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Wednesday, August 2, 2017

CHAPTER 20: Pearl's Ashes--Circle Pacific

On 16 June 2012, I began a Circle Pacific trip taking me to Tokyo, Seoul, Osaka, Busan, Bangkok, Bali, Singapore, Sydney and Auckland.  'Twas an absolutely beautiful day when I left Honolulu.

My notes on this trip suggest that I dropped Pearl's Ashes #36 in Bangkok and #37 in Bali.    Frankly, I'm guessing, so I will someday need to adjust as necessary.  To follow in later chapters will be the rest of the trip.

In Seoul I had my, at that time, most expensive lunch ever, which is saying a lot because five years ago Seoul was not a particularly high cost of living location.  During the 80's and 90's I stayed at the Lotte Hotel at least half a dozen times.  It had one of finest disco's and life was turbulent, with violent street protests surrounding this property.

In 2012 there was no disco, and all was progress, with Pierre Gagnaire (3 Michelin stars in Paris) opening a restaurant at the top floor of the Lotte.  Of all the coincidences, the person serving me looked too much like Pearl. Amazingly enough, her name was Sophia, and on my future agenda was a visit by Sophia Pearl and her family coming up in August of that year. 

On one of my around the world trips three years later I stayed with my nephew (father of Sophia Pearl) Eric and his family in New Jersey.  I was impressed, when at the age of four upon asking her what she wanted to be when she grew up, she said...a rainbow butterfly.  How fascinating.

But back to Seoul and Pierre Gagnaire, it was my most memorable lunch. The following year on My Ultimate Grand Adventure I came back here again.  However, my purpose in South Korea was not to eat, but to attend the Yeosu Ocean Expo.  Their mascots, Yeony and Suny, represented a water droplet and plankton.

It's possible I did not drop off a gel cap here because I was mildly disappointed.  The only two ocean expos ever were Lisbon and the one here.  While a lot more marine than Lisbon, Yeosu was half the size of the Shanghai Expo and only drew 8 million,  compared to 73 million for China.  The energy level was low and maybe an ocean expo for Hawaii in 2025 might not be as far-fetched as I recently thought.  More than seven years ago I wrote in The Huffington Post:  The Sustainable Expo for 2020, with Hawaii in mind.  There have already been bids made for that year from Osaka, Baku, Paris and Yekaterinburg.  But it's not too late.  I'll bring this up as an opportunity in my Prodigies in Paradise presentations to Mensa in October.

I've been to Bangkok more than 25  times and earlier dropped off Pearl's Ashes #15 at the Grand Palace, but on this stop I eventually found myself at Scirocco, the iconic outdoor rooftop restaurant on the 63rd floor of the Lebua Building. However, it was raining and thundering that evening.  Something tells me that I left Pearl's Ashes #36 here, soon after a thunderbolt.  

I thus dined indoors at Mezzulan, two floors higher.  The decor was extravagant, for the room was three stories high surrounded by glass.  A string quartet entertained.  The food was better than Scirocco, for I later returned here on a future trip.

Then on to Indonesia, where I stayed at the W Hotel in Bali.  Here a sunrise view.  I do remember that I had three great meals, while fighting off mosquitos.  Indonesia:
  • Has 17,508 islands and over 238 million people (that was in 2012--now up to 261 million in 2017).  
  • Interestingly enough, while 87% are Muslims, on Bali, 92% are Hindu.  The situation is reversed from the Hindu India and Muslim Pakistan.  
  • Bali is half the size of the Big Island of Hawaii.  
  • Just on this island there are 5,259 temples and two active volcanoes.  
  • Don't ride a bike here.  More dangerous than Honolulu.
  • The sentiment against nuclear power is strong, but the reason is almost funny, definitely insulting, but apparently true:  after Fukushima, as they say it themselves, we are not too careful, so how can you trust us with anything so dangerous as nuclear power.  Then again, this could just be a self-effacing ploy.  But it has worked, for nothing currently approved.  They do have two uranium mines.
  • Time is a work in progress, but don't test them at the airport.
  • This is where Julia Roberts came to Eat, Pray, Love.
  • Kapi Luwak, or civet coffee, comes from here (Bucket List with Jack Nicholson).
I'm pretty sure I did not throw a capsule into this alligator pond.  Certainly not next to this bat.  To quote myself:  You can get very close to these animals, which struck me as being dangerous. 

Some day I'll need to return to Chapter 20, after I remember where I dropped off Pearl's Ashes #37.  Next week:  Singapore.

Again, the Dow Jones Industrial Average  broke its all-time record, ending above 22,000 for the first ever ever, up 52 to 22,016.

Typhoon Noru is now up to 115 MPH with 145 MPH gusts, and will ease past south of Kyushu, causing some havoc over Kagoshima.  The current path is projected to then turn north into the Sea of Japan.  A slight move west, and Cheju Island could be struck.  A bit east and Nagasaki will be in jeopardy:


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