November 16, 2018 – Komodo Island, Indonesia

Komodo Village Pier

Village School Children

Village School Room

Village Home

Pink Sand Beach

The weather was very warm at Komodo Island when we arrived about noon time.
Komodo Island, named after the Komodo dragon, has a population of only 2,000 people and is about 60 square miles in size. The Komodo dragon is the largest lizard on earth and can grow to more than ten feet in length and weigh more than 300 pounds. The dragons have long yellow deeply forked tongues and enjoy a diet of deer and wild pigs. From 15 to 30 eggs are laid after a nine-month pregnancy period, although many of the eggs do not survive. Once hatched, they can live in the trees for up to five years before becoming land animals. If their mothers don’t eat them, they can live for more than 30 years. We were here in 2016 on a Far East cruise and took a walking tour at that time to see the amazing Komodo Dragon creatures.

Our excursion on this day took us to a local village called Kampung Komodo with an all Muslim population of about 1,755 residents. This island is so remote that the residents here only have an average education of fourth graders. We took a good sized, two level boat from the Komodo National Park to the local village. The ride took only about 30-minutes. The village has recently gotten electricity (from 5AM to 5PM) but the housing is mostly simple wooden structures built on stilts with corrugated tin roofs. A few homes are built of concrete block and stone but most are very simple.

We walked through the village to the local elementary school where we met some of the 287 students and 17 teachers on the island. They were busy playing in the courtyard as school had gotten out at 10:00am and it was afternoon by the time we arrived. The school rooms are very simple with desks and small benches for the students to sit on. There were little or no decoration or school materials in the school rooms and the library was very small offering only a few books for the students. The school has no bathroom facilities so students would need to go home to use the facilities.

After our visit to the village school, we re-boarded the wooden boat to make a 20-minute ride to a pink beach for swimming and snorkeling. Most of the sand is white except for a smattering of red sand particles from red coral in the sea creating the illusion of pink sand.

After about 45-minutes at the beach we were transported back to the Komodo National Park to catch the last tender back to the ship. As soon as we boarded the tender boat the sky opened and it began to rain hard.

Back onboard the ship we enjoyed an Indonesian themed dinner in the dining room followed by the music of Annie Gong, the Chinese accordion player who lives in New Zealand.

November 13, 2018 – Semarang, Java, Indonesia

Sam Po Kong Temple

Joglo Hill Home

Water Buffalo

Museum

Java is an island of Indonesia about the size of North Carolina with a population of over 140 million residents. With this population it is considered the world’s most populous island.

Semarang is a city on the north coast of Java and is the capital and largest city on the island with about 2 million residents in the city and another 2 million in the region. During World War II Java was occupied by the Japanese military. Java gained its independence in 1945.

We began our tour called “Semarang Sights” by driving to the Sam Po Kong Chinese temple, built to honor Sam Po Thay Jin—a Chinese emissary who landed in Semarang in 1401. Here, we saw an interesting combination of Chinese and Muslim cultures.

Our next stop was to enjoy refreshments of Javanese coffee or tea served with a snack of traditional rice cakes, crackers and seasonal fruits at Joglo Hill, a traditional style hill resort set in a tropical garden. The villas here are traditional Javanese buildings collected from all over the island of Java many over 100 years old. The wood carvings and details of the buildings are quite spectacular. We were invited to view the antique collections of the owner of one of the villas. The collection consisted of many paintings as well as an extensive collection of pottery, some of which was recovered from a sunken ship.

Also, at Joglo Hill we saw a demonstration of a man with two water buffalo plowing a field of rice preparing it for planting. In this region of the country they are able to get three crops of rice annually. Feces from the water buffalos, ducks, fish and eels are also used as fertilizer in the fields. This keeps the fields productive for many years. Pesticides are not used as this has been found to reduce the long-term yield of the rice.

Next, we stopped at a local Batik shop (traditional Indonesian cloth) to observe a demonstration of the intricate Batik-making process. This was an extensive shop with many employees each working on different aspects of the batik making process. Some creating the designs for new fabric, others adding the wax to the Java is an island of Indonesia about the size of North Carolina with a population of over 140 million residents. With this population it is considered the world’s most populous island.

Semarang is a city on the north coast of Java and is the capital and largest city on the island with about 2 million residents in the city and another 2 million in the region. During World War II Java was occupied by the Japanese military. Java gained its independence in 1945.

We began our tour called “Semarang Sights” by driving to the Sam Po Kong Chinese temple, built to honor Sam Po Thay Jin—a Chinese emissary who landed in Semarang in 1401. Here, we saw an interesting combination of Chinese and Muslim cultures.

Our next stop was to enjoy refreshments of Javanese coffee or tea served with a snack of traditional rice cakes, crackers and seasonal fruits at Joglo Hill, a traditional style hill resort set in a tropical garden. The villas here are traditional Javanese buildings collected from all over the island of Java many over 100 years old. The wood carvings and details of the buildings are quite spectacular. We were invited to view the antique collections of the owner of one of the villas. The collection consisted of many paintings as well as an extensive collection of pottery, some of which was recovered from a sunken ship.

Also, at Joglo Hill we saw a demonstration of a man with two water buffalo plowing a field of rice preparing it for planting. In this region of the country they are able to get three crops of rice annually. Feces from the water buffalos, ducks, fish and eels are also used as fertilizer in the fields. This keeps the fields productive for many years. Pesticides are not used as this has been found to reduce the long-term yield of the rice.

Next, we stopped at a local Batik shop (traditional Indonesian cloth) to observe a demonstration of the intricate Batik-making process. This was an extensive shop with many employees each working on different aspects of the batik making process. Some creating the designs for new fabric, others adding the wax to the fabric, some dying the fabric, some using block prints made of copper, and one gentleman was making a block print. Also, on site was an extensive shop for purchasing all types of batik fabric and clothing.

On the return drive to the port we passed through the scenic Gombel Highlands with panoramic views of Semarang and the Old Town. As we drove through the Old Town, we saw the Gereja Blenduk and other buildings remaining from the Dutch colonial era.

The weather forecast called for rain and 90 degrees but we escaped the rain in town so it was a good outing.

The evening’s entertainment was a guitarist by the name of Matthew Fagan. He has performed with people like Shirley Bassey, Natalie Cole and Billy Connolly, as well as having his own show titled Lord of the Strings which recently sold out at the Sydney Opera House.
, some dying the fabric, some using block prints made of copper, and one gentleman was making a block print. Also, on site was an extensive shop for purchasing all types of batik fabric and clothing.

On the return drive to the port we passed through the scenic Gombel Highlands with panoramic views of Semarang and the Old Town. As we drove through the Old Town, we saw the Gereja Blenduk and other buildings remaining from the Dutch colonial era.

The weather forecast called for rain and 90 degrees but we escaped the rain in town so it was a good outing.

The evening’s entertainment was a guitarist by the name of Matthew Fagan. He has performed with people like Shirley Bassey, Natalie Cole and Billy Connolly, as well as having his own show titled Lord of the Strings which recently sold out at the Sydney Opera House.

November 15, 2018 – Benoa (Denpasar), Bali, Indonesia

Batuan Temple

Coffee Civit Cat

Coffee and Tea Tasting

Rice Fields

Wood Carvings

Benoa is the name of the port that is located near the capital city of Bali called Denpasar with a population of about 850,000 residents. The white sandy beaches of Bali are well known all over the world and attract international travelers for surfing, sun bathing and kitesurfing. The local economy includes handicrafts like art, pottery, textiles and silver. The colorful Batik fabrics are made into many useful items, including men’s shirts and sarongs, and are found everywhere.

The Balinese people are largely Hindu and are extremely devout. Life on the island revolves around prayers and ceremonies. Many of the ship’s crewmembers are from Bali and they had the opportunity to visit with their families both on and off the ship today.

We spent the day with our San Diego neighbors, Sandra and Ana, who had invited us to share the expense of a driver/guide for the day. The guide picked us up at the port about 9:00am and we headed north from the port towards Ubud. Our first stop was at a Batik making shop where Sandra found some hand-woven fabrics to sew into various items.

Our next stop was at a coffee plantation with a tasting room and shop. The specialty coffee is the Kopi Luwak Coffee from this region of the world. The Luwak coffee is produced from a coffee bean that has been eaten, digested and excreted by the civet cat, a shy, nocturnal, Indonesian mammal with a taste for coffee beans. They had a number of cages with the civet cats in them for us to see.

After seeing the mostly sleeping cats, we were shown a demonstration of how the coffee is prepared and roasted. After the demonstration we were taken to a covered bamboo structure in the jungle where we could taste the teas and coffees that they produce. They brought us six flavored teas and seven flavored coffees to try. If you wanted to try the civet cat coffee you needed to purchase a cup. Of course, we ordered a couple of cups to taste. The teas tasted like they had all been sweetened although there were a few of the coffees and teas that we all enjoyed. We also enjoyed creating our own flavors by mixing some of the flavors together. The civet coffee was nothing special to our taste buds and so we left without purchasing a thing.

Next on our trip was a stop at a wood carving shop where we saw a couple of people working on wood carvings and as usual they had a very large shop to purchase something. We particularly enjoyed the large phallic bottle openers! No purchases once again.

Next, we stopped at a beautiful rice terraced valley called Tagalagang where the hillsides have been terraced from top to bottom over many years of working the fields. This rice terrace was a bit of a tourist spot as they had a restaurant, some swings on long ropes that swung over the rice field canyon, a zip line to cross the rice field canyon and many souvenir shops along the road.

The roads in this area are very busy with cars, trucks and countless motorcycles zipping in and out of the traffic. Many of the roads are narrow and winding making it necessary to stop the car and let others pass. Also, it is not uncommon to come across sand, gravel, bricks or something that has been delivered and simply dumped into one lane of the road until it can be moved one wheelbarrow at a time. Our driver handled it all very well. Many of the streets have shop after shop filled with stone carvings, wood carvings, batik clothing or other merchandise right next to the road’s edge. You also see one temple after another along the way as there are more than 2,000 temples in the area. There is so much to see that it is all like a blur as you travel along the roads.

We then stopped at the Batuan Temple in the namesake village of Batuan that is well known for its traditional Balinese arts and paintings. The Balinese temple features a grand complex of shrines laid out on a large site dating back to the 11th century. Here we saw well preserved sandstone reliefs and many small temple buildings within the complex. Many buildings were ornately painted with gold trim.

We made our next stop at the Waterfall Tegenungan Village where we saw a large waterfall from the Tukad Petanu River. There were heavy rains the night before so the waterfall was extremely large on this day and the water was very muddy from the silt the water had picked up along the way. It is a bit of a hike down large steep uneven steps to the waterfall although you can see it from the canyons ridge above.

We stopped at one more wood carving shop and art center before heading back to the ship for the day. The traffic was not to heavy so we returned to the ship about 5:00pm. It was a good day.

Onboard the ship they were showing the Julia Roberts movie Eat, Pray, Love so we saw that before a later than usual dinner. We attended the late show at 10:00pm for the first time this voyage where there were only about 25 guests present. The evening’s entertainer was Tian Jiang, the pianist who we had heard a few nights before. This time he performed an entire show of classical music.

November 14, 2018 – Sea Day

This was a quiet sea day where we attended the cruise director’s morning coffee as he interviewed Ian, our lead EXC (shore excursions and information) guide. Next, Ian gave a lecture on making the most of visiting the upcoming port of Benoa, (Bali) Indonesia.

Mark attended America’s Test Kitchen demonstration where Spencer showed him how to make homemade pasta. It looks to be a lot of work and so probably will not be making any of that when fresh pasta is available around town. Kent attended a lecture by Kate Mead on Artistic and Religious Indonesia.

After lunch the clocks were turned forward one hour as we moved east. We attended a lecture by Mark Lax about Bali Hindu Island and the Islamic Sea.

For dinner we shared a table with Jon and Brian (The Pearl Girls) from England who are onboard until Sydney selling pearls and opals in the jewelry shop. They are in their 30’s and spend most of their time hopping from one ship to the next giving lectures and selling their products. The evening’s entertainment was a repeat performance of a show called “That’s Life” with the Amsterdam cast of singers and dancers. This show featured songs by Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Sammy Davis Jr.

November 12, 2018 – Sea Day

On this sea day we attended several lectures. The first was by the shore excursion office informing us about the upcoming shore excursions available in Australia. Next up, Ian gave us information on our upcoming port of call, Semarang, Indonesia.

In the afternoon we had a lecture by Kate Mead on Indonesia, the Spice Island. Kate lectured on the spices of Indonesia but also the local fruits and rice that is grown in Indonesia.

Next, was a lecture by a new speaker, Mark Lax, on Indonesia: Land of Seventeen Thousand Islands. Mark’s lecture covered many aspects of Indonesia including the spices, batik fabrics, the people and the religion.
For dinner there was a special Makansutra Dinner in the Lido featuring the local foods you might find in the food stalls of Singapore. They had dim-sum, noodle dishes, fish dishes, rice, all types of exotic fruits, salads, and much more.

The evening’s entertainment was a three-person group called The Flyrights. They energetically performed hits from the Temptations, the Four Tops, Nat King Cole, Lionel Ritchie and more. They were excellent and very well received by the crowd.

November 11, 2018 – Singapore

Marina Bay Sands Hotel

Mark and Kent

View from the Marina Bay Sands Hotel

View from the Marina Bay Sands Hotel

It was Veterans Day so the ship had prepared a salute to our military by having a sunrise wreath ceremony at 6:47am. We were not up in to attend but those who did spoke highly of the moving service. The captain, the cruise director, theIt was Veterans Day so the ship had prepared a salute to our military by having a sunrise wreath ceremony at 6:47am. We were not up in time to attend but those who did spoke highly of the moving service. The captain, the cruise director, the minister and the rabbi all participated in the service.

Our goal for this day was to get to the top of the Marina Bay Sands Hotel to see the views over the city. We headed out through security and immigration, walked to the subway system and found our way to the Hotel. The weather was fairly clear and no rain so it was a perfect time to visit the observation deck. The hotel is built as three towers with a ship shaped structure stretched across the top of the three towers. There is the world’s largest infinity pool stretching along the length of the tower on the 57th floor of the hotel is open only to hotel guests. We could only view the pool from a distance. The observation tower is located at one end of the ship structure 650 feet above the ground with spectacular views over the city.

After our visit to the Marina Bay Sands Hotel we walked through the attached shopping mall and around the adjacent boat marina to the Merlion statue. We continued walking along the river to Clarke Quay where we took the subway back to our ship. By afternoon it began to rain and there was lightning and thunder once again. Mark worked on the community puzzle and Kent tried an acupuncture treatment in hopes of helping the pain in his back and shoulder that he has been experiencing. He is not sure where it came from but he often yells out in pain when he moves the wrong way. (Can’t imagine what our neighbors think).

We received another gift from the ship. Today it was a couple of expandable Ballistic Nylon carry on Travel Bags.

The evening’s entertainment was a young and talented Chinese woman by the name of Annie Gong. Annie plays an unusual electric accordion that produces all the sounds of an entire orchestra. She can play sounds from the drums, flute, horns, bag pipes and many more with this one instrument. It was very interesting and so much more pleasing than a traditional accordion.
minister and the rabbi all participated in the service.

Our goal for this day was to get to the top of the Marina Bay Sands Hotel to see the views over the city. We headed out through security and immigration, walked to the subway system and found our way to the Hotel. The weather was fairly clear and no rain so it was a perfect time to visit the observation deck. The hotel is built as three towers with a ship shaped structure stretched across the top of the three towers. There is the world’s largest infinity pool stretching along the length of the tower on the 57th floor of the hotel is open only to hotel guests. We could only view the pool from a distance. The observation tower is located at one end of the ship structure 650 feet above the ground with spectacular views over the city.

After our visit to the Marina Bay Sands Hotel we walked through the attached shopping mall and around the adjacent boat marina to the Merlion statue. We continued walking along the river to Clarke Quay where we took the subway back to our ship. By afternoon it began to rain and there was lightning and thunder once again. Mark worked on the community puzzle and Kent tried an acupuncture treatment in hopes of helping the pain in his back and shoulder that he has been experiencing. He is not sure where it came from but he often yells out in pain when he moves the wrong way. (Can’t imagine what our neighbors think).

We received another gift from the ship. Today it was a couple of expandable Ballistic Nylon carry on Travel Bags.

The evening’s entertainment was a young and talented Chinese woman by the name of Annie Gong. Annie plays an unusual electric accordion that produces all the sounds of an entire orchestra. She can play sounds from the drums, flute, horns, bag pipes and many more with this one instrument. It was very interesting and so much more pleasing than a traditional accordion.

November 10, 2018 – Singapore

Gardens by the Bay Flower Dome

Mark in the Garden Dome

Cloud Forest Dome

When we arrived about 8:00am the weather was quite cloudy although warm and humid.

Singapore is an island country and the smallest country in Southeast Asia, located on the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula. Singapore was the site of several ancient port cities and a possession of several empires in its history before the United Kingdom colonized it in the early 19th century. The Japanese occupied it during World War II before a merger established it as part of Malaysia. When Singapore acquired independence in 1965, having few natural resources, it was socio-politically volatile and economically undeveloped. Foreign investment and rapid government-led industrialization grew an economy which relies on exports of electronics and manufacturing, primarily crude oil refining.

Singapore has the second busiest port in the world… second only to Shanghai. It has the highest standard of living in Asia and 83% of the population lives in owner occupied housing. Most of this housing is high rise condo style built by the government with some type of subsidies. More than half of its nearly six-million residents use the efficient public transportation system daily maintaining low pollution levels.

Singapore has the world’s highest percentage of millionaires, with one out of every six households having at least one million US dollars in disposable wealth. This excludes property, businesses, and luxury goods, which if included would increase the number of millionaires, especially as property in Singapore is among the world’s most expensive. Singapore does not have a minimum wage, believing that it would lower its competitiveness. It also has one of the highest income inequalities among developed countries.

Security and immigration in Singapore are very high. Every time that you get on or off of the ship you are required to line up to be processed through immigration and to have your bags checked and you are put through an x-ray machine. Immigration takes your thumb prints and they pulled several folks into a private side room for further questioning before being allowed to go ashore.

We ventured out on our own to explore the Gardens by the Bay requiring us to take the subway system and to change lines at the Chinatown subway stop. The Gardens by the Bay encompasses 250 acres of parkland and is home to more than 250,000 rare plants housed in giant domed conservatories. Most of the park is open to the public free of charge although the two large domes require an entrance fee to enter. One of the domes is called the rain cloud and houses many species of orchids, anthurium, ferns and plants that enjoy tons of moisture. The second dome is much larger and is called the flower dome. The flower dome has multiple sections of plants representing different types of plants from desert climates to Mediterranean climates, etc. There is also a large area that changes with the seasons and is now featuring a huge Christmas display with a variety of trees, poinsettias and a large number of other species. Disney sponsors the holiday display and so there are many playful toys and characters in the display.

We explored both domes before heading outdoors to see the public gardens. Everything is immaculately maintained, beautifully clean and perfectly manicured. In the late afternoon we were back on the ship for a brief rest before taking a tour sponsored by our travel agent to the Night Safari. We traveled by bus to the north side of the island about a 45-minute drive. Once at the Night Safari we were escorted to a lovely glass walled room in the middle of the rain forest for cocktails and snacks prior to a buffet dinner. The buffet had a nice selection of salads, a carving station of roast beef, local fish, chicken, beef and seafood dishes and a table of desserts. The wine and beer kept flowing and everyone had a nice dinner indoors as it poured rain outdoors.

The Night Safari is set on 98 acres of dense secondary forest offering a unique experience to observe wildlife in a tropical jungle at night. By the time dinner was over and we boarded the open air trams, the rain had stopped allowing us to enjoy the safari. Each tram has a narrator as you are escorted through the jungle explaining a little about each of the animal enclosures. The lighting is strong enough to see the animals fairly well without disturbing them. We saw things like deer, hippos, tapirs, bears, lions and others. After the tram ride we had some time for shopping and to watch a fire show with four performers throwing and spitting fire. We returned to the ship and another immigration and security check about 10:00pm.

November 9, 2018 – Sea Day

On this sea day we attended the morning show with cruise director Jorge as he interviewed guest entertainers Andrew Kennedy and Peter Mehtab. They discussed the many missed opportunities of being in show business. The television pilot that never got picked up for Andrew about his family and about Peter performing for the royal family in England.

Ian lectured on our upcoming port of Singapore and Kate Mead lectured on Singapore-A City Garden. Singapore was ruled by one man for more than thirty years and it was his vision to make Singapore a city within a garden. Hence, they have created many wonderful green spaces throughout the city, public park areas, a botanical garden, etc.

We lost an hour’s time as we moved east rather than west which we have mostly been doing. Instead of changing the time in the early hours of the morning and disturbing guests sleep patterns they change the time at 2:00pm.

In the afternoon Kent attended a lecture by Captain Thomas G. Anderson about Sea Power in the 21stCentury while Mark worked on a large puzzle of decorated Christmas cookies.

The evening’s entertainment was an internationally renowned pianist from Shanghai by the name of Tian Jiang. He performed a variety of music from Andrew Lloyd Weber songs to classical Chopin. One of the ladies traveling with the same travel agent as us is a pianist and teaches piano and gave him a standing ovation for his Chopin number.

November 8, 2018 – Phu My, Vietnam

Cao Dai Temple

Cao Dai Temple Altar

Rice Paper Making

Buddhist Temple

Buddhist Temple Altar

Miraculously after yesterday’s rainy day the weather was sunny, hot and clear today. Phu My is the gateway to Vietnam’s capital city of Ho Chi Minh City otherwise known as Saigon. It is approximately 80 miles and a 90-minute drive to the capital. Since we had visited Ho Chi Minh city previously we decided to do something different closer to the ship.

Located a short distance inland from Phu My Port is the untouched rural area of Ba Ria Province where we took a tour titled “Ba Ria: A Local Life Experience”. Here, a small township, located around a village square, is filled with fading colonial architecture—neglected, but nonetheless bringing a touch of French elegance to the typically rural surroundings. This area has seen little in the way of urban development and many inhabitants continue to lead their lives the way they have for generations.

We visited a local Buddhist temple that was two stories tall and was having a special day of prayer for the local blind community. When we arrived hundreds of sight impaired folks were coming out of the sanctuary after two-hours of prayer and having a ceremony where they released hundreds of birds. The parishioners were then taking to an outdoor covered dining hall where they were feed lunch before returning to the temple for an afternoon of prayer. The temple had two floors, each with an altar, the upper floor being much more ornate with lots of gold and many silk floral arrangements. As is custom in Buddhist temples there was no place to sit and instead only an open space to stand or sit on the floor.

We had the rare opportunity to enter the confines of two traditional Vietnamese homes. One was partitioned into three separate areas, was a 100-year-old house, complete with clay floors that have been passed on through six generations from the colonial times of the French to the present day. As in nearly all Vietnamese homes, a series of altars stands proudly in memory of deceased family members.

For all Vietnamese, rice is the staple diet, but it can also be made into many different forms. Our next stop allowed us to see the process of rice paper making and a distillery producing the local ‘moonshine’—a potent form of rice wine. The woman who was making small rice paper wrappers for spring roll type food can produce 3,000 wrappers a day. They sell them in a package of 50 for only $1.00.

Finally, we stepped inside a colorful Cao Dai temple. This religion was officially founded in 1926 and within a year the group had 26,000 followers. By the mid-1950s eight percent of South Vietnamese were Cao Daist. Founded in an attempt to create the ideal religion through fusion of secular and religious philosophies of east and west, Cao Daism is a fascinating combination of Buddhism, Confucianism, Taoism, Hinduism, native Vietnamese spirits, Christianity and Islam. The official Cao Dai symbol is the ‘divine’ eye and is inset into the front of the temple above the altar.

On our tour was an interesting person.  S/he was Canadian and at first glance you couldn’t tell whether s/he was a woman or man.  S/he, at about 60, very tall, had breasts and no bra, painted nails, short-cropped hair, shorts, blouse and men’s shoes and socks.  However, he used the urinal in the men’s room.  After conversation, we learned he was an Electrical Engineer and seemed friendly enough.  It will be interesting to talk further with him to find out more of his story.

The entertainment for the evening was a variety show with the magician Peter Methab from last night and Andrew Kennedy the comedian from a couple of nights ago.

November 7, 2018 – Nha Trang, Vietnam

Nha Trang Beach

Nha Trang Church

Nha Trang is a coastal city on the south-central coast of Vietnam with a population of about 400,000. Nha Trang was the capital of the Champa Kingdom that once controlled what is now central and southern Vietnam for over 13 centuries. During the Vietnam war this spot was a popular place for U.S. servicemen. Nha Trang is well known for its five-miles of beautiful beaches and scuba diving attracts many international travelers. The local economy relies heavily on tourism although they do also have shipbuilding and fishing industries including lobster farming.

The morning skies were very dark with clouds and before we were able to take the shuttle into town it began to ran buckets of water. It was raining so hard that you could not see anything twenty feet in front of you. Instead it looked more like a heavy fog out the window and there was a bit of thunder and lightning as well.

By early afternoon the rain had subsided and we took the ship’s shuttle into town to have a look around in what was still moderate rain. We had been to the city previously and decided not to take a tour of some of the local sites. Instead we walked to the Nha Trang Cathedral built by the French in 1933. Unfortunately, the church was closed for a couple of hours for lunch and we decided that, with the rain, we should not wait for it to re-open.

Instead we walked several blocks to the Long Thanh Gallery owned by a local photographer. The photos are all in black and white and depict life and history of Vietnam. The gallery is on the ground floor of the photographer’s residence and we had to ring the bell for someone to come down and let us in. She was kind enough to turn on the lights and allow us to have a look around at the hundred or so large framed photos. The photos were of elderly folks, children playing, local salt mine workers, kids on water buffalo, babies, young women and more. We enjoyed having a look around but did not make any purchases.

Due to the poor weather we headed back to the bus stop to catch the shuttle back to the ship. By our short shuttle rides into and out of town, it appeared that there was a lot of redevelopment and construction going on around town. New resorts are being built, new roads and sidewalks are being installed and things are being renovated.

We have been watching the election results with some joy and alarm. Wish us all luck!

The evening’s entertainment was a master magician by the name of Peter Methab. He has performed all over the world, for Her Majesty Queen Elisabeth II and has appeared in the James Bond film The World is Not Enough. He is a bit of a comedian as well and it was an entertaining show.