Hong Kong, China, and we are approaching the end of the journey. But we haven’t reached the end yet. Good. I don’t want it to end.
It took a lot of paper work, and we were photographed as we exited the ship. Otherwise, I felt happily comfortable in China. In fact, I loved it there. More about the people in the next segment, but here still is the travelogue.
If you remember the photos of arrivals at previous ports, you’ll see the difference here — a very active commercial port – and colorful, too.
Our first visit on land was to the funicular that took us to Victoria Peak.
It really is local transport. We stopped at one point on the way up to pick up passengers. That led me to take a photo of the notice of posted stops. (Look up, to the right.)
The final funicular stop was not, however, the end of the trip to Victoria Peak We needed to take the escalator (or maybe I took the elevator — I guess you already know I have an aversion to escalators.)
At the top, we got to wander around for a while. Here’s what Hong Kong looked like to my camera. I’m not sure whether the haze is smog or weather haze.
Reminding us that the world really is small, our gathering spot to move on to the next phase of our journey was outside Starbucks.
There we were also reminded that the Chinese celebrate their new year long (3 weeks) and enthusiastically, as witnessed by the flower display in the square, set up there in celebration of the holiday.
OK, now here’s the question for you. Do you remember the markets from our previous stops? Well, here’s the Stanley market –our next stop. Some difference, huh?
Then we went on to Aberdeen, a section of Hong Kong. More specifically we spent time on a sampan touring the harbor. By the way, notice the British influence in so many of the place names. And take a look at the sampan (well, one like ours) on the header
I cheated a bit and googled some, helping to put some words to what I had seen.It’s a busy harbor — a floating village, really. Mentioned first was the jumbo floating restaurant, looking lie a floating palace of imperial China. One of many restaurants in the harbor, I wish I could take a trip back just to eat at this one.
And here it is as viewed from the sampan.
The 99% (Well, a manner of speaking) are in the fishing industry, and living in the harbor.
Then there are the several dozen expatriates living in their boats on the harbor.
And finally, perhaps the middle class? — a houseboat. If I had a pointer I could show you the TV up against the wall on the deck.
Another exciting, mind-broadening, heart-expanding day in Asia.
There is still more of our journey to come. Remember, you can enlarge any photo by clicking on it.
I’ll be back
Remember, you can enlarge any photo by clicking on it.
It was a beautiful, peaceful, and interesting day, cruising the lovely Halong Bay in a touring junk.
Interesting events. Boat family selling fruit pulled right up to the Junk, the mom clinging to the side, while dad steered the boat, and their young one munched on fruit. I didn’t buy fruit, but I did take a photo, so I handed a dollar to the mom (not visible, to the left of the photo) but it was the child who calmly and with great authority took the bill and tucked it way.
They came back later for another try. This time the mom, riding the edge of the boat, inserted her head and her fruit right into the junk.
So did an older child.
This was a “city” of boat people. See the banner at the top. Even, apparently, they have their own bank.
The most amazing view was of a Unesco World Heritage Site, as marked by this sign.
Inside there somewhere is the Thien Cung Cave – the word awesome, in its original powerful meaning, applied – I mean, really awesome. But I didn’t take a photo of it. With my acrophobia, I knew I’d be clinging to anything I could find that was cling-able, so I left my camera behind. But I have something even better, thanks to my son the photographer who doesn’t suffer acrophobia, or any of those other inconvenient things.
Is that amazing, or what? ….
(Please remember you can enlarge any photo by clicking on it.)
A story of splendor and destruction, we saw the remains of the imperial city, the enclave of the last emperor of Vietnam, whose rule lasted until the mid 1900s. Since 1993 it has been a UNESCO site. Once lavishly beautiful, it was seen by some as the equivalent of China’s Forbidden City. Even before war took its toll, however, it suffered damage through termites and neglect.
Originally during the Vietnam war it was protected by the Americans, but in 1969 bombing destroyed much of it when it seemed a necessary step in the process of the battle. According to reports, it is being at least partially restored with predictions that the improvements will be completed sometime in 2015. Click on this More on the Imperial City for additional information about its history and future.
I failed to get a photo of the Ngo Mon Gate through which the emperor was allowed to enter while all others were required to enter by side exits based on status, with gender one of the distinguishing factors. Click on Ngo Mon Gate and choose the fourth photo on the right at the top to see the gate and entrances.
Some of what’s left is beautiful as befits an emperor.
And much is sadly destroyed and/or neglected. I took the following photo looking through an opening onto what was essentially a collection of rejected items.
Saddest was the remnant of the Imperial library which apparently survived the war in pretty good shape, but was finally deliberately destroyed by the Viet Minh. (Maybe someone in commenting will correct me, but that’s what I understood.)
As we headed back to our bus, I couldn’t help noting and recording the memorial to war casually sitting there on the corner.
Lest I leave you with the impression of destruction, here’s a shot of the opposite corner.
And another scene along the way.
I promised more color this time, so here it is. Nha Trang.
Please remember you can click on the photos to make them larger. It’s especially impressive, I think, when you get to the embroidery.
Already Things look more affluent. The header is a photo — cropped to fit — of one view across the harbor from the ship.
And a busy harbor it is.
Look down to the right at the buses lined up on the pier, ready to take us off to our day’s adventure. Notice the red dots near them – musicians just finishing up after welcoming us.
First visit, the Po Nagar Cham Towers where Buddhists come to pray, leaving their shoes outside, though I didn’t choose that photo. This one is clearer, so just imagine the entry steps at the bottom, littered with shoes. Wikipedia can tell you more. Po Nagar Cham Towers
Interesting and colorful things were going on around it, like this woman weaving.
And Doug being interviewed by a member of the local media. By the way, Doug’s hat blew off during the Tuk Tuk ride in Thailand, so he bought himself a new one in Cambodia. You may also be able to see how he celebrates vacations by letting his beard grow.
Long Son Pagoda was our next stop. I was satisfied with viewing the giant white Buddha from below, while Doug, of course, took full advantage of the opportunity to explore. I chatted with a lovely lady of 89 on tour with her daughter. And I bought two drawings on silk, done by the monks, sold by a lovely young girl who explained that the profits went to supplies for the school. Very inexpensive. I should have bought more. Sometimes I get ridiculously stingy; other times I get ridiculously spendthrift. And so it goes when traveling. (By the way, isn’t “spendthrift” an oxymoron?)
I loved seeing the Buddhas from the time we arrived in Singapore.
But now we moved on to something quite different. An embroidery factory. According to the guide’s report, the women work 10 hour days 7 days a week. Reported very matter-of-factly. One woman gave us a lovely smile as we walked past, but I didn’t act fast enough, so I got a photo of her after she turned her attention back to work.
The final products are beautiful — and expensive. I just looked.
At the end of the day, back aboard the ship after dark, I got a photo of one of the cable car stanchions. Indicative of the advanced economy of Nha Trang, the cable cars run regularly, carrying people back and forth from the mainland to a reportedly top-notch resort hotel on an offshore island.
I’ll be back in a few days with the next stop, Da Nang, Vietnam.
The port was Phu My, Vietnam. The excursion took us to the Cu Chi Tunnels. I recommend that you go to this link to get more detail. Cu Chu Tunnels
Seeing and exploring the tunnels left us shaking our heads. There was no way the war could have been won against this connection of tunnels so small only the Vietnamese, smaller than Americans, could easily crawl through them.
Amazingly there were also underground rooms large enough to serve as hospitals, weapons storage, or eating areas.
If you read the link, you’ll see how miserable it was for the warriors who spent days in the tunnel, emerging at night to tend their own land. You’ll also see how miserable it became for the Americans and our allies, as well as for the decimated land.
Great efforts were taken, of course, to hide the tunnels. For example, here’s a fake termite mound that concealed the opening for air to enter the tunnel.
We tourists were invited to explore a section made somewhat larger so we could go through it. I’m including some photos, taken with my camera, of the experience in the tunnel. I could pretend I took them, but my parents implanted in me much too severe a superego, so I can’t lie. I have to confess that, Doug’s camera being too large to cart along safely, it was my little one that went into the hole with him. I saw no need to duck walk through a tunnel.
Anyway, here’s part of the series that Doug took, starting with the folks in front of him entering the tunnel.
And going deeper.
And the folks behind him emerging.
With the camera back in my hands, I got a very poor quality photo of a guide demonstrating the entrance into the tunnel. Arms up to make himself small enough. Some of the folks in our tour group tried it themselves. (I didn’t.)
And finally, the entrance concealed.
No, not a colorful day. But after the Cu Chi visit we had lunch at a very pleasant restaurant on the shore of the Saigon river. I was fascinated with the quiet beauty of a row of greenery flowing rapidly downstream. That’s what I chose as the header for this presentation. I’m also including the full photo here.
So the excursion ended peacefully, with thoughts lingering of the futility of war.
I promise the next stop I’ll share will be much more colorful.
p.s. I’m quite sure you can increase the size of any photo by clicking on it.
As with every stop, the folks in Cambodia chose to show with pride some of the best they had to offer. In Cambodia the total devastation of their country limited the sites available to show, but the spirit of recovery shone through.
By the way, I believe you can enlarge any of these photos by clicking on them.
Our first stop was at the Intra Ngean Pagoda, nearing the end of a 10-year process of reconstruction. It was basically a series of buildings and statues around a partially enclosed square. Entering the square, we were met by signs of poverty in the begging children who approached us, and signs of entrepreneurship in those selling objects, especially suitable for the Chinese New Year that was being celebrated everywhere during our trip.
I first met Emily who was selling lovely decorations which, I am quite sure, she had made herself — skilled and lovely. I promised I’d come back to her later to purchase some. She was the first of the two future business leaders of Cambodia I met that day.
But first I wandered around seeing the sights – especially the reclining Buddha.
In my explorations I was met by Tia, also selling the lovely hand-made New Year’s decorations. (I’m sorry. I have no photos to show you of the decorations. I realized I bought too few and ended up giving them all away, so I have none of my own to photograph.) Tia, a super salesperson, tied a braided bracelet around my wrist to wish me happiness and good fortune. Of course I bought several from her.
Then I went back to Emily and purchased some, but she wouldn’t let me take her photo, because I’d bought more from Tia than from her. (I really hadn’t realized that under the pressure of purchase.) At any rate, I’m sure I have met two very powerful women of the future in Cambodia.
The next thing they had to show us was the beach with its many chairs and open-front restaurants, obviously waiting for their evening customers. And the folks selling wares. See the banner at the top of this blog presentation.
We also saw a fishing village — pretty quiet on the day we were there because it was the New Year’s holiday. I did get a shot of the village street.
And the resting (and very expensive) fishing boats.
As in everyplace we visited, we saw the markets. Here in Cambodia it was a crowded market carrying all kinds of wares, including TVs, fresh food, and even a hairdresser cutting a customers hair.
What a courageous and delightful group we met. How I want to return in 10 years to see what they have accomplished.