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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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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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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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