Our five-week cruise to the Far East and Southeast Asia ended in Singapore, where we took the plane back to the States. We visited seven countries: Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan, South Korea, China, the Philippines, and Burnei, which were covered in my previous three blogs.
Now that I start looking back, it is clear to me we had covered a vast portion of the world in a rather short time, and many of our impressions may be superficial. But some things stand out, and in this concluding blog I would like to point them out and highlight a few things.
Koreans eating at an open market in Busan (formerly Pusan), South Korea
We only spent one day in South Korea, which the locals simply call Korea, since they do not recognize North Korea as a separate country. Here we see Koreans eating their lunch at an open market in Busan. The menu in the Far East countries is similar yet different, which is true about everything else there. It takes getting used to for foreigners, since the Western versions are quite different.
Like China and Japan, South Korea is industrialized and has the super-rich and the super-poor. In China, which is only nominally communistic, there are reported to be more billionaires than in the U.S.
Men at mosque courtyard in Bandar Seri Begawan, Burnei’s capital
How many people have been to Burnei or know where it is? It is a small Muslim country in the northwestern corner of the island of Borneo ruled by a sultan who is one of the richest people in the world (if not the richest), since his family has ruled this benign sultanate for centuries and it now has oil and natural gas resources far exceeding the needs of its population.
Marina Bay Sands resort complex, designed by Moshe Safdie
Speaking of the world’s richest people, here is a view from our hotel room in Singapore of the Marina Bay Sands resort complex, designed by famed Israeli architect Moshe Safdie, and owned by Jewish American mogul Sheldon Edelstein. It is one of the world’s architectural wonders. Perched on three huge buildings (only two show here), some 60-storey up in the air it holds up a structure resembling a ship, with world-class restaurants and a park complete with palm trees. We had dinner there as guests of a couple who is good friends of Edelstein the night before departing for the States.
Statue of General Douglas MacArthur on Corregidor Island In the Philippines.
Not nearly as prosperous as the three industrial giants of the Far East, the Philippines are a close ally of the U.S., and one of the best proofs is Corregidor Island at the mouth of Manila Bay, which has been converted into one of the most impressive and elaborate memorials of World War II. Here the boys of both nations fought and died under the legendary general, Douglas MacArthur, who eventually broke the back of the Japanese invaders and, with the help of the two atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, ended the war which the Japanese were prepared to carry on indefinitely.
Has the world learned the lessons of the bloodiest conflict in world history? The jury is still out on this one.
Monument at Nagasaki’s peace garden in memory of the dropping of the atomic bomb in 1945.
We end with Japan because of the incredibly moving peace park in Nagasaki, dominated by the above statue, and containing sculptures from many countries with one message: let there be peace on earth.