Okinawa

I am writing this from roughly the middle of the East China Sea on a twenty hour sea passage from Shanghai to Okinawa.  Actually, I’m not going to Okinawa but to Ishigaki-Jima which is a part of the Okinawa chain of islands which are, in turn, are part of Japan. I don’t want to insult anyones intelligence by dwelling on what you already know, but, if you, like me, missed this part of the world in your world geography class, a little context might be useful. Okinawa is a chain of 150 or so islands midway between Japan and Taiwan, and lies, as I previously indicated, in the midst of the East China sea.  Of the 44 islands which are inhabited, a...

Cruise Junkies

I’ve written at some length about cruise etiquette (or lack thereof). You can find it in my blog, Thinking Allowed in the archives for Jan 20, 2009 at a post entitled Cruising at the Bottom of the World.   I’m now convinced that entire sociology texts could be written about this subject, and further I’m hereby positing that the social norms of any particular cruise are heavily influenced by the demographics of the instant cruisers. To wit: our recent ten day cruise of the western Caribbean.  Let me explain. The demographics and the resultant on-board groupings are determined by several factors.  Obviously the cruise itinerary, including the...

The Battle of Grenada

Just to be clear, it is Gra-nAY-da, not Gra-nAH-da.  When you’re there next, I don’t want the locals thinking you’re a rube.  And I, of course, will not admit to having made this egregious mistake during my stay here. The island country of Grenada – self-monikered “the spice isle,” nutmeg specifically – seemed a cut above the other Caribbean islands we’ve visited so far, but is still a long, long ways from a place I would put on my top ten list. Part of my problem is that while driving around with our taxi/tour driver, I kept thinking of the virtually inexplicable action of the Reagan administration, when he...

Barbados Redux

We were first in Barbados about thirty years ago on an emergency trip from London in search of some March fun in the sun.  Darling Wife S. and I had booked rather late, but there were many flights on British Airways to the former island colony.  In fact, Barbados did not get its independence and enter commonwealth status until 1966, so the remnants of the Caribbean raj were still much in evidence.  If one stayed at the iconic Sandy Lane, (still going strong), one might have thought to be on the coast of Devon with, of course, some tropical accoutrements. Today, things have changed. Time does that, doesn’t it?  I no longer hear the lilt of of the natives...

Burma

If you are of a certain age, I bet I know the first thing that comes to mind when you see the word “Burma.”  Be honest now, I’m pretty sure it had nothing to do with Aung San Suu Kyi or the dreadful military tyrants that have had the country in lockdown for the last fifty years. Your first thought may go something like this: “Does your husband, Misbehave?  Grunt and Grumble, Rant and Rave?                               Shoot the Brute…Some Burma Shave!” I know you wouldn’t remember the exact words of the doggerel but, more likely than not, you would have thought of Burma Shave. That’s about where I started out as...

Buddha, Buddha, Buddha

You may not know that S. and I just completed a ten day journey in Burma (as the US State Department insists on calling it) or Myanmar (as the rest of the world calls it).  I can’t quite figure out why we insist on using something as arcane as naming conventions as a means of conducting foreign policy…remember ISIL vs. ISIS in another area of the world.  Back to our journey.  The first question that comes to mind when one discovers our travel intentions, is “why in the devil would anyone want to go to Burma.”  Let me tell you now there are no crisp answers.  In part, I guess, it’s because we haven’t been here before, part because...