08 Apr 2016

Jeju Island, South Korea 2016






Jeju Island, South Korea has one of the few matriarchal societies in the world.







It stems from a 17th Century tradition when women were off-shore divers collecting clams, abalone, and seaweed because the men were away on warships or fishing.

These Haenyeos can hold their breath for two minutes and dive 65 feet with only rubber suits and weights.





They had a huge economic boom in the 1970s majorly increasing exports to Japan.

As these women became richer, they upgraded their community, build new houses, and sent their daughters to college.

That success evolved to a generation of girls who did not want to or have to work so hard.






Their numbers have dropped from 30,000 to less than 5,000 and most are over 65.

Their biggest concern is that this very success may result in the disappearance of the matriarchal culture, which has dominated the island for a long time.




07 Apr 2016

Incheon, South Korea





Today was one of those important tours that are “must sees’, but don’t need repeating. We visited the Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ), a 160 mile strip of land, about 2.5 miles wide running entirely across the Korean Peninsula that divides the Korean Peninsula roughly in half about at the 38th parallel.









Notwithstanding its name, it is the most heavily militarized border in the world. Twice they came on the bus to check our passports.





Several tunnels have been built as an invasion route for the North Koreans. We even went on the claustrophobic visit to the Third Tunnel.

We learned much more about the North Korea young leader Kim Jong-un. He may be even goofier and more ruthless than his father.





We stopped for an authentic Korean lunch.














We finished with a stop at the market.

05 Apr 2016

Beijing, China 2016



It’s easy for us misinformed Westerners, even knowing China is huge, to think in terms of Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong as big cities and a bunch of farmers in the hinterland.


China has 22 cities bigger than L.A., our second biggest city.


As much as I could live in Hong Kong and love Shanghai, Beijing doesn’t do much for me.


Given that it is the capital of China and is the third largest city in the world with 3,000 years of history, it certainly is important though.


Since we have been here three times previously and have visited the usual – Great Wall, Forbidden City, Tiananmen Square, Temple of Heaven, Olympic Venue, and even their cheap markets, we opted to check out how some of the regular folks live.


We took a fun Rickshaw tour.









There are old scrap bikes all over the place, chained for theft protection apparently.









We walked along some famous pedestrian streets that are loaded with thriving middle class Chinese. Nothing topped Nanluoguxiang, (South Luogu Lane), an 800-meter, 800-year old alley. It is wall-to-wall cafes, bars, and shops all designed in classical Chinese 'hutong' style. Notice how young everybody is (present company excluded).





We ducked out of the hordes for a relaxing lunch with Joan and Charlie.








We stayed at the Grand Hyatt.







Dinner was at Capital M, known for great service, ambiance, view, and food. Nothing let us down there; highly recommended. That is Tiananmen Square in the background.  

01 Apr 2016

Shanghai, China 2016


My buddies from Guatemala asked for poker lessons. So we invited them up, and ordered in some champagne, caviar and other tidbits in order to tackle the task at hand.





We have sightseed (sawed?) Shanghai so many times and we only had two days this year. To us it seemed like we had no choice but just to shop and snag a massage.



At dinner the next night we're having dinner with some delightful new friends and Allyn says "I love your Hermes bracelet and ring. I bought several for $5 each to wear and give for gifts".


The husband says "These are real. I bought them in Australia."




26 Mar 2016

Sky 100, Hong Kong


Today we visited Sky 100, an observation deck on the 100th floor of the International Commerce Center.

It is located two floors BELOW the Ritz Carlton Hong Kong Hotel.

Here you can really feel the magnitude of the incredible Hong Kong architecture.