ED’S 82 DAY GRAND ASIA & PACIFIC SAILING WITH HOLLAND AMERICA – PART 20

November 16, 2018 – Komodo Island, Indonesia

Enter the Dragon’s Lair!  Komodo island, part of the Lesser Sunda chain of Indonesian islands, is the rugged habitat of the 3m-long Komodo dragon monitor lizard. Komodo National Park covers the entire region and is home to more than 4,000 dragons, and is made up of rusty-red volcanic hills, savanna and forests. Its surrounding waters of seagrass beds, mangrove shrublands and coral reefs are famous for diving.

Originally established to protect the giant lizards that share its name, today Komodo National Park preserves all species of vegetation and wildlife found on its 29 islands, where the biodiversity has earned it World Heritage Site status. On the rugged slopes and open savannas of the three largest islands, Komodo dragons live alongside buffalo, deer, monkeys, snakes, and many colorful species of birds. Many of the local islanders still live in traditional stilted dwellings, around which goats and chickens scratch.

We have a short stop on Komodo Island with the only purpose to see the Komodo Dragon.  We anchor off shore and around the ship are several small “boats” manned by small boys who are supposed to be learning to be fishermen but are actually just begging.

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The ship used some of the lifeboats to tender into shore arriving at a rickety, old wooden dock.  Not sure how many people could be on the ramp at any one time, but it held.  From here we met our guides, one of whom carried a long stick with a fork in it (see below).  This was the protection from the Komodo Dragons.  Apparently, they are very sensitive around the head area.

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The weather was extremely hot and very humid, so hydration was key to staying upright.  I had opted for the long trek around the island in search of the elusive lizards.

Known as oras to the roughly 2000 local Muslim Bugis fishermen, this prehistoric monitor lizard pretty much has the lay of the land. Because the locals don’t eat the abundant Timor pigs – the dragons’ main food source (alongside deer and water buffalo) – the reptiles have been left to flourish. It also helps that the Komodo dragon is enshrined in ancient folklore, stemming from an old legend that tells of a man falling in love with a dragon princess, who gives birth to twins: a human boy and a female komodo dragon. The story paints the animals and native humans as kindred spirits, and thus should live in harmony. The fact the Indonesian government banned hunting them in 1915 may have also had something to do with the reptile’s long-term survival

The island itself is very arid, almost desert like and we saw no dragons during the hike until we arrived at the man-made watering hole.

They pipe in water quite away for this.  So, seeing the Komodo Dragons is really a staged event.  However, even so, it was quite impressive to see these prehistoric animals.

Despite all the warnings to stay hydrated, there was one passenger that collapsed and had to be carried out on a stretcher.  She was fine once she cooled down but it happens quite frequently on this tour.

Back to the rickety old dock, onto a tender and settled back aboard the ship.

That ends the “Asia” section of our cruise.  Next stop is Darwin, Australia and the start of the “Pacific” segment.

ED’S 82 DAY GRAND ASIA & PACIFIC SAILING WITH HOLLAND AMERICA – PART 19

November 16, 2018 – Bali, Indonesia

Yes, Bali has beaches, surfing, diving, and resorts, great and small, but it’s the essence of Bali – and the Balinese – that makes it so much more than just a fun-in-the-sun retreat. It is possible to take the cliché of the smiling Balinese too far, but in reality, the inhabitants of this small island are indeed a generous, genuinely warm people. There’s also a fun, sly sense of humour.

This is certainly the case with all the Indonesian staff and in particular our dining room host and waiters.  They are so willing to talk about their homeland and what to see and do and in the end, we hired our waiter’s brother Agus, to tour us around Bali.  He is a tour guide on Bali complete with his own lovely 7 passenger Mazda vehicle and since there were 4 of us on our own private tour, the $150 he charged for the entire day was a good deal!

We gave him a list of a few things we wanted to see on Bali but a must for us was Tanah Lot Temple, one of Bali’s most important landmarks, famed for its unique offshore setting and sunset backdrops.

Really not all that far from Benoa where the ship docked, we were lucky that it only took us an hour to reach the temple.  The traffic was incredible and not as bad as it can be!

An ancient Hindu shrine perched on top of an outcrop amidst constantly crashing waves; Tanah Lot Temple is simply among Bali’s not-to-be-missed icons. The onshore site is dotted with smaller shrines alongside visitors’ leisure facilities that comprise restaurants, shops and a cultural park.

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After centuries of large waves persistently crashing at its rock base, Tanah Lot faced the constant threat of erosion, reaching a significant decline in 1980. The authorities carried out preservation efforts to Tanah Lot and other historical sites island-wide. Fully restored, a third of the present Tanah Lot is actually artificial rock. At high tide, waves flood the causeways making it impossible to cross.  We were lucky that we were there at low tide.

It was at this point when my camera stopped working.  I think it was a combination of both the heat and humidity that took its toll.  I am only hoping that somewhere along the line I can get it repaired!

At low tide, which was the case when we were there, we crossed to view the rock base to the Tirta Pabersihan fountain. This natural spout is the source of holy water for all the temples in the area. Priests at the fountain bless visitors by sprinkling holy water over their heads. You can cup your palms and take a sip to prove it is apparently fresh water.  I didn’t drink from the fountain but was welcomed to wash my face with its holy waters.

I thought perhaps this was something arranged for the tourists but our guide also performed the same ceremony.  Also, because of the low tide, we were able to visit a small cave where a sacred snake was being kept.  For a small “donation”, we were able to touch the sacred snake and be blessed with good fortune…I should have done that before my camera crapped out!  Pictured below is our friend Margaret touching the snake and then, I followed suit.

Onshore temples include the Penyawang, a spiritual proxy to Tanah Lot that hosts pilgrims when the main offshore temple is inaccessible during high tide. Other smaller temples around the site host prayer sessions for various aspects of the villagers’ agrarian life, from good rice harvests to rites of passage.

North of Tanah Lot is Batu Bolong, similarly built on a rock formation with a ‘hollow’ overpass linking to the mainland.

Convenient pathways and well-kept tropical gardens line the grounds from Tanah Lot to Batu Bolong, with resting spots offering shades and good viewpoints to both outcrops.

From Tanah Lot, we had really wanted to go see the Tegallalang Rices Terraces north around Ubud, but given the amount of traffic (now even worse), we opted to stop at some of the roadside rice paddies for a look.

When I think of Bali, I think of beautiful beaches with crystal clear waters.  So, off to the beach at Nusa Dua we went.  It was a lovely beach but honestly, I expected nicer. We have access to nicer beaches in the Caribbean and Hawaii without travelling the distances from Canada.  Having said that, Bali does have much to offer.

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Lunchtime!  We did not want to go to a tourist restaurant but rather an authentic Indonesian restaurant for some local food.  After some time driving, we ended up at Warung Bakas for the traditional Babi Guling (suckling pig) that came with spicy soup, rice and spicy beans.  A large, cold local beer was needed to put out the fire!  We asked for local and got it!

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We are now in search of a Batik shirt that I need for supper in a couple of nights.  While I was not able to find shirt to fit me in two different markets (I didn’t think I was that large), Karen was able to find lots of different things to buy!

Our time is running out, so we do a quick stop at what our guide said was their largest monument for a couple of quick pictures, then one last market to try at Kuta Beach (a very busy tourist beach and market).  Success!  A shirt that fit for a hefty price tag of $10 (lol).  Pictures of new shirt to follow after Komodo Island.

Our final stop in Bali was for a traditional Balinese massage.  We were greeted with cups of cooled green tea before going up to the treatment room where we both had our feet Bali 41cleansed/massaged in aromatic water.  Up onto the table for an exceptional full body massage although it freaked me out when she climbed onto the table to get better leverage.  An hour of bliss and then washed down with a wet towel.  Finally, a cup of ginger tea before heading back to the ship to sail away from Bali.

Thanks again for travelling along with us.  Read about our dragon experience in the next blog!

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ED’S 82 DAY GRAND ASIA & PACIFIC SAILING WITH HOLLAND AMERICA – PART 18

Located on the north coast of Java right about its center point is the busy port city of Semarang…the city where we are docked. Although not as well known as other cities, Semarang is the Capital of the province of Central Java. We are greeted by beautiful dancers accompanied by traditional local musicians.

 

 

According to history, Semarang was given by the Sultan to the Dutch East India Company, in 1708, from which time this town was built into a Dutch enclave. For this reason, Semarang has an Old Town which was built during Dutch colonial times.

The port city of Semarang is a melting pot of beautiful architecture, rich history, delectable food, and colourful multiculturism. Borobudur, the majestic and world’s largest Buddhist temple, is a 105km scenic car ride away. It’s the only sightseeing we will be doing during our stop.

Located on the island of Java, the magnificent Borobudur temple is an ancient site widely considered to be one of the world’s seven wonders. The temple sits majestically on a hilltop overlooking lush green fields and distant hills. Built in the 9th century during the reign of the Syailendra dynasty, the temple’s design in Gupta architecture reflects India’s influence on the region, yet there are enough indigenous scenes and elements incorporated to make Borobudur uniquely Indonesian.

It covers an enormous area, measuring 123 x 123 meters. The monument is a marvel of design, decorated with 2,672 relief panels and 504 Buddha statues. The architecture and stonework of this temple has no equal. And it was built without using any kind of cement or mortar!

 

 

The temple has remained strong even through ten centuries of neglect. It was rediscovered in 1815, buried under volcanic ash. In the 1970’s the Indonesian Government and UNESCO worked together to restore Borobudur to its former majesty The restoration took eight years to complete and today Borobudur is one of Indonesia and the world’s most valuable treasures. The temple is decorated with stone carvings in bas-relief representing images from the life of Buddha. It is claimed to be the largest and most complete ensemble of Buddhist reliefs in the world, unsurpassed in artistic merit.

 

 

The best way to explore this site is on foot. Our guide was able to walk us around the site and explain the history of the temple, beginning with its construction during the Syailendra dynasty. As we climbed to the top of this magnificent temple we marveled at the intricate detailed stone carvings displayed on the temple’s walls. It is said that Nirvana can be attained at the top of the Temple. I don’t think we experienced Nirvana but we did enjoy the magnificence of this Buddhist Temple and the beautiful surroundings as evidenced with the pictures below.

 

 

Luckily, we finished our tour and were heading down to the restaurant just as the skies opened up. We had both an umbrella and a rain poncho so we didn’t get too wet, but the rain came down in sheets.

The bus ride from port is about 3 hours long each way and it would be a lot worse if it were not for the police escort that our busses were provided for. Police lights on, sirens where necessary and traffic cops at major intersections facilitated an exciting and interesting bus ride each way.

 

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We are currently enjoying a day at sea before reaching Bali tomorrow. Some of you have asked what we do on our days at sea. Frankly, we are way too busy on our sea days by choice. For example, we start our day with a stretch class at 07:00. This is followed by an ABS class at 07:30. From there, a shower and breakfast after which (or before depending on the day), we walk on the deck where I try to get a 5 km brisk walk in before a talk by the ship’s guide on our next port of call (in this case Bali). At 11:00, we go to America’s Test Kitchen for cooking classes. Lunch at Noon. First guest lecturer at 1:00, work on this blog at 2:00, second guest lecturer at 3:00, Free time until 5:00 when it is time to get ready for supper. Supper at 5:30 – 7:30. A brief stop at the Piano Bar to hear a few tunes before the show (tonight are the Amsterdam Singers and Dancers with a tribute to the Rat Pack) at 8:00. At 9:00, we are beat and head back to the cabin to finish the blog and get caught up on emails. That’s a typical, wonderful day at sea…we are so spoiled not having to make our bed, or clean our cabin, or make our meals, or do dishes, or change our towels. The biggest decision of the day was really what to eat! We are very blessed to have this experience and do not take it for granted.

 

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ED’S 82 DAY GRAND ASIA & PACIFIC SAILING WITH HOLLAND AMERICA – PART 17

Singapore is much more than the sum of its numerous attractions. It’s been at least a dozen years since our last visit and the city seems to be constantly evolving, reinventing, and reimagining itself, with people who are passionate about creating new possibilities.  It’s where foodies, explorers, collectors, action seekers, culture shapers, and socialisers meet―and new experiences seem to be created all the time.

Now, whizzing around Singapore can take a matter of minutes, thanks to one of the world’s most efficient and widespread public transport systems…the MRT.  We purchased a 2-day unlimited use pass for $26 each but if you return the card you get $10 each back.  Not only is it inexpensive but so very easy to use.

For our first stop we head out of town a little to the Unesco World Heritage–listed Singapore Botanic Gardens: these are described as the lungs of Singapore.  They are a 74-hectare botanic park. Established in 1860, it’s a tropical area peppered with glassy lakes, rolling lawns and themed gardens.

 

 

The site is home to the National Orchid Garden, in our opinion, the best part of the entire gardens.  The National Orchid Garden itself is the legacy of an orchid-breeding program that began in 1928, and its 3 hectares house over 1000 species and 2000 hybrids. Of these, around 600 are on display – the largest showcase of tropical orchids on Earth.

 

 

Located next to the National Orchid Garden is the 1-hectare Ginger Garden, with over 250 members of the Zingiberaceae family. Unfortunately, it was not the right season for these plants to flower.

From these gardens, we hop on the MRT for a quick stop in Chinatown.  We got caught up in a mall attached to the MRT station so actually didn’t get out into Chinatown before we decided it was time for lunch and off we went to Clarke Quay.

 

 

This delightful riverside development is packed full of bustling bars and restaurants, boutique shops and pumping nightclubs, attracting a steady stream of tourists alongside Singapore’s party animals. Clarke Quay’s location takes full advantage of the picturesque body of water that emerges from the city’s main river, with alfresco-style dining to be had in an endless number of eateries set around the water’s edge. Head under the futuristic, jelly-like roof and you’ll find some great shopping options as well as a plentiful supply of bars, making this a real bar-hoppers’ heaven!

Next stop, Little India!  Again, a short MRT ride and we are there to see the decorations and activities for Diwali, a Hindu festival of lights – spiritual “victory of light over darkness, good over evil and knowledge over ignorance”.  They were creating all types of flower “leis” and the streets were decorated with lights.  It was very interesting to walk along the streets among all the hawkers and many, many gold stores!

 

 

But the call of a cold beer and some snacks lured us back to Clarke Quay before heading back to the ship.

 

 

Our entire focus on our second day in Singapore is the Gardens by the Bay, Singapore’s 21st-century botanic garden which is a S$1 billion, 101-hectare fantasy land of space-age bio-domes, high-tech Supertrees and whimsical sculptures. The Flower Dome replicates the dry Mediterranean climates found across the world, while the even more astounding Cloud Forest is a tropical montane affair, complete with waterfall.

The cost to visit the 2 domes was $26 each but well worth the price of admission.  We started with the Cloud Forest.  Surprisingly it was quite chilly inside the dome and a very large area.  Starting on the ground floor you wind your way around to the elevators which take you to the top and then wind your way back down.  Those with a fear of heights may find the walkway a bit daunting.

 

 

The Flower Dome is comprised of several sections including flowers from Australia, Africa, Mediterranean, USA and many others.  Being this close to Christmas, Disney had a magnificent display for the season too.

 

 

Outside of the domes are several “Supertrees”, large steel structures sculpted to look like huge trees.  Connecting two of the Supertrees is the OCBC Skyway, with knockout views of the gardens, city and South China Sea. At 7.45pm and 8.45pm, the Supertrees twinkle and glow for the spectacular Garden Rhapsody show.  Unfortunately, we had to be back at the ship by 5:30 so we missed the light show.  However, I did brave the Skywalk ($8) and was thrilled by the views of the park.  Fantastic…see pictures below.

 

 

South of the Supertree Grove is British artist Marc Quinn’s extraordinary sculpture, Planet, a 7-tonne infant seemingly floating above the lawn.

 

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Singapore is a wonderful city and many aboard the ship have declared it their favourite city in the world.  We can see why. Our next stop will be Indonesia!  Thanks for following along!

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ED’S 82 DAY GRAND ASIA & PACIFIC SAILING WITH HOLLAND AMERICA – PART 16

Good Morning Vietnam!!  Our first stop is Nha Trang, a beachside resort town.  We were so looking forward to spending some time on the beach, relaxing, etc.  However, it is pouring rain!!  Plan B…we take the shuttle from the ship into town which conveniently drops us off at a mall, not really what we are looking for but after wandering around the mall a bit, we decide to head out in the rain.

We negotiated a rate with a pedicab driver to take us to the Nha Trang Dam Market.  He assures us that he has a cover for his pedicab and we stay mostly dry as he slogs through the wet streets for an exciting and nail-biting ride through all the traffic.

 

 

When it comes to street markets the Dam Market is hailed as the busiest of its kind. It’s bustling atmosphere and colourful array of goods makes it a popular spot for travelling photographers and tourists looking to immerse themselves in the local culture.

Within a three-storey building with designated sections it’s easy to navigate. Local souvenir shops are set in the front and middle sections.  You can also see numerous stalls selling counterfeit goods such as handbags, watches, sneakers and knock-off branded clothing, though most of them have the same stock. We had to bargain hard to get a fair price. This is generally the case for markets popular with tourists in Vietnam, and throughout most of Southeast Asia.  We did end up with some purchases but it was mostly fun looking around while the rain came down in buckets outside.

 

 

There are several other wonderful sights to see in Nha Trang, if the weather had been better.  There are temple ruins at Po Nagar Cham, the Long Son Pagoda and the Nha Trang Cathedral but really not easy to get to or wander around with this kind of weather.  Some people from the ship went for massages…1.5 hours for only $24USD.

Instead we headed back to the ship for lunch and because there was a market set up outside the ship for us, we spent a little more money.  In fact, the prices outside the ship were actually lower than in the huge market!

Unfortunately, we weren’t able to enjoy Nha Trang to the extend we would have liked to but one cannot control the weather and we made the best of it.

 

 

Phu My (Saigon/Ho Chi Minh City) is where the ship docked.  The distance to Saigon is approximately 1.5 hours away given the amount of traffic.  Many of the ship are taking a shuttle into the city but because we have been there before and that I really wanted to go to the Cu Chi Tunnels, that’s the plan.  It’s about a 3 hour bus ride each way to visit the tunnels.

The Chu Chi Tunnels offers a sneak-peek at the underground life of Vietnamese soldiers back to 1948. The site has over 120km of underground tunnels, with trapdoors, living areas, kitchens, storage facilities, armoury, hospitals, and command centres. After the war against the French, Vietnamese soldiers expanded the tunnels and included effective air filtration systems, which helped them survive the Chu Chi carpet-bombings.

Parts of Chu Chi Tunnels are also cemented and widened, so that the crawl is less harrowing than it would have been in the past and allows larger tourists the opportunity to go through them and there are emergency exit points every few metres for safety.

It was extremely interesting to see how well camouflaged everything was and how absolutely frightening the booby traps and shooting portals would have been to the soldiers.

We were warned that the tour was from a Vietnamese perspective.  I expected to get a North Vietnamese or Government sanctioned point of view and was looking forward to that.  While our guide was very good, his father was a soldier in the ARV (The Army of the Republic of Vietnam) and so presented a more US friendly version of the tunnels of the “civil war”.  His father lost a foot to a Viet Cong mine during the war and faced 2 years of “re-education” after the war.  Growing up with that background affected our guide’s commentary.

 

 

All I can say is that I am glad to never have had to go to war because what we saw was absolutely terrifying.  Our hearts went out to all that lost their lives in the Vietnam war!

After our tour of the tunnels, it was a quick lunch by the Saigon River before a grueling 3 hour ride back to ship which of course included an obligatory stop at a lacquerware factory in Saigon.

 

 

That’s it from Vietnam.  If you have any questions, please let me know.  Thanks for following along on our adventures!

 

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ED’S 82 DAY GRAND ASIA & PACIFIC SAILING WITH HOLLAND AMERICA – PART 15

6

Hong Kong Day 1

The weather in Hong Kong is perfect – 24 C and sunny!  We have been to Hong Kong several times and so we just wanted to chill out, go to the Ladies Market and the Temple Street Night Market, eat some food and enjoy the vibrant street scene.  We took the complimentary shuttle to one of the metro stations (Holland America does a great job of arranging shuttles wherever possible) which was under quite a large mall.  Unfortunately, the mall wasn’t open yet but one the passengers we had met before recommended visiting the Nan Lian Garden, just across the street.  Never heard of them but what the heck.  What an amazing find for us!

Established in 1934, the Chi Lin Nunnery is part of the garden complex and is literally in the middle of the concrete jungle of Hong Kong.  As you can see from the pictures below, it is absolutely stunning!

From the gardens, we caught the metro to Tsim Sha Tsui, quick and easy with only one transfer.  Our goal was to walk up Nathan road to the market, stopping at shops and sights along the way.

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Nathan Road is named after Hong Kong’s only Jewish governor, Matthew Nathan, Kowloon’s main drag is a bit of a traffic- and pedestrian-choked crowd of malls, jewellery stores, and fashion boutiques. It’s nonetheless an iconic Hong Kong scene where guesthouses rub shoulders with luxury hotels.

 

So, we walked and walked until hunger got the best of us and we stopped for Dim Sum at a great little restaurant.  We were pretty sure that the food was good even though it was directly on Nathan Road, as it was crowded with Chinese and we were the only obvious tourists there.  As it turned out, the food was delicious. Dumpling soup filled with pork and vegetables, fried scallion pancakes and crab filled dumplings.

 

We finally made it to the Ladies Market!  Chock a block full of clothing, trinkets, electronics, bags, scarves and the like, it attracts huge crowds looking for and getting bargains.  You have to be very careful about the quality, but it is a great place to soak up the local atmosphere.  It is quite large and runs for several blocks.  Did I mention it attracts huge crowds down a narrow walkway where you squeeze through and get jostled all the way?

 

After our fill of bargain hunting, we walked back to the Temple Street Night Market.  When night falls and neon buzzes, Hong Kong’s liveliest market rattles into life. It covers multiple city blocks.  In the 1920s, vendors gathered there to serve temple-goers; a century on, the crowds descend nightly for cheap clothes and watches, street food, trinkets and tea ware. Marked prices are mere suggestions – this is a place to bargain.

Tourist trap? Absolutely, but that didn’t stop us. It remains Hong Kong’s most thrillingly underdeveloped district, where, if you veer away from the bare-bulb stalls you might encounter Canton singing houses, fortune tellers, herbalists, street eats, sex shops and prostitutes lurking in the shadows.

They say the market is at its bustling best from 7pm to 10pm.

 

Back to the ship in time for the nightly show which was a series of Chinese performed by a local cultural dance group.  Hard to get good pictures.

 


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Hong Kong Day 2

The shuttle today was able to drop us off very close to the Star Ferry Terminal.  You can’t say you’ve ‘done’ Hong Kong until you’ve taken a ride on a Star Ferry, with its’ fleet of electric-diesel vessels with names like Morning Star, Celestial Star and Twinkling Star.

At any time of the day, the journey, with its riveting views of skyscrapers and jungle-clad hills, must be one of the world’s best-value cruises. At the end of the 10-minute journey, a hemp rope is cast from the back of the boat and caught with a billhook, the way it was in 1888 when the first boat docked.

The cheapest fares are only available on the lower deck, but the views are a little better and there are less fumes on the top deck. You get tickets at the pier through an easy to use self-serve terminal.

 

The only hopeful destination today was the Man Mo Temple but we just wanted to wander around the SOHO (South of Hollywood Road) area of Central district on Hong Kong Island.  It is an entertainment/shopping/restaurant area that has a very vibrant feel to it.  We had no agenda in walking around, except to find a decent place for lunch which we accomplished at a fusion Chinese restaurant called Chifa Dumpling House.  Nothing too exotic today…a pork stir fry, crab filled wontons and New York style Cheesecake for dessert!  It was delicious!

Perhaps you are noticing a trend in our travels…food and wine.  They go together like a kiss and a hug!

One of Hong Kong’s oldest temples and a declared monument, atmospheric Man Mo Temple is dedicated to the gods of literature (‘Man’), holding a writing brush, and of war (‘Mo’), wielding a sword. Built in 1847 during the Qing dynasty by wealthy Chinese merchants, it was, besides a place of worship, a court of arbitration for local disputes when trust was thin between the Chinese and the colonialists.

Oaths taken at this Taoist temple (often accompanied by the ritual beheading of a rooster) were accepted by the colonial government.  Outside the main entrance are four gilt plaques on poles that used to be carried around at processions. Two describe the gods being worshipped inside, one requests silence and a show of respect within the temple’s grounds, and the last warns menstruating women to keep out of the main hall.

Lending the temple its beguiling and smoky air are rows of large earth-coloured spirals suspended from the roof, like overgrown fungi in an upside-down garden. These are incense coils burned as offerings by worshippers.

 

Off to the side is Lit Shing Kung, the ‘saints’ palace’, a place of worship for other Buddhist and Taoist deities. Another hall, Kung Sor (‘public meeting place’), used to serve as a court of justice to settle disputes among the Chinese community before the modern judicial system was introduced. A couplet at the entrance urges those entering to leave their selfish interests and prejudices outside. Fortune tellers beckon from inside.

 

Back on the Star Ferry crossing over to Kowloon, we rush to catch our shuttle bus to be back on the ship in time for a mandatory life boat drill since we have new passengers getting aboard here in Hong Kong.  We made the bus by 1 minute!

 

Next stop…Vietnam!

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ED’S 82 DAY GRAND ASIA & PACIFIC SAILING WITH HOLLAND AMERICA – PART 14

November 1-2, 2018 – Keelung, Taiwan

TYPHOON!  We were supposed to go to Ishigaki Island, Japan today but the effects of a typhoon in the area have caused us to miss that port and instead we sailed directly to Taiwan.  3 - KeelungOur port of call is Keelung, the gateway city to Taipei and it is raining!  We decided not to go into Taipei because of the rain, the fact I was feeling a little under the weather and I had been to Taipei before.  Instead, we focused on what Keelung had to offer…a vibrant market!

The ship docked within easy walking distance of the market and temple, so off we went on another adventure!  The market grew out of the location of the temple.  Apparently, one entrepreneur started selling items to the people going to the temple.  This caused a few others to follow suit and so on and so on.  The result was a plethora of shops selling wares but also an impressive number of food vendors selling everything from soup to local specialties like stuffed pig’s intestines and I think it was skinned frogs we saw at one booth.

The temple was tucked in behind the wall of food merchants.  What started off as the reason to create the markets seems to have taken a back seat to food stalls.

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Oddly there was a puppet show outside the temple but unfortunately, we could not understand or follow along.

We went back to the market again that night and it was really even more impressive at night with additional shops and vendors and significantly more people.  I quite enjoy markets like this and it did not disappoint.

As mentioned, we stayed in Keelung the next day.  We wandered around the downtown area shopping for some great bargains.  A very relaxing day which was what I needed after the hectic pace of ports we explored over the last few weeks.  Another sea day up next and then one of my favourite cities in the world…Hong Kong!