March 05, 2016

World Cruise 2016 Day 60

Day 60 – Heading Southwest in the South China Sea towards Da Nang. Seas are basically flat, skies are partly cloudy and the temperature is about 70. We pass a number of fishing boats, and occasionally a small container ship. The captain is forecasting the weather to remain the same, with temperatures rising to the upper 70's in the afternoon in Da Nang tomorrow.

A few more tidbits from Hong Kong. HAL offered a 3 day 2 night tour to visit the Great Wall while we were docked in Hong Kong. The tour was led by a local tour guide and was to be accompanied by a Holland America representative. Chinese officials would not allow the representative from the excursion department to disembark the ship.

We have had a series of jewelry salesmen doing "trunk shows" on the ship to sell their wares. The latest was to depart in Hong Kong. Officials were willing to let him off the ship to board an airplane back home, but would not allow him to take his jewelery with him. He elected to stay onboard until Singapore where he will try again.

No explanation was given in either case. It is just the random nature of having to deal with the Chinese government.

Despite numerous facilities for container ships, during my 3 day stay I only saw a few small container ships in the port. I suspect the reduced activity is an indication of the contraction occurring in the Chinese economy, and a result of much of the manufacturing that used to occur in Hong Kong being moved to the mainland.

This morning Barbara was scheduled to give a presentation on our upcoming port of call, Sihanoukville, Cambodia. Unfortunately she is confined to her cabin because of illness. I wish some other passengers would confine themselves.

Several days ago a woman in the Lido was complaining to her companion how sick she was. She was feverish, hadn't been able to keep food down, ached all over, and coughed and hacked every 30 seconds. A half hour later she was at the piano bar, still hacking and coughing while making no attempt to cover her mouth. If that wasn't enough, I saw her a little later in the main theater, still at it. So far I was successful in keeping my distance, I'm sure many other guests haven't been as fortunate. Sometimes I just want to strangle some people.

Don, a friend from Florida, sent me an email the other day to remind me that there will be a total eclipse of the sun on March 9th in this part of the world. I will be in Phu My, Vietnam on the 9th, but without decent internet access I have no way to know if I am in the right location or not. It has been a number of years since I have experienced a total solar eclipse, they really are neat, especially if you can observe wild animal or bird behavior. I guess the other way to look at it is if all of a sudden it starts getting dark in the middle of the day I will know I'm in the shadow of the moon, or under the spell of some local god.

Today we start with all new speakers. This afternoon's lecture was a presentation on how the European desire for trade with Asia influenced the world. Revell Carr spent the majority of his life as head curator and CEO of the Mystic Seaport Museum, probably the largest museum in the world dedicated to sailing ships and maritime history. I went, I listened, I was soon asleep.

Tonight is the Red Lantern Gala or formal night. Since I don't have any "oriental" clothes, I will wear a bright red shirt. After my hour with Debby at the piano bar the entertainment in the main theater will be "Soul Mystique", quick change artists.

The "quick change" show was good. I have seen similar shows before but by different performers. Essentially they are able to change complete costumes from head to toe in the blink of an eye. In their opening routine they probably went through 20 changes, with none of them taking more than a few seconds.

I have an early tour in the morning, so its back to setting the alarm clock. We expect to start disembarkation at 8:00 AM.