Tuesday, April 30, 2019

April 29, 2019,    Sea Day,  Myanmar Lecture         108/183

1824-26 saw the first of three Anglo- Burmese wars, won by England after each side incurred over 50,000 killed.  Second bloodless war was in 1852, third bloodless war in 1885-86 when Burma was made a province of India.  Japan invaded in 1942, of course, evicting the English in the greatest military retreat in history by England.  Aung Son led a communist party with intentions to work with the Japanese but were scammed.  Finally, Lord Mountbatten agreed to grant Burma their independence if Aung Son worked with and backed Britain during the war, a promise that was kept in 1947.  Aung Son was assassinated shortly thereafter by a right wing anti communist faction in July, 1947.

CIA helped the Nationalist Chinese under Chaig kai-shek attempt an invasion of mainland China from Burma in 1950 but failure ensued, of course.
- One of the richest countries resource-wish, but the people are the poorest ($1,100 US annual income
   per capita) due to corruption.  It is ovbious that economic development has been stalled by the oppressive regime, as many people live in abject poverty.
- 100+ ethnic groups in Burma
- Military controlled Burma (Myanmar) between 1962 and 2010.  Democratic elections installed a government in 2010, but the military are still running much of the country.
- Aung Son's daughter, Aung Son Suu Kyi was awarded the Rafto and Sakharov prizes in 1990 and the Novel Peace prize in 1991 for her human rights initiatives.
- She has not spoken up against the atrocities being perpetrated on the Myanmar Muslims.
- Canada stripped her of her honorary Canadian citizenship in 2018.

Interesting that our docked ship is listing about 5 degrees as low tide is causing the ship to rest on the muddy bottom.  Not a big deal, as one can hold our drinks level to prevent spillage!

Note:  Photos below are reproductions from Adam Tanner's lecture.

An example of the 2,200 Buddhist temples in Myanmar

Around 1700, India is by far  the richest nation on Earth.  England was busy developing schemes to change this with the help of her powerful military, which has an impact on Myanmar.

By 1805, England had gained control of red areas in India.  The Burmese saw this as a growing threat to their empire, so they attacked India from Assam, (Upper RH corner) in 1824.  big mistake, as they lost and part of Burma was annexed into India, to become a province.

Areas controlled by England  as Burmese lost the three wars

Burma is known for the long necked women.  Truth is the rings never really lengthened their necks, but depressed the shoulders and rib cage.  

 Aung Son Suu Kyi has not defended the oppressed Muslims.

Refugee crisis as Muslims flee Myanmar.

Monday, April 29, 2019

April 28, 2019,   Phuket, Thailand,     107/183          -

Impressive sail-in this morning, past rambling homes perched on scenic hillsides, under a driving rain.  Luckily, the rain abated as we began our tour of Phang Nga Bay.  High speed long boats toured us around these world renowned limestone rock formations (Karst Formations, caused by colliding tectonic plates)

Few bits of history about the area:

- Phuket is one of 77 Thai provinces
- Thailand has 40,000 Buddhist Temples, unfathomable how they sustain this expense.
- Rubber (Latex) is number one export, but ironically rubber trees were imported to Asia from South
- Tin mining started here 400 years ago but many mines have closed due to economics and   
   ecological  concerns.
- Tourism is number 2 revenue generator.

Once again I am impressed by the advanced state of this area.  We drove for 4 hours on a divided, 4 to 6 lane highway, with nice landscaping, bridges and modern facilities everywhere.  This area is called a third world country?  Well isn't it interesting that we are facing a 2,500 km drive to Trilogy this fall, a journey over which two thirds of the roads will be 2 lane.  Something is wrong with this picture!

Limestone formations in the National Park

On our way!

Beautiful rock formations in the park

Limestone dissolves and reforms stalactites

Kao Ping-Gan island, where part of James Bond film, "The Man With The Golden Gun" was filmed in 1974.

Mangroves, build land mass, fish habitat, stabalizes shores during storms, climate moderator

Note the opening under the massive cliff

Boatload of our ship mates, scooting past us like raiders in the night.

200 years ago, about 50 Muslims settled on a acre mud bank under the rock backdrop.  Over the years, they have added buildings on piling to the extend that over 1100 people live here. Seems like most amenities available, like Internet, solar power, refrigeration, stores, mosque.  Fresh water is supplied via an under sea pipeline from the mainland.
   Probably a safe, defensible location back in the day.

Proud girl with her umbrella

Poster on school wall, where 113 students study.  Note the swim wear comment!

Usual suspects

Saturday, April 27, 2019

April 27, 2019,    Penang, Malaysia.   106/183

Penang state consists of Penang Island (113 sq. miles) and part of the mainland of the Malayan, supporting a population of 1.5 million.  Capital city is Georgetown, another modern metropolis.  Britain acquired this area from a Sultan through trickery in 1786 and made it a trading center for many nations.  Capital is Georgetown, named after King George the Third.  Muslims, Hindus, Christians and Buddhists live harmoniously with churches all located in the same area.  Everyone benefits by having four New Years celebrations to celebrate each year, for a total of 18 statutory holidays.

Our excursion today included a funicular railroad ride to the top of Penang Hill and a visit to the Kek Lok Si Temple complex, a huge collection of temple structures.  400 step climb to the top was a challenge in the heat and humidity.

Views from Penang Hill, where the governors used to live. 10 F cooler because of altitude.

2500' ride to the bottom

Temple Complex -  Did 400 steps to get to the top

High end graffiti

Monkey hanging around

Sign of peace and love in the Buddhist religion.  Perverted by the Nazis

April 26, 2019,   Port Klang, Malaysia.         105/183         -

Good friends, L to Right, Liz Sandercombe and  Linda Bakk from Vancouver and Liz's sister from Africa, joined our cruise in Singapore for the segment to Dubai. We are very pleased to have them on board, sharing our experiences, past and present!

Friends from Malysia, Victor and Rosalind Chia, meet us at the cruise port today, in their personal chauffeured car, driven by "Sam".  What a great way to travel, knowing a professional is at the wheel while we catch up on all the news.  We toured their chemical business, visited their beautiful home and were treated to Dim Sum in a private dining room at their favourite restaurant.  Kind of special when the owner greets your party and escorts everyone to lunch. 

Dim Sum, no chicken feet, at Merrilynne's insistence!

Putting it out there.  Malaysia is attempting to clean up this problem.

Australian chopper carrier patrolling in area.

Friday, April 26, 2019

April 25, 2019,    Singapore,   104/183

(April 24,   Sea Day)

Singapore is an independent city state located on the Southern tip of the Malayan Peninsula, which had increased it land area 25% over the past 200 years, by sea infilling. Total area is under 300 square miles, made up of the main island and about 50 islets. It is obvious standards are high here in all areas such as building codes, personal conduct, highway construction and general city appearance. Most buildings in this massive financial center were built in the last fifteen years and new construction continues unabated.

- Personal income tax rate is 8.5% up to $300,000 and 17%  over that income. (Flat tax Alan)
- Corporate tax rate is 21%,  go figure!  Maybe someone talked to these people, just saying.
- Traffic is manages through a stringent system whereby new vehicle purchasing permits (Cost of
              $30,000 to $60,000) are issued to replace existing used vehicles which are either destroyed
              or exported.
- 80% of residents live in government subsidized housing at a cost about 10 to 20% of market value.

Must comment that Singapore was the site of the greatest capitulation of a British Army in history when 38,000 British, 19,000 Australian, 67,000 Indian and 14,000 Malayan troops surrendered to the Japanese in Feb., 1942.  3.5 years of hell followed for these troops, with many dying of starvation, abuse or being killed.  Numerous atrocities were committed by the Japanese, including the slaughter of several hundred doctors, nurses and patients in the Alexander Hospital.  Due to intelligence leaks and code breaking, the Japanese knew much about weaknesses and vulnerabilities of Singapore, which they exploited to great advantage.  30,000 troops captured the city.

Today was the end of a segment between Tokyo and Singapore, with the departure of many of our new friends, we are sad to say.  Pictured below are the key members of our Trivia team who won first or second most nights, with a couple perfect scores.  Going to be hard to find other experts like you guys! Pictured - Howard, Lonnie, Hayden Carol (Our Leader!), Ron and Merrilynne.

Doug Wagner and Carol head back to Montreal.

Tom and Donna Weinstock return to Trilogy, in Arizona, where we winter. Small world.

We will definitely see these great people again, soon!

Amazing Marina Bay Sands Hotel.  Built on land reclaimed from the sea at a cost of $7 billion, paid back in 3.5 years!  Several Photos below taken from the 56st floor viewing decks.

Soccer field built over water beside the Arts Science Museum, built to resemble a hand or something!

Largest wheel in Asia - Singapore Eye

Curved upper deck of the 'Marina Sands'

 The white-ribbed domes are conservatories, Flower Dome and Cloud Forest, beside the Singapore Gardens by the Bay.  Note the metal artistic tree representations called the Super Tree G|rove.  

Italian Restaurant on top of third Marina Sands Hotel, 57nd floor.

Cool street art scattered around the city

1934 government building

Raffles Hotel where the Singapore Sling was concocted in 1915.

Walkway supported by a DNA replica framework.


Tom and Donna Weinstock, from Trilogy, where we live in Arizona!  We met them by inviting people to share our dinner in the main dining room.   Small world.