72 days and counting. \240Can’t wait. All excursions booked.
Happy Thanksgiving. Posts should begin Monday evening. \240Hopefully😀
Leave Houston Monday night at 11:40 pm for 16.5 hour flight then 4 hr layover in Taipei, Taiwan before 10.5 hr flight to Bali. Not looking forward to flight lengths but have several movies loaded.
At the airport at 9:15 pm. \240Evidently a lot of people must go to Bali and not leave. I had to show cruise itinerary to prove I was going to leave.
Lounge almost completely empty except for 3 of us.
Only way to go on 16.5 hrs. Omg they ask you when you want your bed made up. \240I could get spoiled.
My seat. Talk to you in Bali. On my way to Taipei, Taiwan.
Landed in Taipei,Taiwan. Flight was not bad. Slept around 7 hours. Wonderful food. Nice seats.
Approach into Taipei.
They even have tray cloths before meals. Got a pair of soft pajamas on flight.
Pork buns and cabbage.
I am in Bali. There is a 14 hr time difference from States.
Woke up at 1 am to pouring rain. Then 4:15 am a client called then more storms. Up for breakfast at 6:30 for full day of touring. Wait for pictures.
Pictures from our room and hotel.
Entrance to Conrad Bali.
There are 4 million people in Bali. 3 million motor scooters because there is no public transportation. The island is 150 kilometers by 85 kilometers.
Toll booths in Bali.
Bali is referred to as The island of the Gods. Most residents are Hindu. There are a lot of temples of which we will see a few today. In Bali each family has a temple, each village has a temple and there is an island temple.
Stone carving is still done by hand in Bali. \240Monkeys are a symbol of wisdom.
There are 6 universities in Bali. One public and 5 private. Each village has primary and secondary schools. Bali has largest Hindu population in world. Bali became part of Indonesia to keep the Japanese out. Until 1942 to 1945, Bali was under Japanese control and after America dropped bomb on Nagasaki, Bali declared their independence.
In Bali there are 420 days in a year. Every month has 5 weeks. There is a village temple celebration every 210 days. The minimum wage in Bali is $120 per month.
The rice is still all planted and tended by hand. When the top of the rice plant becomes brown, it is ready to be harvested and it is all cut by hand.
In Bali, the unemployment rate is very low. If you don’t work, you don’t eat. \240The families take care of each other so there is no homeless problem.
Village temple decorated for celebration.
Sangeh monkey Temple
Roasting coffee beans
Sally drinking Luwak coffee which originates as coffee beans then the animals eat the coffee beans and poop them and the coffee is a delicacy.
UlunDanu temple Lake Beratan
Our guide, Mully feeding the Balinese deer
In front of largest rice terrace in Asia
Carrying grass to feed the cows. \240Every farmer has 2 cows to plow the fields.
View of rice terraces
Tanah Lot Temple
We saw a Hindu funeral in the park complete with cremation. Hindus believe in reincarnation. It was very interesting.
Hotel pool and ocean.
Today we are going to Ubud which is a craft market town. For those trying to comment on my blog, they are working on it.
We went to one of only 3 hand batik “factories” still in existence. \240All the others have filed for bankruptcy.
I got my shirt “batiked” while we were there.
Sally creating a batik piece
Once waxed and dyed once. 2 more dyes will be to finish.
Jewelry being made by hand.
I had my shirt “batiked” at batik factory
Full Balinese dress at Palace
Julie, Sally and Mully at Palace
Today our ship leaves for Komodo. Mully’s brother-in-law is running us to Hard Rock Cafe so I can grab a T-shirt.
Yesterday one thing we learned that I didn’t coveris the concept of the family compound. In the family compound is the main house which is occupied by the eldest members of family then each male offspring when they marry moves into house in the compound. As members pass away, the offspring move up a house. Each compound will have a temple for each house in the compound.
Houses in royal family compound.
When someone passes away, they place the body here in family compound in til funeral.
Home in regular family compound.
Traditional Balinese dancers
Today we are visiting Komodo, Indonesia home of the Komodo dragons.
View from our balcony this morning
Komodo dragons only mate in June and July. The incubation period is 8-9 months. They can swim to other islands as long as less than 500 meters. There are 1377 dragons on Komodo Island. Females live 30-35 years and males live 50-60 years. The dragons have 3 eyes and 2 penises.
The snakes on the island are rattlesnakes and cobras.
A yellow snail
Komodo dragons are cold blooded animals and carnivores. \240They can smell blood from hundreds of yards away.
Today we are at sea all day so I’ll be snapping pics of the boat. Yesterday was unbelievably hot and several people were treated for heat stroke. Our boat is moving at break neck speed today as we spent over 3 hours stopped in the middle of nowhere waiting for a medical evacuation by speed boat.
Our next stop is Darwin, Australia. We are now 14 hours ahead of home time. Makes it hard to communicate.
Stay tuned for today’s pictures.
The Explorer Lounge
View from our balcony
Today we are in Darwin, Australia. Temps are expected to be 95. Darwin has only been here since 1800s. Darwin harbor was discovered by someone who knew Charles Darwin and therefore the name even though he has never been in Darwin.
Australia has more incidents of skin cancer than anywhere else in the world due to its nearness to equator and a hole in the ozone layer. \240
Tip for those going in May- take as many bras as you take shirts. This heat is unbearable.
Darwin was bombed by the Japanese during WWII. The bombing continued for 8-9 months.
There are approx 150,000 inhabitants of Darwin and approx 200,000 crocodiles. You cannot swim in the ocean. The tides sometimes reach 7 meters.
We are taking a boat tour down the Adelaide River to see the Jumping Crocodiles.
Darwin is small town with not much to see other than military installations.
Today we are in Darwin again. Saw everything we wanted to see so we stayed on board slept in and did laundry. The laundry being available to do on ship is a nice thing.
Outdoor deck bbq
Explorer Lounge. Front of ship.
View from our room today
A day at sea. I love these days. They are so relaxing.
Couldn’t help myself. Booked another cruise for 2020 visiting Chilean fjords and South America. Will visit Port Stanley in Falkland Islands which is home to millions of penguins.
View from Explorers Dome
Today we are on Thursday Island. It is 1.4 square miles. There are 2500 inhabitants. It was not bombed during the war because of all the Japanese pearl divers that resides there. Neighboring Hood Island was completely destroyed during WWII. Pearls are a big industry here.
Green Hill Fort on Thursday Island
Tender to Thursday Island
Another sea day. We are due to arrive in Cairns tomorrow morning.
Today we are in Cairns, Australia (pronounced Cans). There is 100% chance of rain but we are going on Rain forest train tour.
Sugar Cane fields
On the train we will go through 15 tunnels and cross 55 bridges. \240All the tunnels were dynamited and dug by hand. \2401500 men worked on the railway construction.
Stoney Creek Falls
Barron Falls. \240There has been very little rain.
Roberts Monument stands as a monument to those that worked on railroad to show how big the rocks were that they had to get through.
Today we are visiting Townsville, Australia and the Billabong Sanctuary. Townsville gets 33 days of rain annually and we happen to be there on one of the rain days. Here we will see kangaroos being fed and other wild animals. We are hoping for a picture with a koala but in Australia, koalas have a Union. Each koala can only pose for pictures 30 minutes every 4 days so we will see how it goes.
Townsville view from Castle Hill.
Townsville was named for Robert Towns who was a prominent businessman who made his money kidnapping South Islanders and bringing them to Australia to work in the sugar cane fields. \240Population of Townsville is approx 200,000.
Today we are in the Whitsunday Islands and specifically visiting Hamilton Island, a private resort island. Our ship is going to be last one to visit island. Fingers crossed the weather holds for our helicopter tour over the Great Barrier Reef. We found out last night that a cyclone was near us and we were caught in the outer bands. \240As you can see from the pictures, so far everything looks good to go except maybe winds.
View from our balcony this morning
View from balcony this morning
Cats Eye beach
Passage Peak. The highest point on the Hamilton Island
Our ship in background on Hamilton Island
Flight over Great Barrier Reef
Our ship from above
White Haven Beach which is private where we went swimming while helicopter waited for us.
Today is a sea day. Need a day of rest after our amazing day yesterday. We found out only 4 people including us got to see Great Barrier Reef. Still can’t believe it.
Today we are in Brisbane. Brisbane is industrial city of 1.2 million people. It is a mixture of old and modern. You can have an 19th century building next to a 21st century building.
Center of town
All but 1 quilt store in Brisbane has closed and the 1 left is closing.
Epitome of Brisbane. Old architecture being surrounded by new steel and concrete.
There were over 500 Aboriginal tribes in Australia. Currently there are a little over 200 tribes after colonization. There are 350 Aboriginal dialects. We are visiting The Spirit of the Red Sands Cultural Performance Center for an Aboriginal show. We will try crocodile, kangaroo and emu.
Today is a sea day and due to the weather I am glad.
We packed last night to make sure everything still fit in luggage. Stayed up late watching a couple of movies.
Tomorrow Newcastle then Sydney on Sunday.
Today we are in Newcastle, Australia
Newcastle was the first penal colony in Australia. The jail which closed in 1997, was the longest operating jail in Australia.
Cruise ships are welcomed to Newcastle with a canon salute.
There are approx 440,000 residents of Newcastle.
We are hoping to hit the Christmas markets today.
Christmas Market Newcastle
Today we are in Sydney
Sydney Opera House
Sydney Harbor Bridge
Sydney Opera House
For Denison Sydney Harbor has its own water supply and mortar walls.
The Rocks - View from our room. Several years ago the mayor of Sydney wanted all of the original buildings torn down. The heads of the trade unions announced that they would not tear down the buildings and so they stand. The Rocks district were the first buildings constructed in Sydney.
The first building erected in Sydney
Christmas in Sydney- the Customs House
Kangaroo with Joey in pouch
Elephant Taronga Zoo
View of Opera House from our room
Last day in Sydney. We have tour this morning then head to airport for flight to Beijing tonight.
The Harbor Bridge was built in 1932. There were only 6 cars in Sydney at the time. Sydney was originally a penal colony for England for petty thieves. Theft of over $50 was death sentence. Less than $50 or crimes against people, 7 years hard labor. The oldest female on first fleet was 82. The youngest boy was 9.
Governor MacQuirie formed a reserve around the harbor so the harbor would be open to everyone. There are only 58 harbor front properties in Sydney.
Developers built the public hospital in exchange for exclusive right to distribute rum. They forgot to install bathrooms in the hospital creating widespread disease.
1850 was gold rush. 1860 was crash of economy. Chinese and Japanese remained after the crash and World War I. After World War II, Australia went to European refugee camps and found Anglo looking people to immigrate to Australia. \240After that, Greeks, English, Irish and Polish made their way to Australia and started work within days of arriving. \240In 1974, they revoked law preventing Africans and Orientals from migrating to Australia.
The Sydney fireworks cost $1 million per minute to put on and last for 60 minutes on New Years Eve.
The botanical gardens have species of trees and animals that are 170 million years old. \240There are 230 different marsupial animals in Australia. There are 55 different species of kangaroos. Kangaroos are drought proof animals. Drought and fire are the 2 major types of disasters in Australia.
Mrs Macquirie’s Chair.
Australian aircraft carrier. Security in Australia comes from alliances with US and Britain. There are 25 million people in Australia and they cannot afford a large military. \240There are approx 5 million in Sydney. After Pearl Harbor, the intent of the Japanese was to take Australia from Britain but US stepped in.
Russell Crowe’s penthouse apartment and boat occupy the entire top floor of building on left.
There are about 100,000 homeless but there are no slums. 65% is middle class and 15% upper class.
The Govenors gave away most of New South Wales. The largest privately owned ranch is bigger than state of Texas.
65% of GDP is from mining but from only 3% of workforce. Unemployment rate is 4%.
There was 1 survivor of The Dunbar shipwreck in 1857. In 1907, the townspeople raised the anchor. This is the anchor.
1st lighthouse built in Australia.
Before 1967, aboriginals were not allowed to vote, not allowed to own land, not allowed to hold jobs and paid with rum and cigarettes and not counted in census. They were considered part of flora and fauna.
Up unti 1974, children could be taken from parents if biracial or considered underprivileged.
Bondi Beach - a temperature inversion has created a cloud of cool mist over Bondi Beach
Surfers at Bondi Beach
Darling Harbor was the hub of the wool export industry. When they stopped exporting wool, it became tourist center.
Todaywe are in Beijing we are on way to The Great Wall. The Great Wall in 6,350 kilometers in length. The section we are visiting is approx 700 years old. We are visiting Matanyahou section.
Village Gate to indicate name of village.
It was 19 degrees today on the Great Wall.
Chairman Mao’s saying the the people of China need to visit the Great Wall in their lifetime.
We are home. Several bucket list places checked off.
Stay tuned for next trip Athens to Venice with 1 week visitingTorino/Florence area including my ancestral village.
2020 also in the planning stages.