Friday, April 22, 2016

Travel Asia by junk, sampan, bullet train, bike and more

The sampans navigate the harbor in Hong Kong, taking tourists around for 350 Hong Kong dollars ($70 a couple, U.S.)
You can get cheaper fares to take you around the Aberdeen area, if you negotiate. The sampan is part of Hong Kong lore, distinct because it is maneuvered with oars at the stern.  Retirees make up the majority of the sampan drivers.


In Halong Harbor, we were happily jostled about in our tour boat.
Navigation to the famous caves nearby includes boats bumping each other. 

''I've flown around the world in a plane. I've settled revolutions in Spain. 
The North Pole I have charted. But I can't get started with you.....''


Tuk-tuk time for Sue, Cookie, John and Keller in Bangkok.
"WE'VE FLOWN around the world in a plane. Been part of traffic tie-ups in Spain.
Rode in sampans, tuk-tuks, Treaded snow in mukluks,it's true."
Awaiting the famed bullet train in Tokyo, we joined tourists from all over.

WE APOLOGIZE to Vernon Drake and Ira Gershwin for taking liberties with their wonderful song, but we couldn't resist the segue to our travel modes and highlights story.
During a 33-day Asia trek, we sampled a dozen water-borne vehicles: ships, barges, cruise boats, sampans, even a Chinese junk.
We saw couples riding motorbikes in Vietnam and Thailand (with the girls sitting daintily side-saddle), and we boarded a tourist boat for a joyously bumpy ride in Halong Bay which took us to the famous caves.
WE CRAMMED ourselves into tuk-tuks in Bangkok, enjoying the company of friends from York.  It was our first time in the colorfully decorated, three-wheeled motorized vehicle used as taxis throughout Thailand.
Stylishly dressed, this young Thai lady
rides "side saddle" with her beau.
In Hong Kong's famous Victoria Harbor, which separates the city from Kowloon, we sailed on a junk, the type that has transported Chinese merchants and precious cargo since the Third Century B.C.
INSTEAD OF hauling spices, silks, tea and produce, our lovely junk transported tourists from all over the world.  We sipped green tea and watched the world go by, circling the harbor three times, as the kindly tour guide indulged us and our seafaring delight.
Hong Kong's famed junks are among the
last left in the world. The junk is centuries old.
IN VIETNAM, we biked past rice paddies and vegetable gardens, enjoying a close-up view of the musk oxen and water buffalo that farmers still use.
This musk ox grazes in Vietnam, while
 his owner rests in the early afternoon.
In Japan, we beheld another wonder, the bullet train.  We took several rides on this super fast train, known as the Shinkansen, which literally means “new trunk line."
We biked through rice paddies and enjoyed fresh air
and visits with the friendly Vietnamese people.
The bullet train reaches speeds of more than 250 miles per hour, zips to major cities and some of the small outer villages, and has never had a fatality (despite being shaken on its tracks during tsunamis and earthquakes.) It's a quick, comfy way to get around this efficient country.
WHILE THE bullet train is known for its modern technology, older, time-honored modes of four-legged transportation are still in use.
We saw both musk ox and water bison in the fields, and enjoyed talking to several of the workers, who proudly showed off their male oxens' reproductive jewels.
  Point Arena Lighthouse is famous for rugged views.
"See!" a farmer exclaimed, holding up his prized bull's tail. "He has very large ones. Makes many babies!"

COMING UP: The historic Point Arena lighthouse makes a wonderful get-away if you're headed to northern California and Mendocino country.  It's lovely gift shop features unique, handmade wildlife magnets, the museum has a beautiful French made lens, you can stay overnight in a guest house, and even climb to the top -- for a bird's eye view of passing whales!


  1. What fun, what photos.
    I would love to travel with you two people.

  2. We took the junk ride and loved it. Good timing, on our last day in Hong Kong. Thanks so much. We felt of another time on this leisurely mode. Hundreds took photos of us!

  3. Love the tuk tuk-- efficient, fun and reasonable in price. Let's try them in L.A. and midtown Manhattan.