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Tuesday, August 16, 2016

CIRCLE PACIFIC ADVENTURE 2016: Day #8--The Tribulations of Travel

Yesterday was already unnerving with that Sendai earthquake.  This morning on awakening I watched CNN, and the first thing I viewed was a prognostication that Tropical Storm Chanthu would make landfall over Sendai, where I'm staying.  There are five ocean storms, and Chanthu is the only one of any potency:


Fortunately, for me, I'm leaving in two hours and the winds won't get here for at least six hours, I think.  However, the eye is close enough to Tokyo that high winds and rain are expected soon after midnight.  In any case, my week in Japan has been very hot, but dry, until now.

I'm beginning to feel that the Westin Sendai could well be my most enjoyable hotel in the world, especially when you factor in the cost, which is half that of the Westin Tokyo, Osaka St. Regis and Prince Gallery.  My view (the entire outside wall is glass) of Sendai and breakfast today:


On the Shinkansen to Tokyo I had a fabulous seafood bento with a blue sake (well, the bottle was blue) and Sapporo beer:


At Tokyo Station, I transferred to the Marunouchi Subway Line, taking me to the Akasaka-Mitsuke Station, where a short walk got me to the Prince Gallery, which opened two weeks ago.  The property is where once stood the Akasaka Grand Prince, where I regularly stayed in the 80's.  Designed by Kenzo Tange, this fabulous hotel opened in 1983.  I still can't believe they did this, but the whole structure was torn down.  There are now more than a hundred buildings in Tokyo ready for similar demolishment.  In the USA it takes a few seconds to implode a building.  In Tokyo, a building of 400+ feet takes a very long time, floor by floor.  Before and now:


So here I am:


The view from my room is spectacular, for I tower over the New Otani Hotel:

A close-up of the Shinjuku Skyline shows the Park Hyatt, which looks like the building with wings on top.  I noticed a Bluetooth Bose Soundlink Mini in the room:


I took a bath, with music played from my iPod through this Bose system (small black box to the left):


The sound was overwhelming.  Got to get one of these.

My evening started with cocktails and appetizers in the Club Lounge with Mayumi and Tadashi.  We then went on to the Italian restaurant in the hotel.  We had a bottle of Chianti Classico:


The amusement was a sea urchin egg on custard.  Outstanding.  Note the gorgeous green dish.


The salad was okay, but the foie gras and truffles risotto was almost outstanding.  Almost, because the pungent essence was missing from the truffles.  Mayumi contemplating her dessert:


Took a photo of the kitchen on the way out:


Overall, okay, but not really Italian.

This is the middle of monsoon season in Southeast Asia, and there is around a 70% chance of rain at any time.  No one in his right mind would visit this region in August.  So, on Thursday, I leave Haneda Airport for Bangkok.  I might add that terrorist bombings are commonplace in Thailand, but usually mostly in the south.  It was only a year ago, August 17, though, that a bomb was exploded just outside the Bangkok Hyatt Erawan, where I've stayed several times, killing 21 and injuring more than 125 others.  Yes, I could have taken a shorter and safer path to Sydney, where I'm headed for the Hawaii-U. California football game at the end of this month, thus avoiding earthquakes, typhoons, monsoons and terrorist bombings.  But you can't go through life by purposefully avoiding any possible calamity.

I should mention that the Dow Jones Industrial Average broke another all-time high, up 60 points to 18,636.

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