How Do You Pronounce “Phuket?”

At about 11 AM I wanted to pronounce Phuket with the “Ph” as in Philosophy and the accent on the first syllable.  It has not been a good morning. Myron, one of the ship’s lecturers told us that if they ran a shuttle bus from the port to the city the cab drivers union would blockade the port with burning tires and no one would … Continue reading How Do You Pronounce “Phuket?”

Asia for Beginners — Singapore

Hong Kong has Disneyland.  Singapore IS Disneyland.  Like Disneyland it’s clean, well ordered, and controlled.  Disney employees have to follow a strict code of behavior.  It’s like everyone in Singapore is a Disney employee and is expected to follow the code of behavior.  Our Captain, in his blog, put it this way: “The Singapore populace (is) almost regimented in their behaviour, all walking the same … Continue reading Asia for Beginners — Singapore

Merlion Found, Singapore’s “Reclaimed” Land.

About 23% of Singapore, almost a quarter of the country, is reclaimed land.  I’ve always wondered about that term “reclaimed.”  Since Earth is “the water planet” shouldn’t we just say claimed?  Much of this land is used for industry or transportation, oil refineries are a natural at this navigational choke point, as are huge container terminals, and an extension of the airport.  But some of … Continue reading Merlion Found, Singapore’s “Reclaimed” Land.

Little India — Singapore

I’ve written about how clean and well-ordered Singapore is.  Little India is a bit of an exception.  It is clean, especially compared with India, but the wet market has a wet floor, the houses and shop houses are more colorful than in the rest of Singapore (although not as colorful as Tiger Balm Gardens.)  Suzi and I got off at one SMRT stop and walked … Continue reading Little India — Singapore

Tiger Balm Gardens Rebranded.

Tiger Balm Gardens in Singapore has been rebranded as the Har Par Villa.  It’s a favorite in Singapore.  It was built by Har Par and opened to the public to teach young people Chinese moral lessons. (See Courts of Hell.)  I don’t know if it worked.  It is wonderful, strange and bizarre place.  I don’t understand most of it, the signs are only somewhat in … Continue reading Tiger Balm Gardens Rebranded.

The Courts of Hell with a Trigger Warning.

  Har Par was a business man from Rangoon.  He and his brother invented s salve called “Tiger Balm.”  I use it myself.  In the 1930s they moved to Singapore and were very successful.  Har par built a mansion for his brother and included many statues and dioramas that illustrated Chinese life and virtues.  One in particular was the Ten Courts of Hell.  In 1937 … Continue reading The Courts of Hell with a Trigger Warning.

Five O’Clock Follies

This is a continuation of the narration in the post “Good Morning Vietnam.” As I pondered what I was supposed to do in Saigon I looked up and saw it, the Rex Hotel, and I knew.  The Rex is where the US military had its daily press briefings during the Viet Nam War, the “Five O’clock Follies.”  I noticed, later, that that “Five O’clock Follies” … Continue reading Five O’Clock Follies

“Chewing the Fat,” a Persecuted Sect and an Unexpected Fire Drill

Last night at about 9:30 Suzi and I were having a nice chat about the Balkans with a Croatian woman who had just come on in Hong Kong.  She was taking over as the leader of the “Road Scholar” group on board.  The conversation ranged from the Balkan wars to Yugo-pop.  We were standing at the photo counter and I was hoping Dejan would come … Continue reading “Chewing the Fat,” a Persecuted Sect and an Unexpected Fire Drill

Hong Kong Memories

Other cruise mates had specific things they wanted to do in Hong Kong, visit this temple or that particular shopping street.  A surprising number of these, mostly senior citizens, wanted to visit the Hong Kong Disneyland. (All of Hong Kong is Disneyland.)  Suzi and I wanted to wander, ride the Star Ferry, take the double decker tram, ride the peak tram, and see what has … Continue reading Hong Kong Memories

Dim Sum at the Top

The last time we wrote the Peak Tram to the heights of Hong Kong there was not such an elaborate structure at the top terminus.  Not, after you reach “the top” you go up still higher on a series of escalators past a wax museum, several gift ships, several eateries to a higher platform for viewing.  We did that and stopped at a lower level … Continue reading Dim Sum at the Top

Norman Foster in Hong Kong.

Norman Foster is one of my favorite architects.  I love his work in redoing the British Museum and the Gerkan building in London is a modern urban icon.  I had hoped he would win the World Trade Center project in New York.  In Hong Kong he designed both the HCBC Building ant the Cruise Terminal at Tai Kak. Hong Kong has two cruise terminals.  Ocean … Continue reading Norman Foster in Hong Kong.

A Tale of Two Hotels

The Kowloon and Canton Railroad used to end at the Star Ferry.  Salisbury Road ran east along the water and on Salisbury Road two hotels went up to serve the rail customer.  The Peninsula or (The Pen) was, in its day, considered the finest hotel in the world.  It sired a whole chain of Peninsulas around the Orient.  It was known for its fleet of … Continue reading A Tale of Two Hotels

Star Ferry — Hong Kong.

Shanghai is noted for its modern transportation infrastructure, the mag-lev trains and high speed rail.  Hong Kong is noted for its 19th century transportation infrastructure, the Peak Tram, the rattling old double decker trams on Hong Kong Island and the Star Ferry.  Suzi and I, of course, rode all three on this port call. The Star Ferry is listed, by lonely Planet, as the number … Continue reading Star Ferry — Hong Kong.

Good-by Manila.

A lot of crew members were sad to sail out of Manila after their family reunions, but Manila gave us a great send off.  There was a brass band with twirlers and majorettes.  They played while we lined the promenade deck rail outside my stateroom to wave and cheer back.  Some of the routines that the girls did would probably get a teacher in the … Continue reading Good-by Manila.

Manila Odds and Ends.

This page has some photos that just don’t fit anywhere else.  The pics below are of our welcome. The next three I call “signs of faith.” Finally here are some miscellaneous shots.   In Manila the pollution is bad enough that many people wear face masks.  I like the one on the harbor policeman.   I guess Alaska is a good brand name, but for ice … Continue reading Manila Odds and Ends.

Douglas MacArthur Had Dessert Here – The Manila Hotel

I love hotels of a certain era.  The ones built by railway and steamship companies as way points in the Orient Express or wharf side outposts of empire.  We’ve stayed in several, usually at a time when it was a close call whether they would see a wrecking ball or restoration, the Imperial in Dehli, the Moskva in Belgrade, the Empress in Victoria.  We stayed … Continue reading Douglas MacArthur Had Dessert Here – The Manila Hotel

Rescued by a Buggy Whip — Intramuros Manila.

The Intramuros is the “old” walled city of Manila.  I put the word “old” in quotes because much of this part of the city was flattened when the Americans retook Manila from the Japanese in 1945.  Some modern historians have criticized General MacArthur for his attack on the city but when I asked Tony, our driver who was born in a flattened Manila, about this … Continue reading Rescued by a Buggy Whip — Intramuros Manila.

Gustave Eiffel in Manila?

Gustave Eiffel had a major hand in the iconic landmarks in two world cities.  He designed the support structure for the Statue of Liberty.  He also designed a number of pre-fab iron buildings in Arica Chile including a church, customs house and government building. (Click here.) But did he design a building, the Basilica of San Sebastian, for Manila?  According to our Holland America Destination … Continue reading Gustave Eiffel in Manila?

Defensive Driver — Manila

The Captain’s announcement was not encouraging.  “The temperature tomorrow in Manila will be, wait for it, 95 degrees Fahrenheit, that’s 35 degrees Celsius.”  With 88% humidity it was just plain hot.  Suzi does not function well in high heat and I realized that I needed to change our plans to walk around Manila, seeing the sights.  There were four cruise ships in port and although … Continue reading Defensive Driver — Manila

Three More Days, Two More Days, One more Day TODAY!!

I wonder how my grandfather, who was a steward on White Star Line at the turn of the 20th century, would have reacted to relations between crew and passengers on this cruise.  While he clearly liked some of the persons he served (and clearly did not like others) he did not see himself as a social equal.  Budi and Douglas, our room stewards call us … Continue reading Three More Days, Two More Days, One more Day TODAY!!

Sharon Stone and the Virgin Mary – The Puerto Princesa Underground River.

The narrative for this page of pictures is on the earlier post, click here.  That’s the only way you will understand the title of this post. In the event you don’t click above, the Puerto Princesa Underground River is a UNESCO world heritage site, voted one of the new 7 wonders of the natural world.  It is not easy to get to.  It is two … Continue reading Sharon Stone and the Virgin Mary – The Puerto Princesa Underground River.