I am remiss.  I forgot the commercial.  My next cruises are:

August:  August 4 – 18 –  HAL Rotterdam – Scottish Highlands http://tinyurl.com/2019HALRotterdamScotland

And its sequel August 18 – Sept 7 – HAL Rotterdam – Iceland, Greenland, Fjords  http://tinyurl.com/HALRotterdamIceland

Christmas: December 21 – Jan 4 – Seabourn Ovation – “Thailand and Viet Nam” – Singapore to Hong Kong –  http://tinyurl.com/SeabournDV

Holland America just sent me an email that these cruises are now on sale.  Want to come?  Just call or email me.

After my blog on Beijing, my HAL World Cruise friend, Dee, wrote to tell about Chinese potty training in 2010 when she was there.  I am happy to report that “split pants” are still in fashion and that, we, too, saw them in Tienanmen Square.  They are very ingenious.  They just separate down the middle when the child squats.  Most of the ones we saw, had diapers under them, which kind of defeats the purpose, though.

Back to where I left off.  The next day, April 6, was a much needed sea day.  I followed up with Igusti, the Specialty Restaurant Manager, re the half-priced meal Pedro had told me our group could get at Qsine.  We decided on 7:00 pm on April 9, first night in Kobe.  Then I went to the Internet for a weather report for tomorrow, our shore excursion day.  The forecast was partly cloudy with a high of 64, good enough.

I worked the desk in the morning and the ship had a ‘round the world wine tour at 2:00 pm.  I had floated it to the group at $5.- off, and only got one couple.  The three of us went.  They had set up tasting tables representing the wines of six countries, a red and a white from each.  The “countries” were, France, Italy, Australia-New Zealand, South America, the USA and Spain.  I liked the Italian Pinot Grigio and Washington State’s H3 Cabernet Sauvignon best.  I think I might be able to get H3 at home.  It stands for Horse Hills Haven, as I recall.  Six tastes are a good few, and I had to have a nap before dinner.

Not that there was much time for it.  There were a couple of calls to return when I got back and I printed name tags, and a couple of up-to-date manifests, and worked on a guest accommodation problem.

We had dinner in the dining room again, with some very nice people.  I have to learn to stop talking with my hands.  I managed to knock over a glass of red and it made quite the splash.  Sometimes I really get into my tales.   It was only my second glass of wine, and it was still full, which didn’t help.  The show was Elysium, a production show I had seen a few months before on the Eclipse.  It was totally different, and I didn’t understand either of them.

The next day, April 7, we docked on JeJu Island, South Korea. Everyone was in the Rendez-vous Lounge and tagged by 8:30 am, the meeting time for our Distinctive Voyages shore excursion.  Our number was called and I led the group through customs and out to meet our bus.  Our guide’s name was Jung A Kang, but luckily, she goes by “Stacy” which was a lot easier for us.  The first thing she said to enjoy was the last day of cherry blossoms.  The season was a bit early this year, and there was a storm coming, which would knock them all down for sure.

JeJu Island is now a province of South Korea.  It is famous for its women divers.  Stacy pointed some out to us.  They are a dying breed.  Some of them are over 80 and still diving for fish every morning.  The youngest ones are in their 70s.  The new generation just won’t do work that’s that hard.  It was a lovely drive over to the west side, where the Hallim lava tunnels are.

There’s more to Hallim Park than the lava caves.  It’s also home to a folk village, some beautiful gardens, a quaint stone children’s cemetery and a bird park.


The cherry blossoms made a spectacular exit and I got this great picture of one of my couples:


The Hallim caves are also known as Two Dragons caves.  So we got an education on Eastern and Western dragons.  Our western dragons are warriors.  They fly and fight and scare people.   Eastern dragons have no wings, but still can fly.  They’re helpful creatures and make wishes come true.  JeJu Island’s history goes back 5,000 years.  It was independent for 3,000 of them.  Before the Josan dynasty, it was used as a place of exile.  It’s only since the 1960s that it has become a place of tourism, which brings in 60% of its income. The rest is fishing and tangerines.  The tangerines are very good.  I bought a bag and distributed it on the bus.  They were sweet and juicy, and one bag was just the right amount.  Someone there must have figured that out.

The tourist attractions include teddy bear museums, Hello Kitty museums, coffee and tea places, karaoke bars, etc.  We went to a green tea museum and had some green tea ice cream.  It’s an acquired taste.  All in all, it was a very good tour.  I didn’t hear a single bad thing about it.

I liked having the shore excursion in the middle of the cruise.  It gave me a chance to use it to plug another event, dinner at Qsine.  Nineteen people signed up, which is a personal record for an event that had to be paid for.

We had dinner in Blu that night and went to the show at 7:00pm.  It was Empower, one of these three divas shows, and I didn’t like it much.  I must be getting old, when I don’t recognize the music, if rarely manages to engage me.

We had another sea day on April 8, and I was pleased to report to Igusti that I had 19 people for dinner in Qsine tomorrow.  A couple of people stopped the desk by to say they had a five-hour layover at Narita and wondered if they could do anything in Tokyo in that amount of time.  As it’s an hour and a half each way, I had to discourage him.

We had dinner at 7, and went to the 9PM show.  It was Nik Page, who had followed Colm Wilkinson as Jean Valjean, in London’s West End.  He was very good.