Sunday, April 21, 2013
Asia part 6 - Nagasaki and end of cruise
The last port of call for our cruise before finishing in Kobe was Nagasaki. We woke up in the morning to a lovely view of this seaside town of 400,000 residents. Serge was kind of disappointed, he thought Japan would be like the skyscraper land of China. I told him to wait until Tokyo for that. I also remarked that Nagasaki is about the same size as Long Beach, CA.
We had a tour booked so we cleared customs and got on the bus which took us to the Peace Park. There is the famous peace statue. The statue's right hand points to the threat of nuclear weapons while the extended left hand symbolizes eternal peace. Spring was definitely in the air. No jacket needed.
Our tour guide got all excited because she spotted this guy who had lived through the bombing of Nagasaki in 1945. He posed for a picture with Serge but only spoke Japanese.
But he did have a little poster with his story on it in English. It was about then that I started getting emotional. It turned out to be a VERY emotional day for me. Actually, I was pretty emotional on the whole trip, but that's a whole other story. Serge called me a cry baby.
We arrived right at the peak of cherry blossoms and they were just stunning. This is how trees sing I kept thinking.
Then we headed over to the Atomic Bomb Museum and park. This is my face getting screwed up for tears. That is their ground zero in the background. 78,000 souls perished in an instant that day. I just felt haunted. And ashamed that human beings can carry out such atrocities
The grisly horrors awaiting us inside the museum were almost too much for me to take. I have not had to look away so much to prevent myself from weeping in a very long time. Maybe the last time was at the Holocaust museum in LA.
After that the bus took us back to the ship after a little tour around town. The guide pointed out Chinatown, which didn't look all that different to me. We gobbled up some lunch at the taco bar and then headed back out on foot. As we were heading out, 2 passengers were coming back and they gave us their trolley passes since they didn't need them anymore. Sweet! Saved us $10. I was irritated though. We could have taken the trolley to the peace park and museum and paid the $2 to get into the museum ourselves. Instead we had paid $95 each! It was the one thing I complained about on the cruise comment card. Rip off.
The trolleys were so cool. There was a certain learning curve to it though. You enter from the back and you leave AND pay on the way out at the front. We wondered what would happen if you couldn't pay. We took the trolley to the main train station so I could buy our bullet train tickets that we were going to need from Kyoto to Tokyo. It took the agent a very long time to find us seats. She explained that it is cherry blossom season and that it is a very busy time. Glad I had decided to buy them in Nagasaki 5 days before we would need them.
Japan definitely felt more first world than China did. I suppose South Korea was too, but we were only there for a few hours and didn't get a chance to soak it in. We went on a hunt for ATM machines to get some Japanese Yen. I had some already but certainly not enough for the rest of the trip. Well I wish I had gotten a picture of what happened next. We found a bank of ATM's and both Serge and I tried them. I don't know what buttons he pushed but his machine asked for his passbook. Serge thought it meant passport. Well the machine took his passport and wouldn't give it back. It was a harrowing few minutes as Serge used the phone next to the machine. Finally he was able to speak to someone who understood English and then his passport was released. Whew! The boat was leaving in 2 hours and I about had a heart attack.
We definitely got a good feeling in Nagasaki. Everyone was so smiley and helpful. Twice when we opened our map on the street, someone instantly appeared and offered to help us in English. Nice!
We got back in time for Happy Hour, of course. Then we watched a show the local girl's school put on for us at the dock as we were preparing to leave. There were firecrackers and music and dragon puppets.
Then enjoyed the view from our dining room table as we headed out of the harbor and under the suspension bridge.
This was the night I hit my big $90 jackpot. Not bad for a 27 cent bet. And then I cashed out and never put another dime in.
The next day was the last full day of the cruise, a sea day, and also Easter Sunday. We put on our easter clothes. They had free flowing champagne until noon on the Lido deck so I got kinda snockered early.
Didn't buy any pics but snapped a shot of this one in the gallery. Oh yeah, that was another thing. We did a special photo shoot with the photographer, artsy fartsy black and white pics. When we came back to cull and choose shots, we got the price for the 10 we had selected. Two thousand dollars. I about choked. Needless to say we didn't buy any. Okay almost done with the travelogue. Two more posts to go. Kyoto and Tokyo. See you soon!