Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Pearl Harbour, Hawaii

The battleship USS Arizona at Pearl Harbour was attacked December 7, 1941 by the Japanese in a surprise attack.  This act of agression was what got the US involved in WWII.
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The memorial is over top the sunken battleship and oil still leaks from it-
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Names of the 1102 sailors and marines killed on the USS Arizona Are on display in the memorial-
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Japan wanted to secure oil reserves so they attacked countries in South East Asia and the South Pacific.  They thought that by wiping out the U.S. Fleet, the U.S.  would be unable to interfere with the Japanese conquest.  In order to do this, they flew 4000 miles undetected, had Oahu surrounded with submarines to prevent any escaping and midget subs were sent into the island to shoot torpedoes.  On December 7th, over 185 ships were anchored in Pearl Harbour for repairs, maintenance and refuelling.    Luckily the 3 air craft carriers were out at sea.  In retaliation, the U.S. shot down 20 Japanese planes and got a midget sub.  However, the  Japanese had wiped out over 300 American planes and 21 ships.  3500 soldiers were wounded or killed.
This encapsulated harpoon missile was used for submarine launches.  It is fired from a sub's torpedoe tube and runs up to the surface.  As it approaches the surface, the missile exits the capsule and searches for its target.  It has a range of 69 miles and travels at subsonic speed, which is less than the speed of sound-
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This anchor from the USS Arizona is gigantic-
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The USS Bowfin is 311 feet long and travelled  16.2 km per hour submerged.  It did 9 war patrols, being launched in 1942.  It could hold 10 officers-
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The dining room-
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Sleeping compartments-
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The control centre-
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The passageways were built for midgets!
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The USS Missouri is 887 feet long, 209 feet high and travels at more than 32 knots per hour.  It carried 32 Tomahawk anti surface missiles (land attack missiles) and 16 harpoon anti surface missiles.
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It is where, on September 2, 1945, the Japanese signed the papers to surrender and end World War II.
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Canada was also represented-
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Kamikaze pilots , or tokkotai, an abbreviation for "special attack unit" killed 5000 American naval personnel and sunk 36 ships during the Battle of Okinawa.  April 11, 1945, 16 tokkotai pilots took off from their base.  The USS Missouri was able to pick up some of them on it's radar and in spite of shooting this plane, it still managed to crash into the ship.  You can see the plane in the top left of the picture!
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The unknown pilot was given a traditional burial at sea , wrapped in a Japanese flag, hand sewn by the Missouri crew.  In  2001, after much research, Setsuo Ishino's family was notified of his death and humane burial, even in times of war.
Visiting Pearl Harbour was a great way to spend a day!

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Waikiki, Hawaii

I am in paradise!
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It just feels so good to be on 'familiar' soil.  For instance, there's a plug in right by my bed for charging, and I don't need an adapter to use it!  The shower has hot water and strong pressure!  Breakfast is toast witih peanut butter!  PEANUT BUTTER!!  I don't have to keep my head down, on the look out for ups and downs in the sidewalks - death traps for klutzes like me!  Everybody speaks  English!  Starbucks are everywhere!  Need I say more?
First stop!
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Bailey's Antiques and Aloha Shirts Inc. was started in 1980 and has been going strong ever since, with the largest collection of Aloha shirts in the universe.  They have more than 15,000 divided into four groups - vintage, new, speciality and used.  Prices range from $3.99 for the modern ones, to $9.99 for a little more special ones to $19.99 for the super special ones.  They also carry antiques like Zippo lighters, Hawaiian records, Nike and Levi paraphanellia etc.
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Another institution here is the Rainbow Drive Inn.  The original owner, Seiju Ifuku, learned to cook during WWII.  After the war, he first worked at the famous Kapiolani Drive Inn, then opened the Kalakaua Drive Inn with his wife Ayako.  In 1961, they opened the drive in that exists today, offering 50 cent chilli and rice, $1 bbq steak plates, 25 cent hamburgers and 14 cent fries, all for workers and the beach crowd.  (Prices are a little higher today).  Serving hearty, simple food in generous portions has always been their motto.
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Diving  here was with Island Divers.  They are a well organized, super friendly operation!  The water was only 23 degrees, sort of a shock after 28 and 29 in Fiji!  I had to wear a wet suit so that messed up my weights a bit.  The diving was a bit like being in a dessert but I did see 2 gigantic turtles, numerous trumpet fish and some coral.  We dove Skimmins Reef and Palea Point, both in Waikiki on Koko Head Crater.  Palea is the wall on the outside eastern tip of Hanauma Bay.  It has caves, deep canyons and a swim through.  The visibility was good and there was a mild current.  We saw turtles, lots of reef fish and needle nose barracuda.
Thanks to Larry Hogan for this picture-
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More cool diving pictures!

Thanks again to John Penfold for the great Gizo diving pictures!
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Saturday, January 10, 2015

Malolo Diving, Fiji

This map shows the numerous dive sites in the area-
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The last 3 days I dove 5 times at #23 Supermarket, #26 Charlie's Reef, # 34 Wilkies Passage # 35 Plantation Pinnacle and #31 Namotu Wall.  I saw lots - turtles, an eagle Ray, trumpet fish, pipe fish, banner fish, sharks- 1.5 meters long!, huge trigger fish, an octopus!!! My first ever!! Barracuda, hard and soft coral, etc.  It was great...so colorful.
Here is Dels, our dive master and me as we approach one of the many private islands/resorts-
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A speciality of the area is vakalolo, which is fish, often dolphin fish aka mahi mahi, with vegetables and casava, served in a coconut cream sauce.  Delicious!
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I am off to Honolulu tomorrow for a few days.  Looking forward to a couple more dives, hopefully a wreck, before it is back to the cold 😢

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Funky Fish Resort, Fiji

Fiji is a country made of over 300 islands but only 100 are inhabited.  Most people live on the 2 main islands of Viti Levu and Vanua Levu.  Average summer temperatures are 32 degrees and it is very humid.  I am dripping with sweat!
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I'm  staying gat the Funky Fish Resort for 3 nights on Malolo Island, part of the Mamanuca Group of islands-
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This is my beach bure-
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The view from my deck-
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The inside-
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Cloud 9 is a floating restaurant/bar in the middle of nowhere!  The snorkeling is supposed to be very good-
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I dove once this afternoon with SubSurface.  They assured me they've never lost a diver so I had nothing to worry about!  We dove at Plantation Pinnacle.  It is a single pinnacle covered in coral, 27 meters high.  There's a swim through and numerous overhangs that are covered with soft corals.  It had a lot of coral on the very top, but not much on the sides, however there were hordes of small fish - all colors.  It's apparently listed in "The World’s Top 100 Dives” Guidebook.  It was very beautiful and this is exactly what it looked like- (thanks to surfdivefiji.com).
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Looking forward to tomorrow!

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

You know you're in Gizo if.....

You know you're in Gizo if.....
It pours for hours at a time and the only water laying around is in the huge craters in the streets.
Speaking of huge craters in the streets-
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When the stewardess explains the safety procedures on the airplane, she reminds you that it is prohibited to consume any alcohol you may have brought with you and not to chew or spit betel!
Speaking of betel, it's the main item for sale at the market and all over town.
All the stores are run by Chinese.
Gizo Hotel is the only place with wifi.
If the ferry leaves at 8, that probably means 8:30. We're on Solomon time.
Power outages are common. Why wouldn't they be with a diesel engine generating power for the entire island!
One can hear music blaring from somewhere all night long and usually hooting and hollering to go with it.
Every vehicle looks like it's been rolled ... at least once!
There is garbage everywhere, and I mean everywhere-
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Swimming is prohibited in the sea because that's where the sewer goes!
Everything is expensive! $30 for a dorm room without a bathroom or A/C! That's more expensive than Australia!
You can't eat for less than 50 Sol - $7.69 Canadian.
The only permanent white people own the dive shop!

Monday, January 5, 2015

Hambere Village, Kolombangara Island, Solomons

I moved from the town and island of Gizo for one night to the Hambere Village Stay on Kolombangara Island which is known for its extinct volcano-
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Hambere village is made up of 2 families - initially grandfathers plus all of their descendants. There are about 60 adults living here and many children. Everyone lives in these airy huts-
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We have our own hut, right on the water-
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This is is my bedroom - mosquito net and all, although I never saw a single one.  Apparently they don't like salt water-
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The bathroom was an outhouse, but a fancy one!
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Lunch was "just caught" King fish, coconut rice, baked sweet potatoes and a noodle/pepper dish-
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The school is closed for summer holidays but it's huge, providing dorms for 500+ students. This is one of the boy's dorms currently being remodelled-
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The village is Seventh Day Adventist and this is the school chapel-
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Teachers are all locals. This is one of the very basic classrooms in the high school with forms 6-13-
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Here is Joel, my new Aussie friend, in a hollowed out tree trunk that works as a great canoe!
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This gentleman was spearfishing all morning.  His catch was already sold and on its way to Honiara-
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These boys spend all day, everyday in the sea.  No computer games or cell phones for them!
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The island is very hospitable and quiet.  I came back to Gizo to make sure I wouldn't miss my plane tomorrow.  I don't think airlines operate on "Solomon time!"

Marrakech to Kaouki Beach, Morocco, November 16, 2018

We only had 190 kilometers to go today so we doddled:  we stopped for coffee, washed the truck- or had a couple of guys wash it,  tried to g...