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  • Asia 2009: Day 21 (The voyage home)

    Posted on October 28th, 2009 Jeff Keller 7 comments

    On Tuesday it was time for the long flight home to SFO.  I left Hong Kong at 12:30pm local time, and arrived at SFO 3.5 hours before I left (well, you know I mean).  I stayed up for as long as I could, and then went to sleep at around 6pm. Today is going to be a tough day, for sure.

    On this flight I had the new United business class seat. While it’s leaps and bounds above the old seat, there’s not enough room for my big feet, and climbing over the legs of the person in the aisle seat (especially when they’re sleeping) requires Olympic strength.

    The house is one piece, the kitties were happy to see me, and I have a stack of a bills nearly a foot thick to go through. It was a fun trip, but now it’s time to get back to reality.

    Total distance flown: 12,327 mi
    Total distance sailed: 3,384 nm
    Total distance walked: Too much
    Pounds gained: I don’t want to know

  • Asia 2009: Day 20 (Hong Kong, Part 2)

    Posted on October 26th, 2009 Jeff Keller 2 comments

    We were off the Volendam at 9:30am this morning. I headed toward the Intercontinental Hotel, which may very well be the nicest place I’ve ever stayed. The guy at the front desk said that check-in wasn’t until later, but he’d try to find a room for me. I sat down and a few minutes later he came over and said I had a junior suite!  They escorted me to my room and I find a panoramic view of Victoria Harbor on one side, and part of Kowloon on the other. It has an actual entryway, a large sitting area, flatscreen TV, nice bed, and huge bathroom.  Sweet!

    After that it was off to the world’s largest outdoor seated bronze Buddha (they really qualify these things), which took a lot longer than we thought. The ride up there was worth the price of admission — it’s a 6 km long gondola ride over the mountains. After that we headed to Mong Kok for a very quick shopping trip, and then back to the Ocean Terminal to say goodbye to the Volendam, have dinner, and then watch the light show again.

    Tomorrow morning: to the airport for a long flight home…

  • Asia 2009: Day 19 (Hong Kong, Part 1)

    Posted on October 25th, 2009 Jeff Keller 1 comment

    We arrived in Hong Kong at about 9am, and I was on the bus for a 5 hour tour at around 10:30. Our tour went to Aberdeen, Stanley Market, and Victoria Peak, with lots of scenery along the way.  I came back to the ship at 4, made a quick run for the “happy room” (Hong Kong speak for bathroom) and then I went back into town.  Hong Kong reminds me of Manhattan, but ten times crazier.

    Here are my photos from the first of my two days in Hong Kong:

  • Asia 2009: Day 18 (Last day at sea)

    Posted on October 24th, 2009 Jeff Keller 1 comment

    Today was sort of bittersweet. First, we didn’t stop in Taipei, as originally planned (see previous entry for the reason why). Second, it was the last day of actual cruising before we dock in Hong Kong.  While the Volendam has started to feel like home, I miss the real thing.  While it’s been quite an experience, part of me can’t wait to get off the plane in SFO and see my family and Zoe and Flame again.

    Only one photo for today:

    Sunset on our last day at sea

    Sunset on our last day at sea

  • Asia 2009: Day 17 (Okinawa)

    Posted on October 23rd, 2009 Jeff Keller No comments

    After a rather rough day at sea, we arrived for a very brief stay in Naha, also known as Okinawa.  I took a shore excursion to Shurijo Castle, which was disappointing. The weather wasn’t great either — hot, very humid, with occasional heavy dan trik android

    On our way out of the harbor, the captain announced that due to Typhoon Lupit (which is actually just a tropical storm), we were going to skip our next port of call (Taipei) and go to Hong Kong a day early. I’m disappointed that I won’t see Taiwan, but more time in HKG is definitely a bonus.

    Here are some photos from Naha:

  • Asia 2009: Day 14 (Suzhou)

    Posted on October 20th, 2009 Jeff Keller No comments

    I never got around to posting this during the trip, so here are my photos from Suzhou. This city of 2.5 million has an older section build around canals. It’s kind of like the Chinese version of Venice, except everything’s white. The buildings weren’t in great shape, though apparently they’ve improved things there in recent years.  We also visited the Humble Administrator’s Garden nearby, which had an excellent bonsai collection.

  • Asia 2009: Day 14 (Shanghai, Part 1)

    Posted on October 20th, 2009 Jeff Keller 3 comments

    After two days at sea, we arrived in Shanghai.  I opened the curtains this morning and saw a view I won’t soon forget — the amazing skyline of the Pudong district of the city.  Most of the day was spent on an excursion to Suzhou (pics to come), but here are photos of the city from the morning and evening of my first day in Shanghai.

  • Asia 2009: Forbidden City bonus panorama

    Posted on October 18th, 2009 Jeff Keller No comments

    Here’s a series of four photos that I took with my DMC-GF1 and later stitched together in Photoshop.  This is in the Forbidden City.

    Forbidden City panorama (click for larger)

    Forbidden City panorama (click for larger)