Kri Island, Raja Ampat (“The Four Kings”), Indonesia

The Raja Ampat Islands are an Indonesian archipelago of over 1,500 islands off the northwest tip of Bird’s Head Peninsula in West Papua; Kri Island, Raja Ampat, Indonesia

The Raja Ampat Islands are an Indonesian archipelago of over 1,500 islands off the northwest tip of Bird’s Head Peninsula in West Papua; Kri Island, Raja Ampat, Indonesia

 

When we started this expedition, in contrast to our original itinerary plans of three years ago (our schedule is set that far in advance!) which called for us to visit Raja Ampat, the SCUBA diving and snorkeling jewels (islands) of eastern Indonesia, we expected to be mostly cruising in far eastern Indonesia, particularly around West Papua.  The change in plans was due to new major restrictions on passenger ships visiting Raja Ampat after an accident in the area two years ago when a cruise ship ran aground on a reef.  We were super fortunate that our expedition team, captain and staff persisted with appropriate Indonesian government agencies and on arrival in Raja Ampat, following a lengthy ship inspection and interviews with the crew and expedition team, we received permission for a four-day visit to Raja Ampat.

 

Located within the “Coral Triangle”, Raja Ampat is home to the richest marine biodiversity in the world; Kri Island, Raja Ampat, Indonesia

Located within the “Coral Triangle”, Raja Ampat is home to the richest marine biodiversity in the world; Kri Island, Raja Ampat, Indonesia

 

Raja Ampat translates into “The Four Kings” and refers to a myth about the creation of the four main islands.  The Raja Ampat Islands are an Indonesian archipelago of over 1,500 islands off the northwest tip of Bird’s Head Peninsula in West Papua.  Comprising hundreds of jungle-covered islands, Raja Ampat is known for its beaches and coral reefs rich with marine life.  Ancient rock paintings and caves are on Misool Island, while the crimson bird of paradise lives on Waigeo Island.  Batanta and Salawati are the archipelago’s other main islands.  Located within the “Coral Triangle”, Raja Ampat is home to the richest marine biodiversity in the world.

 

The limestone karst islands and islets are heavily forested; Kri Island, Raja Ampat, Indonesia

The limestone karst islands and islets are heavily forested; Kri Island, Raja Ampat, Indonesia

 

Comprising hundreds of jungle-covered islands, Raja Ampat is known for its beaches and coral reefs rich with marine life; Kri Island, Raja Ampat, Indonesia – the ship is owned by local Indonesians and serves as an overnight dive boat

Comprising hundreds of jungle-covered islands, Raja Ampat is known for its beaches and coral reefs rich with marine life; Kri Island, Raja Ampat, Indonesia – the ship is owned by local Indonesians and serves as an overnight dive boat for up to 20 guests

 

According to a report developed by The Nature Conservancy and Conservation International, around 75% of the world’s species live in Raja Ampat!  Raja Ampat’s sheer numbers and diversity of marine life and its huge pristine coral reef systems are a SCUBA dream come true – and a fantastic site for snorkelers too.

 

Hidden behind the vegetation, including mangrove trees, is a small B&B cottage; Kri Island, Raja Ampat, Indonesia

Hidden behind the vegetation, including mangrove trees, is a small B&B cottage; Kri Island, Raja Ampat, Indonesia

 

At the end of the island we visited were three cottages built on stilts; Kri Island, Raja Ampat, Indonesia

At the end of the island we visited were three cottages built on stilts; Kri Island, Raja Ampat, Indonesia

 

Each of the cottages rent for about US$20 per night – affordable paradise!; Kri Island, Raja Ampat, Indonesia

Each of the cottages rent for about US$20 per night – affordable paradise!; Kri Island, Raja Ampat, Indonesia

 

Legal Notices: All photographs copyright © 2020 by Richard C. Edwards. All Rights Reserved Worldwide.  Permission to link to this blog post is granted for educational and non-commercial purposes only.

 

Eat Local: Vigan Empanadas, City of Vigan, Philippines

As we were touring the City of Vigan in the Philippines [see our previous blog post of the same name) enjoying colonial architecture, we passed by Irene’s Vigan Empanadas, a small hole in the wall café just beyond a well-preserved two-story house

As we were touring the City of Vigan in the Philippines [see our previous blog post of the same name) enjoying colonial architecture, we passed by Irene’s Vigan Empanadas, a small hole in the wall café just beyond a well-preserved two-story house

While exploring the City of Vigan by foot, we passed by Irene’s Vigan Empanada café.  For an afternoon snack, we headed back there to sample the Vigan empanadas.  They were prepared on a custom basis – we chose the pork empanadas [see the photo, below].  We thoroughly enjoyed them, noting a huge difference in having a crispy rice-flour shell, compared with the traditional wheat-flour pastry shells of Spanish empanadas.  Like our guide book, we would also recommend Irene’s!

 

“In between exploring the UNESCO-designated city of Vigan, make time to try the local Vigan empanada, sold by vendors on Calle Crisologo and in the surrounding streets.  The town’s signature delicacy starts with a shell made from a rice flour mixture that is hand-kneaded thinly on a banana leaf.  The filling is made with shredded papaya, grated carrots, bean sprouts, egg, and seasoned pork longganisa.  The empanada is deep-fried and served with Ilocos vinegar.  While pork longganisa is the traditional filling, many cooks add their own creative spin and make them with beef, chicken, crab, and bagnet.  Vegetarian varieties are also available.  Locals eat empanadas for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and a snack.  A 40year tradition, Irene’s Vigan Empanada is one of the best places to enjoy one of these savory snacks.” – The World In Currimao, Philippines

 

The late afternoon shadows gave the entrance to Irene’s Vigan Empanadas a sinister appearance -- but when we came back to try some empanadas, we were pleasantly surprised by the café’s coziness and the friendliness of the staff

As we were touring the City of Vigan in the Philippines [see our previous blog post of the same name) enjoying colonial architecture, we passed by Irene’s Vigan Empanadas, a small hole in the wall café just beyond a well-preserved two-story house

Here the chef is preparing a Vigan Empanada from scratch on a banana leaf; once the rice-flour dough is filled, it is fried for a few minutes in the fryer, City of Vigan, Philippines

Here the chef is preparing a Vigan Empanada from scratch on a banana leaf; once the rice-flour dough is filled, it is fried for a few minutes in the fryer that is behind, and lower down than the selection of cooked empanadas, City of Vigan, Philippines

 

Although it was only mid-afternoon, a number of patrons were enjoying snacks of Vigan Empanadas at Irene’s in the City of Vigan, Philippines

Although it was only mid-afternoon, a number of patrons were enjoying snacks of Vigan Empanadas at Irene’s in the City of Vigan, Philippines

 

Legal Notices: All photographs copyright © 2020 by Richard C. Edwards. All Rights Reserved Worldwide.  Permission to link to this blog post is granted for educational and non-commercial purposes only.

 

City of Vigan, Philippines

The coastline of Currimao on the South China Sea, west coast of the northern island of the Philippines, Luzon; the port is the gateway for visits to the UNESCO World Heritage Site and UNESCO World Heritage City of Vigan

The coastline of Currimao on the South China Sea, west coast of the northern island of the Philippines, Luzon; the port is the gateway for visits to the UNESCO World Heritage Site and UNESCO World Heritage City of Vigan

 

Sailing southeast from Hong Kong towards Indonesia, we sailed through the South China Sea to the west coast of the northern island of the Philippines, Luzon, where we anchored in the port of Currimao, the gateway for our visit to the UNESCO World Heritage Site and UNESCO World Heritage City of Vigan – about a 90 minute drive south from the port.  “Established in the 16th century, Vigan is the best-preserved example of a planned Spanish colonial town in Asia. Its architecture reflects the coming together of cultural elements from elsewhere in the Philippines, from China and from Europe, resulting in a culture and townscape that have no parallel anywhere in East and South-East Asia.” — https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/502/

 

Local Filippino dancers on the pier for our welcome (by tender boats) to Currimao, Philippines

Local Filippino dancers on the pier for our welcome (by tender boats) to Currimao, Philippines

 

Downtown Vigan and the surrounding mountains on the west coast of Luzon Island, Philippines

Downtown Vigan and the surrounding mountains on the west coast of Luzon Island, Philippines

 

“Located on the western coast of the large island of Luzon, facing the South China Sea, [City of Vigan] is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and it is one of the few towns left in the Philippines whose old structures have mostly remained intact, and it is well known for its sett pavements and a unique architecture of the Philippine colonial era which fuses Native Philippine and Oriental building designs and construction, with colonial Spanish architecture that is still abundant in the area, mainly the Bahay na Bato houses and an Eqrthquake Baroque church.  Former Philippine president Elpidio Quirino, the sixth president of the Philippines, was born in Vigan, at the former location of the Provincial Jail (his father was a warden); he resided in the Syquia Mansion.  The entire city of Vigan was later inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage City after being declared as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.” – Wikipedia

 

The municipal hall building in Vigan, Philippines, adjacent to the Plaza Salcedo, the central park downtown

The municipal hall building in Vigan, Philippines, adjacent to the Plaza Salcedo, the central park downtown

 

The main form of local transportation, especially for tourists, are these motorcycle side cars, Vigan, Philippines

The main form of local transportation, especially for tourists, are these motorcycle side cars, Vigan, Philippines

 

The Plaza Salcedo and fountains in the central park downtown, Vigan, Philippines, with Saint Paul’s Cathedral in the background

The Plaza Salcedo and fountains in the central park downtown, Vigan, Philippines, with Saint Paul’s Cathedral in the background

 

Built in the 16th century, but completed more than 200 years later, St. Paul’s Cathedral was designed in the Baroque architectural style with modifications to support itself during earthquakes, Vigan, Philippines

Built in the 16th century, but completed more than 200 years later, St. Paul’s Cathedral was designed in the Baroque architectural style with modifications to support itself during earthquakes, Vigan, Philippines

 

The interior of St. Paul’s Cathedral with its silver-paneled main altar, Vigan, Philippines

The interior of St. Paul’s Cathedral with its silver-paneled main altar, Vigan, Philippines

 

Horse-drawn kalesas near the Plaza Salcedo in downtown Vigan, Philippines

Horse-drawn kalesas near the Plaza Salcedo in downtown Vigan, Philippines

 

A typical historical two-story colonial, Spanish-influenced building along the main street of Vigan, Philippines, with retail stores on the ground floor and living spaces above

A typical historical two-story colonial, Spanish-influenced building along the main street of Vigan, Philippines, with retail stores on the ground floor and living spaces above

 

“The two storey structures are built of brick and wood, with a steeply pitched roof reminiscent of traditional Chinese architecture. The exterior walls of the upper storey are enclosed by window panels of kapis shells framed in wood which can be slid back for better ventilation. Most of the existing buildings were probably built in the mid 18th to late 19th centuries. Due to the economic decline of Vigan as an economic center after the World War II, only a few of the historic buildings had internal reorganization for alternative use. The Chinese merchants and traders conducted their business from shops, offices and storerooms on the ground floors of their houses, with the living quarters above.” — https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/502/

 

Art work and artifacts for sale on the main historic street of Vigan, Philippines

Art work and artifacts for sale on the main historic street of Vigan, Philippines

 

Historic buildings with shops, cafes and restaurants along Calle Cristologo, the main street in Vigan, Philippines

Historic buildings with shops, cafes and restaurants along Calle Cristologo, the main street in Vigan, Philippines

 

Vangie’s ice cream street vendors in Vigan, Philippines

Vangie’s ice cream street vendors in Vigan, Philippines

 

Syquia Mansion in Vigan, Philippines, is a 19th-century mansion, owned by Doña Alicia Syquia Quirino, who was married to former Philippines President Elpidio Quirino

Syquia Mansion in Vigan, Philippines, is a 19th-century mansion, owned by Doña Alicia Syquia Quirino, who was married to former Philippines President Elpidio Quirino

 

A view of the street from Syquia Mansion in Vigan, Philippines

A view of the street from Syquia Mansion in Vigan, Philippines

 

Drawing rooms in Syquia Mansion in Vigan, Philippines, with period furnishings, family portraits and memorabilia

Drawing rooms in Syquia Mansion in Vigan, Philippines, with period furnishings, family portraits and memorabilia

 

The rooftop garden at Syquia Mansion in Vigan, Philippines

The rooftop garden at Syquia Mansion in Vigan, Philippines

 

Legal Notices: All photographs copyright © 2020 by Richard C. Edwards. All Rights Reserved Worldwide.  Permission to link to this blog post is granted for educational and non-commercial purposes only.

 

Shop local: Yangshuo market, Guangxi, China

The city of Yangshuo is the teriminus of the Li River scenic boat journeys through the Guilin karst mountains – here the mountains are visible behind a new shopping district; Guangxhi, China

The city of Yangshuo is the terminus of the Li River scenic boat journeys through the Guilin karst mountains – here the mountains are visible behind a new shopping district; Guangxhi, China

 

Our river boat ride down the Li River from Guilin, through the spectacular karst mountains, took us to the city of Yangshuo (population 300,000) where we had an afternoon of exploration, the opportunity to cook our own dinners at a Chinese restaurant and cooking school, and then attend the Liu San Jie Impression Light Show on the Li River bank in town.  Our cooking school chef and instructor – from Cloud 9 Restaurant and Cooking School — took us through the local market on Xi Jie Street (West Street), pointing out many of the ingredients for our multi-course dinner that we then prepared.  Our four courses, individually cooked by each of us in our small group, included: Gong Bao Chicken, Egg Dumplings with Pork and Vegetables, Fry Noodles with Vegetables, and Cucumber in Vinegar & Chili Sauce.

 

The Guilin karst mountains are very visible behind the city’s main shopping street, Xi Jie Street (West Street), Yangshuo, Guangxhi, China

The Guilin karst mountains are very visible behind the city’s main shopping street, Xi Jie Street (West Street), Yangshuo, Guangxhi, China

 

We passed this outdoor restaurant that was setting up for dinner, as we walked to the local fresh food market; Yangshuo, Guangxhi, China

We passed this outdoor restaurant that was setting up for dinner, as we walked to the local fresh food market; Yangshuo, Guangxhi, China

 

 

The local fresh food market; Yangshuo, Guangxhi, China #1

The local fresh food market; Yangshuo, Guangxhi, China #1

 

The local fresh food market; Yangshuo, Guangxhi, China #2

The local fresh food market; Yangshuo, Guangxhi, China #2

 

The local fresh food market; Yangshuo, Guangxhi, China #3

The local fresh food market; Yangshuo, Guangxhi, China #3

 

The local fresh food market; Yangshuo, Guangxhi, China #4

The local fresh food market; Yangshuo, Guangxhi, China #4

 

The local fresh food market; Yangshuo, Guangxhi, China #5

The local fresh food market; Yangshuo, Guangxhi, China #5

 

The local fresh food market; Yangshuo, Guangxhi, China #6

The local fresh food market; Yangshuo, Guangxhi, China #6 – rambutan fruit

 

The local fresh food market; Yangshuo, Guangxhi, China #7

The local fresh food market; Yangshuo, Guangxhi, China #7 — bamboo shoots

 

Shopping and dining options in the small city of Yangshuo included both local and international options, Guangxhi, China

Shopping and dining options in the small city of Yangshuo included both local and international options, Guangxhi, China

 

This area contained a lot of street food vendors, offering snacks and light suppers to passersby, Yangshuo, Guangxhi, China

This area contained a lot of street food vendors, offering snacks and light suppers to passersby, Yangshuo, Guangxhi, China

 

One street vendor’s selection of street food, Yangshuo, Guangxhi, China

One street vendor’s selection of street food, Yangshuo, Guangxhi, China

 

We passed by a huge local festival as we headed over to the main street to catch a van to the theater on the Li River for the performance of the renowned light show, Impression Sanjie Liu; Yangshuo, Guangxhi, China

We passed by a huge local festival as we headed over to the main street to catch a van to the theater on the Li River for the performance of the renowned light show, Impression Sanjie Liu; Yangshuo, Guangxhi, China

 

The first chapter of the story and performance was “Red Impression- Folk Songs” -- on the water, many fishermen are rowing their bamboo rafts in a column; either standing or squatting, they hang the large red silk in the sky and or upon the water

The first chapter of the story and performance was “Red Impression: Folk Songs” — on the water, many fishermen are rowing their bamboo rafts in a column; either standing or squatting, they hang the large red silk in the sky and or upon the water. This red picture symbolizes the enthusiasm and praises the labors of the local people”; Impression Sanjie Liu performance on the Li River, Yangshuo, Guangxhi, China

 

“Impression Sanjie Liu was premiered on March 20th, 2004 at the Sanjie Liu Sing Fair, one mile from West Street (Xi Jie).  This is the world largest natural theater which utilizes the waters of the Li River as its stage, with twelve mist shrouded hills and the heavens as its backdrop.  Mist, rain, moonlight, the hills and their inverted reflections in the river all become the ever-changing natural background.  Its auditorium is housed on the natural islands of the river with the audience standing on the designed terraces, surrounded by green plants.  The sound equipment here cannot be seen because it is in harmony with the natural environment.

 

“The valleys, the hills, the cool breeze and the gurgling streams are all elements contributing to the three-dimensional sound effect.  Day by day, different weather offers different sceneries with the four seasons refreshing the performance of Impression Sanjie Liu as well, so you will have unique experience every time you watch it. This is really a new concept opera using nature as an integral part of its performers; hence its name – ‘Human’s Masterpiece Cooperated with the God’.

 

“Maybe you have heard of the film ‘Sanjie Liu’ produced in 1961, which made the Li River famous worldwide.  Sanjie Liu is a fairy singer in the myths and legends of the Zhuang ethnic minority.  She is incomparably beautiful, and has voice to match her beauty.  In the ‘Impression Sanjie Liu’, what you can see are the impressions derived from the daily life of the people living around the Li River, rather than the specific details of the stories.” — www.travelchinaguide.com

 

As we watched the incredible light show with a total of nearly 600 actors (mostly locals, supplemented by students at the local universities), we were struck by the scale and beauty of the show – reminding us of the opening night spectacle of the opening of the Summer Olympic Games in Beijing on August 8, 2008 (08-08-08).  Afterwards, on the way to our hotel, we learned from our local guide that indeed, the producer (and owner) of the Impression Sanjie Liu show and theater was Yimou Zhang, the chief director of the opening and closing ceremony of the Beijing Olympic Games.  In 2008, Zhang was nominated as 2008 Time Magazine’s Person of the Year.

 

The last chapter of the story-performance is the “Silvery Impression- Performance Grand Ceremony” -- as the 'Wonder of Lijiang Culture', this scenery reflects the traditional ceremony in Sanjie's hometown according to the legend
The last chapter of the story/performance is the “Silvery Impression: Performance Grand Ceremony” — as the ‘Wonder of Lijiang Culture’, this scenery reflects the traditional ceremony in Sanjie’s hometown according to the legend. Over 200 Zhuang girls form a long column across the bridge over the Li River; their silver dresses make the river shimmer in a mysterious manner”; Impression Sanjie Liu performance on the Li River, Yangshuo, Guangxhi, China
Legal Notices: All photographs copyright © 2019 by Richard C. Edwards. All Rights Reserved Worldwide.  Permission to link to this blog post is granted for educational and non-commercial purposes only.

 

Li River and Karst Mountains (from Guilin to Yangshuo), Guangxi, China

The karst mountains of Guilin, seen from the Li River (or Li Jiang), China #1 – this scenery is so popular and important to China that the Guilin Li River karst mountains are featured on the national 20 Yuan (Renmimbi) paper currency (value ~ US$3.)

The karst mountains of Guilin, seen from the Li River (or Li Jiang), China #1 – this scenery is so popular and important to China that the Guilin Li River karst mountains are featured on the national 20 Yuan (Renmimbi) paper currency (value ~ US$3.)

 

We introduced the karst mountains of South China in our previous blog post with photographs shot from our hotel in Yangshuo, “Banyan Tree Yangshuo Resort and Karst Mountainscapes, Yangshuo (near Guilin), Guangxi, China”.  We had the opportunity to spend several hours on a boat in the Li River (or Li Jiang) cruising down from Guilin to Yangshuo through the spectacular karst mountains of Guilin.  These formations are widely regarded as the most stunning karst scenery in the world.  [We have separately sailed on Ha Long Bay, outside of Hanoi, Vietnam, also home to karst hills, similar to those in Guilin; there are other, similar karst hills in Phang Nga Bay in Thailand.]  “The South China Karst is considered one of the largest and most spectacular examples of a humid tropical to subtropical karst landscapes in the world, and is therefore a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  The area is spread over the provinces of Guizhou, Guangxi, Yunnan and Chongqing and covers a massive 176,228 hectares (680 square miles).  A 50 mile-section (80 kilometers) of the River Li cuts through the Karst Mountains, and cruises on this section of the river are very popular.” — www.insightguides.com

 

The karst mountains of Guilin, seen from the Li River (or Li Jiang), photographed on our river boat cruise from Guilin south to Yangshuo, Guangxi, China #2

The karst mountains of Guilin, seen from the Li River (or Li Jiang), photographed on our river boat cruise from Guilin south to Yangshuo, Guangxi, China #2

 

“When you picture China, do you envisage mist-covered green mountains rising in sharp peaks and jagged edges?  If so, you’re likely imagining the famous karst mountains of Guilin.  They provide some of the most captivating scenery in China, but how exactly did these strange mountains get their shape?” — https://theculturetrip.com/asia/

 

The karst mountains of Guilin, seen from the Li River (or Li Jiang), photographed on our river boat cruise from Guilin south to Yangshuo, Guangxi, China #3

The karst mountains of Guilin, seen from the Li River (or Li Jiang), photographed on our river boat cruise from Guilin south to Yangshuo, Guangxi, China #3

 

“Karst mountains are made of limestone, dolomite, and gypsum, which have in common the fact that they are all soluble rocks.  This means they can be easily broken down by certain acids, including the acids sometimes found in rainfall or in the surface water of rivers or lakes.  Over time, acid breaks down the limestone and creates sinkholes and caverns, and subterranean drainage systems, where water will flow and collect under the ground.” — https://theculturetrip.com/asia/

 

The karst mountains of Guilin, seen from the Li River (or Li Jiang), photographed on our river boat cruise from Guilin south to Yangshuo, Guangxi, China #4

The karst mountains of Guilin, seen from the Li River (or Li Jiang), photographed on our river boat cruise from Guilin south to Yangshuo, Guangxi, China #4

 

The karst mountains of Guilin, seen from the Li River (or Li Jiang), photographed on our river boat cruise from Guilin south to Yangshuo, Guangxi, China #5

The karst mountains of Guilin, seen from the Li River (or Li Jiang), photographed on our river boat cruise from Guilin south to Yangshuo, Guangxi, China #5

 

“In the most dramatic instances, karst mountains are created when acidic waterflow wears down limestone bedrock, creating cracks in the bedrock surface.  Once cracks are formed, water is then able to flow more quickly and with greater force, creating underground drainage paths, which, in turn, lead to greater erosion.  With time — and not a short time, but rather, millions and millions of years — much of the surrounding rock will be eroded, and with vegetation taking root in the warmer tropical climates of southern China, the erosion process is hastened and limestone mountains are formed.  Karst topography is often characterized not only by sharp peaks, but also by caves and underground streams and pools, such as the famous Reed Flute Cave in Guilin” — https://theculturetrip.com/asia/  [See our previous blog post, “Reed Flute Cave (Ludi Yan), Guilin, Guangxi, China”]

 

The karst mountains of Guilin, seen from the Li River (or Li Jiang), photographed on our river boat cruise from Guilin south to Yangshuo, Guangxi, China #6

The karst mountains of Guilin, seen from the Li River (or Li Jiang), photographed on our river boat cruise from Guilin south to Yangshuo, Guangxi, China #6

 

The karst mountains of Guilin, seen from the Li River (or Li Jiang), photographed on our river boat cruise from Guilin south to Yangshuo, Guangxi, China #7

The karst mountains of Guilin, seen from the Li River (or Li Jiang), photographed on our river boat cruise from Guilin south to Yangshuo, Guangxi, China #7

 

The karst mountains of Guilin, seen from the Li River (or Li Jiang), photographed on our river boat cruise from Guilin south to Yangshuo, Guangxi, China #8

The karst mountains of Guilin, seen from the Li River (or Li Jiang), photographed on our river boat cruise from Guilin south to Yangshuo, Guangxi, China #8

 

“During the Tang Dynasty (A.D. 618 to 907), Guilin thrived.  Huge halls were built and stone walls erected around the city.  Today, Guilin is a rather large, bustling city that attracts visitors from around the world.  The names of the hills surrounding Guilin are poetic: Cloud-Catching Pavilion, Bright Moon Peak, White Horse Cliff, Five Tigers Catch a Goat Hill, Folded Brocade Mountain.  In fact, as well as a geologist’s paradise, this area has long been an inspiration to countless poets and artists.  Many of the traditional Chinese landscape paintings we see today were inspired by this region.

“Most visitors to the Guilin area find a boat trip down the Li River to the town of Yangshuo to be one of the highlights of their trip.  “The river forms a green gauze belt, the mountains are like jade hairpins,” Han Yu, a Tang Dynasty poet wrote.  Drifting down the Li River, it’s easy to feel lost in time.  Women kneel on the banks washing clothes.  Farmers follow along behind their water buffalo.  Small villages dot the shore.  And the boatman will likely point out animal shapes they see in the surrounding landscape as you float down the river: horses galloping through the mountainsides, a stone frog leaping into the water or what looks like a turtle in the sides of a cliff as you float down the river.” — http://www.geotimes.org

 

The karst mountains of Guilin, seen from the Li River (or Li Jiang), photographed on our river boat cruise from Guilin south to Yangshuo, Guangxi, China #9

The karst mountains of Guilin, seen from the Li River (or Li Jiang), photographed on our river boat cruise from Guilin south to Yangshuo, Guangxi, China #9

 

The karst mountains of Guilin, seen from the Li River (or Li Jiang), photographed on our river boat cruise from Guilin south to Yangshuo, Guangxi, China #10

The karst mountains of Guilin, seen from the Li River (or Li Jiang), photographed on our river boat cruise from Guilin south to Yangshuo, Guangxi, China #10

 

The karst mountains of Guilin, seen from the Li River (or Li Jiang), photographed on our river boat cruise from Guilin south to Yangshuo, Guangxi, China #11

The karst mountains of Guilin, seen from the Li River (or Li Jiang), photographed on our river boat cruise from Guilin south to Yangshuo, Guangxi, China #11

 

The karst mountains of Guilin, seen from the Li River (or Li Jiang), photographed on our river boat cruise from Guilin south to Yangshuo, Guangxi, China #12

The karst mountains of Guilin, seen from the Li River (or Li Jiang), photographed on our river boat cruise from Guilin south to Yangshuo, Guangxi, China #12 — see the previous photograph for the scene without the 20 Yuan note

 

Legal Notices: All photographs copyright © 2019 by Richard C. Edwards. All Rights Reserved Worldwide.  Permission to link to this blog post is granted for educational and non-commercial purposes only.

 

Kyoto Highlights (Part III), Honshu Island, Japan (2019)

We began our third day in Kyoto, with a tour of the Koho Nishiki Textile Studio, led by the master Nishiki silk weaving artist and art director Tatsumura Koho (the third generation artisan to own and direct the nationally acclaimed family studio)

We began our third day in Kyoto, Japan, with a tour of the Koho Nishiki Textile Studio, led by the master Nishiki silk weaving artist and art director Tatsumura Koho (the third generation artisan to own and direct the nationally acclaimed family studio)

 

“Woven on takabata looms since they were introduced from China over 1200 years ago, silk mon orimoro (design figures incorporated into the weave, itself), is exquisite, luminous, luxurious and multi-colored.  The high precision and skill level required to weave this fabric and the resulting extraordinary beauty and quality demands that it be distinguished from ordinary brocade by giving it a distinctive name, Nishiki.  In the Japanese language, the idiographic character used for Nishiki is a combination of the symbol for woven cloth combined with the symbol for gold, implying that the value of Nishiki is equal to that of money.

“Since ancient times, the word Nishiki has been used as an adjective to indicate great beauty as in the term, ‘Nishiki Autumn,’ to describe a colorful landscape in fall.  Nishiki, as a work of art, represents the pinnacle of silk weaving, rarely found in the world.  Historically, it has been highly coveted by the Japanese people, and remains a great source of national pride as an example of Japanese beauty.  Nishiki is created through the combined skills of numerous craftsmen, involving a broad range of technical processes that require time and patience. The work of Koho Tatsumura can be compared to that of a conductor who gathers together craftsmen like musicians in an orchestra, to complete each musical piece.  As the silk threads, each shining like gold, combine with one another, they come to harmonize as a brilliantly colored, dazzling, sublimely created Nishiki creation.

“The superb visual-textural feeling of silk’s infinite variations and hues, enhanced through processes cultivated over a millennium, is translated into works of art that will always draw our affection, regardless of the era.  At the studio of Koho Tatsumura we continue to produce woven fabrics as a Japanese art, preserving the tradition and skill, seeking to ever expand the beauty of Nishiki.

“Rather than thinking of weaving as flat and two dimensional, it can be created as a three-dimensional fabric.  This is one of the main defining characteristics of Nishiki, that it is woven in layers, creating a 3-dimensional effect.  Moreover, the individual translucent silk threads are like glass rods with a slightly rounded, triangular prism shape.  This is metaphorically referred to as a ‘silk prism.’  Because of this structure, silk thread both allows light to penetrate as well as reflects light and thus is able to sparkle with a diamond-like complexity.  By bringing the properties of silk thread to life in a woven piece of work and, moreover, moving it forward into the world of three dimensions, Nishiki becomes a ‘fabric of Light’ that manifests infinite changes in the light it encounters.” — http://www.koho-nishiki.com/en/

 

Master Nishiki silk weaving artist and art director Tatsumura Koho sells many of his fabulous beautiful three-dimensional woven silk fabrics as works of art in his studio, Koho Nishiki Textile Studio, Kyoto, Japan

Master Nishiki silk weaving artist and art director Tatsumura Koho sells many of his fabulous beautiful three-dimensional woven silk fabrics as works of art in his studio, Koho Nishiki Textile Studio, Kyoto, Japan

 

“Because there is no appropriate word for Nishiki in either English or French, we feel that the Japanese word ‘Nishiki’ can be used in foreign languages. Japanese-English dictionaries define ‘Nishiki’ as ‘brocade,’ but the two are really conceptually different things.  In order to expose the boundlessness and charm of what can be called ‘the most beautiful woven fabric in the world’ to a greater number of people worldwide, we continue our efforts to encourage the acceptance of the term “Nishiki” until it is universally recognized and used.” — http://www.koho-nishiki.com/en/

 

One of two 90-year old hand looms for weaving Nishiki silk fabrics at Koho Nishiki Textile Studio, Kyoto, Japan; on the left are visible the Jacquard punch cards that are programmed with the patterns for a given fabric

One of two 90-year old hand looms for weaving Nishiki silk fabrics at Koho Nishiki Textile Studio, Kyoto, Japan; on the left are visible the Jacquard punch cards that are programmed with the patterns for a given fabric, with 33,000 cards required for the most complex fabric produced at the studio

 

One of the masterpiece Nishiki silk fabrics produced by Tatsumura Koho and for sale (for well in excess of $US 100,000) at his studio, Kyoto, Japan, representing waves in the ocean with over 200 colors of silk used to weave it

One of the masterpiece Nishiki silk fabrics produced by Tatsumura Koho for sale (for well in excess of $US 100,000) at his studio, Kyoto, Japan, representing waves in the ocean with over 200 colors of silk used to weave it

 

The gateway standing at the entrance to Kamo Wakeikazuchi Shrine is called a torii, indicating that the area inside the gateway is sacred space, Kyoto, Honshu Island, Japan

The gateway standing at the entrance to Kamo Wakeikazuchi Shrine is called a torii, indicating that the area inside the gateway is sacred space, Kyoto, Honshu Island, Japan

 

Kamo Wakeikazuchi Shrine is quite old – by the end of the 7th century it already commanded considerable indluence; today, it is a well-known for a variety of ritual ceremonies and festivals and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Kyoto, Japan

Kamo Wakeikazuchi Shrine is quite old – by the end of the 7th century it already commanded considerable indluence; today, it is a well-known for a variety of ritual ceremonies and festivals and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Kyoto, Japan

 

The tower-gate(ro-mon) and the corridors to right and left are in front of the Main Shrine (Honden) at Kamo Wakeikazuchi Shrineare painted red, Kyoto, Honshu Island, Japan

The tower-gate(ro-mon) and the corridors to right and left are in front of the Main Shrine (Honden) at Kamo Wakeikazuchi Shrineare painted red, Kyoto, Honshu Island, Japan

 

Our last meal in Kyoto was a teppanyaki grill luncheon at Tokiwa at the top of Kyoto Hotel Okura in the center of the city; our seats overlooked the sprawling former imperial city with great views (#1), Honshu Island, Japan

Our last meal in Kyoto was a teppanyaki grill luncheon at Tokiwa at the top of Kyoto Hotel Okura in the center of the city; our seats overlooked the sprawling former imperial city with great views (#1), Honshu Island, Japan

 

Our last meal in Kyoto was a teppanyaki grill luncheon at Tokiwa at the top of Kyoto Hotel Okura in the center of the city; our seats overlooked the sprawling former imperial city with great views (#2), Honshu Island, Japan

Our last meal in Kyoto was a teppanyaki grill luncheon at Tokiwa at the top of Kyoto Hotel Okura in the center of the city; our seats overlooked the sprawling former imperial city with great views (#2), Honshu Island, Japan

 

The desert to conclude our luncheon at Tokiwa at the top of Kyoto Hotel Okura was simplicity and freshness on a plate – delicious fresh fruit, artfully arranged, Kyoto, Honshu Island, Japan

The desert to conclude our luncheon at Tokiwa at the top of Kyoto Hotel Okura was simplicity and freshness on a plate – delicious fresh fruit, artfully arranged, Kyoto, Honshu Island, Japan

 

Legal Notices: All photographs copyright © 2019 by Richard C. Edwards. All Rights Reserved Worldwide.  Permission to link to this blog post is granted for educational and non-commercial purposes only.

 

Kyoto Highlights (Part I), Honshu Island, Japan (2019)

Kinkaku (The Golden Pavillion) is a shariden, a Buddhist hall containing relics of Buddha; it is part of Rokuon-ji Temple, a Zen Buddhist temple, Kyoto, Honshu Island, Japan – viewed here from the forested hill leading to the Sekka-tei Teahouse

Kinkaku (The Golden Pavillion) is a shariden, a Buddhist hall containing relics of Buddha; it is part of Rokuon-ji Temple, a Zen Buddhist temple, Kyoto, Honshu Island, Japan – viewed here from the forested hill leading to the Sekka-tei Teahouse

 

From Kobe, where our ship docked, we joined a small group of friends for a three-day trip to Kyoto, Japan’s former imperial capital, for our third visit.  We had the opportunity to revisit some of Kyoto’s 17 World Heritage Sites and had some great new experiences, meeting some leading artisans and getting a blessing at a Buddhist temple where Apple CEO Steve Jobs had spent some time getting an introduction to Zen Buddhism.  Our blog posts on Kyoto are abbreviated and include some highlights from our explorations.

 

The garden and buildings, centered on the Kinkaku (The Golden Pavillion) were said to represent the Pure Land of Buddha in this world; the villa also functioned as an official guesthouse, Kyoto, Honshu Island, Japan

The garden and buildings, centered on the Kinkaku (The Golden Pavillion) were said to represent the Pure Land of Buddha in this world; the villa also functioned as an official guesthouse, Kyoto, Honshu Island, Japan

 

In 1994, Kinkaku (The Golden Pavillion) and Rokuon-ji Temple were registered as a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site, Kyoto, Honshu Island, Japan

In 1994, Kinkaku (The Golden Pavillion) and Rokuon-ji Temple were registered as a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site, Kyoto, Honshu Island, Japan

 

The outer gate of Nijo-jo Castle, a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site, leading to rooms that witnessed some of the most important events in Japanese history in the 400 years since it was built (no photographs were allowed inside)

The outer gate of Nijo-jo Castle, a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site, leading to rooms that witnessed some of the most important events in Japanese history in the 400 years since it was built (no photographs were allowed inside), Kyoto, Honshu Island, Japan; the castle was completed in 1603 and built for the first Shogun of the Tokugawa Shogunate (1603-1867), a period of peace and prosperity that ended when Shogun Tokugawa Yoshinobu announced in the castle his intention to restore imperial rule (1868 was the beginning of the Meiji Restoration)

 

Our first night’s dinner was in the Geisha district, Gion, where a young Geisha performed several traditional dances for us, Kyoto, Honshu Island, Japan

Our first night’s dinner was in the Geisha district, Gion, where a young Geisha performed several traditional dances for us, Kyoto, Honshu Island, Japan

 

A young Geisha performed several traditional dances for us, Kyoto, Honshu Island, Japan -- #2

A young Geisha performed several traditional dances for us, Kyoto, Honshu Island, Japan — #2

 

A young Geisha performed several traditional dances for us, Kyoto, Honshu Island, Japan -- #3

A young Geisha performed several traditional dances for us, Kyoto, Honshu Island, Japan — #3

 

A young Geisha performed several traditional dances for us, Kyoto, Honshu Island, Japan -- #4

A young Geisha performed several traditional dances for us, Kyoto, Honshu Island, Japan — #4

 

Legal Notices: All photographs copyright © 2019 by Richard C. Edwards. All Rights Reserved Worldwide.  Permission to link to this blog post is granted for educational and non-commercial purposes only.

 

Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park, Hiroshima, Honshu Island, Japan

Reconstructed, modern downtown Hiroshima, Honshu Island, Japan, viewed from the bridge on the Motoyasu River leading from the ruins of Genbaku Dome (on the right) to Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park

Reconstructed, modern downtown Hiroshima, Honshu Island, Japan, viewed from the bridge on the Motoyasu River leading from the ruins of Genbaku Dome (on the right) to Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park

 

Hiroshima, a modern city on Japan’s Honshu Island, was largely destroyed by an atomic bomb during World War II.  Today, Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park commemorates the detonation of the first atomic bomb in world history on August 6, 1945 at 8:15 a.m.  In the center of Hiroshima, the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park is dedicated to the legacy of Hiroshima as the first city in the world to suffer a nuclear attack, and to the memories of the bomb’s direct and indirect victims.  In the park are the ruins of Genbaku Dome, one of the few buildings that was left standing near ground zero and named as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1996; a Children’s Peace Monument; the Cenotaph; the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum; and the National Peace Memorial Hall for the Atomic Bomb Victims.  [At the end of this blog is a summary of the history of the events during World War II that led up to the detonation of two atomic bombs in Japan on Hiroshima and Nagasaki on August 6th and 9th, 1945, respectively.]

 

We spent a very sobering morning walking from the center of town to the Genbaku Dome and then the Children’s Peace Monument, the Cenotaph and the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum.  Most of our time was spent inside the Museum.  The introductory exhibit presents images of Hiroshima before and after the detonation of the atomic bomb, setting the stage for the main building’s exhibition “Reality of the Atomic Bombing”.  In the latter there are sections of the exhibition focused on understanding the devastation on August 6, 1945, the damage from radiation, “Cries of the soul” which tells personal stories (with artifacts and photographs) of victims and survivors of the bombing, and a section “To Live” that documents the hardships and suffering of survivors.  The rest of the museum has exhibitions on “The Dangers of Nuclear Weapons” and “Hiroshima History”.  We were extremely moved by the special temporary exhibition of quite a few of the several thousand drawings of recollections of August 6th and the days immediately following by survivors, many of whom found solace in creating the artwork, where they had been verbally silent for years about their experience.  The work by the citizens and leaders of the city of Hiroshima and the staff of the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum in promoting nuclear disarmament and educating the world on the dangers of atomic bombs is commendable.

 

The ruins of Genbaku Dome, one of the few buildings that was left standing near ground zero of the August 6, 1945 atomic bomb detonation over Hiroshima, named as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1996; Honshu Island, Japan

The ruins of Genbaku Dome, one of the few buildings that was left standing near ground zero of the August 6, 1945 atomic bomb detonation over Hiroshima, named as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1996; Honshu Island, Japan

 

“The building now known as the A-bomb dome was designed by Czech architect Jan Letzel.  Completed in April 1915, the Hiroshima Prefectural Commercial Exhibition Hall soon became a beloved Hiroshima landmark with its distinctive green dome.  While its business functions included commercial research and consulting services and the display and sale of prefectural products, the hall was also used for art exhibitions, fairs, and cultural events.  Through the years, it took on new functions and was renamed the Hiroshima Prefectural Products Exhibition Hall, then the Hiroshima Prefectural Industrial Promotion Hall.  As the war intensified, however, the hall was taken over by the Chugoku-Shikoku Public Works Office and the Interior Ministry, the Hiroshima District Lumber Control Corporation, and other government agencies.

“At 8:15 a.m., August 5, 1945, an American B29 bomber carried out the world’s first atomic bombing.  The bomb exploded approximately 600 meters (1,969 feet) above and 160 meters (525 feet) southeast of the Hiroshima Prefectural Industrial Promotion Hall, ripping through and igniting the building, instantly killing everyone in it.  Because the blast struck from almost above, some of the center walls remained standing, leaving enough of the building and iron frame to be recognized as a dome.  After the war, these dramatic remains came to be known as the A-bomb dome.” – signage in Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park

 

The Children’s Peace Monument is the first memorial visitors see in Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park after crossing the bridge from Genbaku Dome, Hiroshima, Honshu Island, Japan

The Children’s Peace Monument is the first memorial visitors see in Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park after crossing the bridge from Genbaku Dome, Hiroshima, Honshu Island, Japan

 

“Children’s Peace Monument – Sponsor: Hiroshima Children and Students Association for the Creation of Peace; Design: Kazuo Kikuchi, Professor, Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music.  This monument stands in memory of all children who died as a result of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima.  The monument was originally inspired by the death of Sadako Sasaki, who was exposed to radiation from the atomic bomb at the age of two.  Ten years later Sadako developed leukemia that ultimately ended her life.  Sadako’s untimely death compelled her classmates to begin to call for the construction of a monument for all children who died due to the atomic bomb.  Built with contributions from more than 3,200 schools in Japan and donors in nine countries, the Children’s Peace Monument was unveiled on May 5, 1958.  [There is a detailed photographic and textual account of her illness, death, and the inspiration her struggling gave to her fellow students to create the memorial in the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum main building.]

“At the top of the nine-meter (20 feet) monument, a bronze statue of a young girl lifts a golden crane entrusted with dreams for a peaceful future.  Figures of a boy and girl are located on the sides of the monument.

“The inscription on the stone block under the monument reads: ‘This is our cry.  This is our prayer.  For building peace in this world.’  On the surface of the bell hung inside the monument, the phrases ‘A thousand Paper Cranes’ and ‘Peace on the Earth and in the heavens’ are carved in the handwriting of Dr. Hideki Yukawa, Nobel Prize Laureate in Physics.  The bell and golden crane suspended inside the monument are replicas produced in 2003.” – The City of Hiroshima

 

Children’s artwork is displayed all around the Children’s Peace Monument in Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park;, Honshu Island, Japan

Children’s artwork is displayed all around the Children’s Peace Monument in Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park;, Honshu Island, Japan

 

From the foreground- the memorial flame, the Cenotaph, and the main building (long and horizontal) of the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum; Honshu Island, Japan

From the foreground: the memorial flame, the Cenotaph [an empty tomb or a monument erected in honor of a person or group of people whose remains are elsewhere], and the main building (long and horizontal) of the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum; Honshu Island, Japan

The Cenotaph and reflecting pool in the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park; Honshu Island, Japan

The Cenotaph and reflecting pool in the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park; Honshu Island, Japan

 

“‘No one else should ever suffer as we have.’  This heartrending message of hibakusha, forged in a cauldron of suffering and sorrow, transcends hatred and rejection.  Its spirit is generosity and love for humanity; its focus is the future of humankind.

“As a response to the hibakusha’s appeal, the epitaph on the Cenotaph for the A-bomb Victims reads: ‘Let all the souls here rest in peace; for we shall not repeat the evil.’  These works express the spirit of Hiroshima – pursuing harmony and prosperity for all, and yearning for genuine, lasting world peace.”The City of Hiroshima

 

The Cenotaph with the ruins of Genbaku Dome in the distance, Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park; Honshu Island, Japan

The Cenotaph with the ruins of Genbaku Dome in the distance, Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park; Honshu Island, Japan

 

 

“MEMORIAL MONUMENT FOR HIROSHIMA, CITY OF PEACE

(MEMORIAL CENOTAPH FOR THE A-BOMB VICTIMS)

Erected 6 August 1952

LET ALL THE SOULS HERE REST IN PEACE

FOR WE SHALL NOT REPEAT THE EVIL

 

“This monument embodies the hope that Hiroshima, devastated on 6 August 1945 by the world’s first atomic bombing, will stand forever as a city of peace.  This stone chamber in the center contains the Register of Deceased A-bomb Victims.  The inscription on the front panel offers a prayer for the peaceful repose of the victims and a pledge on behalf of all humanity never to repeat the evil of war.  It expresses the spirit of Hiroshima – enduring grief, transcending hatred, pursuing harmony and prosperity for all, and yearning for genuine, lasting world peace.” – The City of Hiroshima

 

“No one else should ever suffer as we have” (the ruins of Genbaku Dome), Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park, Honshu Island, Japan

“No one else should ever suffer as we have” (the ruins of Genbaku Dome), Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park, Honshu Island, Japan

 

 

Background on the atomic bombing of Japan by the United States of America to end World War II in the Pacific:

“The United States detonated two nuclear weapons over the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki on August 6 and 9, 1945, respectively, with the consent of the United Kingdom, as required by the Quebec Agreement. The two bombings killed between 129,000 and 226,000 people, most of whom were civilians, and remain the only use of nuclear weapons in armed conflict.

“In the final year of the war, the Allies prepared for a very costly invasion of the Japanese mainland. This undertaking was preceded by a conventional and firebombing campaign which devastated 67 Japanese cities. The war in Europe had concluded when Germany signed its instrument of surrender on May 8, 1945, and the Allies turned their full attention to the Pacific theater. The Allies called for the unconditional surrender of the Imperial Japanese armed forces in the Potsdam Declaration on July 26, 1945, the alternative being “prompt and utter destruction”. Japan ignored the ultimatum and the war continued.

“By August 1945, the Allies’ Manhattan Project had produced two types of atomic bombs, and the 509th Composite Group of the United States Army Air Forces (USAAF) was equipped with the specialized Silverplate version of the Boeing B-29 Superfortress that could deliver them from Tinian in the Mariana Islands. The Allies issued orders for atomic bombs to be used on four Japanese cities on July 25. On August 6, one of the modified B-29s dropped a uranium gun-type bomb (“Little Boy“) on Hiroshima. Another B-29 dropped a plutonium implosion bomb (“Fat Man“) on Nagasaki three days later. The bombs immediately devastated their targets. Over the next two to four months, the acute effects of the atomic bombings killed between 90,000 and 146,000 people in Hiroshima and 39,000 and 80,000 people in Nagasaki; roughly half of the deaths in each city occurred on the first day. Large numbers of people continued to die for months afterward from the effects of burns, radiation sickness, and other injuries, compounded by illness and malnutrition. In both cities, most of the dead were civilians, although Hiroshima had a sizable military garrison.

“Japan surrendered to the Allies on August 15, six days after the Soviet Union‘s declaration of war and the bombing of Nagasaki. The Japanese government signed the instrument of surrender on September 2 in Tokyo Bay, which effectively ended World War II. Scholars have extensively studied the effects of the bombings on the social and political character of subsequent world history and popular culture, and there is still much debate concerning the ethical and legal justification for the bombings.” — Wikipedia

 

For the full Wikipedia article with considerable details, see: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atomic_bombings_of_Hiroshima_and_Nagasaki

 

 

Legal Notices: All photographs copyright © 2019 by Richard C. Edwards. All Rights Reserved Worldwide.  Permission to link to this blog post is granted for educational and non-commercial purposes only.

 

Ilulissat, Greenland

Our ship sailed into Ilulissat, Greenland, across Disko Bay; this area is rich in marine life and there are many icebergs that originate from Sermeq Kujalleq, the most productive glacier in the northern hemisphere

Our ship sailed into Ilulissat, Greenland, across Disko Bay; this area is rich in marine life and there are many icebergs that originate from Sermeq Kujalleq, the most productive glacier in the northern hemisphere (about 55 kilometers / 34 miles up the fjord from Ilulissat), filling the fjord at Ilulissat with some of the largest icebergs found outside of the Antarctic

 

Aptly named, Ilulissat (icebergs) is the third largest settlement in Greenland with a population of 4,453.  Ilulissat is also Greenland’s most popular tourist destination on account of its proximity to the picturesque Ilulissat Icefjord, which was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2004.  The town itself is located at 69°13’N, 051°06’W, about 124.27 mi / 200 km north of the Arctic Circle. Inuit settlements have existed in the area of the icefjord for at least 3,000 years.  The modern town was founded in 1741 by Danish missionary, Poul Egede for trader Jakob Severin who had an established trading lodge in the area.

 

Sailing into Ilulissat, Greenland, through Disko Bay #2

Sailing into Ilulissat, Greenland, through Disko Bay #2

 

Sailing into Ilulissat, Greenland, through Disko Bay #3

Sailing into Ilulissat, Greenland, through Disko Bay #3

 

We hiked through Sermermiut, a beautiful valley overlooking the Ilulissat Icefjord, coming to the shoreline of the Icefjord where we had the opportunity to marvel at the fjord completely filled with icebergs of varying sizes

We hiked through Sermermiut, a beautiful valley overlooking the Ilulissat Icefjord, coming to the shoreline of the Icefjord where we had the opportunity to marvel at the fjord completely filled with icebergs of varying sizes, piled seemingly on top of each other; Ilulissat, Greenland

 

The Ilulissat Icefjord, Ilulissat, Greenland, viewed form Sermermiut valley #2

The Ilulissat Icefjord, Ilulissat, Greenland, viewed form Sermermiut Valley #2

 

The Ilulissat Icefjord, Ilulissat, Greenland, viewed form Sermermiut valley #3

The Ilulissat Icefjord, Ilulissat, Greenland, viewed form Sermermiut Valley #3

 

Local crowberries (similar to blueberries) growing close to the ground (tundra) in Sermermiut valley, Ilulissat, Greenland

Local crowberries (similar to blueberries) growing close to the ground (tundra) in Sermermiut Valley, Ilulissat, Greenland

 

A willow tree (yes, a tree!) growing close to the ground (tundra) in Sermermiut valley, Ilulissat, Greenland; the plants here have a very short summer growing season and must survive the high winds and cold temperatures

A willow tree (yes, a tree!) growing close to the ground (tundra) in Sermermiut Valley, Ilulissat, Greenland; the plants here have a very short summer growing season and must survive the high winds and cold temperatures, thus they aren’t vertical “trees” like in more temperate climates

 

Tundra ground cover at Sermermiut valley, Ilulissat, Greenland, #1

Tundra ground cover at Sermermiut Valley, Ilulissat, Greenland, #1

 

Tundra ground cover at Sermermiut valley, Ilulissat, Greenland, #2

Tundra ground cover at Sermermiut Valley, Ilulissat, Greenland, #2

 

A panorama of the Ilulissat Icefjord, Ilulissat, Greenland, viewed form Sermermiut valley

A panorama of the Ilulissat Icefjord, Ilulissat, Greenland, viewed form Sermermiut Valley

 

The Ilulissat Icefjord, Ilulissat, Greenland, #2

The Ilulissat Icefjord, Ilulissat, Greenland, #2

 

The Ilulissat Icefjord, Ilulissat, Greenland, #3

The Ilulissat Icefjord, Ilulissat, Greenland, #3

 

Legal Notices: All photographs copyright © 2019 by Richard C. Edwards. All Rights Reserved Worldwide.  Permission to link to this blog post is granted for educational and non-commercial purposes only.

 

Greenwich, England

One of the main shopping streets in Greenwich, England, notable for its maritime history and the home of the Royal Observatory that houses the Prime Meridian Line, longitude 0 degrees – also known as the Greenwich Meridian

One of the main shopping streets in Greenwich, England, notable for its maritime history and the home of the Royal Observatory that houses the Prime Meridian Line, longitude 0 degrees – also known as the Greenwich Meridian

 

Resting on the Prime Meridian, Greenwich, England, is the gateway, via the River Thames, to London, the United Kingdom’s cosmopolitan and culturally captivating capital city [see our two previous blogs].  Notable for its maritime history,  Greenwich (technically part of the County of London) is known for the sailing clipper ship Cutty Sark (after which is named a popular blended Scotch whiskey from Glasgow), the Royal Observatory (the actual home of the Prime Meridian Line, longitude 0 degrees – also known as the Greenwich Meridian), the National Maritime Museum, the Old Royal Naval College, Greenwich Market and Greenwich Royal Park.  This year, instead of docking south of London on the English Channel at Southampton, our ship docked in Greenwich, which is closer to London with access by water taxi, the “Underground” (subway), taxi, Uber and private car.  The local tender boats from Greenwich from and to our ship (anchored offshore nearby in the River Thames) sailed to, and docked at, a pontoon almost within spitting distance of the Cutty Sark.  Our last day in port, we explored some of Greenwich, beginning with a 2 hour walk in the rain through Greenwich Park with a visit to the Royal Observatory.

 

The National Maritime Museum of the United Kingdom is located in Greenwich Royal Park, forming part of the Maritime Greenwich World Heritage Site; Greenwich, London, England

The National Maritime Museum of the United Kingdom is located in Greenwich Royal Park, forming part of the Maritime Greenwich World Heritage Site; Greenwich, London, England

 

 

We enjoyed the peace and quiet and beautiful plantings on our rainy walk through Greenwich Royal Park; Greenwich, London, England

We enjoyed the peace and quiet and beautiful plantings on our rainy walk through Greenwich Royal Park; Greenwich, London, England

 

At the top of a hill in Greenwich Royal Park lies the (former) Royal Observatory, through which passes the Prime Meridian (longitude 0 degrees), also know as the Greenwich Meridian; Greenwich, London, England

At the top of a hill in Greenwich Royal Park lies the (former) Royal Observatory, through which passes the Prime Meridian (longitude 0 degrees), also know as the Greenwich Meridian; Greenwich, London, England

 

“Greenwich Mean Time was at one time based on the time observations made at the Royal Greenwich Observatory, before being superseded by Coordinated Universal Time.  While there is no longer a working astronomical observatory at Greenwich, a ball still drops daily to mark the exact moment of 1 p.m., and there is a museum of astronomical and navigational tools, particularly John Harrison’s marine chronometers.” — Wikipedia

 

A close up of the (former) Royal Observatory; Greenwich, London, England

A close up of the (former) Royal Observatory; Greenwich, London, England

 

The Shepherd 24-hour Gate Clock is one of the earliest electrically driven public clocks, whose dial always shows Greenwich Mean Time (GMT), and was installed at the Greenwich Royal Observatory in 1852

The Shepherd 24-hour Gate Clock is one of the earliest electrically driven public clocks, whose dial always shows Greenwich Mean Time (GMT), and was installed at the Greenwich Royal Observatory in 1852; being a 24-hour clock, the hour hand marks noon (XII) at the bottom of the dial and midnight (0) at the top, with a time accuracy to 0.5 second; Greenwich, London, England

 

These British Imperial Standards (public standards of length) were first mounted outside the Royal Observatory main gates some time before 1866 to enable the public to check measures of length; Greenwich, London, England

These British Imperial Standards (public standards of length) were first mounted outside the Royal Observatory main gates some time before 1866 to enable the public to check measures of length; Greenwich, London, England

 

The Prime Meridian of the World (longitude 0 degrees – also known as the Greenwich Meridian) is mounted on one of the buildings of the (former) Royal Observatory in Greenwich, London, England

The Prime Meridian of the World (longitude 0 degrees – also known as the Greenwich Meridian) is mounted on one of the buildings of the (former) Royal Observatory in Greenwich, London, England

 

The Old Royal Naval College, with the skyline of London behind it, viewed from the Royal Observatory on a hill in Greenwich Royal Park, Greenwich, London, England

The Old Royal Naval College, with the skyline of London behind it, viewed from the Royal Observatory on a hill in Greenwich Royal Park, Greenwich, London, England

 

Our ship (our home away from home), with the skyline of London behind it, was anchored in the River Thames in Greenwich -- viewed from the Royal Observatory on a hill in Greenwich Royal Park, Greenwich, London, England

Our ship (our home away from home), with the skyline of London behind it, was anchored in the River Thames in Greenwich — viewed from the Royal Observatory on a hill in Greenwich Royal Park, Greenwich, London, England

 

The Cutty Sark, the sole surviving British tea clipper ship, was built on the River Clyde, Glasgow, Scotland in 1869, and was one of the last tea clippers to be built and one of the fastest; Greenwich, London, England

The Cutty Sark, the sole surviving British tea clipper ship, was built on the River Clyde, Glasgow, Scotland in 1869, and was one of the last tea clippers to be built and one of the fastest; Greenwich, London, England

 

The Cutty Sark’s time of sailing as a fast tea clipper ship came at the end of a long period of sailing ship design improvement that halted as sailing ships gave way to steam propulsion; Greenwich, London, England

The Cutty Sark’s time of sailing as a fast tea clipper ship came at the end of a long period of sailing ship design improvement that halted as sailing ships gave way to steam propulsion; Greenwich, London, England

 

Cutty Sark is the world’s only surviving extreme clipper.  Clipper ships are marked by three design characteristics — a long, narrow hull, a sharp bow which cuts through the waves rather riding atop – and three raking masts…  Cutty Sark takes its name from a poem by Robert Burns called Tam O’Shanter.  It refers to a short nightie worn by one of the main characters in the poem, a young, attractive witch called Nannie…  Cutty Sark was built for the China tea trade but would carry a vast array of cargoes during its career.  Cutty Sark carried almost 10 million lbs of tea between 1870 and 1877…  The opening of the Suez Canal marked the end for sailing ships in the tea trade and so Cutty Sark had to find new employ.  It transported a variety of cargoes, including over 10,000 tons of coal, before finding its calling in the Australian wool trade.  It would transport more than 45,000 bales in its career… Cutty Sark survived storms which ripped its rudder off on two occasions, survived a dismasting in the First World War and a terrible fire in 2007.  In the year before the fire, the majority of Cutty Sark’s original fabric had been removed.  This meant that, while devastating, the fire was nowhere near as destructive as it could have been.  Over 90% of the ship’s hull structure is original to 1869.” — www.rmg.co.uk/cutty-sark/history

 

Sailors on the Cutty Sark climbed the rigging (rope ladders, known as “ratlines”, were scary as they swayed with the movements of the ship) to the yard arms to unfurl and furl the giant cloth sails; Greenwich, London, England

Sailors on the Cutty Sark climbed the rigging (rope ladders, known as “ratlines”, were scary as they swayed with the movements of the ship) to the yard arms to unfurl and furl the giant cloth sails; Greenwich, London, England

 

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