Edit Blog Post
Published: March 14th 2013
The Battle of Okinawa was one of the bloodiest and fiercest fought campaigns of WWII. The tremendous loss of Allied personnel, local civilians and Japanese troops led to President Truman’s decision to use nuclear weapons instead of attempting a land invasion of mainland Japan. About one third of all Okinawan civilians perished either in bomb attacks, suicides or being sealed alive in caves where they had sought refuge from the carnage.
During the Vietnam War, I flew into Kadena Air Base on Okinawa for five years. At that time the island was still recovering from the world war as 90% of the buildings were destroyed by the time the Japanese surrendered. The Ryukyu Islands were still under the control of the U.S. In 1972 Okinawa reverted to Japanese sovereignty. Since then it has become a booming resort for vacationers from the north.
The day we arrived in Okinawa it was unseasonably cold and rainy. Fortunately it was Sunday when the main shopping street becomes a pedestrian thoroughfare. A portion of Kokusaidori is even set aside as a playground for kids. We visited the vegetable and fish markets and were given samples by the friendly merchants. They appreciated our attempts
at Japanese and chuckled at our pronunciation. Okinawans are known for their openhearted spirit which is called “yuimaru.”
We also visited the Shurijo Castle. Originally built in the 14th
century, this walled fortress was leveled in WWII. It has been almost completely rebuilt and now stands as the symbol of Okinawa, towering over the city of Naha.
We cruised up the river to Shanghai through a thick “Chinese mist” --aka smog. The Industrial Revolution was late in coming to China but it has consumed the country now. Between the frequent Gobi Desert sandstorms and the use of coal, the air quality in this part of the world is pretty abysmal. But Shanghai is one of our favorites of the mega-cities in Asia. It is a very cosmopolitan and vibrant city. We always have fun in Shanghai.
We waited for all of the tours to clear out and then hit the Bund. This is the great walkway along the Huangpu River. The buildings on the river are an architectural wonderland with everything from art deco masterpieces to classic European style edifices. When lit up at night it is a sight to behold.
Even though Shanghai is a
The Okinawans are warm and friendly
huge city it is easy to get around as there are thousands of cabs and they are cheap. You can go almost anywhere for $2 or $3 tops. The only exception is at night when a cab ride is a very expensive proposition.
Our first stop was at the Yu Yuan bazaar to pick up some silk things, like ties, bags and scarves. Then it was on to Tao Bao and some heavy duty bargaining for electronic stuff. This is a favorite shopping stop for many cruisers but I think the prices have become a bit inflated in the last few years. We went to the French Concession area to see the historic hotel where Mao and Nixon signed the famous Shanghai Accord which opened relations between the two countries. It was also once the headquarters of the Chinese Communist Party. Boy, those comrades had good taste! The Ruijin Hotel was built at the turn of the last century and is set within a lovely 100 acre garden. This has to be the largest green space in Shanghai. The hotel is managed by Intercontinental and is now a beautiful, deluxe property.
The French Concession is one of the
few areas of Shanghai that has not been totally modernized through urban renewal. There are still low rise neighborhoods and a wonderful area called Tianzifang which is a beehive of small shops and restaurants lining the alleyways.
We had time to get to the oldest restaurant in Shanghai for lunch. The Mei Long Zhen is a regular stop of ours whenever we visit the “Pearl of the Orient.”
Tot: 0.608s; Tpl: 0.053s; cc: 13; qc: 28; dbt: 0.0188s; 1; m:saturn w:www (126.96.36.199); sld: 3;
; mem: 1.4mb