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Friday, September 2, 2016

CIRCLE PACIFIC ADVENTURE 2016: Day #24--Japan, Bangkok, Sydney, San Francisco and Honolulu

Well, I leave in a few hours from San Francisco Airport on a United flight back to Honolulu.  Hurricane Lester is getting onerous, and you can read the details at the bottom of this posting.

So today I will provide my personal analysis comparing each site I visited, where 10 is best and 1 worst.  Incorporated into the evaluation were the existing weather conditions:
  • August is no month to visit Japan because it is too hot and humid.  Further, this was the only country where I visited more than one city:
    • Tokyo
    • Osaka
    • Miyazaki
    • Sendai
  • Bangkok is supposedly the hottest city in the world that is actually visited by tourists, so when you add the monsoon season when it rains (July to October), that adds another degree of discomfort, for the temperature remains quite high, typically 95 F.
  • August in Sydney is like February in the USA.
  • San Francisco is always too cold for me.
Let me start, then, with weather:
  • Honolulu (8):  temperatures are in the high 80's, with tradewinds.  However, hurricanes can be worrisome.
  • Sydney and San Francisco (7):  Both places are similarly cool, from the high 50's into the 60's. Great, actually for walking if it is not raining, and it rarely rains in both cities in the month of August.
  • Bangkok and Japan (2):  could be hotter, and Bangkok could be dryer, but if you keep indoors or on trains, you aren't really affected by the weather.  I could have gone to Hokkaido, the northern island, but I did that earlier this year.
Safety is an important travel concern:
  • Japan (9):  You feel safe in any city even at night in any Japanese city.  There might be a couple of places to avoid, but safety is one reason people visit here.
  • Sydney (8):  There might be some unsafe areas, but not much.
  • Bangkok (7):  There is a lot of sin here, but not much of a concern with pickpockets, muggings and the like.
  • Honolulu (6):  Yes, more dangerous than Bangkok, but I toyed with giving my home city an eight.
  • San Francisco (5):  Relatively safe today, but I just need a relative number.
Beauty of the country:
  • Japan and Honolulu (9):  The natural beauty dominates.
  • Sydney and San Francisco (8):  Combination of nature and buildings/bridges/etc.
  • Bangkok (6):  Interesting architecture and fabulous temples.
People:
  • Bangkok (9):  People here are nicer.
  • Japan (8):  People here are nice to tourists.
  • Honolulu (7):  We have aloha.
  • Sydney (6):  Okay.
  • San Francisco (5):  Again, doesn't deserve so low a score as 5, but we are comparing cities with great people.
Cuisine:
  • Japan (9):  I like Japanese food, and there is a access to fusion with France, Italy, etc.
  • Bangkok (8):  I hate Thai food because of the fermented intestines used in their sauce, but they do have the best restaurants in the Orient, none of which is Thai.
  • San Francisco (7):  It's only recently that SFO has cracked the Michelin 3-Star level.
  • Sydney (6):  There are steeples of excellence here.
  • Honolulu (5):  I like Zippy's, Rainbow Drive Inn and the like, but high cuisine is not particularly excellent here.
Hotels:
  • Bangkok (10):  For price, service and amenities, like free breakfast buffets and club lounges, best in the world.
  • Japan (8):  Same as Bangkok, except very expensive.
  • Honolulu (7):  Mixed, but okay.
  • Sydney (6):  Also okay, but not many amenities.
  • San Francisco (4):  Death Valley for amenities and marginal on service.
Mass transit:
  • Japan (9):  The combination of Japan Railway, private lines and city subways takes you everywhere in large cities.  However, only a 9 because they are not combined as one system.
  • Bangkok, San Francisco, Sydney (8):  All excellent systems.
  • Honolulu (4):  We have The Bus, and fixed rail soon to come.
Thus, in this limited comparison:
  • Japan (7.7)
  • Bangkok (7.3)
  • Sydney (7.0)
  • Honolulu (6.6)
  • San Francisco (6.3)
In short:
  • I did not have much of a nightlife, took no tours and kept mostly indoors.  
  • One might wonder why I even left Honolulu, and a case can be made for that.  
  • However, I should have accumulated more than 100,000 Star Alliance miles.  
  • Reached 25 stays to maintain my Platinum membership in Starwood and really generally enjoyed myself in exotic settings.  
  • I did attend the Hawaii-Cal football game in Sydney, and that was a different experience, as I now never go to Hawaii home games.  
  • In Japan we did discuss the Around the World Cruise, which now looks like 2020 or so, but the search for a roommate continues.  
  • Nice mini-Stanford reunion and Blue Revolution discussion in SFO.
I'm glad I was able to thoroughly enjoy my Circle Pacific Adventure 2016, for I'm getting very close to ending these expeditions.  I hate organized tours, so my travel days might be coming to an end.  Next, my flight back to Honolulu to contend with Hurricane Lester:

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Looks like Hurricane Lester, now at 110 MPH, might be easing by the Hawaiian Islands:



However, if you look at all the computer models, there is high anxiety:


At least Hurricane Madeline did make a quiet departure south of the islands.  I should mention that Hermine was a hurricane when she made landfall over Florida near Tallahassee, unbelievably, the first one in almost eleven years.  I can note that the Big Island, Maui and Oahu have NEVER ENCOUNTERED A HURRICANE IN RECORDED HISTORY.  Kauai did suffer from Iniki in 1992, but Madeline was only a tropical storm when the eye passed south of the Big Island earlier this week.  Let's hope Lester stays reasonably north.

There are eight ocean storms:


Typhoon Namtheun at 110 MPH, which popped up east of Okinawa, could become troublesome as it heads for Kagoshima, then the west coast of Japan:


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