Darwin, NT, Australia

The last time I was in Darwin was 1 Nov 2013 – so just over 10 years ago. Since this is our first stop in Australia there was just the small matter of having to clear immigration as well as more than enough lectures about not taking food off the ship. I get it, and understand it. There were still a few passengers grumbling… seriously.

The one place I wasn’t able to visit on that trip was the Museum & Art Gallery of the Northern Territory.  It is an amazing place. To get there you can take a taxi, Uber, or a bus. The fourth option is the most challenging. We walked.

From the harbor up to the city was easy –

From there, it was a bit of distance. Did I mention that it was raining? About 2/3rds to 3/4th of the way we stopped at the Cafe associated with the Botanical Gardens. We had talked about visiting the botanical gardens – but in the rain? Not me thank you very much.

So instead, quite damp we arrived at the Museum which turns out to be free. There is the art gallery,



a natural history section,

Northern quoll

small land crocodiles

the kookaburra.

and one on 1974 Cyclone Tracy

I took a lot more photos, but you certainly don’t need to see them all.  We met a number of other people from the ship at the museum including several who were taking the bus back. Given a choice, it seemed the most sensible option to me.

Getting back to the ship, I discovered that my hotspot to the computer didn’t want to work. Rather than attempt to do all of this on my phone – I elected to hop back on the shuttle bussed use the free Wifi in the shopping area.

I may look around a bit more before heading back to the ship. There are also the WWII Oil Tunnels to see.

Our next two days will be at sea. I may/maynot break down and pay the ship for wifi. It seems really not worth it.


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A sea like glass

I don’t remember many times when I have cruised on an ocean that is this flat. Hardly a ripple, easy to see fish, and dolphins pacing the ship for short sprints before veering off on their own business.

The Sunrise was glorious, as was the sunset (which I didn’t photo from our dinner table).

We had also just had another time zone change last night to match Darwin. 30 minutes forward seemed to be beyond most people’s ability. Instead of a line of 8-10 at 0600 at the coffee stop – there was no one other than me. So I was able to enjoy my latte and even get a second without feeling like I was making someone else wait.

There really isn’t much else to tell you about the day. I listened to a couple of audio books, stitched on Lady Penny Witherbottom (the second of the Sheepchester series) and joined two other couples for supper.

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Dili, East Timor

I had read a warning in a 2021 blog about the lack of Wifi in East Timor but had naively thought things would be upgraded in 2023. Not really, and my iPhone wasn’t really happy with the 3G connection. Like txt sort of went, but email was impossible. Same for accessing anything remotely resembling a website.

Add in hot & humid.  There was nothing on offer for tours, so we went out exploring.  The key thing to see was the Resistance Museum.

(BTW- if you are looking for reliable information with useful links – there is www.wikivoyage.org  Managed by the Wikipedia folks. Add /wiki/Dili in specific for this, the capital city of East Timor.

In any case, the Resistance Museum is housed in a new building (not surprisingly since most of the city was destroyed during the fight for independence.  The museum lays out clearly the time line and key events for that 25 year period.  The story is brutal, with the negatives from both sides documented.

From there we sweated through a stop at the SuperMercado (coffee&chocolate) and back to the ship.

Photos to follow when I have wifi

(added in Darwin)

Boats in the harbor

The terminal

we weren’t sure if the damage was left over from the war, but we think last year’s cyclone.


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Right before sunrise, and the sun just over the horizon.

Still in Indonesia. Kupang is the southern most city in Indonesia and located in Timor. 

It is not a city that often sees cruise ship traffic. The port is well set up and the pier is certainly long enough for a ship of this size but I don’t see that the bus system or port buildings could handle a much larger influence.  

In European history – the island was “discovered” by the Portuguese then taken over by the Dutch in the early 1600’s. Much of the discussion about who has rights to what seem to have had nothing to do with the people already there (why am I not surprised?) There were also various English incursions corresponding to various European Wars. It also was heavily bombed during WWII by the Allies when it was under Japanese control.

There is a heavily Christian influence here –

and apparently is the current seat of the regional Archdiocese.

There is also a significant Muslim but visibly nowhere near as prevalent.

I found the presence of the “cobbler’s row” more interesting. Set up along the side of one of the main thoroughfares, there were close to a dozen set up in a row, each with their own chair, bag of shoes, and perhaps a stool busily repairing/resoling shoes. 

I couldn’t figure out who had the shade umbrellas in terms of seniority, or wealth, or position or ??? Since all were very similar I also was thinking that maybe it was another vendor’s job to rent/set them up? I don’t speak any of the local languages and unfortunately, the only English speakers seemed to be at the University located right behind that wall. Since they seemed to be occupied in grounds clean up and burning piles of horribly smelling trash – I wasn’t going to go there!

Moving back toward the harbor – I got the feeling that the light house was relatively new. Since it was located on another spit of land from where we were standing – I didn’t get a chance to see it up closer. That half-shell thing in the lower corner of the picture turned out to be one of a number of partly sheltered seating areas facing the bay. 

It was hot. It was humid. We had planned to getting to one of the museums. Said museum (if the young woman helping actually knew anything) was more than 5 km away. More than I wanted to walk in the heat. Taking one of the local “buses” or back of a motor cycle wasn’t going to happen. 

We headed back to the ship a bit earlier than planned as a result. But then since we drove through a brief but intense rain shower on the way back, perhaps it was for the best!

and today’s buses weren’t as colorful, but in a lot better a shape.  

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Mostly Tin roofs

Today we are in Waingapu – another one of the Indonesian cities on an island (whose name is escaping me at present but will be filled in if I can located it.SUMBA! ) The ship was offering limited (like ONE) excursions. The port talk last night emphasized the unusual architecture, the prevalence of horses, and the continuing traditions of the indigenous population (which obviously is responsible for note in architecture above).  I did find an entry finally in Wiki relating to the city. But it really doesn’t say a whole lot. One of the things that was mentioned was horses. Now, this is not an area of the world where horses would be native. All I can do is assume the blame is to be placed on the Spanish and Portuguese as they are responsible for the introduction of horses to other ares.


Traditional roofs have those four sided peaks which apparently can be either flattened or sharp on the top.

In any case, taking a tour was not on my list today. However, since there was a shuttle bus on offer, I decided to give it a try.

turns out these brightly colored beasts hold about a dozen people at best (or maybe 20 small children The outsides are brightly painted, the insides are benches that are worn, fragmenting and springs are non existent.

Almost all the roofs are tin. Some of it is painted, much looks like stains, and the rest is just hot and reflective in the sun.  There were a few of the traditional roof lines, but the rest looked to be the most efficient use of sheets of corrugated tin.

Where there were walls, many were built of broken cement chunks fitted together. I saw one buffalo, one goat, a cat or two and, unlike the Philippines – no dogs. There were students in uniform at the one secondary school, but mostly there were children, and motorcycles everywhere.

Returning to the port – the highest thing around seemed to be the port control tower.

It was hot, it was humid and my head is starting to recover from the exhaust leak in the bus. Oh so not fun!

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and to Komodo as well

at the end of my day

  1. This is the second stop on this leg and a repeat from the previous cruise. I literally missed the boat on going snorkeling. One of those (there are 60 of us) who are holdovers from the previous cruise had checked for private boats the last time we were hear. So about a dozen, rather than pay the 159$ that the ship wanted for snorkeling and a visit to the local village paid $10US/a head to spend two+ hours on the same beach. They reported that the shorkling was great, the beach and the weather were scorching.

    I didn’t get off the ship. George has managed to have an ear infection so swimming/snorkling/hearing are not currently options for him.

So most of my day was spent quietly.  Also going through my audio book apps for no-brainer listens





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Back to Lombok

After leaving Bali yesterday, our ship headed back toward Lombok. Both today and tomorrow are repeat ports for those of us on back-to-back cruises. This morning I checked in again with one of our local experts at the coffee station. We dock at 0700 and leave by 1500. It is over an hour to anywhere. I looked at the tours the ship is offering. I don’t find any of them more interesting than I did the first time around. I may hit the same issue in Komodo tomorrow. That one is the decent tender ride followed by a risky disembark up narrow steps without a railing followed by being swarmed by local kids trying to sell things. Anyway – I can do that whole description tomorrow.

One of the interesting things I noted was that, by coming in early, all of the local ferries and inter-island transports were still at anchor in the bay.

It didn’t seem like all that much till I counted 14 plus two pilot boats.

Looking more closely, these are not small crafts..

I am thinking that I need a nap, a new audiobook and lunch in its proper time.  That will also mean I can get away from the flies inhabiting the terminal. and driving most of us insane. 


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Bali -> Cairnes


Sunday, November 26 Benoa, Bali, Indonesia 6:00pm
Monday, November 27 Lombok, Indonesia 7:00am 3:00pm
Tuesday, November 28 Komodo, Indonesia 1:00pm 6:00pm
Wednesday, November 29 Waingapu, East Sumba 7:00am 3:00pm
Thursday, November 30 Kupang, Indonesia 8:00am 5:00pm
Friday, December 1 Dili, East Timor 8:00am 5:00pm
Saturday, December 2 at sea
Sunday, December 3 Darwin, Australia 7:00am 5:00pm
Monday, December 4 At Sea
Tuesday, December 5 At Sea
Wednesday, December 6 Thursday Island 8:00am 4:00pm
Thursday, December 7 at sea
Friday, December 8 Port Douglas, Australia 7:00am 6:00pm
Saturday, December 9 Cairns, Australia 7:00a

please note – the map matches the “old cruise” and not the new list above. Darwin has been added and apparently the Papua New Guinea small island ports have sustained some damage and may not be open. Needless to say – there are some very unhappy passengers. For most of us – this leg has the Great Barrier Reef visit and the rest is just icing.

Disembarkation ran smoothly this morning and by 0930 George & I were in the few remaining passengers on ship. There are 60 remaining from the previous leg (some from Hong Kong and some from when we boarded in Yokohama). We are not gaining as many as we are losing. Doesn’t bother me at all, I enjoy the lower number of passengers. Additionally, some of the more entitled are off the ship and staying in Bali for a week or so. Also some really wonderful people. The first group? Meh, the second I will sorely miss.

As the distances from the port to anything really interesting that I would like to do aren’t particularly short, I am not going anywhere today. The idea of driving a couple of hours to turn around and drive back to make the ships departure would have just made me a bit too anxious.

So instead – you get the water views – and the new terminal (obviously newer and shinier than when I was here in 2013).

we passed this spit of land with larger homes, boat slips and lots of small and medium size boats on the port side as we sailed into the harbor.  I didn’t take photos of the larger planes inbound as we crossed under their flight path but counted five in less than 30 minutes. Thinking these are night flight departures from more distant cities.

Bali is the country (region of Indonesia anyway) and Benoa the city.

This is the new terminal complex where we were along side by shortly after 0700.

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We docked at 1300

I am electing to make this a rather quiet day. The terminal is nowhere near downtown so there is nothing walkable. Plus the temperatures and humidity are falling into the not fun categories.  We waited till about 1400 which was only an hour after docking before heading into the terminal and enjoying the free wifi. Not the flies, but the wifi.

This was the greeting music –

This leg ends tomorrow in Bali. I am not yet sure what George has planned for the day. In any case there will be a significant turn over of passengers. The number now staying from Japan is seriously reduced.

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Komodo National Park

Obviously the thing to do in Loh Liang, Indonesia is a walk through the Komodo National Park. It would be totally foolish to not see Komodo Dragons while here. Right? World’s largest lizard and all of that. Also what should have been obvious to me but wasn’t till the port talk last night was that this was another tender port. The location of disembarking being a long pier next to the park entrance.

The choices today were “short tour” or “long tour” with the only difference between the two being a follow on trip to Pink Beach for snorkeling. Considering the bright sunlight, temperatures around 35*C and 100% humidity, spending time on a hot beach, even for snorkeling wasn’t high on my list. 

The park provided two naturalists for each group. Both were knowledgable and polite. Too polite as there was also a “guide” from the tour company who couldn’t seem to shut his mouth. My recommendation to anyone would be to insist on being able to listen to the naturalists.

Anyway – there were also birds – one of the cardinal family (being more yellow than we normally see) and another of the raven/crow variety (black).  We heard the yellow crested cockatiels, but none deigned to show off their feathers.

then there were the interesting insects –

who you can see hanging upside down on the branch….

But mostly we were there for the Komodo Dragons –

the first two we saw on our way in. The ground was dry – it isn’t quite the rainy season yet (3 months wet/9 dry).

frankly, I don’t find them particularly attractive at all.

Like most lizards – they swallow their prey whole/chunks without chewing, then spend a few weeks digesting. They don’t particularly care if their food is fresh, recently killed or pretty putrid. And yes, they are venomous.

This fellow would make a nice meal for an adult.

It was hot, extremely humid and I was more than delighted to get back on ship.

not our ship, but passed in the tender on the way back.


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Makassar, Indonesia

According to the advanced information – we were to arrive in port at 0600 and leave at 1600. Somewhere along the line, the departure time was moved up a couple of hours. Added to the hot & humid was the ship offering only one tour, an all day affair leaving at 0730 and getting back (I suspect actually after) right before all-aboard.

I was up early as always and

was able to watch both the sunrise, as well as our arrival in port

which was beautiful (and I think partly a result of serious pollution by the smoky smell of the air after we docked).

which didn’t take away the beauty of the sun coming up behind the nearest mosque minaret.

We waited till 0830 and caught the first shuttle bus to the “mall” –

which I deferred and instead walked to Fort Rotterdam (let us not forget the Dutch East India Company) and their colonial involvement in this region.  Although not next door, I can highly recommend Simon Winchester’s book on Krakatoa which delves into the Dutch Colonial activities in this region. If your public library doesn’t have it – ask for it.

Any way –

with it’s walls, moat on one side, and areas of former canon emplacements –

facing seaward.  The church in the center holds pride of place

with the rest of the buildings surrounding the central square. I skipped the museum as it was dark, few exhibits present as seen through a couple of windows and packed full of school children.

outside the walls –

I don’t get the large gong – and there wasn’t a plaque. The horse and rider? Isn’t there always a horse and rider statue?

There is free wifi in the arrival hall so I am going to take advantage of it to weed out my inbox. The current outside temperature is 91*F with equivalent humidity. Even looking at the temperature in *C isn’t going to make it any cooler.

Tomorrow is Komodo dragons.

And yes, we are expecting turkey for dinner. There are too many Americans on board not to do that…

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Sea Day 2/2

(sunrise is before 0600 in case you are wondering) – go to the blog post if you want to enjoy these.


Having two relaxing days in a row is not unusual for my average cruise. It certainly is for this trip. This leg, like the previous one, is port heavy. Not, so far, with ports that I am interested spending the entire docked time, but with places that are interesting to visit once.

The jig-saw puzzle fiends have worked their way through the entire collection of 500 piece puzzles including some traditional poster type puzzles (Cats, sea creatures, bees, and birds) and are now tackling a 2000 piece one that is taking up practically the whole table. Not helped of course by someone who jammed the edges together without matching colors….

The guest lecturer on board for this segment is much better than the last and is actually talking about local landscape, culture, religion, and craft traditions. I told her afterwards that she does need to be a bit more pointed with some of the passengers. Don’t tell them they will “feel more comfortable” if they are dressed more conservatively. Just tell them that it is needed. When you have those in their 60s and up heading off ship into a conservative Muslim location dressed in skin tight bicycle shorts, tank tops with flesh bulging out and flip-flops (thongs for the Aussies) on their feet – it is obvious that they are not uncomfortable at all. Rude? Inconsiderate? Disrespectful of the hosting country?

Perhaps I am more sensitive having served in the mid-East and not wishing to offend any more than a woman in a uniform carrying a weapon would offend. OTOH – we were always covered.

Anyway ….back to the lecture – one of the sights that I won’t be seeing tomorrow is the 99 Dome Mosque –

We ended our evening in the main dining room after receiving an invitation to dinner with an officer. This time it was Felipe who is the destination manager. It was interesting chatting with him – his background prior to joining the cruise industry was as a sergeant in the Brazilian military. The other person at the table turned out to be more than a bit on the conservative side. I am working on being, if not more careful about my insults, at least a bit less rude.

and progress is being made on my Relatively Small Ship of Life. Over half way…

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Sea Day 1/2

Today is a sea day, cruising along on a surface that is almost flat. We have significantly slowed since last night and our forward motion feels almost as smooth as glass. I am seeing people in the various lounges whom I wasn’t even sure were still on the ship post Hong Kong. There were the usual expected shipboard programs including trivia, chats, and music venues.

Unlike on transatlantic or pacific crossings, there are a serious number of cargo whips pacing us, or sailing in the opposite direction. This totally makes sense for goods transport in an area that is more island and island nations than large portions of land. Sea transport might not be anywhere near as rapid as air, but it is certainly seems more sensible and cost effective.

My day was spent quietly, mostly in our cabin where I could put on headphones and not have to deal with a stream of people stopping by to chat and ask how my knitting/embroidery/sewing was going. Cross stitch. Not any of the others… It was also a migraine day in which I finally caved, swallowed my meds and lost a good chunk of the day.

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Orangutans & Sun Bears

Sunrise just after 0600 and interesting islands that we passed.

We docked today in the commercial port belonging to Sandakan, Sabah, Malaysia. Located about 4 miles from the city, we were warned ahead of time that taking a tour or using the shuttle bus were going to be the only way out of the port. Not an issue for us – The Orangutan Rehabilitation Center  and the Sun Bear Conservation Centre, Borneo are effectively co-located and there was a tour.  Both are NGO run and maintained.

First, the Orangutans: (and you can read about them here on Wiki). As you might expect, the numbers have decreased due to forest loss as they are primarily arboreal. Secondly, offspring stay with the mother for 4-6 years… The Center provides services, rehab and maintains viewing areas for twice a day feedings (a reason for people to pay to come watch). Please note – I am not trying to be cynical, but you have to have draw and hook to get new people in on a regular basis in an area that is not wealthy. Our ship was only the third this year….

But what you want are pictures! –

There are ropes and cables from various trees. The small ones seem to race along, sometimes upright and sometimes upside down and hanging by just a paw.

and then there are greens & bananas..

We had to move on to the Sun Bears (again – the Wiki Link) in order for others to get a look as well.  So out of one preserve and on to the second. Up paths and stairs to an observation platform.  At first they are not completely easy to see –

so cropping the picture –

you can at least see his nose a bit better.

They are the smallest bears – weighing in at 25- 65 kg and so much shorter than the North American grizzly (aka brown bear are 80-600 kg).

There was a top at the Central Market which I skipped.  The drive back was smooth and we passed –

many of these original houses are now small shops and restaurants according to the information we were provided. Given that this is an earthquake/tsunami/typhoon area the stilts make a lot of sense.

It is back to the ship, lunch and email catch-up. Next two days are sea days. Might pay for Wifi. Or might do a catch-up when we get to Indonesia.


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Galley tour

Which is not the same as touring a sailing galley from the 1600s. Since the offer was on the daily program, I signed us up. Free- what is not to like?

In case it wasn’t completely obvious, this is a sea day.

I have done similar tours on much larger ships, but up to this point hadn’t had the opportunity on Windstar.  The main dining room is on Deck 3 and the galley is immediately adjacent.  The tour itself was a group of 12 escorted by Stefan, the head chef.
The first thing that struck me was how small it was compared to the big ships.  An obvious duh moment since feeding a max of 325 is a lot different than a ship of thousands.  The crew’s galley is actually on Deck 4, aft.

The second thing? I was the only one taking pictures! Not that I took photos of everything – a ship board commercial dishwasher seems to be the same everywhere. Here there are hot & cold carts that can be used on the lifts to transfer those foods prepared in the main kitchen to the other venues in the ship.

Obvious there is coffee –

all included.

There is the bakery area –

which has a small prep area manned by two facing each other across the surface and just a quick step to the stacked ovens.

There are pots and pans –

and we were afforded a quick peek into one of the storage areas –

and the rest of the prep areas are separated by type –

The tour was nice, lasted less than 30 minutes and then I headed back to my stitching and audiobooks…

Before I close  – just for fun I did a search for past galley tours: (the photos aren’ there from prior to 2015 as they didn’t transfer when I moved servers from Germany. I still need to find them and upload.) I know that there are more than these, but this is just a quick run. Apparently I didn’t either take (pr perhaps record) anything about the galley on any of my four cruises on the Star Legend.

There was the Mariner OTS in April of 2013.  and Sept 2014 – (Legend) no photos either.  Nov 2015 – on the Splendor of the Seas –  there are actually galley pictures! Then there was the last voyages of the Legend OTS in March 2017 .  In April of  2017  skipped the galley photos on the NCL Jewel but did include the laundry. The seriously NOT great galley tour of Oct 2017 on the NCL Sun through the Panama Canal and finally my westbound TA on the NCL Sun this past April (complete with pictures!).




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Puerto Princesa

And yes, we are still in the Philippines,  The name derives from Spanish Influence. It is our last port. And no, it is not anywhere near the earthquake in the region that hit yesterday afternoon. I checked in with the crew: one has family that lives in that region/island but they are all safe and sound.

So today – it was 31*C and humidity well over 70% with the sun blasting this morning on arrival where we were greeted by local performers and musicians. I am guessing that the costumes are a modern adaptation of traditional garb.

Along with another couple, we set out to walk around a bit. Of course, part of the reason for walking was that we just missed the shuttle bus by about a minute. Secondarily, there were the spires of a church within in an easy walk. Easy walk being defined by distance, not by the hordes of tour offers, ride offers, and general/noisy sales pitches that accosted us the minute we exited the restricted port area.

George, Chris, and Terry went into the church. I looked in the door then headed away because it was obvious that a religious service was about to start. I have no clue what would be at ~1000 on a Saturday morning. From there we headed toward the center of town

turns out we were on the road that has all the ATMs (no one needed any cash) and crossed over to the more coastal road at the civic center area. (Couldn’t drum up any interest from the other three in stopping at what looked like a very small museum). From there it was just a few blocks to what turned out to be an extremely modern mall.  Three stories and full air conditioned. Lovely to cool off, for a short while then we caught the shuttle bus back to the ship. We had been informed last night that there was a micro-brewery just three blocks from the ship which opened at 1100 which the guys were thinking about.

Wrong – it didn’t open till 1700. The town is cleaner and in better shape than several which we have visited but other than the mall – the main thing here is tourism which = water sports – primarily fishing, snorkeling, and diving.

The other option is the huge natural cave system with underground rivers which has been now named as one of the natural wonders of nature. We had looked into going but…. 2 hours in the bus to get there, two hours to get back and the tour is a total of 5 hours? Other option of an “all day tour” which involved (for 8 hours) – two hours to get there, lunch, two hours to get back which leaves (in my best guess) about 2 hours in the caves rather than one….

All of which might explain why I decided to spend my afternoon lazing about our cabin. There is yet another BBQ tonight. They do one on each leg. I will happily skip most of it but, if the weather holds there may be more of the local performers.

Otherwise, I am making steady progress on “The Comparatively Small Red Ship of Life” by Inkcircles.

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Coron/Busuanga Island, Philippines

Coron is the town located on Busuanga Island if I understand it correctly. Cashews are a main agricultural product both for local consumption and for export. Like many other islands, the main road seems to go around the island. According to Wiki the 2020 census, population was 65,855.

We were greeted by a young marching bad which I am thinking with the letters “CSF” on their shirts, belong to a local school. The more I looked at them, the younger they seemed.   Primarily a percussion based group, there was a small contingent of some keyboard thing I hadn’t seen before.

After waiting a while for the ship to be organized – we disembarked with the plan to hike to and up Mount Tapyas.

looking from the port past the port building, the yellow hotel, you can see Mt Tapyas in the distance. As it turned out, you had to walk through and past the majority of the town (several kilometers) before figuring out where to start the hill climb. Since there was a large cross on top of the mount, I figured that turning up at the main church – St Augustin was probably a reasonable move. Up a block, it was obvious that there had to be a way, but a guy on a motorcycle said  “left to the next street before going up the hill”.

Seems obvious on the way down.

We hiked up the road, then looked up to see stairs heading up the hill/mountain.

Let me just leave it with the statement that there were a lot of stairs. Admittedly, there were a more than a few landings with benches. But it was a lot of stairs. I counted 696 on the way down. There were painted signs on the way up every 100. According to them it was well over 700. Not sure it makes a difference. It is NOT something that can be managed any other way than a step at a time. We passed, chatted with, or sat with some amazing people both ways. A couple of pastor’s from the Seventh Day Adventist Church several islands over, a couple from Austria, a guy from Australia with his wife from Louisiana, a UK elderly gentleman in about our age group with his wife and a group of her relations, university students from Vancouver on a three week holiday.

At the base of the cross is the painted cement section noting the location with the original build going up in 1902. On the pastor’s mentioned that he thought that there had been replacements over the years secondary to typhoon damage.

The view from the top was amazing –

for the views of the surrounding islands,

as well as the view down to the city with all the tin roofs crammed together.  You can barely seen the ship from here in most photos – so looking closer.

Other quick things to note:

power lines run along sides on the road up the hill –

and I have no clue about water/sewer. I didn’t want to ask as there were blue jerry cans all over the place as well as the usual black used for fuel. Many of the transport vehicles were carrying both.

and, in contrast to our ship – the most common mode of transport for tourists and island transfers –

By the time we hiked back down all those stairs and back to the ship it might just be time for a short nap.


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Boracay, Philippines

According to all the literature we received ahead of time – this particular island (and location) is most known for vacations/beaches/watersports. After suffering over use, there was a government shut down in 2019 for clean up and major discussions on limiting visitors after reopening. The pandemic I think caused a change upwards in the number. I was never able to get an answer to “does the number include those who live there as well as visitors or just visitors?” I could be either, but total would be most sane.

The island off which we anchored has no major pier. We tendered in and took the shuttle bus up THE road to what was deemed the center of town. Frankly, the whole island seems to be devoted to tourism. The airport, quite busy, is the next island over with continuous ferry service.

From the city center we walked first along the main road, then through all of the various little lanes full of shops to the beach and up the beach.

with the obligate “you are here and far away from there” sign.

unlike the beaches which are all publicly accessible, most of the fancier resorts were tucked away in groves and behind fencing.

these are the main form of transportation around for locals and a lot of the tourists. There don’t seem to be any regular schedules or routes. OTOH, there is exactly one main road running down the island from one end to the other with only a branch off what my mind keeps wanting to view as the southern end.  There are also vans associated with the resorts and the usual number of mopeds, motorcycles and commercial vehicles. Very few POVs. 

The only purchase I made was a couple of drink containers from Starbucks. As the counter person there told me, he knew that north had thermoses, but they had place named clear plastic cold drink contains. Just as good, he claimed, perhaps better for here. In any case, I now have Philippines, Boracay, and Manila (from our last stop). It tells me that I should have looked more closely in Hong Kong at my options and gone with what they had. 

Somehow the hike back to the port seemed a whole lot longer than the drive in would indicate. Neither of us had been paying as much as we potentially should have but then, there is but the one road. There was this really cool stair set which I recognized from the trip out. 

I also didn’t remember the amount of uphill, but then I wouldn’t sitting in a shuttle bus. We made it back to the port with hours to spare some of which I spent soaking some aching muscles in the whirlpool (the thing I really wish was a hot tub)


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Philippine National Museum

This is an addendum to the regular post and has only a limited email distro.

This wasn’t all that long a day, but I had pretty much wiped out after walking around and three floors of the museum. I had headed back down to the central courtyard and was waiting on George when he gave me a call. The fourth floor was devoted to fiber/handwork exhibits so back up I went.

The spinning equipment on exhibit simple hand spindles, what looks like a skein winder with sections on the main fibers and dyes – with all the colors displayed on shuttle bobbins.

there were fabrics made off back-strap looms

ridged heddle –

and from floor looms –

then there is the surface embroidery like this piece with a closeup –

or these


with some really amazing finished items –


Since these exhibits were focused on traditional methods, symbols, patterns, there was nothing of what you routinely see in North America/Europe etc. Wool is not an issue here, rather jute (and other plant fibers) & silk form the base fibers.  You are not seeing knitting, crochet, tatting, bobbin lace etc because these aren’t traditional crafts.

I have much larger photos of most of the things. If you need them, just email.

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Manila, Philippines

We sailed into Manila’s South Harbor this morning shortly after 0900 and were along side the pier at close to 1000. Disembarking was a bit delayed (performance by a local group – the dancers doing men’s parts were excellent, those doing the women’s parts not as much but the percussion section was amazing).

We took the free shuttle bus to Robinson Mall. There was a Starbucks (sick of this yet?). The young man at the counter said that the “you were here” thermos type containers instead were the clear plastic designed for cold beverages. Ok, I can do that. Sorry I didn’t figure that out in Hong Kong…Ah well.

Oh – the electric wires strongly reminded me of New Delhi –

The mall? Like just about any mall anywhere. We headed back out and walked toward Rizal Place and Monument. The walk was interesting but not particularly pleasant. The traffic is heavy and I saw more people sleeping on the sidewalk or next to it including dozens of small children. Most of those areas reeked of stale urine. I expect there were also contribution from a few dogs tethered to carts and some feral looking cats.

Rizal Park was green, open and inviting. The monument is on the harbor side (west),

the Japanese Garden & exhibits on the north to include the Phillipino Flower Sundial.

From there we went to the National Museum which featured exhibits on history, poetry, archeology, and some amazing art.  

in the central courtyard from found plastics.

A both factual and artistic representation of Magellan’s voyage and his navigator who was a slave originally taken from this area. 

there were lightbulb people

and pottery, and ceramics, and costumes and stories collected from across the islands. 

and objects both artful and useful. 

The rest of the textiles are in a separate post. 

I made it through 4/5 floors before my body said it was time to go back to the ship. That was an adventure in itself – trucks, jeepneys, cars, and motor scooters everywhere and too many intersections where pedestrian cross walks weren’t really obvious.

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