Trama and Drama on th high seas

Trama and Drama on th high seas

April 14, 2024

We were delayed by immigration for two hours in Shanghai. So, we were already late.  Then at o’dark thirty, the captain declared a medical emergency and had changed course to Taipei to get the medically necessary care for the sick guest.   Somewhere along the way we were intercepted by the Taiwanese Coast Guard and the patient transfer was initiated.  It was no easy task getting the gurney from our ship to theirs.  After several failed attempts, they finally used the tender dock, but they were not tall enough to get the gurney transfer done. So, they called upon all tall crew members to lift, and they made it, transfer complete. 

Soon after, the captain reset a course for Hong Kong.  And we were back on track, sort of.   Once again, the captain gave us an update.  Due to the time spent on the medical evacuation and the fact that we now have lost one of our engines, we would be arriving about 12 hours late. He assured us that he had been given the green light from corporate and they would send the necessary repair parts to Hong Kong and we would be ready when we left Hong Kong.  Then the captain again announced that we had hit unfavorable currents, and we would be delayed by two hours or more.  We finally docked around 10:30 that night. All this time we were being told that we would have to have a face-to-face immigration meeting as soon as we arrived.  Well, finally someone got smart and delayed the immigration process until early this morning. 

Remember the guy who was walking to immigration back in Shanghai that fell even though he was using a walker?  We learned that he broke his hip and is no longer on the cruise.   This cruising thing is only for the tough.  We also got an update on the lady that was evacuated by the Coast Guard. She will be okay but will not be returning to the ship. 

Last night we had dinner with Chuck and Nancy at the new specialty restaurant, Solis, a Mediterranean cuisine restaurant with a menu sporting 155 Entrees.  It was good but we miss our steak house.

Today. Kim went mountain climbing with mechanical help.

When she gothere this is the view she had. Yes, that is our ship on the left side of the picture.

The bus rules.

The elevator rules.

Too many rules, let’s get out of here.

Well, I told you all I was going to do something that would shock everyone that knows me.  Well, I sat for a fitting for a custom Taylor made suit.   Wow, what got into me?  Well, before you start a go fund me account for my psychology treatments, I did order my suit with shorts.  It didn’t even phase the Taylor when I made that request.

RED China

RED China

April 9, 2024

Shanghai, China

Oh my god, this place is over the top! 

Shanghai is quite a way inland from the open sea.  We took on our first of three pilots at 7 AM.  We docked at 3 PM up the Huangpu River.  Kind of like the Port of Portland, where the ships need to navigate the Columbia and Willamette rivers. 

This place is full of glitz and glamour, it puts Las Vegas to shame.  Fantastic architecture and the lighting at night is the most amazing we have ever seen.

But it’s still China.  I’m not going to rant about my feelings about China, you already know how I feel.  I realize that I have an unnatural fear of China, even to the point of almost not booking this cruise because it was going there.  I asked Kim several months ago, what if one of us has a medical emergency and ends up in the hospital and we must leave the ship?  Well, in the six degrees of separation category, we saw Nancy, our new friend that we do a lot with.  She was obviously distraught, she told us Chuck, her husband was in the hospital!  Too Close for me! Good news, after an overnight stay, he was released and is back on the ship. 

The immigration process when we arrived was grueling, we were all required to do a face-to-face visit with the Chinese agents.  The problem was we had to walk about a half a mile to get there and then wait until the entire ship was cleared before we were allowed to walk another half mile back to the ship.  Really, they can’t figure out a better way?  It baffles me that just a few years ago, we visited New Zealand, Australia and Japan.  There were no required visas, no big immigration processes, just a ‘welcome to our country’.  What changed?

They do call it the love boat afterall!

The next day, I enjoyed the day poolside watching the river traffic back and forth.  Kim went on an 8 ½ hour tour.

 

There were hundreds of these motor barges, you can see that they almost sink them when full.

Kim saw this very typical temple that was a few hundred years old.

This is taken from our room, they are spaced about 100 feet apart everywhere, big brother watching?

And now another eposode of poolside chronicles, you can’t make this shit up, Even slow days find me amazed by the stupid coments I hear. I’m now totally convinced that the person that coined the phrase “There’s no such thing as a stupid question” never went on a cruise. So, the lady at the table next to me asks “What do you think those yellow and white boats that go back and forth across the river are doing?”, Welll, I’m not giving you the answer today, but if you can’t figure it out on your own, please feel free to contact me. You will probably make my next poolside chronicles as a star.

We are now out of China and headed for Hong Kong.  I’m going to do something that will shock you all, stay tuned.

Japan last and final stop in that country

Japan last and final stop in that country

April 5-6, 2024

Nagasaki, Japan

When I looked out this morning and saw we were actually in Nagasaki, Japan, I was quite surprised.  You’ll have to read more to understand why I was so surprised. 

Nagasaki is the other city we destroyed with an A-Bomb.  I’m not sure why it is a lesser-known story than Hiroshima, but it is. 

We have now headed south, and the temperature has risen 10 degrees, yah.  As we continue south, it will just get warmer. 

We have been warned again today that this day might be our last for internet connections because China will most likely shut us down tomorrow.  So, if you don’t hear from me for a few days, don’t worry.  I will keep writing and will publish it as soon as possible. 

We are parked about a half mile from Chinatown and have had some good food for lunch. 

Kim’s knee is still bothering her, so she is not able to walk as much as she would like to, but at least she is getting to the things she wants to see. 

Tomorrow is a sea day and then we will be stuck in Shanghai for 3 days, yuck. 

Confucius 72 men that studied under him. 

This bridge was built in the 1600’s, wow.

This huge lattice structure uses no nails or glue.  Joined by groves and holes.  It was originally backed by glass, and it made it look like stained glass, but now it is backed by plywood.

Another bartender is Nada, pronounced Nadja, she is from Montenegro.  She celebrated her 26th birthday on April 2nd.  My oldest granddaughter also celebrated her 26th birthday on April 2nd, strange.  She and Kim compare notes often on their explorations.  Nada doesn’t get much time off the ship, but she uses it to the fullest.

And now it’s time for pool chronicles, you just can’t make this shit up. I was just sitting out at the pool having lunch, when this group of nine elders took two tables and moved them together.  They were new to me.  They all had their seasick patches behind their ears, even though the ship hasn’t rocked for a minute in the last several days.  Their ordering process was quite an ordeal, but that’s not what got me.  One of the ladies asks where we are now, and another stated, correctly that we are in Yeosu, Korea.  And where will we be tomorrow, she asks.  Again, a correct answer of Nagasaki, Japan.  She then exclaims that there is no way that this “boat” can get from Korea to Japan overnight.  I was immediately overcome with emotion.   Have I been sailing on the seas for 45 years blindly trusting the itinerary and the crew?  What if it was all imaginary?  Shall I run and tell the captain that he cannot do what he is planning to do tonight?  She said it with such authority, it was hard to question her statement.  And now you know why I was surprised to see we were actually in Japan this morning.  What kingdom does she rule?  I’m glad I am not one of her subjects. 

We travel not to escape life, but for life not to escape us.

Good night all and thanks for continuing to check in with me.

Tsunami?

Tsunami?

April 1-2, 2024

Sakaimanto, Japan.

Oh boy, April 1st, the day of the fool…and the next day too.  I must get out there and listen!  Our final day in Japan and 1st day in Korea.

Sakaiminato was the city of eyeballs and chopsticks and loads of street art.  As the pictures show, you can even get bottled water in an eyeball bottle. 

In a coastal area, Kim walked through all 123 of these red arches that led to the beach.

In a mountainside town, she found some new boots.   

French fry anyone? 

How about Cherry Blossoms? 

It’s impossible to get away from Made in China stuff.

I had my second haircut and pedicure in the ship spa while we were there. 

Here’s one more for the small ship sailing experiences. After a show last night, I shook the Captain’s hand and thanked him for putting our comfort and safety ahead of his mission to get the ship from A to B on time.  He thanked me and grabbed me and hugged me as a way of saying thank you to me.

 

And speaking of “bromance”, my two favorite bartenders left the ship yesterday at noon, I’ll miss them.  And then, my bubbies from Cathlamet called me from my house to let me know everything was secure and to notify me that I was getting dangerously low on my high-end beverage stock.  Wow, what great friends.  WE also had a meeting where among other things WE voted that no one can ever go on vacation for more than two months without coming home for a visit.  I asked how “WE” voted when I wasn’t even there.  Well, that’s when I learned a very valuable lesson.  Don’t ever give your attorney a blanket proxy without some very specific guidelines.  It appears that I was actually there and did vote for the restriction. 

We overnighted in Busan, S Korea and woke up to a tsunami warning.  Our sister ship, the Ovation had to leave port to get out to sea, leaving several passengers behind. They gathered them up and took them to high ground and eventually the ship came back to get them. Seems Taipei, Taiwan had a pretty big earthquake.   Remember, we were there just one week ago, too close for us.  Yesterday was beautiful, bright sunny and warm. Kim went on an excursion and I waited for the new passengers to board.   Today is constant rain.  The captain is once again delaying our departure by 4 hours due to high winds and seas, and now he just told us it may be delayed longer. 

Yesterday, we finally we got some IPA, the first since way back in Auckland, New Zealand.  So far they have brought to my room, 3 sixpacks for my personal consumption, cheers.

I’m here with today’s episode of Pool Chronicles– you can’t make this shit up.  I’ve sent you enough photos of the pool deck, so, you should also know there is a Grill in one corner.  This couple comes out and are walking slowly and just kind of had that ‘I’m lost’ look, so a bar server asked what she could do to help?  They replied that they had just embarked and hadn’t eaten all day.  “We’re looking for somewhere to eat”.  I mentally raised my hand and said pick me, pick me, I had an answer.  Well, in a very nice tone, she explained that they had walked right past the indoor buffet that closes at 2:00 and right in front of their nose was the Patio Grill.  Can you believe it?  Wow.

It’s Indian Market dinner tonight which means sushi for me. 

A-Bomb

A-Bomb

March 30, 2024

Hiroshima, Japan

We all know the story about the A-bomb that was dropped on Hiroshima, but it really doesn’t sink in until you walk in the footsteps of all of those that were killed on August 6, 1945. 

But, let’s not get ahead of ourselves.  At out last port, we docked at the base of an active volcano in Kagoshima, Japan. 

The steam was pouring out of it all day.  It reminded us of Mt St Helens in our back yard.  I know you don’t like me complaining about the weather, but it was so bad that Kim stayed on board the ship.  It was raining sideways, heavy rain.  We were due to get under way at 9 PM that night, but about three hours before we were to leave, an announcement came from the bridge that we were staying in port for the night.  The captain said it would be unsafe and uncomfortable if we left tonight.  The captain went on to say there were gale force winds and heavy seas, but he expected then to end by morning. We looked at the radar on our computers and it was a band that was all red and yellow, it wasn’t very wide, but we were lucky to be safe in a harbor, under an active Volcano.  We got under way at 7 AM, so they tell me. 

After a sea day, we arrived in Hiroshima.  Kim went on a planned excursion to the Peace Memorial Park.  It was a beautiful park dedicated to that day in 1945.  The museum was filled with memories, including testimonials from survivors. 

She saw one of the only buildings to survive the attack, the A-Bomb Dome, I give you both before and after pictures to compare.  There was a huge wall of paper cranes, and the story goes like this.  A young girl with leukemia, from the aftereffects of the bomb, was in the hospital and the nurses told her if she made 1,000 paper cranes, she would not die.  Well, of course she did die, but not before she made a thousand paper cranes.  Now to this day, the museum receives thousands of paper cranes from all over the world daily and the museum displays every one of them.  There was also an eternal flame that will burn until all threat of a nuclear attack no longer exists.

 And there was a Cenotaph to honor victims, look that one up.  Look at the picture carefully, it is lined up so that you see both the eternal flame and the A-bomb dome. 

Kim saw this little old lady ridding her bike with an umbrella holder to keep the sun off. 

And here I am with my favorite bartender, Vinna (I’m the one on the right).  He leaves tomorrow, sad. 

ENOUGH glume and doom.  Even though the pool has been quiet, they never let a day go by without saying something stupid.

So, I’m here with yet another episode of Pool Chronicles, you can’t make this shit up. 

I was at the sushi bar eating the tuna my loving wife bought me, when a guy walks up to the bar and orders a virgin Gin and Tonic, what did I just hear?  The guy sitting next to me looked at me with the same questioning face and we together said, “wouldn’t that just be a Tonic”? 

And then there was this sign, anyone want to take a stab at it?

I could never keep a job on a cruise ship, because my mouth usually beats my brain to the finish line.  OOPS!

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. 

Later