FAVORITE STUFF * in a nutshell – the cruise
It was EXOTIC-
Ok, life has boiled down to – once a year I will be happy: sad but correct. And also a bit melodramatic even for me.
I learned a very important lesson on this trip: We are blessed to find something that has made our life such a pleasure.
THE QUARANTINE IN SAIGON
THE MOON OVER THE SAIGON RIVER – which I enjoyed while in quarantine
THE HONG KONG AIRPORT and its ethnicity
HALONG BAY and its FISHING VILLAGE
SEABOURN -HOW COULD I FORGET SEABOURN after all this buildup – but it is a GIVEN too, of course.
Floating in the ship’s pool was my favorite activity (martinis are a given). I called this occupation “DANGLING” : as in “THE JOY OF DANGLING” and I do a thorough description of this optimal situation previously when I talk about life on shipboard. (Do stay with me – I’ve elected that using the slogans as a finale is the most fitting and rational solution to where to put them.)
I reveled in being surrounded by multiple nationalities and languages. This happy situation was especially evident in the Hong Kong Airport – maybe due to the fact that I was about to be leaving it. Ethnicity: I reveled in being surrounded by people of other nationalities while working at the library; I loved interacting with them and I miss it a lot.
The sparkle of Singapore, the neon and particularly the BOTANICAL GARDEN rated high on my list of favorite places to visit.
MY TWO- THREE- FOUR actually it’s grown to five EPIPHANYS *** I’ve discovered a better word – one that encompasses more varieties of equally exciting experiences and situations and with more ease. REVELATIONS
1/ CHANGE IN CIRCUMSTANCES. I had a shocking realization concerning the huge difference in fortune this area has experienced throughout history. It seemed to me a huge fall from grace GOING FROM THE TOP TO THE BOTTOM AND BACK AGAIN. I was astounded at the irony of the contrast between the past and current circumstances.
There was a time when this was most sought after region on earth, the most desirable real estate going, and finally the ultimate reason for our being here Only to fall so far from grace as to seem to me to be about the last place on earth to which I’d care to go. This is a huge drop in circumstances from which they are just now resurfacing. Perhaps this assessment is a bit overly dramatic but that’s just how it struck me and I found the thought duly impressive.
2/ LOCATION AND PLACEMENT OF PRIMARY CITIES. I initially encountered this situation as I noticed that Bangkok was a substantial distance from its seaport and I do believe some mention was made to the effect that this remoteness of location was due to a need for security or defense. Then I encountered Phnom Pen , Saigon and Hanoi, all of which were located deep within their particular countries. This led me to consider the settlements and major cities I was familiar with and I came to the conclusion that most of them were situated on major rivers or ports in order to facilitate ease in accessibility, commerce and trade. I was surprised to discover this variation but I am not entirely sure it is a question of significance: I was just surprised. Eventually I noted the presence of rivers, including the imposing Mekhong, but the fact still remains that they were not within easy reach of the sea. There is definitely a story here.
Which brings up the question of accessibility in general , with its effect on development and incidentally tourism, which is a desirable aspect of that process, as well.
This became quite apparent with reference to the tours sponsored by the ship. The major destinations were a substantial distance from the ports and I wouldn’t care to guess at the quality of the roads used to get to them. I stated: WHY ELSE WOULD YOU WANT TO GO THERE? I’M NOT kidding:. Temples and the Vietnam War are rather limited objectives in the first place. I think this is a side comment on the general lack not only of accessibility but also any tourist destinations which may show up.
3/ NOT EVERYONE HAS THE CARIBBEAN. Can you imagine that? This discovery sure was an eye opener for me. It simply never occurred to me that the whole world was not, in fact, within easy reach of the Caribbean – actually I can’t imagine why it ever would occur to me. I was certainly quite surprised to have this pointed out to me by delightful husband and wife dentists from Seattle, Washington. When asked what brought them on this tour they asserted that they were “forced” to go to Hawaii for sunny escapes and they were in need of a change. Imagine. Hawaii has always seemed to me a highly desirable but due to distance, an unreachable goal. It’s all in the point of view.
I know there’s a very large population devoid of such amenities as sun, heat and surf: This area is a natural for that kind of development. And I’m sure there’s a substantia population which would be happy to take advantage of such a location –Russia is the first to come to mind, and I do believe that’s why our British fellow- passengers were here. I hear tell it is the intention of Cambodia, which is a natural for that kind of development , plans to recreate itself as a world class beach resort destination.
4/ the element of JOY has been added. I discovered the PRESENCE OF JOY IN THE PROCESS - of travel in this case– to be added to my three other basic trip requirements. Those would be: surprise, discovery, and the unexpected. Obviously this is a highly desirable quality to achieve in all aspects of life. This is a phenomenal attribute that somehow, just now, finally managed to seep in to my conscious.
5/ FOR EVERY GOOD THERE IS AN OPPOSITE. I admitted to THE SAD FACT that heaven can be hell as well and I’ve had a real philosophical tussle over this as a consequence. To state it differently: This very serious attempt at “the truth” was certainly brought to my attention by the immense contrasts i in this environment created. Obviously this very deep thought was precipitated by the extreme contrasts caused by this very salubrious overly heavenly environment. To state it another way: the good here was so good that the extremes became notable. There does seem to be such a thing as too much heaven: Floating in the pool caused a good sun burn, martinis – as much as I love them I know the list of negatives can go on forever. Delicious dining equals undesirable poundage and/or stomach grief; we needn’t even mention cigarettes , even dumber I suppose you could even tire of “perfect”. Get a grip! Ok, this is a necessary dichotomy as it gives depth to life, and we all know about the yin and the yang, and how everything has two sides. I was just amazed to discover how many things.
I’d like to consider the question of theEFFECTIVENESS OF the SERMON:Or, did any of what I discussed in my essay “Forget the Destination…” have any effect on my actual travel experience?
The basic objective of this paper was to develop a personal philosophy was directed at the subject of travel the end result to be hopefully . a positive attitude, satisfaction, and comfort as I travel.
Towards this end I invested a great deal of time, energy and thought: I’ve done a lot of soul searching. I have attempted to determine, specify , identify and denote issues and solutions the result being knowledge, enlightenment and consequently comfort in this pursuit.
Now I have a chance to see whether all of effort was of any value. I was very much tuned in to these elements in order to make the best use of the most favorable approach.
I seem to have had a much more relaxed approach about the whole undertaking- traveling that is. Demonstrably and emphatically diminished is my usual pretravel nervousness. My attitude has become one of acceptance: is more laid back and is more tuned in to “ live for the moment.” This is an enormous benefit. I’ve learned to sit around and take it all in as an adventure.
Flexibility is very important and I addressed the question quite thoroughly in my essay. I’d say I had this issue well in hand. There was no stress encountered on this account YEA! LIVE FOR THE MOMENT…. Check.
My attention has become one of anticipation and curiosity. I was excited, and not so much worried and fretting. My question became: What will I add to my knowledge in the way of experience and adventure? Let her rip!
I planned on staying right on top of it all the way - I was primed to track every step of the way, and I managed to do that. No wonder I was exhausted: Two weeks of intense attention is a lot of unusual/unprecedented effort. I’m not used to all that intense concentration.
Furthermore and with this, I’d like to respond to the subject of my title, “Forget the Destination”. as well.
Basically there were few situations present that I would care to define as a “destination” , so that took a lot of pressure off the undertaking to begin with. Minimal “tours” permitted unadulterated perceptions – for what it is. No prepackaged spiel, no judging.
I’ve been thinking about this destination thing, and it’s importance to the question of tourism. A thought I’ve had is that I’ll bet almost anything could be turned in to an objective or hub with the right publicity.
I’ve also just been reminded of a “ destination” I really hadn’t much considered: ART AS A DESTINATION. Not “Art galleries”, but perhaps even just one piece of art can prove to be a highly successful drawing piece. I also was contemplating the difference between Destination with a capitol D, and destination with a small letter. They can prove very different one from another.
This will be a subject I will continue to keep in mind for further contemplation.
QUESTIONS/INFORMATION/FURTHER STUDY/ETC,ETC AND BEYOND THAT -- THERE WERE :
THE SUBJECT OF EXPECTATIONS WAS A PRIMARY ISSUE and one I think is interesting enough to continue the dialogue, specifically as it pertains to travel, and the subject of preconceptions relative to satisfaction. Can’t escape this issue, just have to remember that and appreciate whatever it is for what it is. This is an interesting subject and well worth investigating further.
This was a primary subject in my paper on destinations. The subject came up as an interesting subsidiary subject and proved to be one of many implications it surely has a strong effect on the question of why actually are you on this trip ? What is the purpose If not to tick off that I’ve been there, god forbid. What actually did you get out of this trip?
There are a couple of different elements which could effect the question of SATISFACTION; what we have stored in our memory bank over time, the affect of imagination and its presence as a catalyst which interprets and manipulates all of it, and the shortness of the visits.
Where or how do we acquire what amounts to misleading and plausibly disappointing attitudes?
1/ PROFESSIONAL PHOTOGRAPHY being generally glamorous photos which effect an impression probably most strongly. The landscape pictures you see in publications and most particularly the tour brochures you are deluged with are the product of professional photographers who take the time and the effort to achieve the ultimate in images, and make big bucks for their effort.
2/ LITURATURE: It seems that anything I’ve read about anywhere is so dated – nothing resembles the impressions I’ve achieved. Modernization is apparently as sequential as the technology which has inspired it.
3/ YOU are usually no longer in any given spot for more than 5 minutes… there is little or no chance you will happen to encounter what you’ve seen in those brochures.
4/ GOOGLE SEARCH as being totally misleading. The photos are selected for maximum impact. Google is too immediate, all pervasive, and is fundamentally “much” selective of the images shown. NATCH.
SELECTIVE IMAGERY IS THE BASIC.
SHORTNESS OF VISIT AND SUBSTANCE acquisition. Primarily, there is no denying the limited amount of appreciation you can achieve related to what can you see in four hours where the question of substance is concerned. There is no way with that minimum amount of available time that you are likely to acquire much more than a vague impression of the area. All that is possible is A BRIEF INTRODUCTION: basically nothing but an exploratory tour. Of course that can be frustrating, and of course you are not likely to reach your expectations: . You are simply not going to see much. Maybe if you gave it a week or two you might make a dent. But that is rarely practical. So how come we make all this effort? Why are we here? To be absolutely positive, it’s definitely not to tick off that we’ve been there. The chance of returning are slim to nonexistent.
The bottom line is that this whole travel thing can prove to be discouraging BUT you simply have to make do with what is available.
However, and on a more positive note, this may be just a glimpse, but hopefully replete with happy experiences and memories.
SOLUTION; you’ll have to create a personal, intuitive and perhaps spontaneous reaction to your tour surroundings. In order to achieve this it is essential to KEEP AN EYE OUT, your mind open, and your ears and nose keen for that particular effect which is of most appeal to you.
This may be related to the question of how much of what I was expecting did I actually achieve and having read this you’d know the answer to that. As far as satisfaction is concerned, I’d say I benefited or gained probably a great deal more than I missed and that’s probably quite perfect for me.
This is another subject which well merits further investigation.
It’s interesting the role MARKETSplayed in this itinerary – and also true of that of Regent’s in Europe; but not Viking. Viking gave us manufacturies… the difference being in the income producing element?
The markets were mostly for LOCAL COLOR – shopping was definitely not anticipated. Huh? I’ve just encountered a new term for what Viking calls an “educational opportunity”. (which is in fact visits to work shops and factories with the intention of sales). How does the term “enrichment” strike you? It seems actually more descriptive to me if the tourists perform as expected and the shop is enriched. Yes?
I have a feeling there may definitely be a place for traditional “shopping”; within the area of the beach resorts and of course in these mega-amusement park cum resorts which are appearing.
A Tequila Museum and Boutique –this was seen as a destination on a recent cruise ship agenda - Now that’s more like it for enrichment/enlightening . Reminds me of such in Curacao - the tour took us to the Curacao manufactury – a most worthy objective even though it turns out I don’t much care for the product.
I have added this subject to my list of items which could afford future research, thought, or at least an awareness for additional facts.
CRUISE SHIP CULTURE; LUXURY – and ship size.
There was champagne and caviar all over the place, I suppose to remind people of their luxury status, these items being emblematic of luxury. But none of this actually affected me much. It was all downplayed and not obvious, not especially visible. There is no doubt we were in very affluent company but you’d never know it….course maybe if I’d indulged in spa stuff? Maybe.
Question: are amenities necessarily “luxury”? Are we in to “more is more”. I suppose it depends what kind? The larger and more enormous the ship presumably the more amenities but I strongly refute/contest that attitude and aver that size actually results in a distinct loss of luxury. Maybe we’re having a different definition of the word “luxury”. I suppose the need/desire has got to be there and people want that kind of thing.
On the Cruise show we’ve been watching we’ve seen how very impersonal the larger ships are. For one, the ubiquitous cocktail party meant to introduce the Captain and crew and for which the passengers are expected to attend in formal dress, has become a wave from the huge stage to 3400 people – and that number has grown immensely just this past winter.
I have seen evidence that the larger the ship, the more selective is any evidence of the so called luxury. Eons ago there existed a class system on ships and believe it or not it’s showing up again with restricted areas for the high spenders, etc.
The larger ships seem to have gone back to a variety of dining room limitations.
I sensed an increasing degree of remoteness with the increase of the sizes of ships I’ve been on – we’ve sailed on 200, 400, 600 and 900 passenger ships; and I thought the final three categories were large. But these ships are actually categorized to be, at the largest, moderate in size. This does make sense considering the 4500 passenger behemoth which just hit the skids.
Lack of actual personal contact is more apt to get in to the horror story situations you hear. The bigger the ship the more distance there is between management and passengers.
Of course we can also introduce the less frivolous stuff like the effect on the environment and wildlife, pollution, security, safety(personal). The gal who drowned in the pool one night or the one who fell off the 10th deck railing the other night- on a smaller ship the staff is in touch and is aware of what the passengers, frequently inebriated, may be up to.
I have taken this subject on for further and continued study as I find it exceedingly interesting.
Additional encounters with flying BUSINESS CLASS proved duly enlightening and entertaining and I hope to have many future opportunities for further experimentation.
The use of airport- provided wheelchairs has long since become a normal arrangement. This time I became even more aware of their necessity and therefore appreciated more. The check out line a Dulles was just plain enormous and we didn’t get pushed right through this time. This meant even the attendant was stuck standing there for ever.
/ GEOLOGY AND THE CULTURE OF SOUTHEAST ASIA…. –
I have beome aware of this area, therefore more receptive to further knowledge. This is an exciting subject and just loaded with possible exhilarating material.
We agreed, the wine and food was better at home. Unfortunately, the latter entails work AND there are no martinis appended. Actually an occasional escape is fine but I’d say one week is a bit more rational.
The trip provided LOTS OF GOOD WRITING MATERIAL…It occurs to me to ponder whether writing and consequently deep thinking has given me a new travel perspective: - Meaning objective? Or a new perspective on travel? I trust I don’t intend to go overboard and end up with a product that is as unwieldy and unmanageable as the photo outcome has become, and I don’t really want to waste time hiding behind writing, any more than behind a camera.
This trip has given me lots of things to think about and I’ve started a list of GOOD STUFF TO RESEARCH.
GOOD PICTURES . I achieved a notably reasonable number for a change. This came about naturally as time on shore was limited. The availability of subject matter was awesome but thanks to a marginally functional camera I got a lot of good blurs. The few I came home with was probably quite adequate.
I managed to develop a rational approach to dealing with side tours especially with reference to those undertaken apart from the ship. We had very good experiences with those in Singapore and Hong Kong – fortunately no repetition of the previously disaster experiences we experienced with Viatour – a major player in the touring industry at least in Europe. The ship tours we had not signed up turned out to be no problem on this trip there were limited touring and for those I considered most important I had reserved space …but is suspect there’s a good chance that Seabourn takes in to account a certain amount of slippage and is prepared .
This trip substantiated, proved to verify, gave me a satisfactory purpose for why I travel. My “sermon” alerted me to beneficial approaches which might be used to attain a satisfying travel experience and trip in general which in turn resulted in a notably satisfying answer to one of my basic questions: why do I travel.
The firmed up answer….AWARENESS = INTEREST = CURIOSITY all tend to feed on each other to equal life enrichment. And there is CULTURE: of course.
I checked my requirements for a good trip: discovery, surprise and the unexpected and I would not hesitate to check them all off as being one way or the other amply achieved/ Being fulfilled. fulfilled and then some. And while I was at I realized another benefit:JOY.. of all things. What could be better/? I’LL take that any day. And with that thought in mind I signed right up for the next trip even though I had just been feeling reluctant and undecided. I got the answer.
This answer serves two purposes I see. It also affirms the benefit of the travel on writing/drawing: can I in all fairness use them as an excuse to travel? Yes, they are who I am. And this time I perceived a distinct leaning towards that activity. Perfectly acceptable. also I paid a substantial bit from my library earnings.
The appreciable lack of accessibility pretty well eliminated the often denigrated DESTINATIONS and therefore the crowds. Maybe that created a dearth of information and actual visitations but that situation can be true of all of these trips...maybe more so with this one because so much of the tour time was spent on the ship and in buses just getting there?
Mostly I think its uniqueness and benefit was in our introduction to an area which had perhaps pretty much disappeared off the map- certainly to tourists/visitors. I’m especially thankful that I have acquired at least a bit of awareness and an interest: mostly before I hade been denying its existence. This trip puts the area on the map and within my consciousness.
We beat the tourist influx –This in itself is a trick and a fact to be thankful for. The areas we penetrated were actually very well prepared for visitors but, had not yet become over teeming with people or junk and there were still a few vestiges of national character remaining. (this is a very interesting subject especially considering the rampages under which they almost always have been subjected).
Just a quick question before I move on. Why do they wear masks? very prevalent sight in Asia. I have always assumed it was to counteract the effects of pollution but we were told in Saigon or perhaps DaNang that it was an attempt to retain a light colored skin which was preferable as being the mark of a VIP or a “government worker” (Sic). Seen at Dulles I figured it must be some kind of fad as there was not an ounce of pollution or sun anywhere.
FINALE – TIE UP *** good stuff
I think there is no question that I gained an enormous amount from this trip.
I learned of Three things I must attend to with the next trip: attempt at no more falling – it’s embarrassing and I could get hurt ( I seem to have made a habit of this and be assured there has been no drinking involved . It’s getting to be that I’ve fallen in some of the best places : Pompei, Patagonia, and the South China Sea. I didn’t mention this because it is embarrassing and my hosts tend to seem to take this personally with gifts of chocolate and ice cream and stuff – maybe that’s the reason.
Use sunscreen, and pack peptobismol or maalox.
It would be nice NICE if I quit being so puritanical and indulged in AT LEAST A FEW SHOTS to use to illustrate these travelogues…but then again, I can’t be too harsh on myself as the need to illustrate anything is a brand new objective for me.
ANSWERED OR AFFIRMED A FEW QUESTIONS: Would we return? If we could: this sure puts a new slant on the subject.
Where would we travel? NEEDS WORK – maybe this should be left to chance. Got a minimal criteria: limit ship time, rather not be out longer than 14 days- 10 would be very good as that allows time for add-ons, and I really do prefer smaller ships- 400 is stretching it.
ATTENDING TO THE POSSIBILITY OF improving my mobility issues : MORE MOBILITY ALLOWS FOR MORE CHOICES.
We’re up to the next trip already (at this moment it’s March 2016): Another “because it’s different”. Hard to live up to the last one – everything else seems abysmally “tame”. And I’m horrified to admit we are going with another shipping line specifically because they do the same trip with fewer days at sea. I really had trouble with all that so called “loose” time. Please stay tuned.
This is as good a place as any to fit in those momentous slogans I was assaulted with not only in the pool, but as a progressive and ongoing situation:
I can’t think of anything better to do with my life than float around on Seabourn… I was literally in heaven. So happy I floated, in the pool, spouting all kinds of laudatory what turned out to be slogans. This slogan inspired condition actually persisted for the entire cruise. I was happy. (more about the slogans later) I discovered the deliciousness of floating in a salt water pool… warm, weightless, delicious buoyancy, free of my usual ambulatory, upright discomfort. I’ll tell you! The only fly in the ointment was all that equally delicious sun – I paid attention but I got scorched anyway. All that brine actually made me feel like a pickle which in turn only succeeded in adding icing to the cake: the shower proved to be nirvana.
I DON’T CARE WHERE WE GO AS LONG AS IT’S SEABOURN.
I’M ADDICTED TO SEABOURN.
I’VE DIED AND GONE TO HEAVEN – NO, IT’S SEABOURN.
IF THERE IS A HEAVEN, IT’S SEABOURN.
SEABOURN MAKES LIFE SPECIAL, OR, LIFE IS SPECIAL WITH SEABOURN.
HOW CAN YOU GO BACK TO THE FARM WHEN YOU’VE TRAVELLED WITH SEABOURN.
IF THERE’S LIFE AFTER DEATH, IT’S SEABOURN.
“HOME away from Home” the Captain declares every day at his noon message to the ship. Pardon me…I think not. There’s no comparison: I have no hot and cold running maids(staff), every wish fulfilled, no pool with bars and chairside drink service (actually no sun either).
I was right when I asserted traveling was a frustrating pastime. I also made a positive case out of these eventualities. Stop right here. The obvious solution is staring me in the face anyway. IF YOU ARE SAILING SEABOURN YOU’LL BE TAKEN CARE OF. OR, IF IT’S SEABOURN IT DOESN’T MATTER. Ah ha, another slogan.
This little ditty came about with our visit to Halong Bay - I was worrying about the weather: when we awoke you couldn’t see fifteen feet off the ship, let alone a landscape: And that is what Halong Bay is. When such negative exigencies arise, which they are prone to do while traveling, you, or at least I have, will find that if you are with Seabourn it doesn’t or won’t matter. So much is good that a little set back is just that – little. Furthermore Seabourn will do everything in its power to rectify the situation and in my experience they always have and then some – gone way beyond the call of duty. SEABOURN excludes a lot of negative exigencies.
Worried about finding a hole in my Eden – here’s another sobriquet. PARADISE OF KOLKOOD (that was that tropical island Eden thing on which they set us down ).
NO WORRIES, NO FRETS: IF IT’S SEABOURN IT DOESN’T MATTER
GOT A PROBLEM? IF IT’S SEABOURN IT WON’T MATTER - IT DOESN’T (WON’T) MATTER
TRAVELING A PROBLEM? LEAVE IT WITH SEABOURN.
Seabourn has trended towards taking on monumental proportions…I could write a treatise – even better how about an ode. ( That ought to keep me busy awhile).
I have enjoyed a writer, who was actually talking about writing at the time, who says if you are a reader you owe the authors for the pleasure. I am a traveler: well , I am repaying them actually in actuality, and no ode is needed. This has BECOME A HUGE LOVE AFFAIR on my part at least (but isn’t that if not the normal at least a frequent one) – is it just because it has, in fact, become a home away from home? A security in and familiar world? That could certainly be. I was terribly faithful, unreturned, to Viking certainly due to this familiarity – commitment? There’s more to this.
HOW’S THAT FOR REVOLTING? BUT IT WAS HEARTFELT and I MEANT EVERY WORD OF IT.
Ross A Klein, Cruise Ship Blues. This is old but fairly fascinating in its relationship to ship sizes. I am hoping to find information about life on the ships for the crews. So far, no luck.
I would very much like to mention a group of contemporary titles I have added to my reading agenda under the heading “ethnic” mysteries. The authors make use of SEAsia and its unique landscapes and cultures as the framework for their stories. They are also, truth be told, somewhat responsible for at least some of my concern. The action is current and deal with these and locales and their political and cultural complexities, are fairly devoid of an excess of violence or horror, are highly descriptive, factual, and informative. With the distinct emphasis on description they lean just a little bit – no I’m not going to say it. Try them, you’ll like them. The list includes:
John Burdette, specifically his Bangkok series. His work is fairly rough, actually quite rough, but I liked him. I encountered none of what he describes which is just as well. But I was disappointed. His descriptions were very vivid and more or less on the lurid side. Has all this been cleaned up as a salute to progress and entrance into the developed world?
Tarquin Hall whose acition actually takes place in New Delhi which assuredly is a bit far afield but they are such good reads.
I’d say the two stars Finally are the two these two who are most pertinent.
Shamini Flint , Singapore and Malaysia and her extraorindarily vivid descriptions of cultural and political situations which involve Singapore and Malaysia and