Japan, the friendly country

Japan, the friendly country

March 27, 2024

Amami Japan

This is our second time visiting Japan and there is no other country more welcoming and helpful than the people of Japan.

Day one started with what was supposed to be a voluntary immigrations check.  They told us that if we planned to go ashore at any port in Japan, we needed to clear immigration at this stop.  As the messages started getting more often and more direct, I decided to go ahead and do it.  What if I needed medical care off ship, or anything else?  Well, then they started calling room numbers and names.  So, this isn’t optional, is it?  Well, after 45 minutes of standing in line, I was officially okay to go ashore at any Japanese port.  Big deal. 

Stop number 2 of 5 in Japan. 

Big change in the weather, 64, windy and rainy, wow.   Yea, yea, I know there are no violins playing for us, it’s still better here than at home.  But I did miss my pool time yesterday due to high winds.  I’ll try again today. 

After a rather rocky sea overnight, we were at port.  Kim headed off as usual and enjoyed exploring the streets. 

When Kim went shopping with the chefs, she bought me another pineapple, best one yet.  The chefs and servers were all salivating over my pineapple, the smell alone was incredible, but when I offered to share it with them, they turned me down, crew vs guest etiquette I guess.  Today, she brought me some sushi, it’s a very dark meat and looks like tuna, I’ll let you know when I eat it tomorrow.  Once again, the seas are smooth tonight.  We have learned a lot about Japan and the war from our lectures. 

Last night we had our final dinner at the Grill.  They are closing it down and opening a Mediterranean food restaurant.  We will have a chance to try it out before our cruise ends.    

So, I was really worried about finding content for my Pool Chronicles, you can’t make this shit up, but they never fail me. 

So, here we go….

Ross, our cruise director, gave me the first one.  As people board the ship for the first time, it is like everyone losses any sense of protocol.  People step right in your face and say things like toilet, where?

We were late to lunch the next day and all the tables had at least one person at them.  I picked a table with one guy and asked if we could join him, sure was the response.  Well, I’m sure you remember toupee Joe, he got off in Taipei.  Well, this guy was Joe also, and he got on in Taipei.  He is short, cranky looking and frank.  He asked me what I do for work, and I told him I was retired.  He said how do you survive; do you rely on your social security income?  That’s when I knew he was playing me.  I told him that we were living on the social security checks, but we had to pledge several years of our payments to the bank to pay for this trip and I had no idea how were going to survive when we got off this trip.  He’s no dummy and could see I was calling his bluff.    He then asked me seriously when I retired, and I told him I was 44 when I retired.  He was a bit shocked and asked my field, and I responded real estate investment.  He said he dabbled in that also.  I didn’t say it, but I thought it, a lot of people do. 

He told us he was from the country of Texas and lived in Houston.  Turns out, he is a prominent surgeon there, who knew.  The next day, Kim saw him exiting the shuttle bus and he said he didn’t understand why he paid so much for a cruise that takes him to such crappy ports.  Kim loved the crappy port, it’s in the eye of the beholder, I guess. 

She found Tequila with a snake in it, what?

And she found this great shirt.

She also found this sign, anyone want to take a stab at it?

Kim ran into a guy today that was cold and told her that he never expected this cruise would encounter cool weather.  Folks, both of us checked the weather and we both knew we were in for a big change when we hit Japan.  I even packed a jacket, didn’t need it yet.  Why don’t people do any homework, really?

Then, the big one hit me.  It’s 4:00 and time to leave port.  I’m sitting in my assigned seat at the pool, watching the towns people giving us a send off of music, song, and dance.  A guy walks over to the rail by me and exclaims, “Wow, are they here for us”?  I couldn’t help myself, I say, no, in Japan if you live in a coastal town there is an ancient ritual that at 4:00 every Wednesday, the town has this ceremony asking the Gods of the sea to keep them safe and calm the seas.  He told me that makes sense and left.  Occasionally I feel guilty for giving misinformation, but it doesn’t last long. 


Republic of China

Republic of China

March 24, 2024

Taipei, Taiwan, Republic of China.

Our third and final stop in Taiwan.  Day one, we found our internet blocked, but later that afternoon, it was unblocked, and we have had it ever since.  Brian, our chief of security told us that was normal.  They block all internet until they investigate it, if they find it clean, they unblock it. 

Our first stop, Kaohsiung, had us marveling at the architecture. 

The brand-new terminal building was amazing.  Check out this building, I swear it was built from Legos.

The next stop was a little island just off the mainland.  Kim went walking and decided to try some iced tea (it is China you know), her first try was at McDonalds.  It turned out to be sweet tea and she poured it out.  She stopped at another little shop and the iced tea turned out to be iced coffee, yuck.  0 for 2, not trying again.  She bought me another pineapple, yum.

Now in our second day in Taipei, several people are experiencing eye and throat irritation from the air quality.  Yesterday, Kim (and others) got up at 0 dark 30 and went shopping with the chefs.  They went on a bus for about 40 minutes to another town and the market was amazing.  Take a look at some of the stuff they saw.

The chefs.

Fresh noodles.

Fresh pork.

Ever seen a gray chicken?

I think he just had a pedicure!

Oops, got it in twice.

Kim just told me that so far on this trip, she has read 16 books and watched 22 movies.   She is more concerned about China and spying than  am, she has kept her phone and computer off the entire time.  Probably a smart move, I guess that’s why I didn’t do the same.

To honor the old and the new, this photo is from our veranda, showing an old pagoda on the hill and a modern cruise ship in the foreground. 

Well, today marks the end of another segment.  150 guests ended their cruise here and 160 new cruisers joined us.  I’m excited to get 160 new victims for Pool Chronicles, but there are a lot of Chinese people joining us. They will probably not be good subjects for me.

Next stop, Japan  

Stay tuned.

A Thrilla in Manila

A Thrilla in Manila

March 20, 2024

We are now looking at the Philippines through the rear-view mirror.  We made three very diverse and interesting stops in the Philippines.   The first two, I have already written about.  The third stop, Manila, was an overnighter. 

We were scheduled to dock at noon, so at 10:30 there was a very special “sail in” party at the pool deck. 

We were told that of the 370 crew members, over half were Philippine and of those, over 90% were from Manila.  They brought all of the Philippine crew members and gathered them around Deck 9.   

They passed out flags and then they sang their national anthem for us, it was moving.  Several sang and danced and entertained us.

Cavar was served from the pool.  Many of the crew were allowed off ship overnight to visit their families.  They had a special buffet lunch for families in the cruise terminal and then they all came aboard to see how their loved ones lived and where they worked.  It was great to see children running around and the joy filled hearts of the crew members.  It is so good to see how Seabourn treats their crew, it’s like they are family instead of employees.

Kim went on a tour in Manila that included China town. 

She bought me a fried Sapaio (hum bow), it was great.  

This picture is for my friends who work for Wahkiakum PUD.

We woke up this morning to Armageddon, the temperature dropped 20 degrees, the calm seas were at about 20 feet waves and the wind was blowing at 40 MPH.  It was wonderful, the editors’ opinion only.   This is what I live for.   

 I had to laugh though, all around the ship were barf bags, wimps.

Kim is on a trivia team and trivia is every sea day at noon.  She left our room at five ‘til noon to get ready.  I like to sit in and listen, it’s entertaining.  Five minutes later, a water pipe burst just outside of our room.  I ended up trapped in our room for almost an hour.  They were using our bathroom to dump buckets of water; I’m talking hundreds of buckets.  They managed to stop the leak in about 15 minutes, but not before damaging decks 6,5, and 4. 

Our floor was closed off, so in order to go anywhere, we had to go to the bow stairs.  Not convenient at all. 

I was able to get out of my room to go to lunch and had to laugh when I was escorted by a crew member through the atrium with an umbrella because it was literally raining. 

After lunch, I took up my post at the pool deck, but I was the only one out there. 

The waves were so big that the spray from the bow was coning over the deck 9 railing and raining down on the pool deck. 

It was a sunny day, but as you can see the pool deck was wet from the spray.  Kim would shoot through every so often to make sure I was okay.  One time, she said to me “you are absolutely loving this, I can see it on your face”.  She was exactly right, at that moment, there was nowhere I would rather be. 

After a sea day today, we will enter Taiwan, too close to China for me. 

No internet access

Hi faithful readers. We were warned that China may block our access to the internet. Well, they did, so I will keep writing and post whenever I can.
In the meantime, my webmaster has added a tab at the top of the home page so you can go all the way to the beginning of our trip. You can also type January in the search box and all posts for January will show up.
please keep checking back for more.
thhanks, Steve

Welcome to the Philippines

Welcome to the Philippines

March 17, 2024

The Philippines:

7,ooo Islands, only about a thousand occupied.  The second poorest country, next to Indonesia in this part of the world.  Friendliest people ever.

First stop Princesa, When I opened the curtains this morning, I was shocked to see this ship headed straight at us!  Turns out they were just turning around to dock behind us. Whew.

Princesa is called the “cleanest and greenest” town in the Philippines.  Well, it was cleaner, but their claim is still a stretch.

The highlight of my day was this field ripened pineapple Kim bought me at the market.  These small ones are the best.  Heaven.  The chief cut it up for me.

This high school band played for us as we prepared to leave the dock.  Nice place. Kim thought this Pilot boat was cute.

Today at noon we arrived at Boracay, I call it the Disneyland of water sports.  Ever seen over a dozen parasails in the air at one time?  How about over 70 sailboats sailing together?

A tender ride to the dock where we were met by these costumed dancers.  Then a trike ride to the beach, these trikes are electric and take the place of cabs. 

The beach was billed as “white sand that doesn’t get hot”, well, Kim said it was white, for sure, but also hot.

The weather is cooling down, it is now in the low 80’s and much less humid.  I again was able to spend more time outside. 

Last night a new mystery noise started.  About every 30 minutes, there was a sound, like a pump running.  It continued throughout the night, waking us up from time to time.  By this afternoon, it had increased to every 7 minutes, and I was sure that it was a hydraulic pump.  I called to ask if maintenance could look at it for us.  Within 2 minutes, someone was knocking on our door, they listened and assured us they would find it.  About that time, Kim came in and announced, quite proudly, that she had accidently found the source of the noise.  She was walking on deck 5, just below our room, when she heard “the noise”.  She brought me pictures and I immediately recognized it as the hydraulic pump that raises and lowers the lifeboats.  I called and told them that we had isolated the noise, and they should send maintenance back to our room.  They said they had it under control and would fix it. 

Well, a couple of hours later, the engineering officer and two workers showed up at our door.  Kim let them in, and they started investigating the mechanics of our room, still looking for the noise, they checked out the A/C and other stuff.  Kim told them I was out on the veranda and could tell them where the noise was coming from. 

They came out and I showed them the pictures of the hydraulic pump and explained to them that the problem could only be either low fluid in the hydraulic revisor, a small leak that they have not detected, or an air bubble in the line. 

The Chief looked at me and said I was right, there are no other possibilities, and thanked me and left.  I doubt any of you knew that I have a degree in Hydraulic Engineering ;).  They fixed it before bedtime, and we were off to sleep.