Hi All, (Written Mar. 11, 2017)

As you can tell from the title I’m going to have to use 2 posts to cover our visit to Singapore.  For the two of us the city has moved to the top of our favorite list. Susy has put it right up with Sidney, myself a close second.  Just so you know, I took over 400 photos in two days, so both posts will be long, so read them when you have plenty of time.

Singapore has become the crossroads of the world. It first was a part of the Malayan/Indonesia (Javanese) empire. In 1824. It was deeded to the Indian Trading Company, becoming a major Asian trading post.  In 1867 it was placed under the control of the British Crown, where it stayed until 1942 when it fell to the Japanese.  It was restored to British rule after WWII.  It begin self rule in 1959 leading to it’s current state as an independent republic on Aug. 9, 1965.

Susy did a fantastic job of programing our two day stay.  Today, the first day, we started with a 24 hour ticket on the Hop on, Hop off buses, which took us on a tour of the entire city.  When we had covered the city by bus, she had us dropped off in China Town, noted to be one of the best in the world.  So, I will attempt to show you our first day with a few photos (sorry I can’t show you more).  The port panoramic view:

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Starting the tour on the Hop, on Hop off bus:

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It’s a city of hotels, first an old one:

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then a new one I’ll show you more of tomorrow:

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Skyscrapers everywhere (mostly business and financial centers):

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A few different types of buildings:

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A Modern Gallery:

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One of the most interesting things about Singapore is how they control traffic.  First all there is a fixed number of vehicles allowed.  They are controlled by certificates.  You have to pay $50,000 Singapore Dollars (about $30,000 US) to get a certificate (then buy the vehicle).  The number of certificates is fixed by the government, so until a vehicle is scrapped no new certificates are issued.  You might think that would lead to a lot of old vehicles, but actually most of the vehicles are new.  As if that is not enough, most major streets (called ERP routes) are toll routes , the toll depending on the time of day (so rush hours have the highest tolls).  Here’s a look at the start of one, with the current toll cost on the screen just below the ERP sign:

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Street of stores:

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A temple and mosque:

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We Hopped off at China Town:

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And finally, I want you all to sleep well tonight because as is her habit around the world and regardless of whether it is a church, temple, synagogue, or prayer house, Susy stops and says a prayer for us.  Today in China Town it was a beautiful Buddha temple: 

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the other side of this temple:

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When we arrived back at the ship we were exhausted but first we had to show the evening show which featured these dancers and musicians in a typical Singapore native show:

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So we hit the sack early so we would be ready for Susy’s Day two in this wonderful city (by the way it’s as clean as Switzerland because it’s against the law to dirty it in any way, with huge fines and that includes spitting).

Until Day 2,

Love You All,

Gary (alias Gagu)

P.S. Ships port sign:

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Posted by: Gary Guertin | March 17, 2017

World Cruise Notice–Mar. 17, 2017

Happy Saint Patrick’s Day,

Hi All,

Just a quick message to let you know that Susy and I are fine.  You have not received any posts in a while because of our access to high speed, good quality internet and as we go further it does not look very good.  The ships internet is OK for emails, but is impossible for my posts due to it’s slow speed and continual interruption.  I rely on the ports to get a good internet connection an we’re in an area where there hasn’t been any opportunity to get one.

Bottom line is it could be weeks before I get good internet, an until you get new posts.

Don’t worry, I’ll get them all sent eventually.

Love, Gary (alias Gagu)

Please read the post below, 22, if you haven’t, because I’m posting them one after the other.

Hi All, (Written Mar. 7, 2017)

This is going to be a mixed post as you will soon see.  When I went out to take my morning pier photos here’s what I encountered:

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You are right if you say nothing.  It looked as if it was miles to the nearest town.  For no reason we could determine, the ship had no shuttle to the nearest town.  But the ship did have tours to Saigon and a $49.00 tour to the nearest village, all leaving early in the morning.  Strange, No?  Well, needless to say Susy and I only went down to the little street stall that you see in the picture above.  We only stayed a few minutes because the stall keepers would not negotiate and that is unacceptable to Susy.  End of story and visit to Phu My for us.

O.K., here’s some stuff that may interest you regarding this port.  From our last visit to Saigon in 2008 a few photos:

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These two were taken in the Saigon Zoo and Gardens.  A look at one of the women carrying goods:

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Here’s a couple of Vietnamese boats:

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Our Teresa will appreciate she has a boat with her name:

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Let me close with the latest drawing on our neighbors door:

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Until our next port, Singapore, Mar. 9 & 10, 2017:

Love You All,

Gary (alias Gagu)

P.S. Ships Port Sign:

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Posted by: Gary Guertin | March 9, 2017

22. World Cruise–Nha Trang, Vietnam–Mar. 6, 2017

Hi All, (Written Mar. 6, 2017)

Nha Trang, known in this part of the world as the Vietnam Mediterranean coast.  It is located 275 miles along the coast north of Ho Ghi Minh City (Saigon).  It is one of Vietnam’s most popular sea side resorts with over 5 miles of white-sand beaches.

We had a very short time in the port, so Susy and I stayed close to the ship and enjoyed the markets and streets of the little port village.  I’ll start with a map of the area taken at a Tourist Center:

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The ship is located where the big star (with Ben Tau Du Lich Cau Da next to it) is in the left center of the map.

From the ship we can look out in front at a cable car which runs from the little port village to one of the islands:

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and to our side the village in front of our pier:

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You will notice how all these villages are framed by beautiful mountains.

Looking down on the pier we see our first market:

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and another on the way to the village:

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Looking behind us is another view of the coast line:

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Looking out on the harbor, I thought you would be interested in some of the boats.  First what looks like a small water taxi:

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then a small fishing boat:

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a larger fishing boat:

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Before we left the ship I caught Susy in one of those glamor poses:

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Nothing glamorous in this next photo except to remind you I’m on this cruise also and the carrier of the "goods" of the day:

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As we left the ship and went into the first market, Susy went right to "work??":

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Here’s a bunch of water taxi’s ready to take you anywhere around the resort:

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The second market:

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and finally a street view up in the village:

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Oh, and Susy wanted me to show her new hat:

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Now, as I’m trying to give you all the experiences of our cruise (which, of course, is impossible) here’s some photos from our last Gala night (we have one every week or two):

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That’s it for Nha Trang, our next port is tomorrow, Mar. 7, 2017, Phu My (Ho Chi Minh City or Saigon), Vietnam.  Until then,

Love You All,

Gary (alias Gagu)

P.S. Ships Port sign:

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Posted by: Gary Guertin | March 6, 2017

21. World Cruise–Hong Kong–Mar. 2-3, 2017

Hi All, (Written Mar. 4, 2017)

Again I want to deviate from my usual post format.  I want to give you not only what we saw in the last few days, but to go back to our last visit to Hong Kong on Oct. 10-11, 2008.

We all have heard of Hong Gong, the island city of both Western and Eastern cultures, British from 1841 to July 1st, 1997 when it was returned to China.  Surprisingly, it only has 7 million residents because the skyscrapers which are jammed together, are mostly commercial.  Hong Kong is known as a world class financial, trading, and business center.  Cantonese and English are the official languages.

You will not see much change since our last visit since ever inch of the island already has a skyscraper or a temple, with very few low rise buildings.  Look at the skyline in 2008 and today:

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Let’s go back to 2008 and look at some of the sites we didn’t visit this time.  First the cable cars up the mountain behind the city which shows the airport on another island:

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Here’s yours truly in front of one of the largest Buda’s in Asia:

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And Susy in front of one of the many temples we visited:

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Now a few of the hundreds of Buda statues we must have seen:

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Moving forward to our first day in port, Susy and I decided to revisit one of the famous outdoor markets of Hong Kong, Ladies Market.  First the port:

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A map of the city island, port (the red line is our ships dock), and surrounding area:

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This photo shows how packed together are the buildings:

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We had to take the subway to the market:

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From the subway we had to walk a few blocks to the market.  Here are a few of the colorful blocks we encountered:

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And finally "Ladies Market" with its many blocks of hawkers stalls.  They are called that because as you walk along the workers of the stalls try to pull you in.  Once your in, if you show interest in an item or ask the price of an item, they will not stop until they sell it to you.  They will give you a high price, then keep lowering it till you buy it.  If you say no and walk away, they will ask you what you want to pay, and if you keep going they will follow you down the street, still trying to get a little better price then what you say you want to pay.  In the end they will either give way to your price or if its too low, let you go. A look at the market:

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That’s it for day one.  Back at the ship I want to show you Hong Kong at night.  It’s not anywhere near as beautiful as Shanghai, just plain lights:

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On Day 2, we just did internet, but Susy walked a large shopping center which was a part of the cruise terminal.  To show you how rich the stores were, she took these photos as a sample of a whole floor of top designers boutiques for children:

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That’s it for Hong Kong.  Next stop is Nha Trang, Vietnam, Monday, Mar. 6, 2017.  Until then,

Love You All,

Gary (alias Gagu)

P.S. Ships Port signs:

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Posted by: Gary Guertin | March 2, 2017

20. World Cruise–Shanghai–Feb. 26–27, 2017

Hi All, (Written Feb. 28, 2017)

Susy and I last visited Shanghai Oct. 7 & 8, 2008 and certainly at that time didn’t realize what a great, beautiful city we were visiting.  I’ll try to get our thinking up to date after two days here.  First of all, the tourist guide says “today it is the city of superlatives: the world’s biggest city and its most populous with 13 million residents in its core and 23 million in greater Shanghai, as well as the world’s biggest port.”  It’s also said to be the world’s most modern city.  In order to try and show you Shanghai I’m going to break my traditional post format and just show you two days of photos in no order as we walked the center of the city.  In order to orient you, Shanghai sits on the banks of the Huangpu River, far inland from the China Sea.  Our ship is docked exactly in the center of the city on the East Bank of the river.

First by day, the skyline of the West bank of the port:

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These photos show the early morning fog/smog.

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Now the East Bank where the ship is docked.

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If you think it looks beautiful during the day take a look at the night show:

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That’s the skyline, let’s now go walking through the center of the city. For people like my Susy that only means “Nanjing Road” the major shopping avenue which runs for miles, the major part without traffic.  Here’s just a few of the photos to give you a feel for this vibrant city:

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Notice the flower arrangement all along the streets.

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Susy at work in one of the many outlets as we walked along.  Doesn’t she look happy in the photo below:

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Anyone want a chair?

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or a bicycle:

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Susy had gone off on her own to Nanjing Street the first day while I did internet at the local Starbucks.  On the second day I trailed along to see the street with her:

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As we were walking along, we hear; “Miss Susy, Miss Susy” and this lady comes over and greets Susy, asking her if she would like to look at purses in one of her shops again.  It seems that the day before Susy had gone off with this lady.  So they talk and she says she has another shop than the one from yesterday.  We walk a little while up Nanjing, then down a dark alley, through and old door, and the lady pulls back a hidden panel, hiding an old steep stairway that goes up a few stories to a door (looked like a speakeasy door) and then we enter into a showroom, with many purse knock-offs, valuable watch copies,etc. In China these are illegal places for the sale of copies.  Here’s Susy at her best bargaining with these people:

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Susy didn’t buy that purse she has in her hand because they wanted $100.00 and the highest she would pay was $50.00 US dollars.  You may ask why, well of course, the day before Susy had bought 2 purses of equal or better quality for $50.00 a piece, both with asking prices of $100.00.

This is one of the side streets:DSC02224

On the way back we stopped at the famous Fairmont Hotel, the best hotel in Shanghai in the 20’s 30’s ,  recently restored to its original splendor.           Several US Presidents have stayed there and many politicians, and celebrities from all over the world.  We decided to go in and have tea, so here we are:

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I don’t have a photo of the lobby, but here is one of many of the wall displays and a look at the ceiling:

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And finally Susy on the bank of the river with the Amsterdam way behind her (way back in front of those twin towers):

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Next stop, Hong Kong, China, Mar. 2 & 3, 2017 and the halfway point of our cruise.  Oh’ and by the way we expect temperatures in the 60ths.  At last we seem to be putting the cold behind us.

Until next,

Love You All,

Gary (alias Gagu)

P.S. In case you missed the ships port sign:

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Posted by: Gary Guertin | February 26, 2017

19. World Cruise – Xingang (Beijing), China – Feb. 21-22, 2017

Hi All, (Written Feb. 23, 2017)

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Yes, I made it, "The Great China Wall".  I have accomplished one of my top "Love to See/Do" list places. The list is getting shorter all the time, but this was certainly at the top.  It was something to see and I’ll cover it in detail below, so get ready for a long post.  It started the night before as we docked in Xingang with it snowing:

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We went out on the back pool deck and enjoyed seeing snow for the first time in years.  Many of the ships crew had never seen snow and later they even built a snow man, which Susy has a picture of but I can’t show you because of our lack of internet. While we are in China  they have blocked most everything including our TV channels, so we’ll catch up with the news in a few days after leaving here. 

OK, let’s start with my trip to the "Wall".  Susy did not go with me because it was an almost 11 hour tour, a 3 and 1/2 hour bus ride out and the same back.  Needless to say with the temperature at 26 degrees F. and she just recovering from a cold, didn’t want to take any chance on getting it back.  First the ship’s port sign:

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I got lucky on the tour bus with a front row seat:

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Here’s some shots out the window, especially the state housing apartment towers which are provided for the poor and working class people:

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Our tour buses at one of our rest stops (we had one about every hour or two):

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I have to stop here and explain a little bit about our day.  We were suppose to start the tour at 7:30 AM in order to be back about 6:30 PM.  Well in China when it snows they simply close all the freeways until they have them completely cleaned off, for safety purposes.  Consequently, we didn’t leave until about 9:30 because of the closed highways.  We finally, about 3:30 PM got to our lunch site, which was the "Beijing Dragon Land Superior Jade Gallery", one of the largest Jade galleries in all Asia.  They also had a huge dining room serving, as you will see, a wonderful lunch and then giving you an hour to tour their large showroom.  The entrance:

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The Dining room and our table:

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I was there:

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Now let’s tour the showroom and look at just a few of the thousands of pieces:

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That sign says the piece sells for about one million dollars:

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That’s it for the Jade Gallery, so it was on to my highlight of the day "The Great Wall", which was only a short distance away.  Let me just give you a brief history of the Wall.  First of all it’s not just one wall.  It started as a number of walls over 2 to 3000 years ago.  These walls originally were build to defend the various provinces or kingdoms which made up China today. Later most of the walls within the provinces were let go to ruins. However the walls along the Northern border were maintained and united to provide a defense against the raiding enemies from the North.  The wall runs from the ocean inland for about 5000 miles or as the Chinese say, the "10-Thousand-Li" Great Wall.  Two Li are about one mile.  The most important period for the Wall was from 1368-1644 during the Ming Dynasty Wall period.  The wall is divided in many sections, made of clay, earth, and stone.  It varies in width from a foot or so to in some places wide enough to drive horses and carts over it and is not just one wall, but in some places up to 5 walls wide.  As a defense it was a failure, because when the main portion was attacked from the north, traitors in the south just opened the gates and let the enemy go through.  Finally you should know that the wall has towers (usually 2 or 3 stories high) located within site distance of each other.  These towers were communication towers.  When the enemy was sited the soldiers would spread the word to the next towers by smoke during the day (wolf dung, which made a thick black smoke that went straight up) or lights or gongs in the night.  It was said that within a half day they could warn other towers over a distance of 300 to 500 kilometers. 

I took 170 photos over the day, the majority at the wall, I’ll just show you a few of the area we visited. From the bus as the wall comes into view:

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There are 4 major sections of the wall and this is the section we visited:

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Some views from different directions of the walls, communication towers, and citadels which today house museums, souvenir shops, cafes, and other businesses.

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Again, this shows I was there:

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Standing in front of this structure looking to the West from the valley:

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and then in the other direction to the East:

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and further back to the East:

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and lastly a close up of one of the communication towers:

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It was a long ride home, but the day wasn’t over because back at the ship we had dinner waiting for us and in the ships large theater a local Chinese theater group from Beijing:

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Lady drummers, who were great.  Below a group we called the Chinese Rockets with precision arm movement instead of kicks:

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Of course, the boys with their marshal arts moves:

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And finally, a pair of wonderfully costumed dancers that were excellent:

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I’m sure you have had enough. I know I was exhausted at the end of one of my memorable  cruise days which I will never forget.  As I finish this we have left Beijing and are heading for Shanghai, People’s Republic of China.  We arrive Sunday, Feb. 26th and stay overnight, so you’ll probably hear from me next after that, around Mar. 2nd or 3rd.  Until then,

Love You All,

Gary (alias Gagu)

Posted by: Gary Guertin | February 22, 2017

18. World Cruise – Incheon (Seoul), South Korea–Feb. 18-19, 2017

~Hi All, (Written Feb. 19, 2017)

Editorial Footnote: Gigi I swear I wrote and published my apology before I read your comments on my boring editorial. Great minds think alike. lol.

Incheon:  We’ve had another port development since my last post.  Yesterday the Captain informed us that he could not dock the ship in Jeju (Cheju) City, Korea, scheduled for Feb. 19th because of poor docking facilities.  We, therefore, are overnighting in Incheon and proceeding directly to Beijing, China, arriving as scheduled, Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2017.

The temperature outside in Incheon is 26 degrees F., so Susy has decided, due to trying to recover from a cold, not to brave the elements, especially since we have to take a shuttle 20 minutes to an outdoor marketing mall.  All the tours are long rides to Seoul or the demilitarized zone, but mostly include visiting markets for shopping. Needless to say, I decided to take the shuttle, do my internet, and give you a look at some markets.

Before going into town, let’s take a look at the port of Incheon. By the way the port is known for the year 1950 when the US Marines landed here in one of the major battles of the Korean War.  First from the port (left) side of the ship:

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A close up of one of high rises, with a Samsung (whose headquarters is South Korea:

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Going to the starboard side of the ship, we see the pier were we are docked (all warehouses):

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Let’s go ashore, first the ship’s port sign:

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On the ride to the markets, a look at the streets and some unique buildings:

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As we arrived at the markets, this was the street view, but they told me to go down a stairway and I would find the underground market:

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and here’s what I found:

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Looking the other way:

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It looked as if the underground market went on forever in both directions and I didn’t think I was going to have luck finding a Wi-Fi place, so I went back up to the street level and found this market:

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Another market that looked like it would go on forever.  I decided to go back to the bus stop and walk into a store right there and inquire about the closet Wi-Fi.  It was an eyeglass store and the man said to take out my laptop, sit down, and I could use his Wi-Fi.  Talk about lucky, I finished my internet stuff, stepped out to the bus stop, and was back in the nice warm ship in 20 short minutes.

We now go to sea for a few days, reaching Beijing, China, Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2017 and overnighting.  I’m going to take a 10 hour tour to the China Wall, so you’ll hear from me soon after that,  Until then:

Love You All,

Gary (alias Gagu)

Posted by: Gary Guertin | February 18, 2017

17. World Cruise–Nagasaki, Japan–Feb. 15, 2017

Hi All, (Written Feb. 17, 2017)

Editorial Footnote:  I want to apologize to my lovely daughter for implying that she had said my posts were boring.  The truth is I interpreted that from one of her emails to her mother.  I am completely guilty, probably because I feel they must be boring because we are not doing a lot as we go from port to port.

Nagasaki:  Now having said that, fasten your seatbelts, and if you don’t have a lot of time come back to read Nagasaki later, because this post is long.

As you may remember, Nagasaki was the site of the second atomic bomb drop in WWII.  We’ll begin with a look at the port from the ship.  The view from the entrance to the port:

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Again, this confirms I was out there taking pictures even though it was in the balmy upper 50ths:

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Looking at Nagasaki from the port side of the ship (left side away from the pier):

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Up closer:

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Now from the starboard side (right, onto the pier) a look up and down the pier:

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And the main cruise terminal:

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I focused the zoom lens on some interesting buildings:

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Susy and I felt well enough from our colds to venture out and try and see the Park that had been created at the center of the site where the atomic bomb hit.

First the ships port sign:

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Susy in front of one of the statues as we left the port:

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And who could pass up a beautiful Japanese baby smiling at Susy as we passed:

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Here’s a typical street view as we took a tram to the atomic bomb site:

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And here’s the story of Nagasaki’s atomic bomb:

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Just a reminder, that if you want to view any of these photos in a larger size, I believe all you have to do is click on them once or twice and they should enlarge.

The atomic bomb site is made up of three areas.  The first we will visit is called the "Peace Park".  Here’s the steps (with an escalator on the side for us older folks) from the street level up to Peace Park:

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At the top of the stairs you encounter the Peace Fountain:

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On the other side of the Peace Fountain we walk down the center of the Park:

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All the statues you see have been donated by artists from around the world to the people of Nagasaki to promote world peace by remembering what war can bring as represented by the atomic bomb that was dropped here.

On the way through the park we came upon an actual survivor from the atomic bomb dropped here.  We got a picture with an argentine member of a band that plays in the ship disco, and the Survivor:

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His story:

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As we got to the other side of the park we came upon the huge Peace Statue that looks over the Park:

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The second area as we left the Peace Park is across the street and is a small park which is located on the hyper-center of where the bomb hit.  Here is that area:

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Several statues in this park:

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The third site is a large museum dedicated to the Nagasaki atomic bomb.  We decided to by pass the museum and head back to the ship.  On the way you know Susy, like I know Susy, a shopping center:

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Well, I finally got her back to the ship, home at last:

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And on the way back to our cabin, one of our neighbors is an artist who posts these comical drawings on his cabin door, here’s the latest:

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Next Port Incheon (Seoul), South Korea, Saturday, Feb. 18, 2017.

Love You All,

Gary (alias Gagu)

Posted by: Gary Guertin | February 16, 2017

16. World Cruise–Kagoshima, Japan–Feb. 15, 2017 (+Editorial)

Hi All, (Written Feb. 15, 2017)

Editorial: "Gary’s Space Has Become Boring"

It has come to my attention from my lovely daughter, that she  and several others believe my posts have become boring.  I just want to let you all know that I agree, but would like to explain why.  Susy and I had a long conversation last night regarding this subject and are completely in agreement.  First I would like to remind you that this is our 27th cruise, our first Apr. 2, 1982.  Since then we have spent 445 days at sea, visited 234 ports, 183 of those for the first time.  This cruise will add 111 days, 36 ports and only a few for the first time and none from a part of the world we haven’t visited before.  In other words, we have visited temples, castles, cathedrals, volcanoes, etc., etc.. In our younger days, we stopped at every port and took ever important tour you could take.  Obviously, my posts reflected those very active times.  Now we come to this cruise.  Susy and I have only one objective, to have sailed around the world and get a lot of rest and relaxation in the cruise atmosphere.  Unfortunately, we have been hit with bad colds and fever which is expected when you have over 2000 people bottled up on a ship for four months.  But getting back to the Posts, they will be boring because we are only going to take a few tours and in many ports will only get off to do the internet and walk around the city because as I have explained we’ve been there and done that.  For us a Buddhist Temple is a Buddhist Temple.  In one the Buda statues are gold, in another they are huge, etc.  In other words we been there and seen that, so at our age we’re just sitting back and resting around the ship, and believe me, apart from the colds, we’re enjoying ourselves but not with all the glitz, tours, etc., which lead to good posts.  I’m sorry, but I will continue to cover each port, but from the standpoint of looking at the port and commenting on how things are going for the two of us.  Boring, Yes, but that’s how it looks from your young eyes, not from ours.

Kagoshima, Japan:

Now to this beautiful Japanese port.  Kagoshima is located on the southernmost of the four main islands of Japan.  Because of its location much of Japan’s early contact with the outside world was via Kagoshima, first with China and then the Western world.  The city spreads along Kinko Bay, and as you will see boasts one of most unusual vistas in the world: Sakura-jama, an active volcano which sends up clouds of steam and has minor eruptions multiple times a day.  The volcano is 3,365 feet high and has a circumference of about 31 miles.  Because of the volcano Kagoshima is a hot-springs haven with the second-largest number of hot-springs in the country.

O.K. lets look at Kagoshima, first with this beautiful welcome park in front of the ship:

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Looking out at this pier outlet we see the views from the city in front to the volcano and a Japanese garden in the rear:

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Just so you know I’m still hereDSC01746

Yes, its still cold, in the high 40ths, which for this Floridian is freezing.

Susy stayed on the ship because of her cold, but I ventured out.  So our ships port sign:

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Across from the ship was the port terminal:

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and a close up of the signs and art work:

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I’ll close this post with a panoramic view of the city:

DSC01716 Stitch 

And a close up of Sakura-jima:DSC01753

Next Port, Nagasaki, site of an atomic bomb drop, Aug. 9, 1945.

Love You All,

Gary (alias Gagu)

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