Tom, Jaysen, and Warren took Bullet train 1 hr. 45 min. (230 miles) to view Hiroshima.
Day 65, July 14: Tour Kyoto’s Temples; Geisha girls with a traditional Japanese dinner.
Kinkaku (Golden Pavilion)/ Rokuon-ji Temple, Ryoanji Temple (Zen rock garden), Arashiyama district, and Fushimi Inari Shrine.
Golden Pavilion: Kinkaku is a shariden, a Buddhist hall containing relics of Buddha. Rokuon-ji is a Zen Buddhist temple, in the Shokokuji School of the Rinzai Sect. The area was originally the site of a villa called Kitayama-dai and owned by a statesman, Saionji Kinttsune Ashikaga Yoshimitsu, the 3rd shotgun of the Muromachi period.
After Yoshimitsu died, in keeping with his will, the villa was converted into a temple by the priest Muso-kokushi, who became the first abbot. The gardens and buildings, certered on the Golden Pavilion, were said to represent the Pure Land of Buddha in this world.
Ryoanji Temple: highlights include: the large main building of the temple, Kyoyochi Pond and the simple Rock Garden. The Rock Garden is a simple and remarkable garden measuring only twenty-five meters from east to west and ten meters south to north. The rectangular Aen garden is completely diferent from the gorgeous gardens of court nobles constructed in the Middle Ages. No trees are to be seen; only fifteen rocks and white gravel are used in the garden.
This internationally famous rock garden was said to be created at the end of the Muromachi Period (around 1500), by a highly respected Zen monk, Tokuho Zenketsu.
Afternoon tour of Arashiyama district with amazing bamboo trees.
Fushimi Inari Shrine: the shrine of Inari, located in Fushimi-ku, Kyoto. This shrine sits at the base of a mountain names Inari which is 233 meters above sea level, and includes trails up the mountain to many smaller shrines which span 4 kilometers and takes approximately 2 hours to walk up. (We did not go to the top.)
Inari is seen as the patron of business, merchants and manutacturers. Each of the torii at Fushimi Inari Taisha is donated by a Japanese business. First, and foremost, Inari is the god of rice. This popular shrine is said to have as many as 32,000 sub-shrines (bunsha) throughout Japan.
Our evening at the Mishimatei Honten was a special Japanese meal enjoying the company of lovely Geisha girls’ music, dance and game. Removing our shoes at the entrance as routine.
Day 64, July 13: Taipei, Taiwan to Nagoya, Japan (1050 NM). Transfer via Bullet train (90 NM) to Kyoto
On our flight at 31,000 ft. we encountered some serious cloud build-ups (we were tracking between two dissipating typhoons). Diverting around build-ups is part of the “game”.
Our most warm welcoming in Nagoya with Mickey-San and crew.
The Bullet Train travels at 185 miles/hour and was wonderful way to reach our tranquil zen-like hotel. The Ritz-Carlton Kyoto sits serenely on the banks of the Kamogawa River and offers expansive views of the famous Higashiyama Sanju-Roppo (36 mountain range). Our room has a great view of the Komogawa River.
Our first authentic Japanese dinner was in the hotel’s Muziki restaurant transitioning us to Japanese cuisine.
Day 63, July 12: Flight from Macau to Taipei, Taiwan (510 NM); Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial
Day 62, July 11: Fly Dragonair back to Hanoi, Pre-flight our airplanes and fly to Macau. (865 NM)
Our aircraft remained free from any typhoon damage—-as a precautionary measure we left them in Hanoi rather than risk damage in Hong Kong. Actually, despite all warnings and preparations (store closings, sand bags ready) the typhoon ended up a non-event in Hong Kong. Loved our stay in Hong Kong...we had a great suite and great views at the Peninsula Hotel.
Macau...we had just visited yesterday! One large part of Macau I left unmentioned: it is very much like Las Vegas–casinos, huge hotels and entertainment.
Today was a very full travel day, an interesting way to spend my birthday. Up early for commercial flight to Hanoi. Our Hanoi stop ended up being a hassle getting back to our airplanes across on the other side of the airport. Once permission to start up, clearance received, take-off roll progressed we had a very smooth departure procedure.
Day 61, July 10: Ferry ride to explore Historic Centre of Macau
Cotai Water Jet from Hong Kong to Macau: three hours to see Macau. Michelle and George were excellent tour guides and focused on the Historic Centre of Macau. This Historic Centre is inscribed on the World Heritage list in 2005.
A-Ma Temple: The variety of pavilions dedicated to worship of different deities in a single complex make A-Ma Temple an exemplary representation of Chinese culture inspired by Confucianism, Taoism, Buddhism and multiple folk beliefs
Our return to Hong Kong via ferry boat left us with time for George and Michelle’s stop at the tailor’s shop for last fitting and pick up of new suit and the 6:30 dinner at Jimmy’s Kitchen to celebrate Diann’s birthday. A very full day!!
Days 59, Day 60, July 8 & 9: Three Typhoons in South China Sea—Commercial flight from Hanoi to Hong Kong on Dragonair
Getting up early for a commercial flight is very different for this crew….but, all went well and Hong Kong is a totally different city from Hanoi. Hong Kong is an Asian banking center. Tall buildings…building cranes are everywhere!
July 9: Our tour guide took us to Victoria Peak for an amazing city view. These photos are a mere sampling….
Our little boat tour of the fishing village showed how many people live on their boats and make their living fishing. A huge number of boats were moored this afternoon because of the expected typhoon.
Time for ethnic lunch at “Mask” and enjoy the waterfront walk noting stars to honor heros.
Day 58, July 7: Last evening (July 6) and leaving Halong Bay for Hanoi, July 7
0600 Tai Chi session on sundeck, coffee and off to the lagoon at Luon Cave on a tradidtional rowing boat. Rumor has it there might be monkeys in this wild area—but, we did not observe any. Once back on the main Paradise cruise boat we enjoyed another breakfast and the last hours on this beautiful bay. Soon we returned to Tuan Chau Island, disembarked and were on our way back to Hanoi. Once again we enjoyed seeing the countryside, the little towns and the rice farming.
Once settled back at the Sofitel Metropole we had a 1 1/2 hour pilot briefing reviewing the weather (three hurricanes in the Pacific) and considered options. Conclusion: if and when the typhoon hits Hong Kong, we prefer to avoid our aircraft run the risk of damage by tropical storm. Agreed to fly commercial, Dragonair, to Hong Kong in the morning then return to Hanoi for next part of the journey.
Day 57, July 6: Second day of Halong Bay cruise
0600 Tai Chi session with Michelle and George, morning coffee and off to a bamboo rowing boat visit to the Vung Vieng Floating Village with its school, museum, tiny floating houses and the kind villagers.
After lunch onboard our day-boat, Paradise Explorer, we explored Vung Ha area where we dropped anchor for kayaking, swimming and just enjoying the amazing scenery with its charming serenity. This serenity was disturbed by adults making several HUGE waves in the water—wet towels and wet deck resulted from the fun jumping and diving expedition!
Day 56, July 5: Bus transfer to Halong Bay for our Cruise on Paradise Luxury
Our morning departure to Halong Bay took us on a journey through the rich farmlands of the Red River Delta. We had the opportunity to observe everyday life of Vietnam’s villages as we saw villagers work the local rice fields. We arrived in Halong and boarded the Paradise Luxury for our 2 nights cruise on Halong Bay. Cruising this delightful Bay we reveled in its tranquility as we escaped the bustling tourist sights.
Michelle, George and Tom took the afternoon option for a small boat ride to an island, hike up about 700 stairs to enjoy both the view of the Bay and the limestone formations in the Sung Sot Cave.
Cocktail hour was a beautiful time.
Cocktail hour and sunset — enjoyed!