Around The World · 151 Days · 234 Moments · December 2017

Lee and Sally’s Viking World Cruise


5 May 2018

Beautiful evening on the deck. The lights of London left us wonderful memories of our 141 day stay on the Viking Sun. We were up at 3:30 to get ready to disembark, the tender was busy and the sunrise was symbolic of new voyages to come. I wish to thank everyone for following and for your comments. We will be home soon

4 May 2018

We had a great view of London from our balcony, that’s the building they call the gherkin, because it looks like a pickle. We actually docked in Greenwich. Out tour took us to Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abby, The Tower of Big Ben, which was completely enclosed by scaffolding for a 5 year remodel. We also visited the British Museum, we wanted to see Egypt artifacts that are not in Egypt, like the Rosetta Stone. Then stopped for fish and chips and a cold beer in the Covent Garden area before heading back to the Biking Sun for our last night on board

2 May 2018

Only a few more food stations! And a few of our friends after dinner. Can’t believe we are almost done. We dock in London in 2 days😢
More food!

1 May 2018

Our last sea days on the ship. We were given a map of our cruise route and ports on our first day. We put it on our wall and moved the small magnetic marker every day of our trip, 138 days so far. Sally posed with our room stewards, Andrian and Mohamed. They have been with us the entire trip and took very good care of us. The ship had a special dinner for us tonight, 7 Wonders of the World dinner. There were food stations all around the ship with food from 7 different countries. Here are a few pics
Our next stop was Puerto, Portugal. Lovely city with many small homes on the bay. The old small homes with 1 door and 2 windows were owned by fishermen. Homes with 3 windows meant they were fishermen with a boat. OK, now you know. The first pic is a giant sculpture of a fishing net. It was cold and foggy in the morning. We were happy when we went inside for our port tasting. Discovered we like port!

30 April 2018

We met friends on board for a nice dinner, desert and a few glasses of wine....no Sally and I didn’t use all those wine glasses. Then another beautiful moon over the ocean on our way to Portugal

29 April 2018

As we left Alhambra, we could see snow on mountains in the distance. Our guide said we could be snow skiing in 45 minutes. But we are heading the other direction and in 1 1/2 hours we will be at Costa Del Sol, a beautiful stretch of beach in Malaga. There were sun bathers and sailboats enjoying the warm weather. I stayed up for a nice shot of the full moon and a picture of the Rock of Gibraltar as we sailed by in the night
Ok, final set of garden pics from Alhambra. What a wonderful place.
As we are finishing our tour we pass more ancient walls of buildings that Napoleon destroyed as he fled Alhambra. At every turn we saw more beautiful gardens and vistas.
Had to share a few more pics of the wonderful outdoor gardens and views
This was the sultans quarters, with stained glass ceiling above his bed to simulate stars. Intricate detail on all the walls and wood ceiling in another part of his private quarters. Nice garden view from one of his windows. The sultan has steam baths, the red clay roof you see on pic 5 was over the fires that provided steam and heat for the sultan. Pic 6 is a plaque dedicated to Washington Irving. In 1829 Irving spent a lot of time at Alhambra, before any significant restoration had began. His writings about Alhambra are credited with the start of its restoration More amazing views
More gardens and the court of lions. There were a lot of metal bars supporting walls because of earthquakes
This was a biggie for me. This is the grand court room where Ferdinand and Isabella met Christopher Columbus In 1492. We were standing where they granted him their royal endorsement to fund his trip to discover the new world. They would have been setting in the alcove with the sunlight behind them, so they could see their subjects clearly, but the subject would be looking into the sunlight and would not easily see their facial expressions. Power play even then. Quite a feeling standing there. The room was impressive
More highly decorated rooms, ceilings and interior gardens
Let’s go inside the first palace, there were so many I can’t name them all. So just enjoy the beautiful detail on the walls and even ceilings. The first 2 pictures are a reminder of ancient Muslim design, plain outside, highly decorated inside. Notice the small door in the large door. The large door was opened for the sultan, small door for regulars. Beautiful views of the city below from the ornate windows
Alhambra, in Granada; this is going to take several segments We had no idea what to expect and were overwhelmed. A little history as we walk into the site. Alhambra was first started in 889 on top of ancient Roman ruins. In 1238 Muslims began construction of the palatial City. In 1333 they began construction of the palace of Comares and the palaces were joined together by a Great Wall. In 1492, at the conclusion of the Christian Reconquista the last Muslim sultan was driven out of Alhambra and Ferdinand and Isabella made it the royal court of Spain. This will play a role in a later segment. For now, enjoy the exterior grounds. Alhambra translates as Red, named for the red clay that was used in much of the exterior construction. The tall cedar hedges with arches are designed to replicate some of the ancient arched walls that did not stand the earthquakes that frequent the area
Granada and Malaga, Spain we took a 2 hour bus ride through beautiful countryside. Lots of olive trees and wine vineyards. Just enjoyed the scenery.

28 April 2018

We returned to our ship and I took a picture of a “sailboat”, docked close by. We were told it belongs to a Russian oligarch and is valued at 450 million dollars. Not sure but good story and quite a boat. I snapped a pic of the bar and part of the wine case at The Restaurant, one of the 10 places to eat on board. Also a sunset leaving Cartagena and sunrise entering Malaga SpIn
We walked through the ancient and beautiful streets and squares of Cartagena. We then drove up to Santuario de la Fuensanta, a cathedral run my an order of nuns. The focus piece is a statue of the Virgin Mary, that they elaborately dress for special occasions. There was a wedding about to start, so our visit was limited.
Two more pic of the Casino. This is the ceiling in the ladies room. The eyes of the woman in this ceiling follows you across the room,,,women are always watching. Then look at the position of her legs, they seem to change location in relation to her head as you move across the room. Then we went to Cathedral of Murcia, built in 1400’s. The nobility bought private chapel rooms for their families. They are all gated and highly decorated. Interesting
Murcia and Cartagena Spain. We are off to visit a cathedral and a casino, excited. We drove past a large yacht area and beautiful countryside and vegetable farms. They use plastic to cover many of the vegetables to keep the heat and moisture in. We saw many workers in the fields. More parks and finally The Casino of Murcia. A little disappointed, turns out it is not a gambling casino, but gentleman’s club...no not that kind. It was built in 1847 for “gentleman” only, that changed years ago, mainly because they needed more members and money. It was a beautiful building with interesting rooms and art.

27 April 2018

Now for our walk through the Casbah Exciting, because we had been warned it could be a little dangerous??? We had a guide and a guard, (he was really just a local young man who lived in the Casbah). We had a great time, wandering the narrow passageways and steps. Everyone was very nice. The main issue is that tourism is new to Algiers and the locals are not accustomed to to us. There were very, very few shops, except for locals and their immediate needs. No one takes US dollars and few take credit cards. Our guide said we were only the second cruise ship this year and they were not aware of any others coming. Too bad, it was a very nice visit.
The women showed several traditional dresses and a type of burka, although most young women dress very contemporary. We walked the 4 floors to the roof for a great view of the city. If you enlarge pics 4 and 5 you can see our ship in port. The houses actually touch each other, so on the roof neighbors would talk and share food and water. The interior had many colorful tiles and a beautiful ceiling.
Algiers, Algeria and the Casbah or Kasbah, I see it both ways. Our port talk really downplayed Algiers, saying it was in very bad shape. We were pleasantly surprised. The sail in presented a postcard type view of a very old city built on hills around the port. The Casbah was pointed out on the hill in pic 2. We were told Casbah means fortress and was started 2,000 years ago to protect the port. Our bus tour took us past several nice business and apartment areas to the top of the hill. Our first stop was at the Bahia house. The owner’s family no longer lives there, but offers tours of what a Home would have looked like several hundred years ago. We had to knock and a niece of the family greeted us in traditional garb. She also welcomed us into the lower level courtyard with a traditional yodel that rang through the house. Houses are very basic on the outside and very decorated inside, a Muslim characteristic. The well provided water for cleaning, drinking water had to be carried in
Sardinia, Italy, is an island about 150 miles south west of Rome. It’s location explains why every Mediterranean power has controlled the island at one time or another. We docked in Cagliari and had a short tour of the city before our ride to Barumini. It is beautiful countryside with numerous hills. You can see a church perched on one of the hills. The inland village of Barumini is home to the Su Nuraxi fortress built in about 1600 BC out of stone. There are no records of the construction or it’s use, but experts believe it was a fortress. There are no low level entrances, so you had to climb 60 feet of stairs to descend into the towers. Sally REALLY liked the steep, narrow, dark steps into the pit😜

26 April 2018

One more set of pics from St Johns. Had to include its most famous painting, the beheading of St John the Baptist. Everything was well done. Really liked the headsets. The main points of interest were numbered and you could walk at your own pace and direction and just enter the number and get as much or little information as you wished. Fabulous!!! Really hated to leave Malta.

25 April 2018

We left the ship early and took the elevator to the old city on the hill, exciting ride. The views were amazing. We walked through the gardens to St Johns Co-Cathedral. It is a co-cathedral because the Bishop has two cathedrals in two different cities. It is one of the most beautiful cathedrals we have visited. There are numerous rooms, each with paintings, sculptures and vaulted ceilings. Took way too many pictures, I’ll just share a few

24 April 2018

Due to a US government advisory about unrest in Tunis, Tunisia, Viking cancelled our port stop there. So we spent the night and next morning in Valletta, YEA! We decided to enjoy the port that evening. Sally waves hi. We walked the shops and restaurants and decided to have drinks and nachos at Hard Rock, a little taste of home. Got a nice pic of our ship. We enjoyed the night life and managed to make it back to the ship. Sally and Joann wave from the always present Viking reception area as we boarded the ship
On our way to Marsaxlokk, the fishing village. Beautiful little city where we joined Tom and Joann at a small street cafe and had rabbit for lunch. Then back in the bus for our ride back to the ship
A few more pictures of our city ride. With the narrow streets I am sure there are a few fender benders, so I had to take this pic of a body shop...Panel Bending and painting..funny. There are lots of steps and narrow pathways, fun to explore. We went to the old city of Medina. Beautiful entry gate and a cathedral.
Valletta, Malta. A wonderful, unexpected port. The sail into the port of Valletta was one of the best of our cruise. Valletta was built in 1565 by the Knights of Malta to defend Christendom. They are also known as the Knights Hospitallier. They participated in the crusades and 375 knights are buried in St Johns Co-Cathedral, more on this later. The ancient walls still protect the city, as well as this little yacht we passed, WOW! We took a hop on hop off bus to explore the city. We cruised the city and had lunch in a small fishing village. I had Valletta Rabbit, it was delicious and the local beer was cold.

21 April 2018

It is a short drive from the pyramids to the Sphinx. As we approached from the back, because it guards the pyramids, we didn’t see it until we were almost upon it. It rests in a pit that archaeologists have been excavating for years. So it doesn’t stand tall from several angles. It is large, but it seems bigger in pictures, unlike the pyramids, which are huge from any angle. There used to be walls around the Sphinx as it was the pathway to the pyramids. There are few walls remaining, but when you approach the Sphinx from the formal entry, it is imposing I didn’t write much detail on the Great Pyramids or the Sphinx, because most are very familiar with them and my few words would not do justice to such important historical artifacts
The Great Pyramid, the last remaining structure of the 7 Wonders of the Ancient World. Got to admit, it was a bucket list item and did not disappoint. Now for a favor. Many of you have liked or commented on my posts...thank you. But if you don’t “like” or comment, I don’t know who is following my posts. So would you please like or comment on this post so I know who is following ....thanks We had lunch in a nice restaurant almost at the base of the pyramids. It’s amazing how close the city is on one side. We quickly got hi jacked by an ambitious young man that wanted to help us take pictures😜. $40 dollars later I got my phone back and a bunch of goofy pics, I’ll only bore you with 2. There were hundreds of tourists and almost as many camels, horses, hawkers and guides. Surprisingly, after all the anticipation, there is not much to do at the sight except take way too many pictures and marvel at what Egypt did almost 5,000 years ago.
We visited the museum of Memphis. It was mostly outside. The most impressive sight was the colossal statue of Ramses. Next stop the Great Pyramids
I am just amazed with the number of small shops and had to share a few more pics. I don’t think many would pass USDA or OSHA regulations The 5,000 plus years of rich history, incredible wealth, advanced technology for its time; compared to the poverty and poor conditions of today, make it hard to really enjoy what we are seeing. Makes me appreciate what the US has done in a relatively short time and hope we won’t squander what we have
We drove past many open air food shops in Memphis. Who says eggs need to be refrigerated. Not sure I would want too much bread from one of these bakeries with all the dust. All this was on one of the main roads
We explored Saqqara a little more. We went into 2 tombs built in 2340 BC. There was originally a Great Wall around the complex, but little remains. If you look to the west, it is desert as far as you can see. When you look East you are almost in the city. As we traveled to our next stop, we passed several nice homes
Finally The Pyramids!!!! This is the Step Pyramid. Built in 2700 BC, it was the first pyramid and the first large stone structure in the world. Doesn’t look to big from a distance, let me get a little closer...what is that dark spot on a middle level? Let me enlarge the picture, oh...it’s a man with a wheeler barrow. The Step Pyramid is HUGE There was a high wall surrounding the pyramid with an elaborate entry hall with tall columns. Very little remains. You can see the remains of smaller pyramids behind the wall, they were for his queens. If you look closely at pic 7, you can see the great pyramid in the distance. If you enlarge the last 2 pics, it gives you some additional info
Cairo is the capital of Egypt, with a population of 16 million, making it the 15th largest city in the world. It is over 4,000 years old and in some areas looks like it. We were taking the main road to the pyramids and passed some unusual sights. Pic 3, shows rocks put in the street for a no parking area. Number 4 is a lamp store. Ramadan starts next month and lamps play an important role, we saw several of these stores. #5 are two gentlemen sharing a huka. Lots of open air food stands and lots of donkeys pulling carts. Unfortunately lots of trash. I don’t mean to diminish Cairo and it’s incredible history, but it was quite a cultural shock
I wanted to share a few pics of our 3 hour drive to Cairo, Giza and the Pyramids. Egypt is concerned about the silt build up in the delta around Alexandria. It will have environmental issues in the future. We drove past many small businesses and pigeon houses (locals believe pigeon helps male sexuality, no wonder there were so many houses). There were lots of empty business buildings. The riots from a few years ago has really hampered tourism, but it is starting to come back. Lots of new apartment buildings, but many were not occupied. We got conflicting explanations on that
Alexandria, Egypt. Started by and named after Alexander the Great in 331 BC. By the time of Christ, it is believed it had become the second most influential city in the world, behind only Rome. It is home to the ancient Library of Alexandria and the Light house of Alexandria, one of the 7 Wonders of the ancient world. The history most of us are familiar with is Cesar, Mark Anthony and Cleopatra. It’s humbling to think their time in history was only about 30 years of the 2,300 years of Alexandria’s history and that is what we know most. Hard to see, but we drove past the ruins of an ancient Roman amphitheater discovered only a few years ago In the middle of the city. It was said the city had to ban citizens from digging under their homes looking for ancient artifacts because homes were collapsing, not sure, but good story. Alexandria is another ancient city with a mixture of 2,000 year old buildings next to modern high rises and poorly maintained homes and apartments mixed in between

20 April 2018

We passed the city of Ismailia about midway through the canal. It seemed like there were 2 miles of newly constructed apartments about half a mile off the canal. Egypt is attempting to get younger people to relocate away from the Nile and are building low rent apartments and encouraging factories to be built. We did not stop, but there was an inviting entrance with small canals making it easy to access. The internet said it is a beautiful city with about 700,000 population. We left the Suez Canal about 3:00PM and sailed to port in Alexandria, getting ready for our trip to Cairo and the pyramids tomorrow!!!!!
We entered The Suez Canal at 5:00AM. It’s 102 miles long and was completed in 1869, by Ferdinand de Lesseps. Lesseps started construction of the Panama Canal in 1881, but went bankrupt 7 years later before its completion. It really is a narrow slice of water through 100 miles of desert connecting the Red Sea, which is 4 feet higher, to the Mediterranean Ocean. So the saltier water from the Red Sea flows into the Med, which has caused some ecological issues. In 1967, during the 6 day war between Egypt and Israel, Egypt blocked the Canal on both ends with mines and scuttled ships. There were 15 international ships in the canal’s midpoint, the Great Bitter Lake, for 8 years! They were finally allowed to leave in 1975, but only 2 were able to finish under their own power. They were manned for several years and even set up their own postal service. Worth reading about on the net. Sally took advantage of a beautiful sailing day through the canal

19 April 2018

We got a pic with our frIends Tom and JoAnn at Saint Catherine’s Monastery. The monastery and Mt Sinai are in the background. It is the oldest continually operating Monastery in the world and contains more ancient holy artifacts and books than possibly any other place. When you look back the way we drove in, all you see for miles is desert. The high outbox was the ancient entrance. Because of raiders, you could only enter the walls by being drawn up by ropes. Moses met his wife at this well. And they claim the bush on the right is the actual burning bush where God spoke to Moses. Got a pic of Sally in one of the narrow paths between the ancient buildings. We saw many ancient books, paintings and sculptures, but of course, no pictures. It deserves research on line to appreciate the entire history of the area
We docked in Sharm El Sheikh for our 3 1/2 hour bus ride to St Catherine’s Monastery . Sharm, as the locals call it, is a beautiful sea port on the Red Sea. There are Modern buildings, a bustling bay with pleasure boats, scuba diving and mosques. But quickly we were in the desert again. I was surprised how many small homes we saw scattered through the desert as we drove through the many Security check points. We were strongly discouraged from taking pictures from the bus. Our guide said recently at a checkpoint a military guard boarded a bus, and confiscated cameras that had any pictures of military checkpoints. Not sure I believed all that, but I was careful of what pictures I took. Added a little to the excitement of a 3 1/2 hour bus ride

18 April 2018

Time for the 3 hour bus ride back to the ship, with an armed guard on the bus. He was very nice and helped our guide pass out cold water. It’s just a little strange to get a bottle of water from a smiling gentleman and when he turns around he is packing a small machine gun! We crossed over the Nile again and saw many riverboats. Dock space is limited, so they just tie up next to each other and you walk through your neighbors ship to get to shore. More countryside with canals, new and old homes. The white cone shaped structure is a pigeon house. We were told pigeon is a favorite food for the locals and we saw many of these structures. Quite a beautiful sunset on the way to the ship.
Our next stop was the Valley of the Queens and then Valley of the Kings. Prepare to be underwhelmed with the photos. Picture a big desert with lots of very small openings in the sand. Then imagine a VERY steep and long stairway to some very small rooms with amazing 4,000 year old carvings, hieroglyphics, paintings and not much else. I say imagine, because you were not allowed to take pictures in any of the tombs. The tomb of Nefertari, no not Nefertiti, was really amazing. Beautiful colors and carvings, but they were adamant about no pictures!!! 146 steps down, with mostly low ceilings, then 146 steps back up, but who is counting....me! Then to the Valley of the Kings. Very much the same. We did go into King Tuts tomb, but no pictures. We did cheat on a lesser tomb with some pictures, as it was less closely monitored. The big deal here was some of the crew had smuggled some beer with them, so we shared a drink😎. Not exactly what I expected for the valley of the Kings and Queens
Lunch aboard a traditional dahabeya sailboat. Got to admit, it was a “moment”, sailing down the Nile, watching the mixture of ancient buildings and modern architecture, separated by over 4,000 years. There were camels, donkeys, trucks and cars all vying for their share of the road in front of Karnak, built in 2055 BC. The dahabey is a true sailboat, designed after the ancient boats that carried noblemen on the Nile. Since, there was no wind that day, the motor boat you see in front of us was pulling us. The motor boat might be as old as Karnak😜. The food was good and the beer was cold, as we sailed the Nile, past the ancient city of Thebes. It doesn’t get much better than that
It was very exciting to stand in the temple, a place I have read about for years. There are several places where the original paint still can be seen. It only adds to the thought of what this complex was like 4,000 years ago in it’s full glory. If you enlarge the last picture, you will notice the last column seems unfinished. It is. Once the columns were in place they smoothed and finished them out. This part of the temple was expanded and the king died before it was finished
It was a long walk from the visitor center to the Temple of Karnak. The height of the walls and columns grew incredibly as we got closer. It’s hard to appreciate until you stand at the entrance. The Sphinx type statues that line the entrance are believed to have stretched 3 miles, leading from the city of Luxor to the entrance of Karnak. There are 136 columns that originally held up a wooden ceiling. If you look closely you can see some original paint on the upper supports
As we drove along the irrigation channel, we saw hundreds of small fields cultivated by hand. There were many people working in the fields. We saw lots of donkeys pulling carts loaded with all types of products and produce. If you look closely at many of the houses, you will notice the top floors are not finished out. Our guides told us that most young couples live with their parents. The parents build a house with one floor and as their children get married the parents add another floor to the house and keep adding floors. About 90 percent of the population live close to the Nike. So 90% of the population lives in about 5% of the land. This is causing serious overcoming along the fertile Nile
Safaga, Egypt is where we docked to drive overland to see the temples of Luxor and Karnak. Safaga is a beautiful costal city, but quickly we entered the desert. It was a 3 hour drive, about 1 1/2 hours through the desert passing about 15 military checkpoints. Our bus caravan had 2 trucks with guards armed with machine guns and we had an armed guard on our bus. We felt safe, but a little anxious as we encountered stop after stop. As we approached the Nile we saw fields of grain, sugarcane and tomatoes. We drove along a canal off the Nile, which supplied water to the fields. There were many small bridges from the main highway over the canal to small villages. At each entrance, there were local armed guards to “keep the peace” among the locals, that sometimes get “excited” as one of our guides explained

17 April 2018

Had to put one more pic of the Treasury. But that is only a tiny fraction of the tombs, carvings, amphitheater and official buildings of the ancient city. I put a few of those in the post. We tried to get a buggy ride out, but had to walk and walk and walk, we forgot it was all down hill going in....so it was all uphill going out! There is a nice small hotel at the entrance with a really cool bar, called the Cave. Best beer we had in days!!!! Everyone in Jordan was exceptionally nice. It is a place we would return
The Treasury Building, yep...just like in Indiana Jones! Yes, I had to do the camel ride. It is a tomb, it got the nickname Treasury because in the 1800’s they thought it was hiding great treasure, but only dead people! But I get ahead of my story. The 1 1/2 hour walk to The Treasury starts in rather open desert. After about 30 minutes, you enter the Siq. The next hour (and 250 pictures) takes you through the most amazing corridor of rock walls, carvings, watch platforms, water ducts, wild horse drawn buggies and people I have ever experienced. The walk alone is worthy of a Wonder of the World status. And I am serious about the 250 pictures, before we even got to the ancient city!
This is out of order, because as I said in the next post, I jumped back to show the walk in. So read the next post first, then back to this😜 Just a few more pics of the walk in. Yes, it was tight and the horse buggy’s drivers would just shout Beep Beep as they blasted through the crowds.
Aqaba, Jordan, is the only costal City in Jordan. Aqaba is where Lawrence of Arabia led a battle on camels in 1917 to drive the Turks out. The busses are lined up at dawn for our 3 hour bus ride to Petra. 3 hours of desert, rocks, sheep, camels, Bedouin camps and more desert. Our first glimpse of the city of Petra was from a hilltop. The city around the ancient site is a busy friendly city of about 40,000. The ancient site was “lost” for a thousand years. It’s easier to understand after seeing the landscape and having our guide point out exactly where it is, but unable to see any hint of one of the 7 New Wonders of the World

10 April 2018

Heard from Tim and Ircsi today, our friends that had to leave the ship due to illness. We miss you guys, get well. We are starting 6 days at sea through the Adrian Sea and the Red Sea. Since we are close to Somaliland, Somalia and a few other questionable countries a few safety precautions have been incorporated. The crew put razor wire around the entire ship, you will have to enlarge the picture and look close to see it. The ship brought on armed guards, you don’t see them, but they are here. We sail dark at night, we are asked to keep all blinds closed. Now with all the talk about Syria, we may see battle ships in The Suez, exciting. But the sunrises are beautiful. We are getting our moneys worth.

8 April 2018

Our last drive in Mumbai. We drove past the most expensive apartment in the world. It is 17 stories tall and Home to the richest man in India. The first 5 floors are the garage for his 200 cars and his sacred cow lives on the 10 floor. The 5 person family has its own movie theater and doctor. It is in the heart of Mumbai with not so nice neighbors. They were playing Cricket on one of many fields. We stopped at the Gate of India passed the Indian mint and had to get one more pic of traffic
We took a train ride.. inside, not on top. We got first class tickets! That meant a cushion on the seat and a fan and not very crowded. There are cars for women only, due to overcrowding and improper actions by men. You can see the sticker of a woman’s face on the car. There are no doors. Our guide said when we reach our stop, we will have 20 seconds to get off before the train starts moving. So we all crowded around the door, made it! We then went to the “laundry”. An open air commercial laundry where clothes are hung on lines to dry. They change water once a day. Ready to get back to the ship!!!
Dabbawalas, food carriers. 5,000 men deliver 200,000 lunches a day in New Delhi, by bicycle and train. They pick up the home made lunches, deliver them and return the lunch boxes to the Home. There is a movie, Lunchbox, that portrays this unique Indian experience. The boxes may have a number or color, as many of the Dabbawalas don’t read, but there are very few mistakes made. Doesn’t make much sense to me, but it’s a big deal here. The train station is a main distribution point, lunch boxes are just left on the platform when finished and are picked up later and delivered home
More Crawford Market pics.

7 April 2018

The Crawford Market. This was a blast! It is more of a commercial market, not really a place where tourists shop, just look. It must take up two city blocks and is jam packed with shops and people. I am sending two sets of pictures, enjoy!

5 April 2018

The Quth Complex, and Minaret, worth looking this site up on line for more information. It was built in 1192 and is a large complex with intricate carvings. The Iron Pillar was made in about 402 and moved to this site. The history, complexity and creativity matches anything we have seen yet. Not as big as other sites, but it’s age and detail is amazing
New Delhi starts with Mahatma Gandhi’s shrine Just can’t resist the street pictures, traffic, shops, women sitting on the sidewalk weaving flowers with a half naked baby playing by her side. Who said eggs need to be refrigerated!

4 April 2018

Tons of pictures, tried to pick the best. The girls did the Dian pose. You could not take pictures inside, it was dark and somber. Quite a contrast from the outside. It was much larger than I expected. It really is a moving experience to walk the grounds and hear the love story that built the Taj Mahal
Taj Mahal!!! We left the hotel at 5:30AM so we had the best views...it was an interesting walk to the entrance in the dark. There was a lot of activity and crowds were building for the gates to open at 6:00. Dogs are everywhere and this ol boy had sacked out right in the entrance line, so we all just walked around him. We entered the grounds and walked past the great walls that enclose the Taj. Our first glimpse was through the main gate. Truly breathtaking!!!!!!

3 April 2018

Entering Agra, we drove through a street food market. Here are just 10 of the 50 pics I took. I just can’t imagine going to the market like this

2 April 2018

There was a wedding at our hotel tonight, very pretty set up. There was a giant chess set on the grounds, the figures were 3 feet tall. Off to Agra, a 4 hour buss ride past food carts, cows on the road, hand formed cow patties on the road to dry, sheep on a 4 lane divided highway, wheat harvest by hand and more markets. It was amazing to ride past a country side that in many ways has not changed much in a thousand years
Hawa Mahal, built in 1799. It is the back side of a palace with 953 windows for royal ladies to see life and festivals on the city streets without being seen. Royal ladies could not be seen in public. We then drove to the Amer Fort, built in 1592! It was built on top of a hill with a view of the city. We could have spent the entire day here, amazing place. There were elephant rides up, if you got there early. A few of the 150 pics I took here. Had to take a pic of the toilet room and the mass of people leaving

1 April 2018

We are starting our 6day overland tour of India in Chennai. We took a bus from the ship to the airport. We passed a huge beach. Our guide said you can’t swim because of the riptides and few people sunbathe, so it gets more use at night when it’s cool. Many more small shops, lots of traffic and crazy drivers. Arrived in Jaipur in the evening and went directly to our hotel, very nice!

27 March 2018

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The twin towers are the most recognized site for most of us. No longer the tallest building in the world, it is still a breathtaking view. It was cloudy when we went up and gave us some unusual photos. Toured more food markets and temples. Very busy city

25 March 2018

The Sands Convention Center, Hotel and casino. Three 58 story towers with a botanical garden, Spago restaurant, bar and 500 foot infinity pool on the top. The view is amazing. Can’t imagine what it was like to hang over the edge of the pool and looking down. There was a huge shopping center on lover 3 levels, Rolex, Armani etc... we had to show our passports to enter and leave the casino, locals must may $100 just to enter! Singapore lights at night from the ship
We took a rickshaw ride through Little India. We rode past decorated elephants left up from past New Years celebration. Blocks of food stands and trinket shops with all kinds of interesting odors. People everywhere. We transferred to a boat ride, passing a bronze of children jumping in the river and the famous Lion fountain
We walked through old China Town, an interesting contrast of old buildings against a contemporary high rise backdrop. We peeked in a traditional medicine shop, selling ancient remedies. The round container held caterpillars that had been infested with a virus that caused a worm like growth coming out of their head. You are to boil one in water and drink the concoction like tea. It is supposed to cure many ailments, including erectile dysfunction. It is a big seller!!!! There were many food shops, check out the names of food on the sign. Nope, we didn’t try anything
Singapore, what a beautiful entrance to the port. If you enlarge the photo of the port terminal you will see what looks like a ship perched on top of a building there. Look close, more info later! Our first stop was the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple. This temple is new, built in 2007, to house a sacred artifact, a tooth from Buddha. Visiting a new temple is quite a change and seems to be totally embraced by the locals. People of all ages were praying and paying respect to Buddha. Beautiful place.

21 March 2018

Well, a funny thing happened at the Siem Reap airport for our flight to Bangkok. Our group was split into two flights and our flight was canceled. We were to leave at 2:00 and at 8:30 the tour guide gave up and we went back to hotels. The woman with the ticket was the first ticket of the next morning, there was a big round of applause. We got back to the ship a day late, and had golden margaritas. Then a dear friend we met on the ship had to be taken to the hospital the next day. There was a little confusion on how, when and where she was going, so we stayed on board to be of a little help getting bags and such ready. So we toasted Bangkok from the deck. By the way, Thailand is one big car manufacturer, you can see the ships being loaded with cars for export.

19 March 2018

Ta Phrom Temple, the Jungle Temple from the movie Tomb Raiders. It was built in 1186 and abandoned in the late 15th century, when the Khmer Empire fell, along with most of the other temples. Inscriptions show it was served by 80,000 people from over 3,000 surrounding villages with 102 functioning hospitals in the area, giving more support to how impressive the area was in its heyday. The most unique feature of Ta Phrom is they have done very little restoration. From the long dusty walk from the main road through overgrown jungle, you quickly get an erie feeling. Without a guide you would quickly get lost in the twisting and crumbling paths with much of the overgrowth left. It was great. Then we visited a water village where for a dollar you could get your picture taken with a girl and her snake, nope!
We then went to Banteay Seri, Citadel of Women, built in 967. It was in use until early 1300’s then lost and overgrown until 1914. It is not as large or well preserved as Angkor Wat. It is only a few miles away. The next was Angkor Thom, built at the end of 12th century. You walk across a bridge over the moat lined by many statues. The unique features here are the giant faces on the towers. Again, this was very close to the other temples
There were Buddhist Monks that would pray for you for an offering. Ornate alters, more carvings and very steep steps up to the highest point. You could also have your picture taken with beautifully dressed girls in costume, for donation. There was quite a line for those pics😜 You could spend a day here, but we have 3 more temples today!
We made it! We are standing in front of the reflection pond. This is a popular spot that is used in many shots of Angkor Wat. The temple was built in the 12 century by the Khmer as a Hindu temple but is now Buddhist it is the largest religious structure in the world and covers over 400 acres. A picture of a side building, not many of these survived There are walls around the main structures with intricate carvings creating the longest mural story wall anywhere.
We left early for Angkor Wat Temple by bus, not by scooter as this family. The city of Angkor during the 8th century was believed to be the largest city in history. The population was over a million people covering an area the size of current LA. It grew so large in the 17 century it was no longer able to support the population and fell into ruin. The only things remaining are a few of the temples of which Angkor Wat is one. We passed many small tent shops and with a huge crowd walked across the 650 foot moat which is 3 miles long around the temple. Mary, more crowds!

18 March 2018

We did stay in a very nice hotel, La Meridan. Beautiful grounds and pool. Had a great dinner and local dancers. Getting ready for 4 temple tours tomorrow
We are flying out of Vietnam to Cambodia. Mary, I put one crowd picture in for you. Had to take a pic of the departure board, don’t see these cities in the Tulsa airport!! OMG, we landed in Siem Reap, Cambodia and we are seeing the worst conditions yet. The people are very polite, but the conditions are horrible. The main highway is pot ridden and the dirt road I took a picture of was the best side road I have seen yet.

17 March 2018

We met Mike, the brother of friends of ours that live in Tulsa. Mike attended TU and moved back to Vietnam 18 years ago. View from our hotel room and the lobby. But look out the other side of the hotel and you get a different view. On our way to the airport I snapped pics of a woman cooking on the street, a decorated scooter and a really tired scooter driver. Loved Vietnam, we would go back
Our Pedal Cab finally dropped us off at The Vietnam Water Puppetry Show. This show is performed by puppeteers in water. It was an enjoyable show, still no idea how they did it. We then went to a nice restaurant for some local food. Looked different, tasted great. While we were waiting outside, I noticed a club named The Maybe Lounge. I then noticed some young ladies that walked out of a”club” and into another. Then another group did the same thing. I think something funny was going on!
I needed a beer before our Pedal Cab ride, so I tried a Saigon Special, it was good. Had I known what we were about to experience, Sally and I would have had several. The ride in the Pedal Cab in traffic defies belief. There were cars, people, scooters and other Pedal Cabs going everywhere. I can’t believe we didn’t hit someone or get hit. Quite an experience on another form of transportation. I really may have to reconsider this quest for different forms of transportation.
Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Dragon dancers greeted us, nice show. Ok, I know where the rest of the motor scooters are, here. They line up at the lights, sometimes... but if one jumps the light, everyone goes. And lane markers are merely suggestions, so are traffic directions. Pictures don’t do the traffic justice, I took over 50 just on the way to our hotel. View from the hotel was amazing, notice the “private” pool on the apartment building below us

14 March 2018

Haiku, China. We had a very interesting reception from the city fathers. Not many cruise ships dock here and there was quite a turn out. No idea the significance of the costumes. We played golf here. They have 10 golf course in this one complex. Yes, we had female caddies and they were good! They go to school for 2 years before the course will hire them. Forgot to take pics of the clubhouse, we were told it is the largest in the world. They were building 9 condo complexes on the course we played and more on other courses. Beautiful course. They have golf packages if anyone is interested

13 March 2018

Nam Liam Garden and the Chi Lin Nunnery. Beautiful gardens in the middle of Hong Kong. They had many rock features and bonsai trees. The last two pictures I couldn’t resist taking, yep, that is the name of the tree
Kowloon Walled City was started about 800 years ago and became a garrison for soldiers to protect the city. As the city grew outside the walls, the walled city became a haven for drugs, gambling, prostitution and unlicensed dentists and doctors. the apartments were 10 x 10 rooms, most with no running water and home to up to 10 people. One pic shows a model of the city and another shows it in the middle of bustling Hong Kong. In 1991 the city condemned the city and tore it down, leaving the main entrance gate, where Sally is standing, and created a beautiful park. The city left a few foundations to show the size of the rooms
Sik Sik Yuen Temple was built 1921 and embraces Taoism, Buddhism and Confucianism. People buy incense to burn as they pray. Sally participated and hopefully is praying for me, I need it! People also pay for boxes with numbered sticks, they shake them until one falls out. They write down the number and a priest interprets the meaning and their future. Very serine place
Sunrise in Hong Kong harbor. Got a pic of our ship framed against the Hong Kong skyline on our way to Sik Sik Yuen Temple.

12 March 2018

Hong Kong at night from our ship. Breathtaking! The last two are the new port terminal where we docked
We toured Aberdeen Harbor in a junk. We floated past the famous Jumbo Restaurant, opened in 1950 and featured in James Bond movies and a Jackie Chan movie, to name two. A unique mix of million dollar yachts ,working junks and fishing boats often tied next to each other
We took the tram to the top of Victoria Peak. The most spectacular view of Hong Kong and the most expensive condos and a very few private homes. Quite a ride up and down
We walked Hollywood Road, famous for antiques and shops
We flew Friday from Xi’an to Hong Kong, landing at the new airport. The old airport, ranked as one of the most dangerous in the world because it was built in the harbor, is now Hong Kong’s new cruise port. We drove past new, contemporary bridges and buildings. In the old town, Hollywood Road, we saw some remodeling using bamboo as scaffolding, yes that tall building is using bamboo all the way to the top! Our first stop was the Man Mo temple, a charitable organization supporting Taoism, Buddhism and Confucius. It is the first oldest in Hong Kong

11 March 2018

The next two buildings were a little smaller and had less excavation done. Hard to describe everything in a short post. All soldiers were originally painted in detail, very little color remains. The Emperor also angered his local farmers and shortly after his death they revolted, entered the tomb and broke up most of the soldiers, burned the wooden beams and covered with dirt. It stayed forgotten until a local farmer drilling a water in 1974, found remnants of a soldier and told authorities. Estimates vary, but could be 50 more years before it nears complete excavation. They recently found what is believed to be the actual burial site of the Emperor, estimates of the size of that site, over 10 square miles. Nothing has been started there
The lone man is standing on original ground level. The soldiers were carefully positioned below ground, with wooden beams as the roof, then covered by dirt to the level of the lone man. They are still working the site, putting the soldiers together like a big jigsaw puzzle. The Emperor had killed many of his enemies and the soldiers were to protect him in the afterlife. The number of soldiers necessary to protect him indicates how many enemies he made
We flew to Xi’an, Home of the Terracotta Warriors. We drove past a huge coal fired electric plant, one of many pollution generating plants that contribute to China’s harsh pollution. We were overwhelmed walking into the first of three enclosed work areas. The building hosts the largest collection of the 8,000 warriors that were made in about 206 BC. Each soldier has a different face and there many different uniforms for soldiers depending on their rank and division. There were horses pulling wooden chariots. The wood chariot and leather reigns have long since disinterested leaving chariot drivers and horses in erie positions, like they are ready to come to life and ride away.

10 March 2018

We stayed at the Peninsula Hotel, one of the nicest hotels we have ever stayed, thanks Marti! The rooms were huge and everything was controlled by any of 4 iPads in the room, including a button for the butler. The street was lit up as if for a big party. We walked around and felt safe and welcomed. Beijing is an exciting and vibrant city
Drove past the site of the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. Have to look hard to see the Olympic Rings on top of structures and the bird nest stadium. Beijing is hosting the 2022 winter Olympics. Had Peking Duck at Da Dong, a famous restaurant chain in Beijing. Very little English spoken in the beautiful restaurant, which led to an hilarious adventure in ordering drinks and eating the duck. We must have committed a major gaffe when we started eating as our waiter rushed over in broken English and said”wait, let me present the duck to you”. It was absolutely delicious! Picks of night lights and a statue in the hotel giving Sally a peck on the cheek. The Peninsula Hotel was one of the nicest hotels we have ever stayed.
Summer Palace, enjoy more pictures
The Summer Palace, built in 1891 by the Empress Dowager. A huge retreat, see the map, she built for entertaining. Hers is an interesting story, she was brought into the court as a young concubine and ended up controlling the Chinese Government from 1861 until 1908. Many beautiful buildings. There are also many unusual rock groupings. This was a favorite decoration in ancient Chinese gardens. There was a gentleman that was using a large brush to write Chinese sayings with water on the tiles, he drew quite a crowd. There is a huge man made Lake with the removed dirt used to build a mountain complete with temple
We stopped at a Cloisonné factory. An ancient technique for decorating metal objects, like brass, and adding compartments by gluing thin silver or brass wire to the object forming intricate patterns, all by hand. They then hand paint the compartments, three times, fire them, polish them, by hand, and turn out the most amazing finished product. We watched the entire process, in small cold rooms where the artists worked. We had to buy one. Ralpha, it will show up on our doorstep in May
We made it. The views defy my ability to properly describe. There were 6 of us and we each were telling each other to look here, no over here, take a picture of this!!! Took over 100 pictures We were on the Wall about 11/2 hours, walked to 3 different towers. Would have enjoyed a warm place to sit with a golden margarita and just taken in the vistas the rest of the morning. But it was time to “ride down”
We could walk down, take the ski lift down or the toboggan down...you remember we are taking as many forms of transportation as possible, so toboggan it is. It was a blast. Lasted about 10 minutes and you could go as fast as you wanted. Sally was the speed demon, may have set a record😃
This morning we drove to the Great Wall. We walked past the customary shops and took a ski lift up and a toboggan down(more toboggan pics later). As we climber higher more and more of the Wall appeared on the mountain ridge. The terrain is rugged, can’t imagine how they were able to transport the supplies up the steep and rugged slopes and then build all this by hand

9 March 2018

We drove to our hotel, passing interesting 3 wheeled cars, old buildings and many new very contemporary buildings. We were told in preparation for the 2008 Olympic Games, Beijing tote down about 80 percent of their old downtown buildings and built many new structures in their place. Quite a contrast
Statutes everywhere. Side buildings with ornate carvings and painting. Pic of exit building, wall and more of moat. The last pictures are of the mountain they built with the dirt from digging the moat and then built a temple on top. This was outside the Forbidden City. One of the most amazing tours I have ever been on
A close up of the Great Carving, 54 feet long. It was not made to walk on, as the Emperor was carried on a throne above it by his people walking on the steps Pics of the throne Emperors used to meet nobles. They were afraid of fire and had brass containers holding water around the square in case of fire. They could light fires under them in winter to keep the water from freezing, must have been a hundred scattered around the grounds. I took a couple of pics so you could appreciate their size. The size of the complex is hard to grasp until you walk through it. Pic of the hand dug most that surrounded the grounds
Yes, Sally is with me. We crossed a bridge in this court yard, water is good spirits in China. This is a side building in this courtyard, leading to another set of courtyards and buildings, many for the Emperors elite court and concubines, there were several hundred. Now the last gate, before the Emperors Palace. Very highly decorated. And finally his palace. Realize this is in the center, so we are only half way through the Forbidden City
The Forbidden City was built in 1420. It is 1224 x 823 yards, 178 acres, with 90 palaces and 980 buildings, surrounded by a moat and a 33 foot high wall and we tried to see it all! First pic is after we entered the first wall into a courtyard. Then the second wall and another courtyard with buildings and statues. Then another wall with massive doors and a long hallway. Then into a major courtyard
Tian Anmen Square. Its HUGE! We couldn’t get too close because Congress was in session. Their congress voted to make Xi Jinping president for life, with 2 no votes and over 3,000 yes votes. Pic of a cleaning scooter, they were everywhere, China public places are, Spotless. Pic 4 is from the entrance to the Forbidden City, looking back at Tian Anmen Square, did I say big. We walked through an underpass to Forbidden City and were stopped by a woman who’s grandmother was visiting Beijing for the first time and had never seen Americans and wanted a picture. Then in front of entrance to F City and more soldiers
Airport at Shanghai as we were leaving for Beijing. We needed the special assistance line. Beijing is a city of almost 21 million people. The skyline is full of cranes, modern office buildings, apartment buildings and old Chinese structures. We had lunch in the old US Embassy, which is now full of up upscale shops and restaurants. There are guards at almost every nice building and on the corner of most streets. The Chinese congress was in session, which we were told was the reason for all the security. I think it is just normal, don’t fool around in China

8 March 2018

Tonight they christened the ship. The passengers were taken to an event center directly across from the ship, see pic 6, for dinner and the viewing. Yes, the band from Peace Hotel played. We had big screen TVs to see all the activity up close. Hundreds of local dignitaries viewed from bleachers and from the ship. I believe you can go to Viking Cruise Lines and see some videos of the ceremony. It was quite an event. The buildings around also put on quite a light show, as did many ships in the harbor.
Motorcycle Sidecar ride in Shanghai! I said we were taking as many forms of transportation as possible. It was a hoot! We had a driver, I rode behind and Sally was in the side car. What a way to get up close to the sights and traffic. The funniest thing was how many locals stopped, pointed and took our picture. “crazy Americans”. Yes, that is a beautiful red Ferrari in front of us, we cut him off a few times, but that’s normal in Shanghai. Then on the very next block was a scooter carrying a washing machine.
We toured an old town market and a 500 year old garden. So many pictures, hard to whittle down It was cold today!
We visited the Peace Hotel, a famous landmark old hotel. The Peace Hotel features a 1940’s type band, with the average age of 76. They hold the Guinness Record for the oldest band, having played every night for 20 years. They played at the ship christening later that night. We walked past many small shops and alleyways to a tea shop. We enjoyed a tea tasting, where we were given a fascinating demonstration on tea preparation. I had no idea that there was more to tea than Lipton tea bags, boy was I wrong. We left with “proper” tea leaves and tea making pots. Yes, there are different pots for different teas!!!!
We walked on the Bund, Shanghai’s famous waterfront. It would take 50 pictures to give you a full appreciation of the skyline, it was hard to offer just a few. There was a long wall, that from a distance, looked like a painted wave. As we got closer, we could see the design was live plants in individual containers secured to a wall to create the colorful design. This was a block long! I got a picture of our ship in the harbor
Shanghai is the largest city in China, 24 million people and the city is 5,000 years old. The skyline is amazing. There are building cranes everywhere. The new buildings are mostly ultra contemporary and offer s a stunning backdrop to the old town

7 March 2018

We had 2 sea days cruising the East China Sea on our was to Shanghai. We did a good job exploring the ship and the buffet and dining rooms. I have become a fan of sushi. This is our sushi buffet available every evening. Yes, that is baby whole octopus, very tasty. They also have on outside buffet each ocean day featuring a local food type. The pool is very pretty at night.

4 March 2018

Made it to the falls. Then you got on a raft, tied yourself on with a rope and went under the falls!!! Well, the line was long to do that and I saw the drenched people returning,most not smiling and it was getting late....so took a pic, hopped in the canoe and went down 14 rapids to the bus. Quite an experience, just ask Sally Beautiful moon rise over Manila as we departed
After about an hour, we were still going upstream to see the falls. Out butts were getting sore, no chair, just a board and a “cushion”, that was worn down to 2 pieces of fabric. Our pants were pretty wet as water washed over the sides of the canoe, it was only 6 inches above the water line and we tipped a little. So they had to stop occasionally to bail water out of the bottom of the canoe That’s when it dawned on me, we had to come back down the river. 😳
Our tour was a canoe trip to Pagsanjan Falls. We are trying to do as many types of transportation as possible, so a canoe trip seemed like a good idea. We got a little nervous when we put on life jackets and crash helmets, then really freaked when we scrambled into the canoe. But we got in and the first leg was quite calm. Kids were playing in the water, nice scenery, then our lead paddler got our to push us through the first of 14 rapids. He kept telling us to sit still, well I’ll let the next few pictures tell the story