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Uncle Markie out and about.

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Mar '23

Trip Report: Pacific Grand Tour – Komaki For Honen Matsuri

So, the English translation for Honen Matsuri would be Penis Festival. This would be my fourth or fifth. All but one in Komaki (outside Nagoya), the other in Kawasaki which is always on the first Sunday of April, rather than Komaki, which is always on March 15th, no matter the day of week. Fewer tourists if it is on a weekday.

But, we have to get there!

So, what is it?

According to Wikipedia: Harvest Festival (豊年祭Hōnensai) is a fertility festival celebrated every year on March 15 in JapanHōnen means prosperous year in Japanese, implying a rich harvest, while a matsuri is a festival. The Hōnen festival and ceremony celebrate the blessings of a bountiful harvest and all manner of prosperity and fertility.

Click here for the full entry about the history of the festival.

If you click on the next three, they will link to short videos:

That’s it for the festival.

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Mar '23

Trip Report: Pacific Grand Tour – Nagoya

Flying into Nagoya from Guam…

Compared to Guam, immigration and customs was a breeze in Nagoya. Bags and through in minutes, not hours.

Left my luggage at a hotel that I may or may not stay at tonight, and headed over to The Flight Of Dreams which is connected to Terminal 2 at NGO.

Who would have thought I be greeted by The Seattle Terrace!

Complete with Starbucks, Beecher’s Cheese, Ethan Stowell, Seattle Fish and Chips…

I went for the Fish & Chips and a Highball!

Nothing like having lunch under the wing of the FIRST 787 to roll off the line for test flights in Everett.

Lots of interesting exhibits, including the DHK Lego Diorama:

And there was even a Boeing Store – which I picked up something for Jonathan…


Around four, Julian was done with his “new parent” job today – the birth of he and Yurika’s identical twin girls via c-section a little after noon. He kindly met me at the airport to help wrangle my bags.

On the train to his house so I can set up the snack bowl of “Lounge Food”.

Dinner tonight is in. Korean, prepared by the excellent chef Julian:

The next day found us out shopping at Eon, and then out for conveyor belt sushi, though it’s now all special order.

And our haul from the store…

And some random tourist shots…


And after the temple, off to look for Obi and Hopi….

And here was the haul! Five Obi, five Hopi Coat:

Some random Japanese Posters…

And vending machines…

And another GREAT Julian meal or two, breakfast and Okinawan dinner:

The next post will be devoted to the Fertility Festival happening in Komaki.

[? ? ?]

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  1. Marybeth McCarthy Says:

    Dandy House!

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Mar '23

Trip Report: Pacific Grand Tour – Guam

This won’t be much of a post, because, really, unless you are a fan of beaches (me, not so much), Guam really didn’t have much to offer me except a place to decompress for a couple of nights as an interesting means of not having jet lag.

Wyndham Guam is the freebie hotel (OK, points) for this stop:

The bathroom featured a glowing blue automatic flushing toilet:

And there was a huge patio/pool area (which I didn’t use):

Lots of stuff closed/not offered post COVID — like the shuttle to local places (cabs run $15-20 for a ten-minute ride), soda machines, lobby sundry store, etc. But the Korean Spa was open (also in the lobby):


Not sure it was worth it to take the space to pack a pair of shorts since it was too breezy to wear them in Waikiki. But., here they are:

Was up at 6am, and the two closest mini-marts were both still closed, so I walked further to an American Icon:

Fortunately, the smaller of the two mini-marts was open on my return where I picked up things for the afternoon and evening meals (pickled octopus and chicken adobo):

Today’s holy grail mission is to visit the world’s most profitable Kmart – and that was when there were KMarts everywhere, not just the remaining eight stores:

Amusing that HALF that are in US territories.

I left under impressed – so it MUST have been a KMart!

Sadly, another early wake up call for the flight to Nagoya.

[? ? ?]

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2 Responses to “Trip Report: Pacific Grand Tour – Guam”

  1. Marybeth McCarthy Says:

    Did you buy anything at KMart?

  2. UncleMarkie Says:

    Sadly, not much.

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Mar '23

Trip Report: Pacific Grand Tour – The Island Hopper

Yet another 4am wakeup call – this is getting old. But, The Island Hopper only runs twice a week, and there schedule is their schedule.

What is The Island Hopper? It’s a famous old Continental Airlines route through the South Pacific. When United bought Continental, the continued the route (and I wear, using the same old planes).

There are some unique features of this route from Wikipedia:

The flight operates three times weekly as United Flight 155 from Guam to Honolulu, and Flight 154 from Honolulu to Guam.[9] Unlike other flights, a mechanic and extra set of spare parts is carried on board the Boeing 737-800.[2] Other peculiarities include having four pilots working on each flight. Two pilots would fly the leg from Honolulu to Majuro and the other pair fly the remaining legs.[9] Flight attendants also receive crew duty time exemption from Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Since many runways in the islands are short, fire trucks are usually staffed and lined up beside the runway ready to cool the brakes and tires after each landing. The front rows of the economy class can be collapsed to accommodate stretchers in case of medevac.

The full article is here: Island Hopper – Wikipedia

And here we go – imagine that, a LOUNGE starts the trip!

And then onto the plane:

Saw one of ANA’s Hawaii-specific A380’s parked at HNL. They have three, just for the Honolulu route.

So, one of the unique things about the 737-800 that they use on this route is seriously comfortable seats for the reserve pilots:

They recline so far that they have to block off seats 2A and 2C.

And a little food:

That will be the last real food until the final leg of the flight. Snacks with each short hop.

So, here are some pictures from the various stops….

And then, there is my favorite photo from this whole long (15 hour) flight day:

And their view:

And finally, onto Guam, my stop for two nights. But first I have to get my bags after making it through customs…

There were well over 100 coolers on this flight. Sadly, it’s United which doesn’t have a 20-minute bag guaranteed. This was more like an hour plus.

What is in all those coolers? TUNA. Apparently, Chuuk and Pohmpei harvest 10% of the world’s tuna.

Headed to the hotel for a couple of nights using Wyndham rewards points!

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Mar '23

Trip Report: Grand Pacific Tour – First Stop, Waikiki

I first tried to plan this for March of 2021, well, there was a pandemic still going on. Tried again for March of 2022, and there was STILL a pandemic going on, and Asia was MOST DEFINITELY closed for business.

Which brings us to 2023 and I’m finally making the trip.

Technically, my return is out of NRT, not HND, but they are only a hour apart and I was too lazy to change the map.

First stop – two nights in Waikiki!

Requisite airplane and airplane food photo:

Got an Uber to the condo – a Studio Unit (500sq feet) at the Club Wyndham Waikiki Marina Resort at the Ilikai. First time I’ve stayed here even though it is park of the Wyndham empire (which includes my WorldMark membership). This bunch of rooms was owned by Shell Vacations before Wyndham bought them. I was using Wyndham Rewards Points (30,000 for the two nights – GREAT DEAL). I’d seen availably here before – must be that I booked it last March!

And day and night views:

The Ilikai was the supposed offices for Hawaii 5-0 (the original). It’s right by what I call the “Gilligan’s Island” Marina.

Speaking of which – I had breakfast at Pesca, the restaurant on the roof – which had views of the marina from the glass elevator.

If you click on the photo, you will get a video of the elevator ride coming back down.

Had a truly wonderful Eggs Benedict ($18 – not unreasonable for Hawaii, and CHEAP when you consider the VIEW) with an Aperol Spritz ($14).

And said views…

Forgot to mention, speaking of views – I was serenaded this morning buy hospitality workers wanting a contract:

If you click on the photo, it will link you to a video clip (since I can’t figure out how to embed videos anymore).

Spend an hour late morning doing another “owner update” when the guy realized I was a WorldMark owner not a Wyndham owner and cut me loose with 30,000 Wyndham Rewards Points – so I basically got that condo for free. Going to use those points to book NYC in the fall for a train trip.

That’s it for today, off to Guam tomorrow!

[? ? ?]

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Mar '23

Trip Report: Five Mileage Runs To Cincinnati In Two Months

And One More To Come

One might ask, why Cincinnati? To keep my status on Alaska.

Every winter one city stands out for cheap, long-distance turnarounds (out and back on the same plane). The previous five years, it was Raleigh-Durham. At around $250 r/t, which I can book in Premium which is the free booze and extra legroom portion on the plane, not First, but I usually get upgraded. At this point, only one leg did I not get upgraded.

Again, why Cincinnati? $152 round-trip for 1,914 flight miles each way, plus 2,455 bonus miles because of how much I fly (which won’t be as much this year as last). Doing the math, that is $912 for 22,968 flight miles (which gets me MVP Silver for 2024) and 29,460 bonus for a total of 52,428 redeemable miles, which is just a few thousand miles short of a one-way business class ticket to Europe. It’s also a little cheaper (0.0173) compared to the value of Alaska miles (0.018)

Cincinnati is also an hour shorter in each direction, making the flights more tolerable if I don’t get upgraded. And it’s a 9am departure, which is civil.

We will start with all the pretty, out the window shots – I try and seat in window seats on the way east if I get upgraded to First for the mountain views:

And some interesting infrastructure shots:

Braidwood and Byron Generating Stations outside Rockford, Illinois. More info at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Braidwood_Nuclear_Generating_Station

And then there is this:

The Fowler Ridge Wind Farm in NE Indiana. For more information: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fowler_Ridge_Wind_Farm

And then the personal and food stuff:

Feta and sweet potato omelette on the way out:

And the Jerk Chicken on the way home:

For the next trip I’m trying the vegetarian pasta dish, though the Jerk Chicken was quite nice. And here is what you can order if you don’t get upgraded:

End of the day…

And the most amusing thing about the Cincinnati Airport is that there is a Bourbon Tasting Bar and Store next to gate that I fly in/out of:

I’ll end this post with the two most amuzing things from the 5 our of 6 miles runs…

Number 1 — A new cocktail (to me). A Nutty Irishman. Oregon Hazelnut liquor and Irish Cream liqour:

Number 2 – When a group of Coral Directors is on board and they want to sing a song to the First Offier who is taking his last flight as one, to become a Captan. That beats my hitting Alaska MVP Silver on this trip. I got a bit of video:

Sadly, for some reason I can’t get YouTube to embed the video as usual, so click on the link below – it’s a quick 21 seconds.


Well, there is our humor for the day.


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Feb '23

Trip Report: San Diego With MB

Nothing like starting off a trip sharing an Uber with Jonathan to the airport and getting time in the lounge to just hang.

Hopped to San Jose barely making my connection to San Diego – when you are using First Class upgrades, you take less than ideal routings!

Second leg (San Jose to San Diego) was in an E175, and I had an entire First Class row to myself!

And a couple of decent shots coming into San Diego.

And waiting for me at baggage claim was MB! She came in on Southwest – we really should fly together next time.

A friend from high school, Debbie, came to pick us up and take us to the condo.

I have precisely two photos of the Inn At The Park, unless you count what is in the background of a couple of people shots.

The view:

Poseidon out in the garden:

Debbie hung out and we had nachos across the street. FYI, she flew in from Atlanta for this visit, but her daughter lives here so she has a car.

Here are some great pictures of all of us from this adventure.

Spent Tuesday thrift shopping until I dropped, MB and Debbie went to explore Balboa Park which is just across the street from the condo.

Wednesday, we hit happy hour at La Taverna, a favorite of Jonathan and I as it is run by two brothers from Rome, and it shows.

Lobster mac and cheese, and a healthy Caesar (as in salad, not Canadian national drink).

Flight home Thursday was a bit of an adventure. Accidentally changed to the earlier flight when looking what seats were available, cancelling my First Class upgrade (put back in my account with a phone call). While not in First on the way home, I was still in Premium (free booze and more leg room), and it meant MB and I had a chance to hang out in the lounge before our flights:

Flight home was on a VERY new MAX 9, still had the new plane smell!

What it didn’t have was an APU (Auxiliary Power Unit), or internet system (did have wi-fi for movies). Seems that it was delivered from Boeing to Alaska without those two components. Seems supply chain issues – they are also short on engines so they are stripping them off Chinese ordered and built planes that can’t be delivered due to sanctions.

Even though I was in the aisle (8D), I managed to get these INCREDIBLE shots out the window:

And I’ll close with what the new airsick bags look like on Alaska. I approve.

That’s it for now.


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Feb '23

Trip Report: Return To Victoria

Of my many travel rituals, one of the constants is visiting Victoria, British Columbia a couple of times in the winter and Whistler, British Columbia, up in the mountains, a couple of times in the summer.

This year is no exception – this being trip two to Victoria this winter.

Got to the dock early and went next door for Clam Chowder for MB and a Manhattan for me.

And spied this sign in the bathroom stall.

And our boat is here!


Custom and immigration was fairly quick, and we are at the condo shortly.

And I start cooking, forgetting to take pictures of the finished meal. Therefore, you get photos of the chicken stop I’m making for the black-eyed peas and some pumpkin bread.

But here is a shot from BobaDog:

And from Ocean’s Finest fish and chips food truck:

And in front of The Cathedral for Evensong:

And random shots from our time in Vic:

In on Monday, out of Friday, but we leave with a gift from Nicola at the front desk – a dragon named Arthur:

Too soon, back on the boat and home…

Until next winter.

[? ? ?]

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  1. MB Says:

    Great to relax and unwind. Next time the museum!

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Feb '23

Trip Report: Korea Adventure – 48-Hours To Get Home

Even with an early flight – before the shuttle starts (cab ride), wow, the line at the front desk!

What you see at the left below is the line for members of Hyatt’s hotel points plan; which I’m a member. Even if you never planning on staying at that brand (and most of the majors have multiple brands under their umbrella), join the club. Often comes with 5-10% off booking direct, free wi-fi, other goodies. That line was at 5AM! Which is what happens when you have 1200 rooms with a high turnover nightly being an airport mega-hotel.

Probably could have taken the first shuttle since I had to wait a bit for the Business Class Asiana desks to open, which have their own area:

And then I was off to the lounge (SHOCKING!).

At this point, I should probably explain 48 hours to get home. I’m going the long way, with an overnight in Singapore.

Why? I am travelling during Lunar New Year Week meaning no direct flights (in Business Class, using miles) where available out of Seoul. Yes, it’s 48 hours, but it’s in comfort with an overnight half way through.

This is Asiana Business Class intra-Asia (i.e., recliners in Business rather than lay flat seats). Still VERY comfortable for a 4-hour flight.

Looks like a comfy couch to me!

And there is a LOT of leg room…

And then the food begins!

And a little passenger shaming… bare feet on the bulkhead AND putting your hair up in curlers mid-flight – the only thing missing was the hair spray!

And a shot of landing in Manila…

Landed in Manila and then the FUN began. First – didn’t have a QRHealthCode, told them I was transferring and they waved me on. Went to the transit desk to find where my connecting flight on Singapore Airlines was, and to get a boarding pass which Asiana couldn’t issue for some reason. They said, wait, they’d call the Asiana Representative who showed up with a sign with my name on it…probably walked past her deplaning. Turns out I’m in Terminal 3 and my flight is out of Terminal 1 (or the other way around). Turns out that the Terminals are on opposite sides of the runway and there isn’t a connection behind security. I KNEW there was a reason I was only travelling with carryon!

Off she goes with my passport, asking me to wait. Comes back ten minutes later saying I’ve been “cleared” to transit and I find myself in the Diplomatic Line at Immigration (and I get stamps in my passport!), and then led to the lobby where I’m asked if I have any Pesos. No, would you be willing to change some? It will guarantee your connection if we put you in a cab to the other terminal as the bus only runs with it’s full. Welcome to Manila.

Change pesos, get in arranged flat rate cab, overtip because he doesn’t have change, and head out into the city.

Business Class line at Singapore was short, but there were masses of people travelling. Went to the Priority Line which said seniors, and I was through. Apparently there ARE advantages to being old.

Soon, another lounge, this time Singapore Airlines.

It’s actually a very pretty/functional airport:

Wendy’s, McDonalds, Seattle Best Coffee – might as well be in the US! I did find a store and buy 3 minis of booze with some of my leftover pesos. I’m overnighting in Singapore at the Transit Hotel so they will be handy.

A sign that travel in Asia is still recovering, the Cathy Pacific lounge in Manila is still closed (as is the Cathy Pacific lounge in San Francisco, one that I can access with my Alaska Lounge membership):

Plane is at the gate!

And soon I am onboard…

Signs of the Lunar New Year..

Shots of takeoff.


After the preflight champagne, I went for the Singapore Sling – when in Rome, etc.

It was a little too sweet for me. Fortunately, they have other options which I got with the first round of food…

And then relaxation!

And soon, Singapore!

FORTUNATELY, at the Singapore airport, even though my Transit Hotel is in a different terminal, there is a train between the two.

Yes, those are the minis I bought in the Manila Airport.

The room rents in 6-hour blocks, with one meal included. I rented 12-hours, so I got a full 8-hours of sleep. Honestly, the buffet was so, so, and I had breakfast in the Singapore Lounge where I knew the food would be better.

Back on the train to the other terminal in the morning….Singapore is a very efficient airport.

I’m wondering if this was the 747-800 that I saw taking off from Seoul.

Would still like to fly in the 747-800, sigh. Getting rarer and rarer.

Off to the lounge for breakfast!

That means self-service…I’m dine with that.

Yes, the place is HUGE! But I don’t want to overeat for my flight from Singapore to LAX with a stop in Tokyo.

And here we go…

And then the parade of food, I “Booked The Chef” and had lobster thermidor for breakfast – it wasn’t on the in flight menu and I would have had it for lunch, but it wasn’t an option.

With dessert…

And then a light snack..

The staff of the first flight befriended me…

Complete with a Singapore Teddy Bear and a handwritten note from the crew..

WOW – such a loving staff. Sadly, at Tokyo there was a change of crew (who were also great, but no teddy bear)

And the food parade continued after having to deplane (and go to the lounge) and reboard…

Good whiskey…

Good wines…

More food…

And some much-needed sleep!

And even MORE food!

Next up was LAX where I cleared customs/immigration in 5 minutes by facial recognition which is part of my Global Entry – nice, but also a little disturbing.

Six hours in the Alaska LAS Lounge, another flight in Seattle in First, and I was done.

Ready for the next adventure!

[? ? ?]

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Feb '23

Trip Report: Korea Adventure – Time To Start Home

Goodbye Busan, you will be missed (Seoul, less so). LOVE being 500 yards from the train station.

And soon we are on board:

These cars are actually newer than the high-speed cars we came down to Busan on – and this is an Express that takes the old route without all the tunnels, and clocks in at 5.5 hours rather than the 2.5 hours for fast route.

We are the light blue squiggly train line.

Our train has some vending machines between cars!

As you can see, they aren’t stocked well, unlike us, who stocked up in the station with food for the trip.

And some shots from the trip of the scenery…

And some shots from the Main Station in Seoul where we transferred to the airport line to our hotel.

Our digs for the night (two nights for me) is the Grand Hyatt Incheon Airport. Fancy, and big – 1200 rooms.

And here is the nighttime view – yes, I got an airport view room:

And we found food at one of the restaurants in the hotel:

Sean had an early flight out in the morning, and I have another day here of plane spotting from the comfort of my room:

Had my morning food at the deli in the other tower:

And here are some more shots of this MASSIVE hotel complex – two towers!

Had dinner where we SHOULD have had dinner last night – in the Karaoke Bar! No Karaoke as I was there just after they opened for the evening, just great music.

Yeah, I know, it’s not a healthy dinner – had onion rings in honor of my mother and MB.

So, I’ll close this post with a toilet pic – my bidet seat at home was my BEST pandemic purchase, though this one is at the hotel.

Time to head back to Seattle.


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Feb '23

Trip Report: Korea Adventure – On To Busan

Our departure from Seoul to Busan is heralded by snow…

A little snack in the hotel coffee shop to get us going…

And off we go in a cab to the main train station…

We are taking the high-speed train to Busan.

Our route is in the dark blue:

In the station I fire up maps when Sean asks how far the hotel is.

The answer it 500 yards…

That would be the Encore by Ramada Busan Station.

And the room is nicer than the last Ramada…

Though it did take us a bit to figure out how to flush the toilet (big top hand button on the wall remote):

Off we go to explore Busan!

Loving that all of this is within walking distance of the station. Texas street is home to many “lady bars” featuring the finest in Russian and Filipino women.

Busan was an R&R (rest and relaxation) base during the Korean War since it was on the ocean, far from the front lines.

Not sure that “Mom’s Touch” should be in this district…

It is also home to massive markets.

Dinner tonight is Korean BBQ:

And a couple of shots from the walk home…

This is a shot out our window to the train station – it’s THAT close.

And some roof top shots – sadly, the pool was closed and I only got in because there was a maintenance man there.

Our hotel also featured a breakfast buffet – which, while about $20 USD, was well stocked…Asian hotels DO know how to put on a spread:

Today’s adventure is a Hop On Hop Off bus that leaves from in front of the hotel.

The total loop was about two and a half hours assuming you didn’t get off. Early in the trip there was an entrance ramp that triggered Sean’s phobia of heights…

We stayed on until the Busan History Museum which traces back to the stone age in their exhibits…

And shots from the rest of the bus ride…

Sean hopped off at the Film Center – apparently Busan has a world-famous film event.

Found this in the lobby – a miniature of the odd take on the Beatles cross walk photo…

And just so you know I’m not the perfect tourist…I had to try a quarter pounder:

But Korea is known for its fried chicken, sadly, the place we spotted last night was closed tonight, so we ended up across the road:

We went back (OK, Sean when back) to the counter to quadruple up on he sweet pickles and marinated daikon radish. And yes, we had Shochu with all our dinners.

And I include this shot as the last of this post, in honor of Jonathan, who loves 7-11 and has now moved to Texas:

Back to Seoul tomorrow.

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Feb '23

Trip Report: Korea Adventure – Our Seoul Is Frozen

We took the train to the main station, then cabbed to our hotel – The Ramada by Wyndham Seoul Dongdaemun.

Clean and warm, but a little short on things like outlets and reading lights near the bed.

Sadly, the front desk staff, while friendly, is clueless about what restaurants are open within a couple of blocks during Lunar New Year week. Off we go into the bitter cold!

In a bit of “traveler’s luck”, we end up down an alley and upstairs to find an Uzbekistani restaurant.

Nothing like trying to be a tourist when the temperature is -14F windchill.

In the morning we set out for some palace, passing though the main station again where we grabbed a traditional breakfast:

However, several doors down as a different breakfast option….

Off to the palace we go!

It being Lunar New Year week, closed, but the National Folk Museum of Korea, also on the grounds was open (and free).

With some interesting things near the entrance…

Thanks to Mari Jo Girdner Vigil, it’s a game of malttukbackgi or piling game, explained in The Korea Herald article by Min Byoung-Chul “Land of Squid Game”: https://www.koreaherald.com/view.php?ud=20221004000680

And, not unlike Kyoto in Japan, the grounds serve as a backdrop for photos in traditional clothing.

With the temperatures, there was a lot of tea/coffee drinking!

This lovely place was across from the museum.

Between the weather and the walking, I was beat – but Sean went off exploring. I got food from the mini-mart next door to the hotel!

Tomorrow, off to Busan.

[? ? ?]

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Jan '23

Trip Report: Korea Adventure – Getting To Seoul

For the first time in YEARS, I’m travelling to Korea on a PAID ticket, not miles. Granted, I did use a Delta Global Upgrade certificate to upgrade my Premium Economy (think recliner style seats like First Class in the US market) $845 ticket to a Delta One Suite ticket worth about $2500 (though when I looked this up, my Premium Select ticket was $1100, not $845). That said, after the 31st I won’t be an elite flyer with Delta. The are finally reeling in the extensions issued during the pandemic (not like it is over).

One of the perks of an international Business Class ticket is lounge access. Fortunately, the lounge in Seattle wasn’t at capacity, which it is often these days since Delta sells lounge access as a perk of the higher-end co-branded AMEX cards.

If you are wondering why I didn’t eat more, I’m getting on a long flight filled with lots of food (more on THAT later).

Seems my flight has a couple of dozen Elders on board – if you are confused about that phrase, young Mormons heading off on their “Mission”, a rite of passage for Mormon young adults.

Here is our Airbus A330NEO.

And my seat – 2A. I chose this because it has two windows and the seat right next to it, with the footwell for 3A to the right.

And the amenity kit was sown by some nice woman in Oaxaca as part of Deltas global support effort.

Nice view on the way out…

While waiting for the booze trolley (Champagne [not sparkling] please!) to arrive:

Nice “table skirt” on the trolley! And then the food service begins – SADLY, no longer “course” service, just nut course and then the rest (bitch/whine):

Then dessert, which I asked for one of each…

Then it was time to watch movies..

If you look close at the screen….10 hours 45 minutes to arrival. That was supposed to be the WHOLE flight time – instead, because of 167mph headwinds, think more like 12 and a half hours.

And maybe an old-fashioned, oddly, from a kit:

Then a nap – the seat goes all the way flat, with the ability to keep your seat belt buckled if there is turbulence.

Next movie up was Harold and Maude – hadn’t seen it in years, and as I age, the concept of planning ones death for 80 years old is tempting:

That would be Harold hanging in the upper right hand corner.

More food on the way down. I should point out that the mid-flight snack was a pathetic basket of choices of sugar or salt – and was decimated early in the flight, leading to the flight attendants to scrouge more stuff from the back of the plane (poor people since they have the same 2 hour extended flight). Woodford and diet to start, with an espresso chaser (though, unlike Emirates, I didn’t hear the hiss of a real expresso maker – sort of like the Old Fashioned, on Emirates I heard the shaker going!)

And the bacon quiche, nice to have some wilted spinach on the side…

Nice views landing…

We actually only landed 15 minutes late, and then was the fun of finding Sean, who flew in from Saigon.

And finally – turns out we were in different terminals!

I’ll pick up the story tomorrow with our time in Seoul.


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  1. Marybeth McCarthy Says:

    Love this!

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Jan '23

Trip Report: Victoria!

First trip to Vic this year – other than COVID, a winter tradition I’ve done for 20 years at least. The last 17 years, Nicola has been at the front desk!

Because January is the month with both Washington State-based ferries are in for dry dock, it means that we go over the Canadian border at I-5 and catching the BE Ferry at Tsawwassen – meaning the border:

And then the ferry line up:

It’s about an hour and a half from Tsawwassen to Swartz Bay on Vancouver Island.

And a view of the island that Roxy has an off the grid cabin on:

With a little grocery shopping on the way – soon we are in the condo!

With its STUNNING views of the harbor:

And my morning view…

And Roxy down by the water under the trees:

We both had things we wanted to do here – radically different but both fun. Roxy was boat shopping…

And since he wants to get from Friday Harbor to Stuart Island so to make it a 3-season boat, it needs a cabin.

FYI – that boat is just under $100K CAD — $75K USD. Wow.

Me – I just wanted to go to an Evensong Service at the Cathedral in Victoria.

I’m a sucker for any service with a massive organ and choir. This service featured their children’s choir.

As is usual when staying at WorldMark places, we cooked all but one meal in the condo – for the meal out, it was a place that I’d hadn’t heard of before, but right around the corner from the weed shop where you can use a credit card!

The food place specializes in Hot Dogs and Bobo – called Bobo Dog.

I had the Longanisa Fiesta – Roxy had the Cali Bunga. Mine is below:

And the fun story from the trip is that we saw the old high-speed ferry from Vancouver to Victoria, the V2V Empress being towed by two barges out of the harbor. Roxy was on a walk and saw it being loaded on to a transport ship:

And the next day it was in the paper:

If you want to read the article, here is the link: V2V Empress heads to new life in the Caribbean – Victoria Times Colonist

Currently it is off the Mexican coast near Ensenada headed for the Caribbean:

So that’s it for now – I’ll be back in Victoria next month as well.


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Jan '23

Trip Report: Panama Cruise – Part Seven, Galveston, Texas

Final leg (unless you count the flight home) of the epic Panama Canal Adventure…and you can tell you are off the Texas coast when you start seeing oil rigs…

And then the chaos of getting off the boat…

At least it is downtown, unlike our hotel…

Not that it was swimming weather! Look at the surf.

So off to IHOP for brunch it was…

Complete with adult beverages…

And eventually, food:

After the 80’s of the trip, Galveston was about 40 degrees with a blowing wind off the ocean, and we weren’t really near anything to see, unless you count this closed for renovation theme park restaurant…

A rather unclimactic end to the trip, but at least we were able to start getting our non-sea legs back, and the hotel food was really quite good!

Their smashed toast…guac, poached egg, bacon – and add a Red Baron for a festive touch!

That’s it for this adventure!


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Jan '23

Trip Report: Panama Cruise – Part Six, Cartagena, Columbia

Last port stop of the trip, Cartagena, Columbia!

Parked right next to the Norwegian Bliss, named after my friend Kevin (Bliss).

Michael was up and off early for his tour, MB and I were just planning on hitting the terminal which has shops, restaurants, and apparently, a zoo.

It was hot, hot, hot, so I returned to the boat for lunch.

Off to Galveston in the morning.

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Dec '22

Trip Report: Panama Cruise – Part Five, The Panama Canal

Here is the historical map of the Panama Canal:

This is what greeted us the morning of our Panama Canal transit…

And the TV screen projecting the bridge cam!

And off we go!

Goodbye Panama – next stop, COLUMBIA!


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Dec '22

Trip Report: Panama Cruise – Part Four, Puntarenas, Costa Rica

Another couple of sea days, another port. Welcome to Costa Rica!

The trolley we didn’t wait for…

My view of the open air market – MB did more shopping.

Our boat at the pier:

And my score from the bodega…

Back on board, back to the food.

And just random pictures….

And breakfast is served:

Soon, we will hit the Panama Canal!


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Dec '22

Trip Report: Panama Cruise – Part Three, Hualtulco, Mexico

Second port of call – Hualtulco, Mexico!

Every time I walk by one of the interactive displays, they display Happy Birthday Uncle Markie. Just FYI, it isn’t my birthday, but we have a birthday celebration coming up for a former cruise partner of mine.

And this was waiting for me one turndown…

As usual, tons of good food…

We’ve started a tradition of getting a serving of “table pasta” each night to share. Gives us a taste without pushing us over the edge!

Here is the dock at Puntarenas…

And we stirred up the mud, and up came a turtle! My first wildlife of the trip.

While MB continued her shopping for clothes (and Christmas), I went to church…

And then to the bodega for booze and soda. Then back to the boat for lunch and because of the heat.

Another lovely dinner at our usual table…

Followed by the house band playing up in Adagio (three floors above us) – they were FANTASTIC, really, the best entertainment on the boat, sadly, they back up all the other acts most of the time.

If you want to see the boat decked out in Christmas, it’s starting to come out of the closet.

More sea days, including the second of three formal nights.

And another wonderful performance by the house band the following night, this time with better pictures – we stayed for both sets, they added several more musicians during the break.

Next stop – Puntarenas.

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Dec '22

Trip Report: Panama Cruise – Part Two, Puerto Vallarta

Well, this is the port that I didn’t want, but in a cruel twist of fate, it’s a good port for Marybeth, who’s luggage didn’t make it to San Francisco. Delta is overing replacement clothes for the trip, and even though Princess wasn’t at fault, they offered her a $250 credit at the Tommy Bahama store, and free laundry service for the trip. No wine.

Here is the swimsuit she bought. Also got a LBD (Little Black Dress) and a couple of pashminas which are versatile.

I gift her my Agua Socks and offered to lend her my hoodie as evening wear.

Speaking of formal night, there are three on this trip. Here is number one which we started in the Adagio Lounge at the nights LGBT+ nightly gathering at 5:30pm

Followed by dinner at our usual table with Ashley as our server:


And then a show…

Here is as shot of how I spent most of my days on the cruise:

Was working on getting through this 600+ page book…

Fascinating story.

One day there was a wine tasting, which I felt compelled to attend:

When we got to Puerto Vallarta, Michael and I did a City Tour with Tequila Tasting from 8am-12pm.

Back to the boat for lunch, and some port shots.

And soon, we were off…

That’s it for now. More later.

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One Response to “Trip Report: Panama Cruise – Part Two, Puerto Vallarta”

  1. Kate Says:

    You are lookin’ good, my friend

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