Something that I care about
If you know anything about me you know I went to high school in the 1970’s. So what’s it like to be stuck there?
- Oil Embargo
- Jimmy Carter
- Gas is 30 cents/ gal I noticed my keyboard doesn’t even have the cents sign anymore
- Nixon visits China
- The Brady Bunch-are you kidding?
- Peter Max
- Psychedelic art
- Bell Bottoms
Did I mention we are using the same backpacks we used on our honeymoon in Egypt in 1982?
Stella took us into town to a shopping mall with a travel agent were we booked our trip to Cuzco, Macchu Picchu and the flight back from Bolivia. She didn’t seem sure we knew what we doing, but we were. It all seemed a little adventurous to her. Bolivia just sounded so interesting.
We were going somewhere she had never been. Her favorite destination was the United States. Jackie, Stella’s daughter told us, I’ve never been to Bolivia. It’s our neighbor like Mexico is to you. Katie got a really nice purse it was really soft. Later we gave it to Marion. We also went to a very famous silver shop, Camusso. They had really nice things. http://www.camusso.com.pe/
We got up early and to take the plane to Cuzco CUZ, the capital of the Inca Empire. Pancho took us to the airport . When you get there you drink coca tea and rest because of the altitude change. Those that didn’t sure regretted it. The train for Macchu Picchu leaves at the crack of dawn. It follows the valley of the Urubamba river valley that is a beautiful view in itself.
Macchu Picchu remained hidden until 1911 when discovered by Yale archeologist Hiram Bingham. The thing about it is the days and nights are about the same leangth. Being near the equator it gets dark early. We spent that afternoon exploring the ruins. We spent the night at Macchu Picchu, also known as the lost city of the Incas. In the morning we climbed to the top of Huayna Picchu, the small peak. The view is actually better from the ground. As is so often the case, something big looks better when you’re not standing right underneath it.
When we got back to Cuzco, the children were buying bundles of grass to feed their cuy or Guinea pigs. Yes, they’re actually native to SA.
Back at Cuzco we visited the nearby fortress of Ollantaytambo and Saksaywaman.
Believe it our not in fourth grade I had a friend who moved to St Louis from Bolivia he spoke French. There was a scary guy on he train named Jerry. He had come all the way from Iquitos in the rain forest in one day, sea level and was obviously suffering from altitude sickness. We got to Puno after dark we had been warned about the crime at the train station and the backpack slashers. We got out of there as fast as we could. The next day we got on a boat and were on our way across lake Titicaca for Copacabana in Bolivia.Much of Bolivia is Called the altiplano. It’s the highest plateau in the world after Tibet. In the sixteenth century Bolivia provided fantastic wealth to the Spanish empire from Potosi or mountain of silver. Today the silver is played out and tin is mined. Bolivia is a poor country as shown is the movie Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. One of the best buddy movies ever made. Originally known as Upper Peru the name was changed to Bolivia to honor Simon Bolivar. On the boat we met a couple from Austria.
Changing Money At that time inflation was rampant in Bolivia. The government couldn’t print enough large bills so the money changers just bundled them together with rubber bands. One night I ran out of money so I had to change with the waiter at the restaurant since the banks were closed. While driving to La Paz we saw trade caravans crossing the desert on Llamas, following the same route they had used for centuries.
Our Austrian friends told us they were leaving La Paz because they people made them feel unwelcome. That’s a shame because they had come such a long way.
Did you take water from the Titcaca see. Along with Mexico Bolivia is very popular with Germans and Austrians.
Tiwanaku is the famous archeological site outside of la Paz. Its totems are well know and have great psychological significance. We gave a post card to our German friend she said this is just for me I’m not sharing it with any one.
On the flight back to Lima from LaPaz LPB we stopped in Arequipa AQP the white city and flew over the Atacama desert.
The Atacama desert is the driest desert in the world. Some parts have seen less than 10mm of rain in 200 years. This is what makes the fishing so great. Anchovies and Tuna. The Birds eat the fish and the poop collects. A very important source or nitrate very important during WWI. The cold Humboldt current comes up anticlockwise from antarctica. It is much warmer at comparable latitudes on the Atlantic side of the continent.
- Peru Day 3: Macchu Picchu (balloonsandbacon.wordpress.com)
7/26 Friday London
The tour today was one of the best we’ve had on the trip, despite the fact it was late. I slept so well last night I didn’t wake-up until 9:10 when I heard a lady yelling, “Has the tour been postponed? I thought, God I hope so. We have been having American style breakfasts here with bacon and eggs and corn flakes. We are staying in an apartment tower kind of thing with a common dinning area somewhere in London. Near the newly constructed BT Tower in the west end near Regent street. I have been using the stairs instead of the elevator. I have developed a bad cough. Nolting told me to get something for it at the Chemist’s.
Our RAP is named Tobie he is a proper English gentleman with black hair and a beard. I’m still researching grocery stores. I went for a walk tonight with Shelley. We got lost on the way back and nice women helped us. When she was done she gave us a cheerio and walked away. Toby told us that phrase is not used much any more.
Something new in Britain this year is currency reform. Great Britain now has a decimal system like the US with 100 pence to a pound. They no longer use the shilling, sixpence, farthing system with 240 farthing or 80 pence to a pound. The thing I don’t like about the pound is that it is worth about $1.60 so if something is 50p it’s almost a dollar. It would have been bad to miss this tour. http://www.westminster-abbey.org/tour/images/nav_warrior.jpg I like the idea of not having to go back and forth for lunch all the time. We should have done that in some of the other cities. I really enjoyed many of the sites. I’m glad I got to see the Albert Memorial. http://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Attraction_Review-g186338-d211769-Reviews-Albert_Memorial-London_England.html accessed 2012 April 4. I’ve got to go back. I was sorry to hear that the Crystal Palace burned down in 1930, but Tobie(our RAP) said there’s a copy in Houston. http://www.westminster-abbey.org/tour/images/coro_chair2.jpg I liked Westminster very much. O, Rare! Ben Johnson he’ll always have his name misspelled. Westminster is completely different from St. Peters. Westminster is gothic although some of the restorations are in other styles. Westminster has all kinds of famous people buried there. Mainly popes are buried in St. Peter’s. The popes are buried under the main storey in St. Peter’s; each tomb has a little chapel. Just below this window you find the grave of the Unknown Warrior which commemorates the many thousands killed in the 1914-18 war who have no grave. . In Westminster the people buried under the floor. People can walk over their graves, not so for the popes. http://travel.yahoo.com Another difference: St. Peter’s is a Cathedral and Westminster is an Abbey. St Peter’s is under the authority of the Pope and the Catholic Church. Westminster is controlled by the Queen and is Anglican. The Popes are elected in the Sistine Chapel and the Kings are coronated in Westminster.
I’m glad it wasn’t crowded at Westminster. Chris a buxom, typically British lass and Toby’s girlfriend, said tours usually don’t see anything. We just happened to be there at noon so we got a special benediction.
Some of the most famous to lie here, include the poets John Dryden, Tennyson, Robert Browning and John Masefield. Many writers, including William Camden, Dr. Samuel Johnson, Charles Dickens, Richard Brinsley Sheridan, Rudyard Kipling and Thomas Hardy are also buried here.
Charles Dickens’s grave attracts particular interest. As a writer who drew attention to the hardships born by the socially deprived and who advocated the abolition of the slave trade, he won enduring fame and gratitude and today, more than 110 years later, a wreath is still laid on his tomb on the anniversary of his death each year. http://www.westminster-abbey.org/
I didn’t get to see the jewels because of the bomb scare. It really messed things up. When we got to the gate guards wouldn’t let anyone out. I think it was just a scare, no real bomb. Someone said the bomb squad had been drilling, It was exciting, but I had to miss the jewels. The only things that didn’t mind staying at the tower during the scare were the ravens, because their wings are clipped. I’m having a good time here. We went to the Discotheque and I stayed late-then went gambling and won. It was so late there were no buses or tubes. We walked most of the way home.
- Third day in London (baandmatownsend.wordpress.com)
- St Peter’s and St Paul’s (500adventures.wordpress.com)
- Literary London (Part II) (amelialondontravels.wordpress.com)
- From Michaelangelo to Michael Schumacher: visiting the Vatican Museums (500adventures.wordpress.com)
Travels with my Aunt Margaret
London to Nassau and Back
Margaret Lewis was my wife’s aunt. She lived in New York City but later in life moved to Cincinnati, Ohio. I had the pleasure of taking many nice trips with her. Here is an account of those trips I gave my son while entertaining him on a drive to his college Carnegie Mellon.
Well, I’m back now. I just enjoyed those trips that I had with your mother and Margaret. We went to some special places of course with you kids and Margaret. The first trip we went on well, I took Margaret and your mother to London in 1988. I was supposed to be going to Germany on business and I asked your mother if she wanted to go and she said sure. Somehow Margaret fanageled her way in on the trip and before I knew it they were going to London and I ended up going to Germany by myself.
But I did spend a couple of days in London with them and that was a blast. And your mother and I got up to Inverness in Scotland and you were a baby but you didn’t make that trip. You stayed home and I went on to Frankfurt to the Achema which is a huge process and chemical engineering show that they have in Germany every three years. It’s really amazing. So that was the first trip that I made with Margaret Lewis. And then I ended up going to Germany again the next year to a trade show Envitec, an environmental trade show, in Düsseldorf and I ended up staying in Duisburg and driving down to the show every day with our German agent, not a secret agent, just a business agent.
That was the year of the Exxon Valdez crash in Alaska and I was in Germany during that crash. I also bought Poppy your famous Steiff stuffed bunny which you still love. The Sahara sand was the strangest thing I ever heard of. Sand from the Sahara desert is carried 4000 miles in the stratosphere by the jet stream to Germany. It is very bad for the cars. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PYi1UejjFro
Well, then in 1996 your mother and I went on a Panama Canal trip with Intrav and because my grandfather had told me in your life if there are two places that, if you ever got the chance to go you should go. One was Ephesus in Turkey. With its famous library of Celsus, temple of Artemis, Basilica and tomb of St. John, and nearby the home of the Virgin Mary.
And the subject of St. Paul’s famous epistle in the New Testament. I got to visit Ephesus with Ted D., Roberto and Marisa in January 1978. It was a very cold winter that year.
The other one was the Panama Canal which he went on with the Shriners in 1974. Well, lo and behold we got this brochure about the Panama Canal and I thought boy that’ll never happen and somehow I talked your mother into it and it was November. It was right before Thanksgiving. We flew to Acapulco and the Mexican Navy was in port and it’s a very small navy but it was fun. We could see the ships from our hotel room.
Then we went on the cruise and we went to Nicoya and San Jose, Costa Rica and through the Panama Canal and Miraflores and we stopped in Cartagena in Colombia, which I also enjoyed. Many people on the ship said they didn’t enjoy that. They didn’t like the poverty.
And then St. Martin, which is the half French half Dutch island in the Caribbean. And the Dutch side used to have square coins. They were one of the few square coins in the world. They were 15 cents, 15 Dutch cents. And they were widely sought after by collectors. I got a few of them. They still have square coins in Suriname. They were just about as popular as those triangular Tuvan stamps that Richard Feynman collected. I never got any of those. But I did get a picture. I have a picture of them (view slideshow.) And I have his book and maybe a hat and a t-shirt. And then we went to the Virgin Islands where I had never been but your mother had. And we went to Magens Bay in Charlotte Amalie on St. Thomas and it’s beautiful. I loved it.
I thought it was more beautiful than Hawaii even though I didn’t put it on my top 10, somehow I think I got confused. Then we went to Puerto Rico for just a day. I’ve always wanted to return and visit the el junque rain forest but haven’t made it yet. The only tropical rain forest in the United States.
I called grandpa from San Juan. It’s just like making a call in the United States you dial one plus the area code and then the number. No cell phones then. Then we flew home.
And we loved that trip so much that the next year Margaret Lewis wanted to repeat that with us and so that was our second trip with Margaret and it was March and it was winter and the port . . . we left from Hollywood, Ft. Lauderdale, Port Everglades where your great grandparents used to live. We stayed one night at the Caribe one night on the way back, but you kids didn’t like it because there was a mean man who didn’t like kids.
And I remember we had to fly through Detroit on some kind of crummy connection and it was snowing and a big blizzard and we almost missed the flight. There was no one to check the luggage and your mother was busy watching you. It was horrible. Margaret was waiting there for us. She had come from Cincinnati. And she was in a panic by the time we got to the gate. The flight had been called and was leaving in 45 minutes. So it was your mother and I and you and your sister. So we flew down to Florida and we stayed in a crummy hotel where a lot of students on spring break stayed. You had to leave a deposit on everything, on the towels, on the fly swatter, on the refrigerator because they were just used to everybody stealing everything. It reminded me of the special towels they have for gun cleaning at the Lake of the Ozarks.
But Margaret stayed with some friends, with Cookie and Mary Carlyle. When they dropped Margaret off Mary screamed my name going down the road in her mom’s convertible. It was a repeat of Terry Cannon in Florence in 1975 with the Carmen ghia (see 1975 I had so much fun).
And so we got on that trip and it was a fun trip. And maybe that was ’97. I think actually it was ’96. It was supposed to be for my 40th birthday and I ended up getting a gold diamond ring and a bracelet, an 18 kt gold bracelet, which I still wear. I’ve never taken it off in 12 years and a nice watch which I still have and uh…
I got your mother another watch but it broke a few years ago, but I still have mine. You shared a cabin with Margaret and your sister. Your mother and I had our own cabin. The picture widow in the cabin was so big that you and Marion sat in there every morning and ate your cereal.
Nassau was where your maternal grandparents went on their honeymoon in 1948. We took a submarine ride in Nassau to see the fish in the bay and they just lifted Margaret into the boat and they called her Mama. She didn’t like that. She didn’t realize they call all women that. It’s a sign of respect. So that was Nassau in the Bahamas and then we went back to the Virgin Islands and we went to St. Thomas and St. Croix this time and that was trip #2. That was your second time in the Bahamas. We took you and Marion to Freeport on a day cruise when she was a baby.
Well, then next I think we went to Nebraska or we met Margaret in Lincoln at the Abbotts, at Mike Abbotts. And we rented a minivan so that the 5 of us could ride comfortably out to Alliance. Do you remember what year that was? I think Marion was about 7. So that was about 1997 or 1998 and we rode the horses and we looked at the airplane but we didn’t get to go up in the airplane because the weather wasn’t good. He was living in Lincoln at the time. Mike had a pond in his yard and we went frog gigging after dark. You kids liked that.Chris owned 49 square miles or sections in the sand hills. His wife was Kim and she was nice. That’s a lot of land. It looked like Mongolia, hills and grass but no trees anywhere. I made you kids ride a horse bareback and without bridles and you fell off in the mud and you still haven’t forgiven me. Margaret had been there before for a big wedding at the ranch. I think it was Dianne. Voss had been to the ranch too.
And then we drove back through Neely and we stayed with one of the Abbott girls. I think it was Helen.The first of the Abbott girls I had met was Andrea. That was a long time ago in New York City. Margaret was there, too. It may have even been before your mother and I were married. Then we drove home and boy that was a long trip in that car back to St Louis. And then Margaret had to get back to Cincinnati. So that was the third trip with Margaret Lewis.
Well then 2 years later Margaret wanted to treat us to a cruise and that was in 1999 and that was the famous Scandinavian cruise. They lost Margaret’s suitcase and she had to go back to the airport and get it. It was a big waste of time. And once again we started in London and the cruise left from Dover. We took the bus down to Dover. And the interesting thing about that trip uh, except for the end which I’ll get to in a minute, the electricity went out in our hotel in London. We were staying at a very, very fancy hotel in London and all the electricity went out. All the cash registers were down and there was no way to pay for anything so they had to give us our breakfast for free and they weren’t very happy about that. They had a shop in the hotel that sold beautiful colored enameled coins. I bought a German 2 pfennig piece and a farthing for your mother that she wears as a necklace. And that’s also when we saw the eclipse; we saw the famous solar eclipse. The druids at Stonehenge went nuts. http://eclipse.gsfc.nasa.gov/SEplot/SEplot1951/SE1999Aug11T.GIF
Well that was the trip when you bought the third Harry Potter book. You just sat in the pub and read that book No one had really heard of Harry Potter but you had. You said it was going to be big and you were right.
I got a beautiful silk scarf at Liberty’s from two interns from Madrid. Their English was impeccable. We went to the Bigso store from Sweden and got some cool office supplies on that trip too. We all went to the tower of London and saw the crown jewels. That was neat.
One night we went to dinner at a Pub in the Mayfair district of London. They wouldn’t seat us, because we had you kids with us (view slideshow.) The first time in London that had ever happened to me. We ended up at an Italian restaurant across the street it was very fancy and very nice. You all behaved well. It made an impression on me because it was the first time I spent more than one hundred dollars for a meal. I think it was more like $125. But we enjoyed it and it was worth every penny.
And then, well I’m just trying to be brief here. Then we went to Germany and we went through the Kiel Canal and to Berlin.The kids and parents stood along the canal and waved as we passed by. In Berlin we took the train from Rostock then had a tour and lunch. We went to the KaDeWe the world’s largest department store and I got donked on the head in the parking garage. We saw the newly restored Oberbaum Bridge in Friedrichshain, Tempelhof airport recently closed and site of the Berlin Airlift. We also saw the recently restored French and German cathedrals at the Gendarmenmarkt.
Also the old Cafe Moscow restaurant in East Berlin where Ted D. and I had eaten so many years ago (Nov. 1977.) Once a showcase of E. Berlin, it was closed and looked pretty crummy. The thing about that place was it had a huge menu 90% of the things on that menu were never available. It was my fourth trip to Berlin. Of course the old Berlin wall was gone.
Then the ship went to St. Petersburg, Helsinki, Stockholm, Oslo and finally Copenhagen.
In St Petersburg Margaret and your mother went to the opera performance while I took you kids to the circus. I tried some Vodka and a man thought Marion was so cute he gave her a little wooden doll with a real fur collar. Russia had really changed since I had been there in 1974. You and I had a little adventure in the Hermitage. Some old ladies from Minneapolis were so incensed that you had sat in one of the chairs in the museum that we got separated from the group, missed the bus and had to take a cab then walk two miles back to the ship which would have been alright except I had Marion’s passport and they wouldn’t let her back on the ship till I got there.
And then on the way back to Dover in the middle of the night our ship was struck by a container ship in the English Channel and we were all almost killed. And they called the general quarters and they had the Delta, Delta, Delta with the emergency command. And they had us put on our life jackets and we stood there for an hour but they determined the ship was safe. We didn’t actually have to get into the lifeboats. But as it turned out we were crossing the English Channel and the container ship was coming through. So we had the right of way but it struck us.
The container ship was owned by Evergreen from Taiwan. Containing paint, it caught fire and burned for weeks in the English Channel off Margate.
Ok, I’m back. I had to take a break. That was 10 minutes. I’ll elaborate on that trip later. That was certainly – Berlin and St. Petersburg, Stockholm, Copenhagen – wonderful, wonderful things. We bought Teddy a watch in Copenhagen, I think; it was a watch wasn’t it? It was a very special watch. It had a compass, calculator and many other special things (view slideshow.)
We went to the store where they painted the Royal Copenhagen figures. That was a special shopping street. Margaret liked that. That night we went to the Tivoli amusement park and had a faartarme. That’s a special thing they have for kids in Denmark filled with candy and little toys.
Well, okay, so now I want to get to the last trip before I forget. Um, which was to France? We went to… This time we took Margaret. It was March of 2001. Katie got an internet bargain for us. We got a week’s hotel in Paris and airfare for the 4 of us and then we added Margaret on at no extra charge. So we stayed in Paris for a few days and went to the Louvre with the kids. And that was probably the highlight of the trip was getting the Louvre trip with Margaret. And then we went to the Jardin de plantes which was Marion’s pick. Everybody got a pick. The cab driver was interesting and he wanted to know why the kids weren’t in school we said spring break and he didn’t understand then we said Easter break. And then we went to museum of Cluny and saw some famous tapestries and Roman baths in the basement. Everyone liked that museum. http://www.musee-moyenage.fr/ang/homes/home_id20393_u1l2.htm And of course we went to many book stores. We got around Paris pretty well although we had trouble in the beginning because the hotel that we were supposed to stay in was overbooked. So we ended up getting in the 15th Arrondissement which is a residential area. But Saturday morning we just walked down the big boulevard looking in shops and cafes. We enjoyed that. We eventually ended up getting split up on the Metro but somehow got together again for lunch at the Louvre. We found a nice shop selling office supplies from Japan and I ended up having something strange for lunch. That turned out to be a great day. We had a hard time getting a taxi for five people you had to order them because taxis don’t cruise around the streets the way they used to because of the price of gas. Margaret could barely keep up with us.
We had a hard time picking up the rental car it took over an hour and a half. We couldn’t find the office and didn’t have a GPS. We rented the biggest French car they had but the kids thought it was too small. We should have rented a Buick.
Well, then we drove to Normandy. First we went to Rouen the capital of Normandy. I had read about it in French class. It was beautiful. We saw the tomb of Richard Lionhearted and Mathilde daughter of Henry I and Queen of England and Germany. The Plantagenet family ruled this part of France from England until the time of Joan of Arc. They were all entombed in the famous cathedral, the one that Claude Monet painted for his study of light. We would visit his home in Giverny on the way back. http://tinyurl.com/6r2z4k
Also Napoleons home Malmaison.
We drove to Honfleur which was beautiful and on the coast and Winston Churchill had stayed there and it was very near the big port of Le Harve. Margaret and I had crème brulee every night for desert. We stayed in a very nice refurbished old hotel. We loved it.
But we went the other way. Katie had always wanted to go into Mont Ste Michelle. So that’s where we went. And we drove there and spent 3 or 4 hours there and watched the tide come in and out and then we drove back and it was spectacular. On the way there we found a little village that made copper pots just by accident, just little cooking pots. They were very reasonably priced. So we bought a pot and we bought little vases and we had a very nice lunch, and they gave us a little tour of their factory. This was right before the euro conversion in 2002 and the euro stood at about 60 cents to the dollar. Everywhere we went things were very reasonably priced. Marion and I had a seafood cocktail tower in Honfleur which was about oh I don’t know 16 or 18 inches tall and it had every kind of seafood you could imagine from lobster to mussels to clams to prawns and it was delicious.
Back in Paris we drove right by la defense, the business district of Paris. I remember because I did most of the driving. Also, in Paris we went to a special Alsatian restaurant right on the Champs d’Elysees and I told the children it was going to be too expensive. We wouldn’t be able to eat there. But we could just walk along the Champs d’Elysees. But actually we ate there. I think with the 5 of us even with wine it cost about $125. So if we went back today in 2009 it would probably be $300. So anyway that was the last trip that we took with Margaret Lewis. It was trip #5.
This year, 2011 we returned from Rome. It would be at least a hundred dollars a person because the Euro is so strong.
There was one more trip. That was with Margaret, Voss and Tom to Greg and Anne’s wedding in Hamilton, Bermuda. I didn’t go on that trip but your mother did
Okay, well, this is an addendum to that previous memo because we’ve been talking about it and I’m going back to that ’99 Scandinavian cruise and for the sake of thoroughness I believe our ship was going through the channel and the container was crossing from Dover to Oostende or another port maybe in the Netherlands or Belgium and the international seaway rules state that the ship going the shorter distance, which would be the one crossing the canal would have the right of way over the ship going through the canal which we were coming from Copenhagen which makes sense because it gives you more time to maneuver.
Anyway that accident, as we discovered later on another cruise, was one of the most studied accidents in maritime history.
On our Alaskan cruise we met a pilot and he was amazed that Katie and I had been on that trip. I never thought I was going get your mother to go on another cruise again in our lives. It took some convincing on that Alaskan cruise to the Aleutian Islands, Bearing Sea and Kamchatka. We enjoyed that. We’ve enjoyed all our trips. But that’s for another blog http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/428667.stmhttp://tinyurl.com/3bf9lmk
- Margaret (babyzone.com)
- Building the Big Ditch: All About the Panama Canal (geography.answers.com)
- The SS Ancon became the first ship to officially transit the Panama Canal today in 1914. Now WE know em (carl-leonard.com)
- “Coup d’Etat” A Political Cartoon about the Panama Canal (history204group4.wordpress.com)
- Traversing the Panama Canal’s Gatun Locks (suitcasesweethearts.com)
The East German mark was officially valued by the East German government at parity with the (West German) Deutsche Mark, but it was never freely convertible. Beginning in 1964, the East German government instituted a Zwangsumtausch (forced exchange) (or Mindestumtausch — minimum exchange), whereby most visitors from non-socialist foreign countries were required to exchange a set amount of Deutsche Mark (or other hard currencies) for East German marks at the ratio of one Deutsche Mark to one East German mark for every day of their stay. Starting on 13 October 1980, Western visitors to the GDR were required to exchange a minimum of 25 Deutsche Mark for East German marks per day. Some exceptions were authorized: for example, tourists who booked hotel stays in the GDR that were paid in hard currency were exempted from the minimum exchange requirements. (Of course, such accommodation charges almost always exceeded the 25 mark daily exchange threshold.) At other times, West Berliners, retirees, children, and youth were granted either exemptions or were authorized reduced minimum exchange amounts. Members of the Western Allied military forces stationed in West Berlin were also exempt from these rules when visiting East Berlin, in part because the Western Allies did not recognize the authority of the GDR to regulate the activities of their military personnel in East Berlin; only the Soviet Union was considered competent to do so.
20 Mark coin featuring Karl Marx, 1988
On the black market, the exchange rate was about 5 to 10 M to one DM. In the mid-1980s, one could easily visit foreign currency exchange offices in West Berlin and purchase East German banknotes (in 50 and 100 mark denominations) at the rate of 5 (East) = 1 (West). However, the GDR forbade the import or export of East German currency (as well as the currencies of other socialist countries) into or out of the GDR, and penalties for violation ranged from confiscation of smuggled currency to imprisonment. The East German mark could not be spent in Intershops to acquire Western consumer goods;
Carter was President and making a mess of things. He didn’t figure it out until his buddy Brezhnev double crossed him by invading Afghanistan. The Brezhnev doctrine stated that it was the duty of all socialist nations to aid brother socialist nations facing reforms or threats to communist rule. Strobe Talbot said in Time magazine, it was a war the Afghans could never win. Jack Matlock, whom Katie and I would meet our senior year at Vanderbilt at the impact symposium had a different idea. He would also become ambassador to the Soviet Union. We also met a funny man from Texas who said he had run the CIA and been US ambassador to China–George HW Bush.
Carter ended up pulling us out of the 1980 Moscow Olympics. I guess the Pashtu’s aren’t the Hungarians and Afghanistan isn’t a flat country you can just run over with tanks in a few hours. Obama I hope you are listening. The Germans were alienated and thinking of deploying their own nuclear missiles and neutron bomb. Daily propaganda broadcasts came from over the Iron curtain from Czechoslovakia and Radio Luxembourg (Pirate Radio). America did its part with Radio free Europe.
If you’ve been reading my BLOG you know I lived in Germany.
My first time in Germany was in 1975. I took the train from Paris through Belgium and Aachen to Cologne. We took a Rhine cruise from Cologne to Mainz and then went to Heidelberg and Lucerne in Switzerland by bus. We ran into the health teacher and her husband from my high school. We had not arranged it. They were celebrating their wedding anniversary. I have always loved that stretch of the Rhine. I even took my parents and my wife there on separate trips. One of my first paintings was of the Rhine a huge mural which now hangs in my basement. When I was in high school the German club painted another mural on the wall in my classroom.
1977 August Leave for Regensburg. Eight of us left Chicago for Reykjavik and Luxembourg via Icelandic Airlines and then on to Regensburg by train after a few days of sightseeing in Luxembourg. The allied military cemetery is very impressive as is the rock fortress, the rock of the bock.
I learned a very import word in German umsteigen it means change trains that is get off of the train you are on walk to another platform with your luggage and change to a different train.
Lived in Regensburg Germany in Bavaria for a year studying Chemie, Germanistik and Philologie (linguistics) and Arabic because Chinese was offered at the wrong time. I believe in taking advantage of every opportunity as it presents itself. I continue this philosophy to this day. My specialty is starting new things. I’m the one to ask what to do when you don’t know what to do.
During the American occupation of Germany after the second world war there was a feeling that elitist tendencies among universities in Germany had contributed to the rise of Hitler. To counter this the Americans demanded a radical increase in the number of universities; thus in a country that had about a dozen universities before the war there were now to be 20 or so in Bavaria alone.
Thus although Regensburg is one of the five oldest cities in all of Germany its University was started in 1965 with the first lectures held in 1967. Plans for a University at Regensburg had been discussed as early as the 17th century and before. Thus the University of Regensburg now 40 years old I was a student there in 1977 when it was just 10 years old and everything was brand new. There was no MacDonald’s in Regensburg at the time and the A3 Autobahn had not been built and was just in the planning stages.
Regensburg has a town charter dating from 179 ad from Marcus Aurelius. It was originally a Roman garrison on the Danube, Castra Regina in the Roman colony of Rhaetia with its capital in Augsburg. Regensburg did not suffer much bombing damage during the war and is one of the best preserved medieval cities in Germany. Regensburg became a bishopric in the early 8th century.Regensburg was a major city in Germany in Europe by the 10th century. By the 1100’s with the only bridge over the Danube it was making a fortune on salt trade with Kyiv and Venice, until the Mongol invasion put an end to that. The richest woman in Europe Gloria von Thurn und Taxis lives in a castle in Regensburg. The current pope Benedict XVI is from Regensburg. His brother still lives there and was the director of the cathedral choir for many years.
Holy Roman Empire Imperial Diet meets in Regensburg for 150 years.
Protestant Reformation N. Germany the 30 years war was a disaster for Germany
Napoleonic Wars Napoleon is wounded here for the first and only time. He took a bullet in the knee.
He levels half of Regensburg in revenge. That’s the part east of Maximillianstr. dating from 1807 that’s the “new” part of the city. Robert Browning memorialized it in famous poem.
Bonn is the capital of divided Germany. It is a city on the Rhine. It has a University and is the home of Ludwig von Beethoven. It is not far from Cologne home of the great gothic cathedral and Conrad Adenauer the father of modern Germany.
November Berlin This month our group made a trip to the divided city of Berlin. About 30 of us. Sharon had to stay behind because her father is in the military. Fears of blackmail, kidnapping and the like. Because our director is German we have to cross into East Berlin at Friederichstr. Or Checkpoint alpha. Checkpoint Charlie is for Americans only. I’ll cross back into West Berlin there later that night.
Berlin is dived into four zones of occupation since the end of WWII, British, American French and Russian, Since 1949 the French British and American zones have been untied into the free city of West Berlin. The German government has subsidized our trip lest people abandon the citizens of W. Berlin which lies well into the territory of East Germany.
When my parents visit me in the Spring we visit West Berlin and then Drive to Potsdam and Dresden. It takes hours to cross the border into the DDR in our car. We also visited Prague and Vienna on that trip. I was ready this time. Munich, Salzburg (were I spent my 21st birthday), the Black Forest, Stuttgart–the ancestral home of my great-grandmother, Trier and the Rhine and Regensburg of course.
Staying at a German Gasthaus way out on the Heerstrasse. Our director has negotiated to get one bath per day instead of once a week, including breakfast.
Amsterdam visiting with Ted D.
Vienna—Fall 1977 didn’t meet Gigi there it was too soon
Wien, Austria visited twice that spring 1978
1978 Easter City of Aachen home of Charlemagne.
April Berlin I liked it so much I took my parents
Nuernberg met my Granparents and took them to Regensburg by train with their friends the Smiths
ITALY:Trieste, Verona, Bologna, ARCO Lake Garda, Roma
1988 ACHEMA Frankfurt a M
1989 Envitech Duisburg/Duesseldorf
1991 ACHEMA Frankfurt a M again
Flew to Berlin via Hamburg from Atlanta then on to FFM by train
1999 Berlin Kiel, Ostseekanal Rostock
- Regensburg, Bavaria: My German Home (markalmquist.wordpress.com)
- Ted Gast is an American artist (mysterysim.wordpress.com)
Thursday Hong Kong/Taipei/Seoul
Another transfer day. Left Hong Kong at 8:50 and got to Taipei at 11:00 am. We did the impossible. After we left Hong Kong our plane stopped at Taipei Chiang Kai-Shek International Airport. Distance from Singapore to Seoul about 3000 miles NE. The time change is one hour.
Chiang Kai-Shek Intl(TPE) in Taipei the capital of Taiwan. PRC AND Taiwan on the same trip. It is supposed to be forbidden to visit both China and Taiwan on the same trip but we did it. Saw the waiting lounge of Chiang Kai-Shek Intl Airport(TPE). Arrived in Seoul; 13:30. Same day. Although it is really only the communists who care. They consider Taiwan to be their sovereign territory even to this day.
Things to do in Seoul the capital of S. Korea National Assembly Building Seoul. Blue house. Great south gate (Sungnyemun Gate). Seoul is now the world’s second largest metropolitan area after Tokyo. Mexico City is third at just under 20 million. New York City is fourth. Seoul has the same subtropical climate as Japan with cold winters and about fourteen hours of daylight in the summer with sunrise at 5 am. Seoul means capital in Korean.
The Russian Empire lost its entire fleet in the straight of Korea in the war with Japan in 1905. Korea was a colony of Japan from 1910 until 1945 when the Russians took over the Northern half and left the South to the west making Korea the divided country it is today. There has never been a peace treaty signed ending the Korea War. Germany has been reunited, since 1989.
People we met at the airport asked if we had visas. We did. If not they were prepared to issue them on the spot. They wanted to know if we were Mormons or military when we said neither they were very impressed especially that we had come to Korea on our own just to see it. We had chosen Korea over the Philippines. They couldn’t believe we were three brothers traveling together on our own. Korea was not a popular destination for backpackers at the time. This is the second time Mormons have come up on the trip.
Did some sightseeing: City hall, Toksu palace and the Plaza Hotel. Had bolgogi for dinner, a traditional Korean dish—brazed meat marinated and cooked right at the table. Another traditional Korean dish spicy hot kim chi. Made from cabbage. Every family has is own recipe. They even have little refrigerators to store it in. I had it for breakfast one day. I don’t recommend that. http://tinyurl.com/lj4kqd accessed 9/6/09
Saw the famous restaurant of snakes. Right in the window hundreds of black snakes crawling in a basket. Fresh, pick the your own and they will cook it right there on the spot for you. The heart is the choice part.
http://tinyurl.com/lp9vyg accessed 9/5/09
The next day I went to have a traditional Korea breakfast. Unable to read the menu I just pointed to what the other men were having. It turned out to be some kind of alcoholic beverage at 8:00 in the morning. CULTURE SHOCK I was so horrified the owner took it back and didn’t charge me a thing. I thought I’ll try anything once but I can’t drink this first thing in the morning, YUCK! Soju accessed 8/4/2009
Talked to a very nice man at the tourist agency. We are staying at a Yokwan, a Korean style inn—no beds just mats. It is very nice. They serve Bori cha(보리차) or Korean barley tea in the room. Served chilled, very refreshing on a hot day. It has a nutty flavor.
Today we toured the major palaces of Seoul, starting with Changdok Palace in the morning and the secret gardens. A wonderful addition to the palace is the beautiful Forbidden Garden, the private garden of the king that was closed to the public. The former residence of the emperors of Korea, members of the royal family still live in parts of this palace. Home of the Chosun dynasty.
The secret garden is Korean style—resembling that of the English. Natural style, hills, wild and woodsy.
Met an American-Korean family at the palace, whom we joined for lunch. A man and his teenage daughters from Minneapolis. He tried desperately to instill an appreciation in Korean culture and history. They were more interested in talking to the three of us .Then went to Kyongbok palace and the national museum. The collection ranged from Neolithic to Silla to Yu dynasties. Some of the pieces were on loan to a Museum in San Francisco. Tried to see President Park’s residence, the Blue House. Got through all the security but still couldn’t see it.
President Carter is coming to Korea soon on a state visit June 29-July 1. Park Chung-hee 박정희 朴正熙 He was assassinated by a trusted aide in October that same year (1979) Got the official friendship cigarettes from one of the guards. Didn’t have dinner. Packed for the trip to Kyong ju.
In the ancient Silla Dynasty lasted almost one thousand years (57BC – 935AD).
Saturday Seoul/Kyong ju
Left Seoul for Kyong ju the capital of the seventh century Silla Kingdom It took 4 ½ hours by train and cost W2700.
Took a bus tour to most of the important monuments. Saw several burial mounds, the local museum, star tower, pagoda and the Emille bell.
It was a good tour. Most of the monuments were reconstructions of structures from the 8th century. Even saw the tourist resort, complete with golf course.
We’re staying in another Korean Inn. Had Chinese food for dinner. There was a power failure at 22:00.
Sunday Kyong ju
Spent the morning at the Bulguska temple, a beautiful reconstruction of an 8th century temple. One of the best things of the trip.
Also went to the Sokkuram grotto shrine. A large Buddha carved in granite and placed in the grotto of the mountain.
After lunch we went to the Kwaenung tombs. Similar to other tombs, but here the stone statues still remained.
During the long walk back to the inn about 8 km we stopped at a brewery that made Korean rice wine. The lab technician showed us around, answered our questions and gave us a sample. I was more prepared this time than with the Soju. http://english.visitkorea.or.kr/enu/FO/FO_EN_6_3_2.jsp accessed 9/11/11
|Gyeongju Gyodong Beopju (경주 교동법주)|
|Gyeongju Gyodong Beopju liquor has been brewed for many generations by the Choi family living in Gyodong, Gyeongju. This 300 year old alcohol was designated as an Important Intangible Cultural Asset no. 86-3 in 1986. The liquor is brewed using glutinous rice and does not have any added chemicals. Its alcohol content is about 17% and the end product is a clear transparent liquor that is yellowish in color.
Like many grain-based types of liquor, Beopju’s unique sweetness spreads fragrantly inside your mouth. The main characteristic in Beopju’s brewing process is that after making the base liquor, it is then put through a second fermentation process. Thus, it takes about a hundred days to brew, and bottles that are available for sale have generally been matured for over a year.
Today we transferred to Tokyo. See now let’s get to Japan.
Tuesday cond’t from on to Beijing
The flight From Beijing took about three hours. We flew to Baiyun (White cloud) Intl Airport CAN, the old one which closed in 2004. A new airport with the same name opened further out in 2004. White cloud was the name of the hotel the last time we stayed in Canton, the same as the airport. We had to go back to Canton, something about leaving from the same port you entered.
Almost every city we visited on this trip now has a newer larger airport. We had a new guide this time-Miss Wu, a girl this time. She was very nice and more mature than the last two. Now we are staying at the Dong Fang Hotel (Tung Fang, 东方 明珠, Oriental Pearl) built in 1961 and popular with Chinese government officials and ministers with 700 rooms it is the largest hotel in Canton. The rooms and location is better but the service is bad. It takes forever to get dinner served. We are afraid to make negative comments for fear of having our journal confiscated.The size reminds me of the Rossiya in Moscow (see:Yes there is more)
After dinner I went for a short walk and then returned to the room. This is a subtropical climate, hot and humid. There are many three storey buildings here, many with porches.
Our second time in Canton/Kwangzhou 廣州; pinyin: Guǎngzhōu, Guangdong Province, South China. This morning we visited the deaf school. The school seemed to be trying to help the children but there really wasn’t much they could do. Treatments included medicine, laser, acupuncture and magnetic needles—which was nothing more than an old nail with magnets. We also saw acupuncture and children in learning situations as well as a musical and pantomime performance, all quite good,
After lunch I walked to the Sun Yat-Sen memorial with Jim and David. It was closed but we could see inside. The big event for the afternoon was the boat ride on the Pearl River. We went upstream awhile, and then came back down passing bridges, Shiamen Island (former foreign concession) and some ships in port. It is a huge river with a large delta
After dinner, Jim and I went to the People’s park to see the local entertainment. Something our guide told us about. She said she thought young people liked to go out in the evening. It was very thoughtful of her. It was very inexpensive. We went to hear local music from Kwangtung Province of which there was very little. There were some singers and dancers as well as two comical plays—one Chinese and another western farce (all in Chinese) the actors even had makeup to build up their noses.
For our last day in China we went to the Lukong People’s Commune 人民公社; pinyin: rénmín gōngshè; it was a great disappointment. They were definitely expecting visitors. They had air guns and souvenir shops and even water buffalo carts and bicycles ready for hire. Like the much touted Tachai (Dazhai) commune in Shansi in the North it would prove to be a complete economic failure and would in turn be abandoned. At this point, 1979 fully 70% of the Chinese population is rural, with deforestation then as now a big issue. China is one of the most densely populated countries in the world. Despite its large size nearly half the country is under populated with great tracts of desert in the west largely uninhabited. After the obligatory political indoctrination seminar we got down to business. Chinese history is divided into two parts before liberation, 1949 were nothing good happened and now when everything is great and everyone is happy not to be exploited by foreigners anymore. I must add however that the Chinese did suffer greatly under the Japanese in WW II.
As for the rest the medical facilities looked poor, the crops were good the home we saw was definitely a set up. It’s a shame this was one of our final impressions of China. We also joined two other groups twice our size for the visit about 60 people. We have been spoiled with our little bread bus.
After lunch at the commune we went to the Canton zoo.-the best in Asia according to some and the largest in China. One in another of my long love affair with zoos. Saw the golden monkeys, south China tiger,white elephants, which actually look pink and the endangered brow-antlered deer. (See Nara, my blog Now let’s get to Japan.) and red and black Pandas of course (see Moscow and London blogs.) The red pandas looks like a large raccoon without stripes (also at Munich Zoo). The Amoy or Chinese tiger is now thought to be extinct in the wild one hasn’t been seen in the wild for 25 years and may be the ancestor of all tigers. South China tiger I’ve been searching the world for those beloved pandas.
It was a fine zoo, large with tropical plants growing all around, just like the Honolulu zoo in Hawaii. Where I also saw the Sumatran tigers on that trip too, thirty years later. Newer zoos have been built in Peking and Shanghai now and I’ve heard the Canton zoo is now a bit run down. That is a shame, I still have positive memories of this zoo.
We stopped at the monument of the 67 martyrs. Next we had a final tour of the city, starting with a visit to the friendship store, where I bought a cloisonné vase for my friend Rob and Mary who are getting married back in the States.
Next we stopped at the National Peasant Liberation Institute Guangdong Sight /Guangzhou/249.html date accessed 1/29/2009 for pictures then drove to the other side of the Pearl River-it was newer than our side but still B. L. (bad-looking) After dinner we went for a final walk through Canton for about forty-five minutes. Some people were still working even at nine in the evening, but many were relaxing in their homes. I was surprised by the number of televisions I saw, all black and white with roof aerials. The whole trip to China was well worth the money, energy and effort.
I should say something about the night soil collection. AS in England 150 years ago human feces is collected at night in the city and sold to farmers to use as fertilizer. Ghost Map http://www.theghostmap.com/ date accessed 2/3/2009 David has been getting sick here. After many years he lamented, Canton was not one of my favorite cities in ASIA or the World. History of Communist China
Friday Saturday/Sunday Hong Kong
We now have four days in Hong Kong. 香港 We’ve been staying up late enjoying the nightlife and movies on TV. It’s been hard to keep the journal up to date. Our group originally started as a tour for realtors from Canada but when they didn’t get enough people they opened it up to outsiders. I’ve never been on this kind of guided tour before. They actually pick up and deliver your luggage for you. Because our group is so small, 14 people plus guide and driver we have a small Toyota bus called the bread bus instead of the larger motor coach. It lets us get around better and faster. It is brand new.
Dr. Wilson and Eddie. Eddie is and East German communist. He hates everything about China because it reminds him of the old country (DDR). He is 44, the same age as our mother. After us they are the youngest people on this trip. When only double rooms are available David has been rooming with Dr. Wilson. Dr. Wilson is a Black cardiologist from San Francisco, also in his late forties. He is really funny. He had an interesting experience to tell about the Nightclubs in Hong Kong. Jim had an interesting experience at a bar as well. He has just turned 20. There are fourteen people in our group including us, plus Elaine the guide. We have gotten to know most of them. Besides Frankie and Pat, Judith and Gladys there is also Miss Gold Shoes from Buffalo a nice woman who was always willing to share her opinions on everything and really did wear gold shoes. She took a liking to us.
We had an interesting time in Hong Kong. We are still with our guided tour. This trip to Asia lasts about two months we have just finished the first leg in the PRC(People’s Republic of China 中華人民共和國; pinyin: Zhōnghuá Rénmín Gònghéguó). Two tours of Hong Kong were included in our package from Thomas Cook’s. The first was a tour of Victoria Island including the Tiger Balm Gardens, Victoria Peak, Aberdeen as well as various beaches. It was at this time that we saw Prince Charles on his official state visit to the Far East, at least his car bearing the royal standard. (Tag this is the start of the big orient trip)
Saturday included a cruise in Hong Kong Harbour, which included sampans, junks, Navy boats, etc. Some people in Hong Kong live their whole lives on the water without ever going on dry land. This is considered an outrage by the communists. One night we returned to Victoria peak for the sunset. Jim and I ate in a Chinese restaurant, not hard to do here, and a man insisted on buying our dinner.
Spent a day shopping on Kowloon and even took in a topless bar. Kowloon had many things for sale from the PRC and many of the things we had been looking for. Gram and Boppie (my grandparents) had been to Hong Kong and for many years my grandfather had is shirts custom ordered from there including a safari suit. That was either 1975 or ’76. I remember talking to him about that trip shortly before he died (January, 2000), which included Bali and Kuala Lumpur. One of the most interesting things was a walk through the back streets of Victoria Island. There were many old Chinese shops; selling chops (seal stones), herbs, crickets, snakes and even birds in small cages to be released for good luck. Cameras and electronics are everywhere. You can truly find anything you want in this shoppers’ paradise. The shops are small but the owners are friendly and love to talk. David and Jim ordered handmade suits.
Our trip was organized through Thomas Cook in Toronto so sometimes where we go people think we are from Canada. In Shanghai we got a big lecture on Norman Bethune a communist doctor from Toronto and personal friend of Mao Tse Tung. My first thought of travel to Hong Kong came at a travel agent in Regensburg where I saw a big poster of HK. I’d never thought about it until I heard my friend Marylin from Lyon had friends in HK and was going to visit them.
Monday Hong Kong/Bangkok
Well, we are finally out on our own. As a final tribute to their incompetence Thomas Cook agreed to take us to the airport with the rest of the group at 11:45. What they didn’t tell us was that our flight left at 17:00 instead of 15:45 AS LISTED IN THE TICKET OR THAT WE COULDN’T EVEN CHECK OUR BAGS UNTILL THREE O’CLOCK—THEY WERE AWARE OF BOTH FACTS BEFORE WE LEFT THE HOTEL As a result Jim and I spent over five hours at the airport. At least David got to leave for a final fitting for his suit. I’m amazed by the computer network here, reservations we made in Chicago/St. Louis show up here in Hong Kong instantly. I know that’s something we take for granted now, with the internet, but back then it was gee whiz and a big deal. I began to think you know there just might be something to this computer thing. Back then computers were as large as rooms with dial-up modems and tape drives. Disc drives if you had one were as large as a washing machine had about 500k and expensive. Cell phones did not exist anywhere. Making a long distance phone call was an ordeal. We did not call home once in the entire two months we were gone, but we did write and send lots of post cards. No e-mail or internet cafes either. I got four letters from Katie on this trip HK, Singapore, Osaka and Honolulu.
. . .well that is all behind us now. We’re on our way to Bangkok, flying over Vietnam and Laos on the way over the South China Sea and to the south of Hainan Island. It is very warm in Bangkok. Immigration was no problem, except we had to state our address in Bangkok, although we had never been here before. Thais refer to their capital as Krung Thep City of Angels or Los Angeles. Many people in the countryside have never heard the word Bangkok, if you mention it they don’t know what you’re talking about. It’s an exonym.
Thailand is a Buddhist country. It is ruled by a king. The current King Rama IX is still King and is the world’s longest monarch, reigning monarch since 1946. The local currency is the baht (BHT one baht is worth about five cents. You can buy a lot with 5 baht (25c), Thailand has its own language and its own alphabet (Khmer) equally indecipherable. (Thai: อักษรไทย, àksŏn thai)
We left the airport and made the 25 kilometer journey into town by bus. For 2 baht (10c) a piece; despite numerous offers from taxi drivers to take us for only 150 baht ($7.50). We are truly on our own now. I think you’re getting an idea what kind of trip this is going to be from now on. Ten dollars is a lot of money and $100.00 is really a lot of money as I recall the remaining five weeks of the trip were done for between $1000 and $2000.
Finding a place to stay was not so easy. Katie and I had this same trouble when we got to Egypt on our honeymoon. Words of advice for world travelers always have a place to stay on the first night in a new city before you get there. After discovering that the youth hostel was closed and not finding much help from a local Thai or the two Mormon missionaries, who befriended us; we found a place to stay for 250 baht ($12.00). The only catch was the three of us had to share two beds and we were way out of town—thanks to the Mormons. Bangkok is a really big city. At least the place was air-conditioned and I got a good night sleep. I distinctly remember the hostel was outside, screened in and had lizards. We followed those Mormons to the southeast suburbs looking for a room on what turned out to be a goose chase. It turned out they didn’t know anymore about the city than we did. It was very frustrating, at least they meant well.
David and Jim have not been feeling well, Lately and this morning David felt particularly bad so he called the US embassy to find a good hospital so off we were—luggage and all in a taxi To Bangkok General Hospital. The bill was quite reasonable—less than $10 a piece including drugs and without health insurance. I think it all started when we were still in China.
Afterwards we decided on a hotel—the Viengtai—we have a triple room with three beds, bath and toilet for $15 a day with breakfast included. Now $45 per night after 30 years, still a very good deal.
After lunch at the local Moslem restaurant—in the company of two local girls, but without David and Jim, it was finally time for some real sightseeing. As David was too ill Jim and I set in search of the National Museum-within walking distance of the hotel It was really an interesting place. Thailand has a tropical climate. It is the Monsoon season in Thailand. That means it rains everyday in the afternoon. We met some law students from The Law School in Bangkok. They offered to give us a tour of the City. We did not go with them, I think it was a scam.
David is still sick but Jim and I took the water market trip this morning. As the trip started at seven , we were up by six. The hotel breakfast included fresh pineapple-btw. There are many interesting tropical fruits here and I intend to try them all. I think my favorite so far is the star fruit, so-called because it produces a five-pointed star when cut in cross-section. We are about 15 degrees north of the equator, my first time in the tropics. Daylight is split about 12 hours each year round with dawn at about 6:30.
The tour was billed as a real tour of the water market, not just something for tourists. Although overpriced at $1 per head it was still quite enjoyable. The boat held about 15 people max (ten joined us). First we whizzed along the Chao Phraya river Chao Phraya (Thai: แม่น้ำเจ้าพระยา), passing various temples along the way. The market itself was not all that much—just a few people in boats selling fruit—but it was the real thing and not just stage for tourists—besides we had 45 minutes of scenery on the way there. Next we went to a farm—which belonged to our guide—he raised coconut, lemons, and mangos. It looked more like a tropical forest than a farm. The return voyage also lasted about 45 minutes but was more interesting as we actually rode through the narrow canals. It’s one of my best memories.
After returning to the hotel by bus, David joined us for lunch at a local place—23 BHT ($7.15) for the three of us including drinks. They have an interesting way of serving soft drinks here, in a plastic bag with shaved ice. They keep the bottle for the deposit.
Afterward David returned to the hotel—Jim and I set out for a self guided temple tour. Our first stop was Wat Pho—the temple of the reclining Buddha. I had expected as small statue—actually the thing was huge.
Next we visited the royal palace and National Museum, which was also quite interesting. There we saw, the throne room and several of the official buildings as well as the temple of the emerald Buddha (Wat Phra Kaeo) as well as a model of Angor Wat in Cambodia. The emerald Buddha was a disappointment as it was small and far away a top a high altar. The whole palace grounds were fascinating however. Next we walked to the Wat Srakret—a good walk from the palace—but worth it. We passed through some rundown neighborhoods on the way as well as some sort of fortification and some other temples as well and also the Democracy monument. Some of the canals we passed were filthy and really smelled.
Anyway the trip was worth it as the temple affords a beautiful view of the city. Afterwards we met David for dinner. We actually ate at a decent place for once. Then we came home. I did laundry and took a shower, wrote in my journal and went to bed.
Thursday Bangkok/Ayutthaya Bang Pa In
Had a papaya for breakfast.—it was good. Today Jim and I ventured from the city to the former capital of Ayutthaya (Thai: อาณาจักรอยุธยา,). We saw many ruined temples and Buddhas from the fourteenth to sixteenth centuries in Thai, Cambodian, and Burmese styles. We saw two huge reclining Buddhas and the largest bronze Buddha in Thailand. We toured the town by Salmer—the three wheeled pickup truck/taxi. It cost $6.00 for two hours—we saw much more than we could have seen ourselves. Buddha not sleeping, Buddha DEAD!
After lunch we went to Bang Pa In Thai: พระราชวังบางปะอิน—to see the former summer palace. It was very interesting. It was basically Thai with some European characteristics, including a temple in a pseudo gothic style. After returning to Bangkok the whole adventure cost less the ten dollars for both of us. Another organized AUS tour cost twelve dollars per person. After eating dinner we tried to find a doctor for David. Another evening without much excitement.
Well this was the last day in Bangkok. Spent the morning getting David to the Doctor again. He got some more pills.
Left for the airport at 11:45. Flew south over the Gulf of Thailand and South China Sea. Got to Singapore about 17:30 (18:00 local time) Singapore has one of those fractional time zones. Took a taxi to the hotel for S$44 Singapore dollars that’s $7.00 per person. After we got settled Jim and I went for a walk along the Elizabeth walk and had dinner. We had noodles (low mein) and Tiger beer—a local brand it was good, but served in 12 oz. bottles like beer at home. Saw the Merlion-the symbol of the city.
Singapore is an independent Asian micro state it is entirely one island. Located at the very tip of the Malaysian (Malay) peninsula. Chinese is spoken here as are Tamil, Malay and English. It was a British colony until1963- 1965. Independent of Malaysia 1965. It was occupied by Japan in the Second World War. First PM Lee Kuan Yew 1959-1990. The local currency is the Singapore dollar. You may have heard about the strict laws here against littering and public indecency .
After breakfast we changed from the hotel (the New Seventh Storey) Hotel to a hostel ($6.50 per night for the three of us). The door on the hostel is flimsy plywood so we had to use our padlock for the first time. (JAG) Geographically located at latitude (1.2992 degrees) 1° 17′ 57″ North of the Equator and longitude (103.857 degrees) 103° 51′ 25″ East of the Prime Meridian on the Map of Singapore or JB. Ah!! So close. That’s about 85 miles north of the equator. Los Alvarez Mexico is the closest antipode. Singapore has an equatorial climate that means there is one season all year round.
Afterwards we rode on the double Decker bus to Prince Edward Road , which was the end of the line. Just a small road dead ending into. . .East End Parkway. Named for Prince Edward the King who abdicated his throne, the Duke of Windsor, not the son of Queen Charlotte father of Queen Victoria PEI in Canada. There is also a Prince Edward Road in Hong Kong. We walked back up Shenton Way Chinese: 珊顿道, which is one of the main drags—stopped in a store that catered to Russian tourists.
Ate lunch at an interesting Market. It was an old pavilion with many food stalls serving many different cuisines. I had tofu and potatoes Indian style. food court date accessed 2/3/2009
Next we walked through Chinatown to Sri Mariammen temple the oldest Hindu temple in Singapore. This is the first Hindu temple I have ever seen. Also saw a baby getting his first haircut. He was screaming his head off. Singapore has its modern parts, but many parts retain their old character.
Next we walked along the river to the Merlion and Elizabeth Walk—saw the Supreme Court building of Singapore, city hall, and Victoria Hall, as well as a cricket match. .Padang 政府大厦大草Next stop-the Raffles Hotel-for a Singapore sling at the long bar, yes it really was invented here. It was good-it had a gin taste I had expected it to be sweet, but it wasn’t.
Afterwards Jim and I went to the movies to see Foul Play with Goldie Hawn and Chevy Chase. Jim has always been a clothes horse and a movie buff( I just talked to JAG and even after 30 years he remembers that film when we saw it where we were and who was in it. (Gram and Boppie saw it too but not in Singapore). It was very funny. Had dinner–satay the squared meat specialty, grilled and served on wooden skewers. Before going to bed we went to Albert Street. As they say you haven’t been to Singapore until you’ve been to Albert Street. Whips and birds and cats.
Today we went to Sentosa-Singapore’s island retreat. An island with an island, how quaint. Went swimming and got some sun. Took the cable car back across the straight to Mount Faber, Singapore highest point at a lofty 500 feet. Walked down the mount to an urban renewal housing complex at S$ 1000K better than Pruitt Igoe in St. Louis.
Went by the main fire station-an interesting building. Saw the Armenian Church (the first in Singapore) as well as the American embassy.
Went to Clifford Pier for a sunset cruise after eating dinner-only to find there were none on Sunday. Merlion and Elizabeth Walk again, with a stop for a fresh pineapple drink. Talked to some locals about life in Singapore.
Monday Jahore Bahru/Kotta Tinggi
After changing money at the bank we headed for the waterfalls of Kota Tinggi in Malaysia. Connected to Singapore by a causeway, this involved a bus ride of about two hours with two changes including one in Johor Bahru Majlis Bandaraya Johor Bahru (جوهر بهرو ), just across the causeway from Singapore. The waterfall itself was nothing spectacular, but it was nice, as was the ride up and we did get to see some of Malaysia. We passed many rubber trees on the way up and also saw a tin mine. It makes a nice day trip from either KL (Kuala Lumpur) or Singapore. Seven Up Company has lots of developers in Malaysia. I would learn that when I started working for them when I got back. I had a TA from Malaysia when I was in graduate school in Cincinnati. I Remember this was quiet a contention between the three of us.
We met some interesting people today including two tourists from Germany, a Dutch family staying at our hostel and the man at the bus station and a guy on the bus. In general people are very friendly and interested in their visitors.
I walked up to the government building in Jahore Bahru before returning. We got back about eight. Ate dinner at the stalls on Albert street and looked at some of the shops. I understand now Albert street is rundown and nothing like it was then.
Today we played tourist. We started at the Tiger Balm Gardens, just like the one in Hong Kong, but much larger. Had a nice talk with a man from Holland. Next we saw the instant Asia show, a series of dances put on for the tourists, including a snake charming ac in which members of the audience were allowed to be photographed with the snake. This was the funny part. Australian tourists they were closer to home than we were and they liked their Foster’s.
After a good lunch at the coffee shop we went to the Jahor sic (Jurong) Bird Park.
Saw many types of birds, including many birds of the ASEAN countries. Also saw the 10 meter (33 feet) waterfall, the largest manmade one in the world. Afterwards we went back to Orchard Road. Home of TANGS AND TAKASHIMAYA for some shopping. I bought a book on culture shock and looked at cameras.
In the 1970s, pioneering landmarks like C. K. Tangs, Plaza Singapura and the Mandarin Hotel came up and led the way for entertainment complexes. Brick by brick, and block by block, towers of glass and steel lined what used to be mud-tracks to make Orchard Road the premier shopping belt today. visit singapore date accessed 2/3/2009.
Ate at the mall again. Met Jim and Dave at the pier for the sunset cruise at Clifford pier. It gave us the night view of the island. It would have been better at sunset. There is very little twilight here. The day and night are almost equal year round. When it gets dark it gets dark right away. This is our last evening in Singapore.
Wednesday Singapore/Hong Kong
Today is the fourth of July, Independence Day back home. Today is the day we left Singapore for Seoul. There are no direct flights we have to stop in Hong Kong and Taipei. Before going to the airport we went to the Sultan masjid and walked around Arab Street. Not my first mosque. I’ve seen plenty of them in Istanbul and Morocco.
We arrived in HK about eight thirty in the evening. Where we stayed at the YMCA. Picked up Jim’s pants and David’s suit. This is our fourth time in HK. It was not a very exciting Fourth of July.
- Hong Kong 香港 – Asia Made Easy (spendrianna.wordpress.com)
- Changi – Singapore, Singapore (travelpod.com)
- A love letter to the temples in Bangkok (happycamperproject.com)
- Echo from Canton – 呼应的广州 (lotuslearn.wordpress.com)