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Wednesday, May 15, 2013

AROUND THE WORLD IN 51 DAYS

Well, My Ultimate Global Adventure has come to an end.  I left on March 26 and returned yesterday. These two photos of first waking up, then, my view as I am constructing this posting, are most prosaic, but yet, poetic, for they represent a kind of mild euphoria that I did it and survived, a little wiser and, thankfully, still alive and well, for the best part of any journey is coming home:


Jules Verne wrote on the adventures of Phileas Fogg in Tour du Monde et 80 Jours, and you can get the English translation for $2.99 (Kindle version).  Fogg gambled half his worth, $4 million (2013 dollars--the bet was 20,000 pounds then), in 1872 that he could circumnavigate the world in 80 days.  Not coincidentally, Verne was financially destitute in those times and wrote his story in serial form, where the general public thought this adventure was actually happening.  Verne "probably" took bribes from companies mentioned in the book to include them in the narrative.

The movie actually changed the book, as Verne did not have that balloon ride.  That was "Around the World in 80 Days," produced by Michael Todd (who died in the crash of a plane named Liz a year after he married Elizabeth Taylor) in 1956.  There was also a 2004 version with Jackie Chan as Passepartout, and in it was Arnold Schwarzenegger just before he became governor of California.

Getting back to the story, Fogg spends the other half of his wealth on the trip, including purchasing the ferry he burns just to get back home, and misses by 5 minutes, thus thinking he is broke.  But, aha, when you travel east, by passing the International Date Line you gain a day.  I wonder if I lost a day, and my title should be "Around the World in 50 Days," for I flew west.

My trip was not as rewarding as David Niven's (as Fogg in the 1956 film), for he wins a $2 million bet and gains a wife (Shirley Maclaine plays the India Indian Princess Aouda, who Fogg saves from immolation).  Our only common city stop was San Francisco, although I've been through all the book sites, except for Calcutta.  I did, though, make significant progress for the efforts of Blue Revolution Hawaii to gain funding for the Pacific International Ocean Station, and,  as my postings indicated, virtually completed the ash tossing ceremonies for an upcoming book.

Thus, while My Ultimate Global Adventure might not have been so fabulous, it was nevertheless memorable and gave me a hint of what I might do for the rest of my life.  In direct contrast to Fogg, I would like to cite an article by Harold Stephens in the Bangkok Post on 12July1994 entitled, "Is there something that's more beautiful than True Love and Money?," which influenced my retirement in 1999 and could well help determine the next step I take into the future.  Here is a summary:

Kung Chareon was a 60-year old rich businessman in Bangkok whose son was today returning with a law degree from Harvard and his wife was speaking to the International Women's Club.  He wondered if he could do it again, so with nothing more than a small canvas bag and a few Baht, took a bus to Chiang Rai (White Temple to left).  There he found a place to stay in a cheap hotel run by a woman and her son.  Leaving out some details, at the age of 70, now living with that lady, they had a chain of hotels, with that son returning from Harvard Law.  The challenge was everything to Chareon, and the final few words were:  ...he took down from the shelf his old canvas travelling bag.

Well, I'm at just that stage of my life, and My Ultimate Global Adventure resulted in a gift:

    1.  What I'll do for the rest of my life.

What else?

    2.  Truly great cuisine, in somewhat of an order:

        a.  Narisawa (best restaurant in Asia) Tokyo (to the left with Mayumi and Tadashi)
        b.  Maison Boloud (best meal value) Beijing (below with Manager Staci Chen)
        c.  Mr. and Mrs Bund (prime location and ambiance) Shanghai
        d.  Nahm (unexpected elegance in Thailand and third best in Asia) Bangkok
        e.  Est (3 hat Australian) Sydney

I can add Kahala in Osaka, Jaelo in DC, Il Fornuio in Palo Alto, Tadich Grill in San Francisco and the various meals I had at homes of friends.

    3.  Just staying with them throughout the USA was an unusual joy.  They helped shape the rest of my life.

    4.  Compounding the overdose of ethanol in Australia, Thailand, Japan, China, Germany, DC and Denver, I no doubt had the most wine ever in my few days through the valleys of Napa, Sonoma and Mendocino.  As far as I can tell, my liver survived.

    5.  I just dropped Pearl's ashes at one location, Matsumoto Castle, where a yellow koi gobbled up the gel cap.

    6.  The USA is the pre-eminent country ever and will remain unchallenged for at least the next century.  Hawaii is fine today, and, certainly beautiful, but I continue to worry about what will happen at the next oil shock.

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Well, the Dow Jones Industrial Average did it again, rising 60 to 15,276, another all-time high. However, all is not well with the rest of the world, for France today is not officially back in recession.  By the way, the Japan Nikkei is going crazy, topping 15,000 for the first time in five years:

I've been predicting that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was sure to fail, but got to admit that most of the rise occurred after he re-gained this position.  I'm confounded.

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This is the first day of the East Pacific Hurricane Season, and gaining form is Tropical Depression One-E, which is generally headed for Hawaii, but will probably end up in the Baha direction, and will become a hurricane by Friday:


No danger at this time, though, that this storm will do any harm.

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