asian odyssey at sea

Published: March 15th 2019
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so lets see.... i left you all as we were sailing towards kagoshima, japan. i have to refer back to my daily journal.

the same evening after i posted my last blog, captain cook announced there was going to be an emergency helicopter evacuation by US coast guard of a passenger at 6 am the next day. i guess they had to wait until first light. all the decks were closed and we were instructed not to come out of our cabins. passengers with cabins at the back (aft) of the ship had to evacuate their cabins and be moved to alternative accommodation. the helicopter was going to hover over the back pool deck so the pool had to be drained because of the spray from the blades. it wasn't going to land on the ship, just hover over and send a medic down to lift the passenger off. i didn't hear the chopper because my cabin is towards the front (forward) of the ship. the passenger had suffered a heart attack in the theatre, but has since had surgery in a hospital in guam and is recovering well.

that same evening i had an unfortunate mishap with my camera. it was a 60's and 70's themed night and i had dressed up. while trying to balance the camera on the tv to take a full length photo, it fell off and broke. stupid me. i was going to try to buy a new one when i got to japan but decided to buy one from the photo gallery here on the ship. it was the display model so they gave me 10% off. it is a better camera than my old one.

i was also unfortunate to catch a head cold during this time at sea. not surprising on a ship with thousands of people and everyone in such close quarters. luckily i had packed cold previsions. so for 3 days i took it easy and stayed in my cabin and read and watched the tele. the programs on the ship are quite good. there are 3 movie channels, lots of news channels, the bbc, and they also broadcast all of the port talks and the guest speakers who have been on the ship. there is also an arcadia guest information channel where i take all of my map photos from. at the moment i am reading
"notes from a small island" by bill bryson. one of my dining companions lent it to me. it's very funny. he really describes the british through an outsiders eyes. mike who lent me the book also treated me to a brandy for my cold. he said it was a sure fire fix. and it worked! perhaps it worked because it was a remy martin in a warmed glass. 😊 during these low days at sea i also did some large laundry for the first time. thank you david and robin for the soap pods! i was thinking of you both. i went when it was quiet so no new gossip.

arriving in kagoshima, japan on the 7th of march and it was cold! kkkkkold in kagoshima. i was booked on a city tour that morning but had to cancel because of my cold. i still wasn't feeling 100% and couldn't face the air conditioned bus and the cold wind. it was only 14 degrees out and a bitterly cold wind. but i did manage to bundle myself up and get off the ship and go for a bit of a walk around the port. i also tried a few pics with my new camera. kagoshima is dominated by the active volcano sakurajima, with it's last large eruption in 1914.

on march 8th we arrived in nagasaki, japan. sunny but still cool. i really liked nagasaki. it was a quiet place and felt very peaceful. a very "zen" feel about it. the japanese people are so polite and soft spoken. here i wandered the city and took more photos. then in the afternoon i went to the atomic bomb museum which recalls the tragic events on august 9th 1945 when an atomic bomb was dropped on nagasaki. there were lots of graphic photos taken after that day. a bit disturbing to see but very interesting. and do you think i could find a sushi restaurant in japan!? i must have been wandering in the wrong area.

2 more sea days until hong kong. we passed through the taiwan strait with china on our right (starboard) and taiwan on our left (port). captain cook will be leaving us in hong kong and rejoining the arcadia in june. i am sure he is happy to see the back of us lot! with all of the medical emergencies on board, cyclone oma's wrath and passengers complaining about missed ports. there was talk going around the ship that the captain must be putting something in our water to keep us sedated. everywhere you go on the ship there are passengers with their mouths open catching flies, heads bobbing in their soup or in their book. and its only 11 am! but it is so true. one does feel very sleepy on here. perhaps it is the motion of the ship or the abundance of sea air.

my cabin steward celeste also left in hong kong to go home to her family. a well deserved break. my new steward is janice also from the phillipines. a very smiley and bubbly girl. captain luko vojvoda is our new captain. he is from dubrovnik, croatia. a very beautiful city i am told. every day at 9 am he makes an announcement from the bridge telling us where we are and a little bit of information about our location and what the weather is forecast to be. he sounds much more personable than our old captain. we are going to meet him tonight at a champagne cocktail party before our meal.

it is during
these sea days i had some time to look at my new camera properly and familiarize myself with all the new technology. i know now not to press the format button. all of the saved data on my memory card erased! luckily my cruise photos have been downloaded onto my laptop. but i lost all of the photos from japan which i hadn't saved yet. 😞 oh well, it could have been worse.

hong kong! what a port! we arrived on the 11th to hazy skies but warm temperatures. 24 degrees. perfect for me. when i opened my curtains in the morning i was shocked to see a concrete parkade staring back at me. the starboard side of the ship got the great harbour view this time. i was eager to get off the ship and explore. when you disembark the ship you enter a large mall. all of the shops are very expensive and high end designer names. there are no taxes on goods in hong kong, so it is a very popular place to shop. those of you that know me know how i love to shop. NOT!

what a fast, vibrant city. everyone walks with
their heads down looking at their phones. at most street corners i was bothered by men trying to sell me custom tailoring. i guess i stood out as a tourist. i should have brought one of my dental masks to wear and my phone to hold. i would have blended right in.

so i spent the first day just exploring the city. in the evening at 8 pm most of the high rises across from the ship on hong kong island lit up and performed a short light show. we had a great view from the ship. to go over to hong kong island you can take the star ferry which is a passenger ferry leaving from alongside our ship. it was bobs, my dining companion, last night on the ship so he treated me to a nice meal out in hong kong. it was a nice change. the food on the ship is very good but after a while it starts to taste the same.

my second day in hong kong was spent exploring some more. all of the signage here is in english and in cantonese. it is so easy to get around. i guess because hong kong used to be part of the british empire. there is more english signage here than in richmond, bc canada! that evening i was booked on an open bus night tour of hong kong island. there are a few traffic tunnels leading under the water to the island. they are about 2 km long. the lights, the sounds, the smells..... from the open bus looking down and up i really got a feel for the city. it was great. we passed lots of night street markets. people playing badminton on outside courts right in the city centre. shops open until late. on a week night the streets were still buzzing at 10pm. i would love to come back to hong kong one day when i can spend more time here.

one sea day before we arrived in chan may, vietnam. we had an irish comedian on and a comedian from liverpool. the one from liverpool was much funnier. he commented on how being on board arcadia one can travel the world, and not even get off the lift! that's because each of our decks is named after a place that starts in the same letter. deck a is australia deck, deck c is canada deck...... i guess you had to be there. 😊 we passed through the south china sea on our way to vietnam. this is the busiest sea in all of the world, where most of the fish we eat is caught. we did pass quite a few fishing boats. at night my view was alight like a sea of floating candles. very pretty.

so yesterday, the 14th of march, we arrived at the port of chan may, with tours to hue. hue is pronounced 'huay'. the sky was overcast but the air was very heavy and humid and 26 degrees. i was booked on an all day 8 hour tour. the tour was called "hidden gems and lunch with the nuns". lots of new faces on the coach. quite a few new passengers embarked the arcadia in hong kong. our guide was very informative but at times hard to understand. leaving the port we drove through the outskirts of hue. lots of rice fields, water buffalo, shacks for homes, dogs wandering, and chickens in cages on the backs of scooters. going to market i suppose. we started our tour with a visit to 2
temples. the first temple was built by an emperor in the early 1800's. it reminded me of my all time favourite novel "the good earth" by pearl s. buck. the second temple was also a buddhist temple, with over 100 very steep steps to climb. the outside was purposely built to look grey and drab so the inside with all of it's multi colours and mosaics of glass, stone and mother pf pearl, and the golden buddha happily sitting there would look all the more impressive. no photos were allowed inside and women had to cover bare shoulders. 60% of the population is buddhist and the rest catholic.

from there we drove through the city of hue to the nuns. mopeds/scooters and electric bikes everywhere! more than cars. constant honking with large trucks trying to pass everyone. we saw entire families riding scooters. dad driving, baby in the middle and mom on the back. and no helmets! crazy. when we arrived at the nuns sanctuary we removed our shoes and went inside. the wonderful aroma of incense burning filled our nostrils. first the nuns said a long prayer/chant for us and gave us some beads they had blessed for
our wrist made from some kind of wood. next to to the floor for 10 minutes of meditation. most sat in chairs because they would have never been able to get up off the floor afterwards. i even had a hard time! the nuns were all very young except for the head nun. it was hard to tell they were female. all with shaved heads and flat chested. they looked like young boys. afterwards we were treated to a vegetarian meal prepared and served by the nuns. i really enjoyed it. i thought it was very tasty. some of the textures of the foods were a bit different so a lot of people didn't eat much. bean curds and tofu and some other things i have no idea what they were. and for dessert fresh fruit from their garden. beautiful gardens all around with lots of butterflies. i found it all very peaceful.

thank you to the nuns then down to the perfume river for a half hour boat ride. this river divides hue from the old and the new parts of the city. it is called the perfume river because when the emperor used to travel along the river they would burn incense and throw flower petals for him. the river boat is owned by a family that live on the back of it and conduct tours for a living during the day. off the boat, then a short bus ride to our final stop, a look into a private home. it belonged to the owners great grandfather who built it over 100 years ago. a very feng shui design. all open plan with gardens and water features in the centre. all made of wood with mother of pearl inlay. he showed us his grandfathers opium pipe. no windows or walls anywhere, just shudders that can be closed. it was soo beautiful! we were all amazed that this home was in the centre of a busy city. afterwards his wife made us all some refreshing green tea and some treats to enjoy. fried bananas, coconut cakes, meat pies, fresh sweet fruit and candied ginger. it was amazing. we didn't want to leave! after thanking our gracious hosts we headed back to the ship. vietnam was interesting, but i don't think i need to come back again. that's the great thing cruising does. there is not enough time at
every port to see everything there is to see, but it allows you a small taste of each new country and the ones you like you can hopefully come back to another time for seconds.

well it is almost 3 pm here and i started this blog at 10 am with a short break for lunch. i think i will have a quick nap now then get up and dressed for black tie night. one more sea day tomorrow, then on the 17th, st. patrick's day, we will arrive in singapore for 2 days. on our first day i am booked on a 4 hour tour called "scenic singapore".

thanks for tuning in!

cruisin susan 😊

boy this holidaying is tiring......

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