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Saturday, September 3, 2016

MY FIRST DAY BACK IN PARADISE

Ah, it's Saturday and I'm feeling great after a 24-day adventure.  Hurricane Madeline left south and west, Hurricane Lester veered mostly north and no other ocean storm is on the horizon.  

Incredibly enough, all my plants survived my Rube Goldberg irrigation system.  My lanai herb garden is doing well and the orchids now actually look healthier.  Maybe lack of water was the reason.

So the Hawaii football team got massacred by Michigan in Ann Arbor, perhaps the Rainbow Wahine volleyball ladies will get by UCLA tonight.  You know what, I think I enjoy just watching TV at home more than risking my life on the road and paying for it.  Good thing I'm getting old.

Well, for those who never got around to linking with my Circle Pacific Adventure 2016, here are a few photos with some minimal commentary beginning with a goodbye to Diamond Head:


O-Toro, Uni, Hamachi and assorted sashimi in Tokyo.  Can you believe a $160 mango box set?  In Tokyo, of course.


Above, the view from my room at the Sheraton Ocean Resort in Miyazaki, home of the best wagyu beef:


Good combination, steak with foie gras and scallops.  I walked around Miyazaki and saw this piece of art that was as large as a tank:


One point I made was that, since my cataract surgery, colors are vivid again, and I particularly noted the beauty of the various shades of green all through my Bullet Train rides:


And what is that green?

I almost always had some kind of bento with beer and sake on long Shinkansen trips:


An important reason why I stopped through Japan was to follow up on my possible 2018 World Cruise.  Not really mine, but more the interest of Mayumi and Tadashi.  Well it turned out that after he completes his second term as president of Tokyo University of A&T, he has so many offers that this 4-month trip needs to be delayed, probably to 2020, which is a more visionary year for such journeys anyway.  We had dinner at the brand new Prince Gallery (just opened that week), and that is a view of Tokyo Tree to the left.  So we thought that, perhaps, a Norwegian Line Hawaii cruise was a good preliminary adventure, also of possible interest to Kao and Azumi (who happens to be holding a Norwegian cruise brochure):


You almost never see Mount Fuji from Tokyo in the Summer.  However, Tropical Storm Chanthu had brushed the air clear during the night, so when I woke up the next morning, my view from the Prince Gallery was a glorious spectacle:


Then later that day trained to Matsumoto to say hello to Pearl's Gold Koi:


Well, on my way to Bangkok I had a Dom Perignon on Thai Air: 


I don't have enough space to provide all the photos, but the fifth and final course was very simple, with a glass of Port.  The next day at the Sheraton Grande Sukhumvit, I had a fabulous truffle risotto


The following morning I had a gigantic breakfast, where you can see the fabled Bangkok traffic in the background, and also the Sky Train, which is adjacent to this hotel.  I then moved to the Sheraton Royal Orchid located on the banks of the Chao Phraya.  Here you can see a reflection, and below that photo, a boat sailing by at night:


I'm building up my Starwood stays, so I moved to the Plaza Athenee Grande Meridien, where I went down for my first French meal.  Oops, it was closed, so I instead went next door to Ugetsu where I might have had my best Japanese meal on this trip:


I then switched to the St. Regis, and caught the Sky Train, as the station is adjacent to this property, so that I could have one of those rooftop meals, this one at Zense in the Zen shopping complex.  I ordered a salmon chazuke and the best Hamachi Kama I've ever had.  The total bill with wine and beer was not quite $50, and the view was terrific (left).  Oh a rainstorm came just as I was completing my meal.


Where but in Bangkok would you find Pink Pussy?


My final meal in Bangkok was a two-course foie gras extravagance with truffles:


These past few days I have never had more foie and truffles in my life, and the best is yet to come, for First Class Thai Air from Bangkok to Sydney is a 9 hour feast.

It all starts with Dom Perignon and an elaborate caviar presentation:


The main dish was truffles lasagna.

So I'm now in Sydney, and here is Australia's flag at sunset:


I had a hot dog with beer at the Cal-Hawaii football game in ANZ Stadium, which has a seating capacity of 83,400.  The announced attendance was 62,247, although I counted a lot less.


Sydney is, indeed, one of the best cities in the world.  They are today #8, with San Francisco, Portland and Honolulu generally around 30 as the best the USA has to offer.


I splurged on only one meal, an excellent truffle artichoke soup and much more in Circular Quay:


The flight from Sydney to San Francisco on the Dreamliner was 13 hours long, but I couldn't sleep even for a second:

Had two lunches in SFO, a mini-class reunion and gathering for the Blue Revolution.  Jim, my freshman roommate at Stanford, had a photo taken with Kathy way back in 1958.  Before and now:


In the lobby of the Westin St. Francis is a Chateau Montelena tasting room.  I had the latest version of the bottle  that changed the wine world, their Chardonnay:


Finally, the only four things I bought were a $2 cane, an assortment of my 8th generation safari shirts from Jackie's Tailor in Bangkok, an Emporio Armani watch--an identical version which was 15 times more expensive at an adjacent department store--and a bottle of single malt whiskey from Tasmania:


On my flight back to Honolulu I actually slept for a couple of hours, the first time I've been able to do this in decades, and, therefore, missed taking that aerial shot of beautiful Honolulu.  However, I awoke just as the plane was approaching Honolulu Airport and managed to take this, plus to show where I started, Diamond Head:


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While Hawaii was spared by Madeline and Lester, I might indicate that Tropical Storm Hermine will actually strengthen back into a hurricane:


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