• Beppu, Japan

    Chinoike Hells (Jigoku)- Steaming thermal pool with dark-red water naturally colored by iron oxide & nearby foot baths was our first stop on today’s itinerary in Beppu.IMG 9760

    We soaked our feet in the mineral rich, slightly cooler foot bath.

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    Beautiful azaleas were blooming in the town of Beppu

    Myoban Onsen

    As we drove through the town we saw steam drifting up around the buildings. Our destination was the Yunohana Medicinal Sinter. 

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    The hot-spring gas is condensed and crystalized into beautifully white Yunohana, which are natural bath salts. Yunohana is produced in huts with straw-thatched roofs called Yunohana-goya, which stand in a row in the Myoban Onsen area. Hot-spring components are condensed by using the hot spring steam and blue clay, and they grow 1 millimeter a day. The production method and techniques have not changed in 300 years.  The 16th generation CEO spoke with us today.  Her family has operated this particular site for the last 300 years.  

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    In the last picture, someone is cooking their dinner by steam as it escapes through this chimney in the ground. 

  • Nagasaki, Japan


    At 11:02am onn August 9, 1945, Nagasaki was struck by the atomic bomb “Fat Man,” killing thousands and decimating the city to rubble. Ten years later, the Nagasaki Peace Park was opened as a memorial for the victims and to send the world a message for peace.

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    Installed in front of the statue is a black marble vault containing the names of the atomic bomb victims and survivors who died in subsequent years.

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    Visitors bring bottles of water to the Bell Tower each day to memorialize the victims who were suffering from intense thirst while dying after the explosion.


    Peace Fountain

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    This is the handwriting of a 9 year old that says something like “I was very very thirsty and found the water.  I drank the water which was very oily." (she later died).

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    This sculpture was donated by Japan’s oldest sister city St. Paul, MN and represent the seven continents. The interdependence of the figures symbolizes global peace and solidarity.

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    Ground Zero

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    The explosion of the atomic bomb destroyed Urakami Cathedral, the grandest church in east Asia at the time. Only the broken church wall remained.


  • Taipei, Taiwan


    And we’re off!  New day and new country!  Today it’s Taipei, Taiwan where we boarded our frilly motor coach to see the city.  IMG 7854

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    Our first stop was the National Chiang Kai-she Memorial Hall which was built in 1980 to honor the republic’s former president who led the nationalists out of Mainland China during the 1949 Communist takeover.  It is surrounded by a green park with twin pagoda-like structures that house the National Theater and the National Concert Hall.

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    National Chiang Kai she Memorial park

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    Taipei 101

    Our next stop was Taipei101, the skyscraper with 101 stories and a height, including the spire, of 1,667 feet . At the time of its official opening in October 2004, it was the world’s tallest building and held that record only until the 2009 completion of the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, UAE. Upon completion, it became the world's first skyscraper to exceed a height of half a kilometer. Taipei 101 is the tallest building in Taiwan. 

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    It also held the Guinness World Record for the fastest elevator that transports passengers from the 5th to the 89th floor in 37 seconds (attaining 37.7 mph).

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    The observation deck was on the 89th floor and decorated with photo opportunities at every turn (in addition to the view of the city


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  • Hong Kong


    Our trip began with a 141/2 flight from Houston to Tokyo, a five hour layover and a five-hour flight to Hong Kong. A Viking agent met us at the airport and escorted us to our cruise ship Viking Orion.  It was almost midnight by the time we got to our stateroom,  over 25 hours from when we left Houston.

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    Hong Kong, China

    First thing Sunday morning, April 16, we boarded a bus for our first excursion, Postcards of Hong Kong.  From there we were driven to the waterfront where we boarded a traditional sampan for a cruise through the harbor’s floating village where hundreds of people live on fishing junks—a stark contrast to the high-rise community that have risen on the island.

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    From there we were driven to Stanley Market, a typical example of a traditional old open-air market in Hong Kong that has  become a major tourist attraction, well known for its bargains. Many of the stalls or shops in Stanley Market sell Hong Kong souvenirs as well as clothing and traditional Chinese toys, ornaments, arts and crafts.

    Stanley Market

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    Our next stop was Victoria Peak, the 1800’ summit which offered sweeping views of Victoria Harbor and Kowloon Peninsula.

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    From the peak we rode a funicular to the bottom of the mountain and boarded our waiting bus.

    Victoria Peak funicular

    After lunch we took a walking tour of Hong Kong where we toured the Man Mo Temple, Hong Kong’s oldest and most famous temple.  The temple is a tribute to the God of Literature and God of War, both of whom were worshipped by ambitious students looking to succeed in the civil examinations in the Ming and Qing dynasties.


    We walked from there to experience the Hong Kong Elevator, a moving sidewalk that is the longest outdoor covered escalator system in the world.  It’s a series of eleven elevators that take residents (and tourists) from the flat area by the ocean up the hillside to the highrise apartment buildings where people live.

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    These escalators only go one direction at a time and that direction changes depending on the time of day.  Until 10:00 am the residents ride the escalators DOWN to the market and offices.  After 10:00am tourists and residents can ride them up.  

    We walked along Hollywood Road where we saw the baryon tree roots climbing down the walls along the sidewalk.

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    We boarded a ferry for our ride back to the cruise terminal.

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    Back aboard our ship we were treated to a beautiful view of  Hong Kong Harbor in the evening.

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  • Bali -Agung Rai Museum of Art and an art lesson

    Last day in Bali…. This morning we went to the Agung Rai Museum of Art to take an art class and view some beautiful Balinese artwork. Although my drawing was no masterpiece, it was a fun experience.

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    Just seeing the beautiful doors on the museum was a treat.

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    This is a closeup of the beautiful door carvings

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    Beautiful carving on the wall

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    Thes costume is magnificently made.  The face is hand-carved from wood. The tan part around the face are made from cow’s hind with inlaid mirrors.The hair hanging from the mouth is human hair, the black hair hanging down is horse hair.  The yellow “hair” at the bottom is made from a plant called prosok, which is cut, soaked in water for ten days before beating and causing the plant to shred l

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    The drawing of the airline that missed the airport runway and cracked in two when it hit the water.Balinese artistes typically draw in a flat dimension .

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    This picture is of the sinking of the titanic .

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    This was my creation

    Back at the resort

    We returned to Ubud Maya around 1:00.  I put on my swimsuit and met Tom down at the pool (he didn’t go to the art museum).  We spend several house swimming and lounging by the infinity pool where we also ate our lunch.  We thought it was going to rain, so we started walking back to our room.  When we got to the next pool, we decided it wasn’t going to rain ,so we stop and spent several hours there

    Our farewell dinner was tonight at 6:30.  Some of the group fly home tonight and the rest of us leave in the morning.

    It’s been a wonderful trip!.


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  • Bali - Dance Performance and Elephant Cave

    Our first stop today was for the Pemaksan Barong Dengjalan dance performance in the famous stone carving village Batur Brand.  The Barong dance is the story from Balinese mythology about a lion-like character fighting between good and evil.

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    The Gamelan is the traditional ensemble music of the Balinese and consists primarily of percussion instruments.These include the bronze and bamboo xylophones.  Gongs, gong chimes, drums and a bamboo rattle.

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    A little humor is the picture above.  Look closely at the first photo and then in the second you will see it was the tip of its tail sticking up.

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    Goa Gajah or Elephant Cave

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    The Elephant Cave was probably built in the 11th century and contains both Hindu and Buddhist imagery.  The cave was rediscovered by Dutch archaeologists in 1923.  The fountains and bathing pool were not discovered until 1954.

    When visiting the cave, proper dress is required; knees must be covered by both men and women so sarongs are available on loan at the entrance to the site.IMG 2770

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    Tamah Gajah Resort

     We ate lunch today at the Tamah Gajah Resort which has beautiful landscaping, temples, pools and ponds.  The food was served buffet style and was a typical Indonesian selection, but we did have small apple pies for dessert.

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    Back to our resort —the Maya Ubud


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    The resort’s beautiful infinity pool high above the jungle

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  • Ubud, Bali - Cooking Class and Kite painting and more

    Cooking Class

    We started out cooking class at 10:00am this morning and made all the dishes that were served for lunch.  

    The cooking school grows most of the vegatables and seasonings that is used.  

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    Chopping the onion and garlic

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    Kite and puppet painting, dancers and music

    We went to a multigenerational family’s home when the father and mother taught dance lessons. Multigenerational families live together in the same compound.  Each compound also has a temple.

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    We watch the children perfect—both the dancers, musicians, and puppeteer.  The two little girls in the from t were 6 and 9 and it was only the second time they performed in a costumer and make up.  

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    After the dance performance we painted kites and shadow puppets.

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    We went left there we went to watch some woodcarvers before going to Bebek Joni for a fried duck dinner.IMG 2725

  • Ubud, Bali

    This morning we left the Beautiful Four Seasons Resort at Jimbaran Bay and rode to Ubud, Bali where we will be staying for the next five night.  This area of Bali is about 2 hours from Jimbaran and is near the jungle.

    On the way we we encountered very narrow roads and 100s of motorbikes driven by wild drivers.  The motor scooters were weaving in and out of traffic like there were no rules.  

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    Rice Terraces 

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    Tidbit from Wikipedia:
    Kopi luwak, also known as civet coffee, is a coffee that consists of partially digested coffee cherries, which have been eaten and defecated by the Asian palm civet. The cherries are fermented as they pass through a civet's intestines, and after being defecated with other fecal matter, they are collected.”

    I don’t drink coffee so I certainly wouldn’t drink Kopi luwak, but it’s a delicacy here.
    Kopi Luwak coffee price starts at $160 per pound and reaches up to $600 for the most expensive types, where the civets roam freely and select the best beans themselves(as opposed to those kept in captivity.

    Granell Kopi Luwak Coffee Beans – Ethically Sourced Wild Civet Coffee, Gourmet Coffee Beans, Indonesian Luwak Arabica Whole Bean Coffee, 3.5oz
    Whole Bean · 3.52 Ounce (Pack of 1) is $109.98 on Amazon

    We are staying at the Maya Ubud resort for the next four night.


  • Uluwatu Temple in Bali

    Uluwatu Temple

    After disembarking our cruise ship the Ocean Odyssey for the last time, we boarded our tour buses towards the Uluwatu Temple located  with gorgeous clifftop view.

    This 1,000 year old temple is one of Bali island’s most famous tourist sights because of its impressive cliffs, sunset views, and the notoriously sneaky Uluwatu monkeys that like to hang out near the temple.

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    We were given these purple wraps to wear to covet our knees.

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    This monkey is enjoying the offerings left in the temple.

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    Get ready, get set….JUMP!

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    Cooking the chicken on a stick

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    Our lunch platter to serve three people

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    BONG!…Lunch is served!






  • Four Seasons Resort at Jimbaran Bay - Bali

    Today Tom and I chose to forego the day’s tour and just stay at the resort and relax.  What a treat!

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    The private entrance to our courtyard

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    Tom outside the door to our suite

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    Our private porch

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    Our private pool

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    One of the infinity pools about the beach

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    The dancers coming to dance for us before dinner

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    The walkway from the restaurant to our villa

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    Our room at night

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  • Bali-Day 1

    We arrived in Bali over night and were greeted at the port in by a group of dancers as we walked to the buses for our tour.

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    Buleleng Museum was our first stop.  IMG 2414

    Here we learned the process for creating the palm-leaf manuscripts that were the primary medium for writing materials dating back to the 5th century BC. The palm leaves were first boiled with spices and dried in a heavy press for 30 days.  The writer used a stylus-like device to inscribe letters.  Natural colorings were applied to the surface so the ink would stick in the grooves.  Afterwards, a clean cloth was used to wipe off the excess ink.

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    Holes are punched in the palm leaves to bind them together.

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    Storage containers for the palm manuscripts.

    Ling Gwen Kiong Temple

         Chinese temple built by seafaring merchants and traders beginning in 1843.

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    Pura Beji Sangsit temple

    A Balinese temple located in Sangsit, it is dedicated to the rice goddess Dewi Sri, and is revered especially by the farmers in the area.

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    We ate lunch at the beautiful Kutus Sunari Beach Resort with its black sand beach located on the Bali Sea.

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  • Probolingo, East Java (Indonesia)

    Probolingo Market

    We were shuttled to the docks on the ship’s Zodiacs this morning about 8:30 and from there rode a tour bus to the city market in Probolingo.  The lack of any sanitary conditions whatsoever in the market made we wonder about the food we’ve been eating.

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    Bromo Tender Semeru National Park

    After visiting the market for 30 minutes (which was about 25 minutes too long), we got back on our bus and rode for about an hour until reaching Sukapura.  There we all b boarded Land Cruisers to ride an additional 30 minutes up to the national park.  

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    Once we arrived at the national park’s parking area, we walked .75 miles before walking 244 steps to view the Bromor volcano.

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    We are lunch at the Lava Cafe Restaurant 

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    The view of Bromo Volcano from the Lava Cafe Restaurant 

    After lunch we boarded the Land Cruisers for our ride back to the bus, to the Zodiacs, and finally back to the ship.

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    It was a wonderful day!

    An interesting tidbit:  We ask if there were cattle in this area and were told that a family might own one to three cows. If they do, the cows live INSIDE the house so no-one steals them!

  • Semarang, Java, Indonesia

    We docked in Semarang this morning and were greeted by dancers and music as we got off the ship.  There were three tour buses waiting to give us a tour of the island as we rode two hours to the Borobudur Temple.  We had a police escort to the temple and back to the ship which allowed us to travel more quickly through the country.

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    Borobudur Temple

    The Borobudur Temple is the world’s largest Buddhist temple dating back to the 9th century.The temple consists of nice stacked platforms, six are square and three are circular.  These are topped by a central dome.  It is decorated with 2,672 relief panels and originally has 504 Buddha statues. The central dome is surrounded by 72 Buddha statues, each seated inside a stupa, a mound like structure which contains relics).

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    IMG 8687There are 2,672 of these relief panels 

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    One of the 504 Buddha statues on the temple

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  • Cirik Island, Indonesia


    Today we docked near the island of Cirik, a tiny little island in Indonesia. Indonesia is the largest archipelago in the world to form a single country, consisting of five main islands and some 30 smaller archipelagoes, totaling about 18,110 islands of which about 6,000 are inhabited.  The island of Cirik is uninhabited.

    Our ship anchored a nautical mile from the island and we rode zodiacs to land.

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    The ship used three Zodiacs to shuttle us from the ship to the island.  There were ten of us in each Zodiac.

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    Our friend Dave stepping from the ship onto the Zodiac.

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    We arrived on the tiny island

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    We spent about an hour walking in the sand around the island and then boarded the Zodiac to ride back to the ship.

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    Here I am getting back on the ship.

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    We enjoyed a delicious dinner on Deck 9 at the Hot Rock Grill where we cooked our own meat on a lava rock.

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    The hot lava rock is 400 degrees and is placed in the center of the plate to cook the meat.

  • Kumai, Kalimantan, Borneo (Indonesia) - Day 2

    We were told that our cruise ship was the first to come to this region of Indonesia.  When we got off of the ship, there were many residents taking pictures of us.  We were transported today in five buses with a police escort as an honor (or at least that’s what we were told).

    Dayak Longhouse

    We started the day with a bus tour of the city of Kumai, a port in Central Kalimantan province and the first stop was a visit to a Dayak longhouse,  Dayak longhouses are community houses and are 300 to 600 feet long. These buildings host dozens of families. The houses are built 6 to 9 feet off the ground to keep out wild animals and protect from flooding.

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    We were greeted with dancers and drummers performing traditional dances. 

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    At one part of the performance a dancer pulled me into the dance to dance with her.

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    This dancer pulled me (of all people) out of the crowd to dance with her.

    Arut River Tour

    Our next stop was a boat ride down the Arut River to get a glimpse of local life. Here we rode past homes, fish farms, a saw mill.  A police boat escorted our boat down the river.

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    The Police who escorted us.

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    A little boy rows his mother and baby sister down the river.

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    Typical homes and boats that were located on both sides of the river.

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    A sawmill along the river.

    The Market

    All vegetables, poultry, fish, etc are displayed unrefrigerated in the market area.

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    Fresh fish (but not refrigerated)


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    This home was built to house a Sultan’s seven daughters. Inside these gates is a rambling wooden compound and a beautiful garden area.

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    Even though this may look like a mirror, it is actually a door frame with two fancy hand-carved doors on the other side.  These beautiful doorways are all through the house.

    Istanakuning “Yellow Palace"

    This palace is not actually yellow, but once was the Sultan’s main residence.  This is a replica of the original residence which burned in 1990.  Since we were the first cruise ship to ever stop in this city, the Sultan invited us to lunch.

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    There were ceremonial dances and swords fights for our entertainment.

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    This is the Sultan’s twin brother greeting us as we entered the palace.

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    The Sultan with his personal physician

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    Birdhouse buildings

    There is a huge industry in Borneo of bird's nest ‘factories’.  There are 100s of these tall metal buildings are built to attract the white-nest swiftlet. Therir nest is composed entirely of saliva.  These nests are purchased by the Chinese and used to make a soup by soaking and steaming the nests in water. The soup is reputed to possess medicinal properties that nourish and vitalize the organ systems of the body, help increase energy and metabolism, dissolve phlegm, improve the voice, relieve gastric problems, aid kidney function, enhance the complexion, alleviate asthma, suppress cough, cure tuberculosis, strengthen the immune system and improve concentration," wrote Craig Thorburn, an environmental scientist from Australia in his research paper, "The Edible Birds' Nest Boom in Indonesia and South-east Asia." Bird's nest soup is also considered an aphrodisiac by some and an infant superfood by others that helps babies grow tall and smart.

     These nests fetch high prices and the buildings to lure the swiftlets are popping up all over Indonesia. Our ship docked near many of these buildings (pictured below in the nighttime picture) which can be quite a nuisance because of all the bird feces and the loud chirping noises played over a speaker to attract the swiftlets.

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    We ended the day with a delicious meal cooked we cooked ourselves on a lava stone up on deck 9 with our new friends Dave and Emmy.IMG 1983

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    The lava stone is 400 degrees and is in the center of this platter.

  • Borneo and Tanjung Puling National Park

    We arrived in Kumai, part of the Kalimantan province of Borneo island, which actually belongs to three countries: Indonesia, Malaysia, and Brunei. We anchored along the Sekonyer River and boarded a traditional Kiloton wooden river boats to ride into the UNESCO-listed Tanjung Puting National Park, famous for its orangutan conversation program. We enjoyed the park first by boat and then by walking the trails into the rainforest.

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    We boarded our Zodiac at 6:40AM for a one mile ride down the river where we boarded our traditional Kiloton wooden river boats. We spent the next five hours cruising through Tanjung Puting National Park on the Sekonyer River.  We arrived at Pondok Tanggui Orangutan Preserve around 9:00 am in time to watch the orangutan feeding.Once we arrived we walked on a muddy trail into the rain forest for about a mile to the feeding platform.

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    Pondok Tanggui National Park has the largest wild orangutan population in the world with 9 species of primates, 3 species of primates endemic to Borneo, proboscis, red leaf-eating monkeys, and Bornean orangutans.

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    Thev primarily eat fruits, but can also eat bark strips, leaves, and termites

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    Orangutan are pregnant for 8 months and may wait 5-10 years between births

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    They live 45-50 ears in the wild

    After our visit in the National Park we were served lunch on our boat while we cruised for another two hours Resort Pesalat to see  the afternoon feeding of more orangutans.  This feeding started with a huge bowl of coconut milk

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    Viper snake 

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    While we were walking in the rainforest to see the orangatan feeding, we got caught in a hard rainstorm.  

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    When we walked back to our boat after the feeding, I spotted a slightly fancier boat docked beside us.

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    We were exhausted when we arrived back at our ship around 6:30PM after a long and fascinating day!

  • Singapore - Day 3

    We checked out of the Conrad Hilton Centennial Hotel and left for a half-day city tour starting with a visit to the Gardens by the Bay.  Afterwards we visited the Sands SkyPark Observation Deck and finally lunch at a local restaurant before boarding our ship for the start of our cruise down the coast of Indonesia .IMG 1646

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    Our room #412 aboard the Vantage ship Ocean Odyssey

  • Singapore - Day 2

    Today we had a full day guided tour with our group from Vantage Travel.  We started the day with at the National Orchid Garden, home to over 6,000 species of orchids.


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    After the Orchid Gardens we continued our bus tour throughout the town.

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    Thian Hock Keng is a temple built for the worship of the Chinese sea goddess Mazu and is located in the Chinatown section of Singapore.  It was built in 1839 and is Singapore's oldest Chinese temple.

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    The government’s latest surveillance devices are robots on wheels, with seven cameras, that issue warnings to the public and detect “undesirable social behavior."

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    Artwork next to the practice cricket field with the Supreme Court building in the background.  The flying saucer-looking section at the top of the building is the Supreme Court.

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    The old Police station with window frames painted the colors of the rainbow.

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    The Merlion, symbol of Singapore

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    Five Boys by the Water

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    Sri Veeramakaliamman is a Hindu temple located in India town.

    We boarded a bumboat for a cruise down the Singapore River, where we enjoyed the city’s
    iconic skyline from the water

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  • We've arrived in Singapore!

    We left Lake Charles at 4:00 PM on January 20 for a flight to Houston and then on to San Francisco.  From there we had a 17 hour flight which crossed the International Date Line and totally missed January 21 before arriving in Singapore at 8:00AM on January 22

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    We had to submit paperwork to Singapore three days before our arrival and received our approved for entry.  When going through these gates, we scanned our passports and our thumb prints.

    Conrad Centennial Singapore

    We stayed at the Conrad Centennial Hotel which is located very conveniently to many of the iconic sights in Singapore.

    Once we arrived at the hotel, we dropped off our bags and decided to walk to the The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands, a mall near our hotel.  On the walk from the hotel we stopped at the Youth Olympic Park and took these pictures of the Singapore skyline.  The building on the left side of the picture is the Science and Arts Museum.

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    The Helix Bridge is the longest pedestrian bridge that links the Marina Centre with the Bayfront area.It is modeled after the double helix DNA, symbolizing “life and continuity, renewal and growth”. There are pairs of colored letters ‘c’and ‘g,’ as well as as ‘a’ and "t’ on the bridge, which represent the four bases of DNA.

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    This Digital Light Canvas in the center of the Marina Centre is an artwork space that consists of a 46 ft-tall light sculpture suspended from the ceiling with  countless full-colored LEDs and a circular 49 foot floor monitor consisting of individually controlled LEDs, which allow for graphics to be rendered in real time.       

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    In the Youth Olympic Park there  are drawings done by children that are decorations on the wall. This drawing by 11 Year old artist Joyce Han “I want to scale the highest mountain in the world!”  A replica of her drawing was built in the park.

     We walked through the food court at the Marina Centre Mall which was absolutely the largest food court we’ve ever seen with 60 restaurants! Alll the food choices were Asian, but we did notice these roasted chicken, pigs, and ducks on displayed, but were dismayed that all the heads were still attached. 

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    Once we walked through the food court, we exited the mall and continued walking until we reached the  iconic Marina Bay Sands Hotel. The scene pictured below shows the Marina Shopping Center and the Arts and Science Center and the Marina Bay Sands Hotel with its observation deck behind.

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    We paid to ride the elevator up to the Observation Deck on ihe 56 floor where  From there we where able to get a wonderful view of Singapore.

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    The Flower Gardens are visible in the foreground and the barrage (the salt water barrier) is located in the upper left.  Notice all the ships waiting out at sea to be loaded or unloaded.

    Gardens by the Bay

    When we left the Marina Sands Hotel, we walked to the Gardens by the Bay. The Gardens are comprised of the Flower Dome, Floral Fantasy, Cloud Forest, and the Supertree Grove. We paid to tour the Cloud Forest which contained an amazing Avatar display as well as the largest indoor waterfall (according to the Guinness Book of World Records).

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    The Supertree Grove 

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    These super trees are home to a large array of plant life. The vertical planting panels installed on the trunks are planted with various species of bromeliads, orchids, ferns and flowering climbers. When dusk falls, the super trees lights up.  In addition there is a sight and sound show each evening.

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    We walked back to the hotel and rested for a couple hours before walking the same path again for dinner and to see the lights of Singapore.

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    By the time we walked back to the hotel, we had walked over 10 miles today.  What a great day!

  • Grenada--our favorite island!

    Today we visited Grenada and decided it was our favorite country on this trip.  Grenada is well known for its spices as it is “ the island of spice", but it also has world-class cocoa, amazing beaches and majestic waterfalls.  Christoper Columbus discovered the island in 1498 and named in Concepcion.

    Civilians (even children) are not allowed to wear camouflage in the country.

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    Welcome to the Spice Capital

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    Today we  took a bus tour of the island to get to Grand Etang National Park where we picked up a walking stick and hiked 1.75 miles to the Seven Sisters Waterfalls.

    Our guide pointed out some interesting trees that we’d never seen before— cinnamon, clove, and nutmeg.


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    The fruit of the nutmeg tree

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    Eucalyptus Tree

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    And our hike began...

    When we arrived at the starting point of the hike in Grand Etang National Park, we were given hiking sticks which proved to be a necessity for us!  Apparently there was a hard rain the night before so the trail was very muddy and slippery.  The trail was mostly either very steep going up or down and not much flat area along the way.

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    Two of the Seven Sister Falls.  To see the other five falls we would have had to climb the first two set of falls—which we didn’t do!

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    New Year’s Eve on the Ship

    We celebrated New Year’s Eve on the ship with a fabulous production show and then listening to music in various lounge during the evening.IMG 1098

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  • Barbados


    Although the Caribs, Arawaks, and Portuguese had all inhabited Barbados for certain periods, the island was completely unoccupied when the British first settled there in 1627.  Gradual social and political reforms led to the country’s independence in 1966.

    The easternmost member of the Caribbean, Barbados floats by itself, 100 miles east of St. Lucia.  The capital city is Bridgetown which sits along the Caribbean Sea while the east coast faces the Atlantic Ocean.  Barbados is below the hurricane belt.

    Population is 286,641

    Caribbean general map

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    Today’s excursion from the ship was to a Botanical Garden on the island .   Along the way we passed some cows tied up in the yards of upscale homes.

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    We were supposed to be seeing 100s of different orchids at the gardens, but only a few survived after the COVID shutdown.

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    Our next stop after the gardens was the Sunbury Plantation Great House which was built in 1660 by Matthew Chapman, an Irish/English planter, one of the first settlers on the island. He was related to the Earl of Carlisle and through this association, was granted lands in Barbados. 

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    This office has the original furnishings for the owner’s office and where he kept the records for the plantation.

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    This is a lounge chair for the men

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    This lounge chair was for the ladies.  Both chairs have bottoms made from sugar cane to make them cooler to sit in,

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    This table sits 26.

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    Master bedroom with his and her chamber pots

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    Men’s freeloader pants.  Notice they are open from the crotch to the knee

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    Horse drawn dessert cart

  • Saint Vincent

    We went ashore this morning at 8:30 and took a bus tour across the island to Fort Charlotte, the Botanical Gardens and stopped for refreshments at Paradise Beach.   It was colonized by the /French and English in the 19th century, but became an independent country in 1979.  St. Vincent is located in the eastern Caribbean Sea between the island nations of Saint Lucia and Grenada.  It has a population of around 100,000.

    First stop was Fort Charlotte which was built in 1806.  This historical Fort lies high above the island and offers panoramic views of Kingstown.

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    We walked up to the top of the hill to tour Fort Charlotte, that once housed 600 men .  No battles were fought there.

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    Botanical Gardens

    We visited the St. Vincent and Grenadines Botanic Gardens in Kingtown, Saint Vincent.  Establish in 1765, it is the oldest botanic garden in the western hemisphere ,

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    The Vincent African Parrot is the country’s national bird

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    Breadfruit can be used in any way that potatoes are used.

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    We ended the day at Paradise Beach Hotel where we were served rum punch.

  • Martinique

    Martinique was first settled by the Arawaks followed by the Caribs, the island was charted by Columbus in 1493 and claimed by the French.  With the exception of several British occupations, it has remained a French possession.  It is overseas possession of France.  We docked in the town of Fort-de-France, the capital and largest city.

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    St. Louis Cathedral

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    Fort St. Louis

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    Beach beside Fort St. Louis

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  • St. Kitts

    Today we toured the island of St. Kitts, which along with the neighboring island of Nevis, became an independent two-island nation in 1983. The country’s official name is the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis.  It is located in the Leeward Islands of the West Indies southeast of Puerto Rico.

    St. Kitts was the first island in the Caribbeans to be settled with residents dating back more than 5,000 years.

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    We took a bus tour to visit the Romney Manor (circa 1626). For more than 350 years, most of the activity on the property was growing sugar cane.  When the St. Kitts government stopped sugar can production in the 2000s, Romney Manor became a batik enterprise.  

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    Batik creations hanging on the line.

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    The Atlantic Ocean on one side and the Caribbean on the other

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    It was carnival time in St. Kitts.  The parades started at 4:00AM and by noon the parades were over and the streets were filled with litter.

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  • St. Thomas and St. Johns Virgin Islands

    Today the Island Princess docked in St. Thomas at 8:00AM.  We walked off the ship and walked to the nearby stores to buy a Christmas tree ornament as a souvenir and took some pictures.IMG 0482

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    We were greeted at the shopping area by these talented dancers !

    St. Johns Catamaran Adventure

    We boarded the Dancing Dolphin Katamaran for a 45 minute ride to St. Johns Island and Virgin Islands National Park. This is our 56th National Park (out of 63). Once we were near the beach we rode an inflatable all the way onto the beach.  We came ashore at Honeymoon Beach and spent an hour snorkeling in the beautiful water.

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    Beautiful view of St Johns

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    Honeymoon Beach, St Johns

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    We snorkeled in the beautiful clear water

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    When we returned to the ship, there were some guest McCall and cockatoo birds onboard to greet us.  What beautiful birds!

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    These two were hilarious!  The owner would turn them towards us, but then a glass elevator would come down to that floor and the birds were turn around to see the elevator .

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    The cruise ship put on a fabulous Christmas variety show in the evening.

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    I finished the evening by watching It’s a Wonderful Life on the ship’s big screen tv on the top deck.

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