage being in English. A token nod was given to Ramadan, and a few stores were Indonesian, but they were sanitized to American standards.  I couldn't help but compare the appearance of the Mall to the idealized images of Barbieland in last year's blockbuster. The pricing was up to American levels as well. 

The Mall starkly contrasted with what we saw on the shuttle ride. Tourist agencies and promotional writers notwithstanding, Surabaya is not a pretty city. Looking behind the occasional pretty building and monuments is the gritty reality of a third-world urban environment where people struggle daily to get by. It is difficult to offset the harsh visions.

The images in the first section below were taken through a bus window with my small Amkov camera. I wanted to push the contrast between the glamorous Mall and what surrounded it, so I emphasized the limitations of the small camera. Images are over-sharpened, out of focus and grainy... combining to try to represent an interpretation of what I saw.

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Departing the busy port at sunset

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A crowd watched us depart


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Surabaya, Indonesia
03/11/24


Bali (Benoa), Indonesia- 3 of 3- Benoa Port

The Benoa Port is a large complex that opened in 1924.  It continues to grow and is an important port for both freight and international cruise ships.

Warning: PhotoGeek details: most of the images in this post were processed in High Dynamic Range, aka HDR, (-1/0/+1) from RAW files and polished in Radiant to enhance the color gamut and pop the details. 

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Two big statues on the main port road

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Appropriately named the Four Heads Statue

 

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Elaborate lamp posts lined the road


View from Deck 11, the top deck of our ship. Bad weather was rapidly approaching our first evening in port and the Captain advised that we would be leaving port earlier than scheduled the following afternoon due to ongoing bad weather.

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The main entrance to the port


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Time to go in!


A short walkabout in the port area the next morning due to our early departure.

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Bali Hai, despite the appearance of their building, is a local success story. What started as a dinner cruise ship developed into a large company building their own resorts and operating a fleet of local ships between them. The building was their first boarding terminal which is now seldom used.


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This is the closest I could get to an interesting opportunity. I was approached by a uniformed gentleman carrying a large weapon. He politely advised me that I should go no further despite the open gate. I acquiesced to his advice.


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A small offering left from the previous day's religious holiday.


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Benoa, Indonesia- 3 of 3
03/09-10/24