Kataragama, Sri Lanka- Temples side-by-side... with critters

A little distance from our port in Hambantota, Sri Lanka, is the pilgrimage town of Kataragama, which is sacred to both Hindus and Buddhists. Two Buddhist and Hindu temples sit side-by-side, separated by a gated wall.

Buddhist temple, with critters

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"Never Give Up"

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The gate separating the two temples

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Hindu temple

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Click here for full-size, no-watermark images at www.ImagesByBill.us

Click here to see all my Around-The-World 2024 images going back to January this year. 

Kataragama, Sri Lanka
05/01/24


Langkawi, Malaysia- Above It All and the Art of Rice

Langkawi is an archipelago off Malaysia's northwest coast. It's known for its beaches and clear waters. The main island is also known as Langkawi.


Good morning.

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The SkyCab cable car runs to the top of Machincang mountain. From the summit, the SkyBridge curves out above the trees.

Entrance

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It started as a bright, sunny day


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Route to the SkyBridge from the summit

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The SkyBridge

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The gondolas we rode to the summit in

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The clouds start to roll in. What began as a bright sunny day, ended up with the mountain completely enshrouded in clouds


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At the summit

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All the padlocks had couple's names on them

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The Art of Rice Growing

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The traditional way of trasplanting and growing rice. Now, all the old ways are replaced with machines and tech.


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Being watched from below


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A demonstration by our excursion guide

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And lastly, one of the local inhabitants jest' a' hangin' out

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Click here to see all my Around-The-World 2024 images going back to January this year. 

Langkawi, Malaysia
04/26/24


Goodbye, Kenya and Tanzania

Farewell, Kenya and Tanzania!

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Zanzibar Sunset


It was an exciting couple of days. Mombasa and Zanzibar were great visits. I was able to satisfy two major Bucket List items!


In Mombasa, we went on a death-defying journey to see wild African animals... elephants, a giraffe, and a tiger... in their natural habitats.
See below:

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In Zanzibar, we went to Freddie Mercury's Birthplace. I hummed Bohemian Rhapsody while standing in reverential awe.

Being proper American tourists, we bought The Teeshirt and a magnet (I had already seen the movie).

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(In a slightly more serious vein, actual images of our excursions are coming in a bit).

Mombasa, Kenya and Zanzibar, Tanzania
05/22-23/24


Singapore- a Bridge, a Temple, a Market, a Late Afternoon, and... a Vending Machine

Views from the island country of the Republic of Singapore. 


Views from a bridge

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Jubilee Bridge is a pedestrian bridge in downtown Singapore spanning the Singapore River, connecting Merlion Park and The Esplanade. The construction of the bridge in 2015 was suggested by then Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew, and was opened ahead of schedule due to his death.

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The top span of the building is built to look like a ship.
 
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A five-star Art Deco Hotel built in 1928
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The Merlion is the official mascot of Singapore. It is depicted as a mythical creature with the head of a lion and the body of a fish.


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Words to live by


Inside a Temple

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Closeup


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Sideview with steps


A Market and "Wall Art"

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Late Afternoon

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And a Vending Machine

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'Never seen anything like this in the US.
IJooz is a Singapore-based company that makes a high-tech machine that vends fresh orange juice. The vending machine is, according to their website, "powered by groundbreaking technology of AIOT and robotics" to create a "smart juicer <that> integrates hardware and software seamlessly with groundbreaking innovation."  
The machine squeezes about three oranges in 45 seconds to dispense 10 oz of juice at 39 degrees F. It can hold up to 500-600 oranges. 

Click here for full-size, no-watermark images at www.ImagesByBill.us

Click here to see all my Around-The-World 2024 images going back to January this year. 

Singapore
04/22/24


Bangkok, Thailand- Temples, Temples, and more Temples

There are over 40,000 temples in Thailand, 33,902 of which are currently in use, and more than 400 wats (temples) in the capital city of Bangkok alone. 

So, without further ado, images from four Bangkok temples up close and two from afar...


First, sailing into Bangkok harbor

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First temple sighting in the mid-foreground


On to the temples...

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The solid gold Buddha, weighing over four tons, is a four-story climb to get to.

 

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The aforementioned gold Buddha

 

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Self-portrait (selfie?)


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Close-up of the bottom of the previous image


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Buddhas in a row


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I liked that I could get the small figurine in the background


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Gold represents enlightenment, and black the transcendence of darkness into enlightenment.


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Closeup of a window sill

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Wall Mural


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I was really pleased to be able to capture the window from the other side of the building in the middle window. It makes the image.

 

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Monks at prayer

 

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I couldn't decide if I liked this image in color or black & white, so...

 

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here are both!

 

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According to Buddhist lore, in the sixth week after his enlightenment, the Buddha was deep in meditation when a storm caused floodwaters to rise. A snake king, or nagaraja, protected him from the rain with its cobra hood and from the floodwaters by wrapping his body in its coils.


Leaving Bangkok

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Final temple view behind the ship


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Click here for full-size, no-watermark images at www.ImagesByBill.us

Click here to see all my Around-The-World 2024 images going back to January this year.

Bangkok, Thailand
04/18-19/24


Cochin, India- An Out-of-Business interlude

Off to the side where we docked in the port of Cochin, India, were two boats on scaffolds and out-of-business... obviously untouched for a while. They are named the Mega Dolphin Iviskos and the Venice Carnival.

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Some history:

Both were manufactured at the Volograd Shipbuilding yard in Russia, the Mega Dolphin in 1995 and the Venice Carnival in 1996. They are Kolhida model Hydrofoils, two of approximately forty that were built and are classified as high-speed vessels with a gross tonnage of 135 tons.  Russian hydrofoils were popular in Russia, Europe, and Canada as ferries and short-tour boats.  Hydrofoil popularity has declined because of the difficulties of building and maintaining them compared to newer generation boats. The only interior views I could find showed rows of comfortable seating in what appeared to be first-class and economy sections.  

Both ships operated under different names:

Mega Dolphin Iviskos was, at one time or another, the
Adriatic Joy
Seaflight IV (Canada)
Seawing I
Katran 2

Venice Carnival was
Seaflight 3 (Canada)
Katran 3

The hydrofoils have had multiple owners. They were bought by the TOP Line tourist agency in Croatia in 1999, which acquired them as a new business line and chartered them out. TOP Line sold them to Atlas, another travel agency based in Split, Croatia, in 2002. Atlas, in turn, sold them to Greek owners in 2009.

The Mega Dolphin is shown as currently registered in the Caribbean island of Dominica and Venice Carnival in the West African country of Togo. I couldn't find any record of their sailing in either place. According to registry records, they spent time in Canada, where all hydrofoils were named Seaflight, and in Greece, according to picture sources.  

The last entries for both are in the mid-2000s and show them on ground stands somewhere other than India. Given their dilapidated appearances, particularly the Venice Carnival, neither has received any attention for quite a while and are sitting abandoned. 

Click here for a full-size image in the Out-of-Business section of www.ImagesByBill.us

Cochin, India
05/04/24


Saigon, Vietnam- A "Touristy" Day

Saigon (Vietnamese: Sài Gòn).... excuse me, HO CHI MINH CITY is an interesting metropolis: the most westernized city in Vietnam, as a result of the "conflict" in the '60s & 70s with heavy US involvement and being the financial center of Vietnam. Evidence of the separation of North and South Vietnam remains in attitude and appearance, including the old South Vietnam flag popping up throughout the city. Many older buildings reflect the French Colonial rule from 1862-1955. Rapid urbanization has placed strains on public infrastructures, creating serious traffic problems, overcrowding, flooding, and threats of sea level rise. 

A tourist trek through the city...

"Independence" Palace

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In the War Bunker under the palace...

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Part of the old telephone system. Wayyyyyyyyyyyyyyy before cellular!

 

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All US equipment.

 

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Bathroom no- no's

 

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How do they know it was precisely 9:10 am?

 

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To the victor goes the spoils.

 

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Office door.


Out and about town...

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The scaffolding in the background is an old church undergoing restoration.

 

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Post Office: built during French colonial days

 

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Post Office interior

 

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One young person inquired of the other young person, "What are those numbered doors for? They only open to small spaces... some old prison cells? "No," the other young person replied, "They have old equipment in them; they must have had a purpose, but who knows."


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Big Important Building

 

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Big Important Building but with a statue in the foreground.

 

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Looking the other way

 

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It looks fake, but it is a real flower.


A hand-made Lacquer shop

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Examples of their work on the walls


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One of our <small> purchases. The picture doesn't show the iridescent of the silver. The detail is impressive.
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Meanwhile, outside, why our rides had a hard time picking us up. This is "light traffic."


Buddhist Monastery

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We were allowed inside.


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Place Of Solemn

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The Buddhist way of life posted outside. Groups of kids were studying them intently.

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The tree Buddha sits under is the Bodhi tree, according to Buddhist tradition, the sacred fig (Ficus religiosa). Here is one.


The largest wholesale market in Saigon

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It was a very busy place... and warm with no A/C.

 

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In the courtyard of the market

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The creature looks like he is going after the fish.

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Saigon, Vietnam
04/15/24


Hue, Vietnam- A Royal Evening

On the warm evening of April 12, Oceania's Around-The-World travelers, about 400 of us, boarded busses at the port of Chan May for a one-plus hour trip to the Royal Citadel in Hue. A night of dining and shows made up the evening before our return shortly before midnight.  Despite a slight glitch in the transportation, it was a great evening.

Here is a sampling of the 50+ images from the night (click the link at the bottom of the post to see them all).

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Local cuisine and a show!

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Click here to view all 50+ images from the night, full-size, no watermark images at www.ImagesByBill.us

Click here to see all the Around-The-World 2024 images. 

Hue, Vietnam
04/12/24









Ha Long Bay, Vietnam- Out and About

Post two of our overnight stay in Ha Long Bay.

Views around the port and our departure

The long walk down the pier to the terminal

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For all the Worldies seeing this!

 

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Every little boat had a flag

 

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#08, #16, #88, & #86


Inside the terminal building

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Souvenir stand in a ship cruise terminal, with only aeroplane souvenirs. Makes sense to me!


Night Views

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Time to go...
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Ships too big to make it into the harbor offload to smaller ships for final delivery


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Click here to see all the Around-The-World 2024 images. 

Ha Long, Vietnam
04/10-11/24


Ha Long, Vietnam- Tuk Tuking

Ha Long is a port city, our closest landing to Hanoi. Many of our fellow travelers ventured off on excursions to Hanoi and its sights. For personal reasons, we opted for a tour of Ha Long.

The city has only existed since 1993, when the government combined the old provincial capital, Hon Gai, with Bai Chay, the main tourist area. The resulting city lies primarily on the Ha Long Bay and is the capital city of the Quang Ninh province. In 2012, its economy shifted from coal mining to tourism, given the popularity of Ha Long Bay. 

Our tour was "up close and personal" as the two of us wandered around in the back of a Tuk Tuk we hired at the port, the popular mode of travel throughout the city.  Disclaimer: a number of the images were captured hanging out the back of our ride while we bounced and jiggled our way down the streets. Some of the images may contain "eccentricities" (personally, I like them because they give a feel for the urban environment).  

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Our ride. The name Tuk Tuk is somewhat obscure. One popular story is that the name comes from the sound of older vehicles' two-cycle engines. The newest ones are electric. India is the largest manufacturer in the world (the one US manufacturer failed when the vehicles never caught on in the States).

 

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The cruise port terminal. We were the only cruise ship, but it was very busy due to local ferries and rides.

 

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A General Impression: despite writeups about the city's growth and prosperity, we saw a lot of halted construction and empty ground floors in the high rises.


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One of the elegant hotels

 

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Not so elegant down the street


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The little plastic pools were full of live fish


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Closeup of the Dragon Legend entrance

 

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Note the small character at the bottom right


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The name is familiar but something about the logo is off

 

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Three views along the river that bisects the city


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A very exclusive resort on its own island

 

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Transporting delivery vehicles from the resort


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7+1 = 8 Supermarket?

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Ha Long, Vietnam
04/10/24




Hong Kong- A Peak, A Beach, and the Final Resting Place of an Icon

Two days in Hong Kong. General impression? A very busy, very urban, very heavily populated "special administrative region" of China trying hard to establish itself as a financial capital, struggling to separate itself from the juggernaut that is the People's Republic of China while simultaneously accepting the new reality of its loss of independence. Pieces of old Chinese culture peek through the big city environment.  

Coming into the harbor on a gray day

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Victoria Peak, aka Mount Austin or, simply, The Peak
552 feet elevation, the highest in Hong Kong

Accessible by cable car

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Alternate way up


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Views from above it all

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"Anyone who commits such offenses as littering, spitting, fouling of streets by dog feces, or unauthorized display of bills or posters in public places in Hong Kong is liable to pay a fixed penalty of HK$1,500."


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Front of a refurbished early- days tram car

 

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Bye bye


Repulse Bay, aka Tsin Shui Wan
The name is obscure. Two stories have it either named after British ships that repulsed pirate attacks, or it may have been named after the HMS Repulse that was stationed in the bay. In any case, it is a very popular tourist attraction.

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Whiskey Tango Foxtrot to the left.


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Be kind to the fishies


Aberdeen Harbor
This historic harbor more closely resembles a watery junkyard. Lots and lots of boats, many with questionable seaworthiness and some occupied, are tied up side by side in long rows. Our tour was on small boats, eight of us to a boat... 

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Amidst the boats is an icon of better days in Hong Kong. The Tai Pak Seafood Restaurant is a three-story floating barge established in 1954 and built to resemble a Chinese palace.  Along with its sister restaurant, the Jumbo, they were premier seafood restaurants that for years served the rich and famous visiting Hong Kong. Guests included Queen Elizabeth II, Jimmy Carter, Tom Cruise, Chow Yun Fat, and Gong Li. The Tai Pak could accommodate 800 guests and was supported by a separate kitchen barge and other craft.  Unfortunately, the 1997 Asian Financial Crisis, followed by the Pandemic, spelled the end of these extravagant vessels. The Jumbo was sold and towed out of the harbor in 2022, only to sink under questionable circumstances. The Tai Pak remains in the harbor and, despite being sold with promises to refurbish, remains abandoned. 

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Much as I wanted to board and explore, we were on an excursion so sail by only.


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Accompanying kitchen barge

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Hong Kong, China
04/07/24


Shanghai, China- 2 of 3- A Gardenwalk and a Riverwalk

Welcome to post 2 of 3 for our two days in Shanghai.

A walk through Wu Garden

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Sidewalk mosaic


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"Yu Ling Long (Exquisite Jade Stone). The most valuable treasure of the Yu Garden and one of the three most famous stones in the south of the Yangtze River. It enjoys a history of about one thousand years. The stone has the beauty of slender shape, mysterious water holes and wrinkles all over. As the ancient saying goes, "If you place an incense burner at the bottom of the stone, you will see smoke rising from each hole.""


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A Huangpu River walk
The river runs through Shanghai, splitting the city into east and west regions. The riverwalk along The Bund area is very popular and crowded.

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Chinese Cherry Blossoms

 

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The bow of a Dinner Cruise Ship

 

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The shape is a classic whale's tail, but the area is too tight to get the correct angle.

 

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Cover over an underground entrance


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Shanghai, China
04/03-04/24


Shanghai, China- 1 of 3- A Museum, and Out & About

This is the first of three postings of our two days in Shanghai... a museum, a gardens, out & about, and night views.

A very busy port

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Shanghai Museum.
First opened in 1952 and rebuilt in its current location in 1996. It is a public museum of "ancient Chinese art" (Wikipedia).

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Ever feel like someone may be watching you?


A wing of wearables

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Tibetan masks


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Room decor

 

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Not exactly sure what the boats had to do with wearables, but they looked good


A wing of Ming Dynasty Furniture. The intricate detail work was exceptional.

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A floor dedicated to Chinese calligraphy through the ages. Very difficult to photograph.

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Window to another room


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Slightly more current works.

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The hood of a car

 

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"This is not the real Mona Lisa." A tee-shirt in the fancy gift shop. I'm not sure what the point is or that the words are in English in China, but it was very popular with the younger generation visiting the museum.


Meanwhile, out and about

Museum Security

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Etc.

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We finally saw Cherry Blossoms.


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Sidewalk art

 

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Don't even think about it


Shanghai Buildings... an interesting blend of old and new

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Shanghai, China
04/03/24


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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Nagasaki, Japan
03/31/24