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The first time I felt a genuine urge to drink tea was in 2003, when I stayed briefly in the United Kingdom. I took packs of green teas with me as gifts but was disappointed to find my British friends preferred much stronger black teas from Sri Lanka. After I came back to China and started to cover food stories, I met friends in the tea-drinking circle and learned more.
Another major difference is that Chinese people prefer to drink what are called "original leaf" teas, in which the leaves are whole, compared to the finely chopped black tea that is prevalent in the world market.
Jason Burnett has been appointed general manager of Crowne Plaza Beijing Sun Palace, managed by InterContinental Hotel Group. Park Plaza Beijing Wangfujing was named best mid-range hotel in Beijing by TTG China Travel Awards for the fourth consecutive year. Kempinski Hotel Beijing hosted its annual Vienna Ball for the second consecutive year in March, under the patronage of the Austrian embassy in China and the Vienna city government.
While luxury brands have established enviable reputations built on former glories, that does not mean they are stuck in the past. To maintain their vitality, they take inspiration from their heritage and renew and reinterpret their traditions in the crucible of contemporary culture.
At the heart of this process are the artisans whose alchemy maintains the authentic DNA of the brands while embracing and redefining the spirit of the times. This June, The Peninsula Arcade is taking shoppers on a journey to explore the world of some of the legendary artisans that are transforming luxury traditions into a heritage for the future.
For one month only, guests and shoppers at The Peninsula Hong Kong, The Peninsula Shanghai and The Peninsula Beijing can gain privileged insights into the pride and passion at the heart of the peerless expertise of these artisans through exclusive exhibitions, live demonstrations and unique premieres.
At The Peninsula Beijing, for example, Graff and Bulgari are presenting special exhibitions of their high jewelry. While Franck Muller will launch 10 "Peninsula" limited edition watches that will only be available at The Peninsula Shanghai.
There will also be special showcases by brands such as Breguet, Cartier, Chanel, Harry Winston and Van Cleef & Arpels. As a heritage brand in its own right, The Peninsula is both a custodian of its long-standing reputation for romance, glamor and style, and a purveyor of the modern luxury lifestyle.
To complement the Legendary Artisans program the Peninsula's pastry chefs, ma?tre chocolatiers and dim sum chefs will showcase their own artisanal pedigree through special co-branded afternoon teas in partnership with Tiffany & Co, and themed gourmet menus with some of the brands. Unique to The Peninsula hotels, the Peninsula Arcades are prestigious shopping destinations that allow discerning guests and local residents to experience and enjoy luxury lifestyle brands in a refined ambience.
Led by Australia's Trade and Investment Minister Steven Ciobo, Australia Week in China kicked off on April 11 with the potential to bring in numerous business opportunities for the two countries.
More than 1,000 Australian business leaders will gather in cities across China during the weeklong event, with the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement generating major interest in the continent's business circles. Many observers believe the event will further bilateral trade and investment amid a competitive global market.
They are keen to move beyond transaction-based buying and selling to embrace long-term sustainable relationships with trusted local partners. It is China's seventh-largest trading partner and one of the leading destinations for Chinese foreign direct investment. Indeed, Australia's 25 years of uninterrupted economic growth owes much to the strength of trade and investment with China. Australian minerals and energy affects millions of people across China on a daily basis, from powering factories and homes, to forging the steel used in China's web of subways and high-speed rail networks.
Australia has also helped fuel the investment and export-led phase of China's economic growth. But as China shifts to a slower, more sustainable growth model based on consumption and a burgeoning services sector, Australian companies still have much to contribute. Australia Week in China reflects the continent's wishes to adapt to the changing nature of growth in China.
For decades Australia has been a reliable and safe supplier of a diverse range of agricultural commodities to China. Recent years have witnessed incredible growth in Australia's premium food and beverage exports to China, much of it through China's booming e-commerce market.
Backed by a pristine environment and a robust regulatory and food safety regime, Australia is a partner of choice for Chinese consumers. It's premium dairy, red meat, packaged food and wine products enjoy wide appeal among discerning consumers who demand quality and safety. The author is senior trade commissioner and national manager of Australian trade commission in China. The big lesson for Australia today is that while the resources boom may be over, the Asian century is not. China's growing economy, large middle class and aging population provides enormous opportunities for Australia across a diverse range of sectors including agriculture, health, aged care, education, tourism and financial services. In these areas, Australian companies have a meaningful role in assisting China in its economic transition. The participation of over 1,000 delegates in the Australia Week in China trade mission starting on April 11 demonstrates the eagerness of Australian companies to engage with the country. To put this into further perspective, the growth achieved by China in 2015 exceeded the total value of its economy in 1995. The Australian companies participating in AWIC recognize that China remains the most important engine of the global economy. China, according to the IMF, contributed 29 percent of total global growth last year in terms of purchasing power parity. There are three rapidly evolving areas that will reshape the Australia - China economic relationship: rising consumption, e - commerce and innovation. ANZ bank predicts that by 2030, 326 million more Chinese people will have joined the middle class. When you combine this with the new China Australia Free Trade Agreement, it's good news for Australian businesses, particularly for those that provide the goods and services that a rapidly growing middle class wants to consume. In food and agriculture, there is significant growth potential as Chinese appetite for our food shows no sign of diminishing. Health services currently rank as one of the most profitable sectors in the global economy and Australia has something to offer throughout the healthcare value chain, from R&D, to training, aged care, hospital and care facility construction and administration, medical devices and e - medicine.
The agreement means our educational institutions will have more opportunities to set up in China, to build their brand and networks. And then of course there is tourism and education and all of the upside for Australia through our lower dollar, growth in Chinese international student enrolments and the revised air services agreement, which means more flights, more tourists and more students. China's e - commerce sales surpassed those of the US and by 2018 they are expected to surpass the US and Europe combined at $610 billion.
Editor's note: One of the leading natural healthcare companies in the world, the Australia-based Blackmores offers high quality products made with sustainable ingredients. How would you recommend Blackmores and its products to people who know little about the company or the brand?
Blackmores is Asia Pacific's leading natural health company and the most trusted brand in our category in Australia and Southeast Asia. We were founded more than 80 years ago by Maurice Blackmore, Australia's pioneering naturopath.
Our product range is based on those naturopathic philosophies that have underpinned our business for many years, combined with knowledge from the Blackmores Institute, our research and academic arm.
We offer a wide range of products so consumers can choose the products to best suit their needs. One of our most popular products is Vitamin E Cream, which has enjoyed a loyal following since Fan Bingbing revealed her preference for it. Our most recent launch has been Blackmores Infant Nutrition range for mums who have challenges breastfeeding, to ensure they have access to high-quality products. We formulated these products to be as close to breast milk as possible and using Australian milk. We'll build on these results in the future by expanding into new markets, delivering exciting new products, progressing new partnerships - such as our joint venture with Bega - and growing our presence in important new markets, such as China.
To support this growth we will invest in more people, including doubling our team in China. We will grow our range and have plans to launch more than 100 new products in the coming year. Blackmores has partnerships with most of the main Chinese e-commerce companies, such as Alibaba Group, Jingdong, Netease and VIP.
The Blackmores Institute is currently exploring a number of new collaborations for research and education. Blackmores will build on the success of our market-leading Vitamin E Cream, which has received extremely strong positive feedback by expanding our range of therapeutic cosmeceuticals. We have long respected Li Na because she's been a passionate campaigner for the health and wellbeing of people in China.
We found out several years ago that Li Na was a big fan of our products and how important they were to her training regime when she was competing.
This was a huge honor because we admire her so much - her achievements both on the tennis court and as an advocate of health and nutrition initiatives are so significant.
Li Na came on board as a Blackmores global ambassador when she was pregnant with her daughter and we were delighted to host her here in Australia for the launch of our infant nutrition range in January.
For medical reasons she was unable to breastfeed and so she relates, as many women do, to the need to be able to trust the quality of the product and nutritional value of the formula you give your children. I hope our influence in working together will be greater than brand or product promotions - we are partnering on health campaigns such as The First 1,000 Days to ensure families have the education they need to give their babies the best start in life through better prenatal care and for the first years of life. We are delighted to see the respectful relationship between our governments and the ChAFTA shows the strong trade relationship between China and Australia.
We hope to be able to showcase the quality of Australian products and to learn more about the needs of our Chinese consumers and how we can further support them.
One of the key activities we'll be participating in during Australia Week in China is the signing of a strategic partnership with one of China's largest mother and baby store chains - LeYou - for distribution of our range of infant nutrition, pregnancy and children's products. I am also honored to be delivering the keynote address to the Australia China Business Awards gala attended by the Australian Minister for Trade& Investment on the evening of Wednesday, 13th April.
We send our quality team to the source where our natural ingredients are caught and harvested. On any single Blackmores product, more than 30 quality checks and tests have been passed before the product is released for sale. We don't compromise, so if we can't access an ingredient that meets our high quality expectations, then we will not produce that product until our standards can be met. We have a quality code of practice for our team and for our suppliers to maintain standards that are even higher than the world-class Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) requirements. In recent weeks, we hosted an event for more than 100 of our growers, suppliers and manufacturing partners to share our business strategy to further the trust and strong ties between our companies. We care about people - we invest in the community, in support of our consumers and in our staff. We have our own research Institute - we partner with leading universities and researchers to offer the best products, advice and education. We've been humbled by the wonderful reception of the Chinese people who have warmly embraced our products into their homes. On behalf of the Chinese embassy in Australia, I would like to extend my warm congratulations to all the sponsors and participants on the holding of 2016 Australian Week in China from April 11 to 15.
The event has brought hundreds of Australian business leaders and entrepreneurs to major Chinese cities for talks on trade deals, investment projects and other cooperation.
The China-Australia Free Trade Agreement has opened a new era for our bilateral commercial ties, and the current session of the event could serve as a key platform to tap and realize such valuable potential.
We have been working closely with all Australian stakeholders to further strengthen this cornerstone of our strategic partnership to the benefit of both sides. Last year witnessed major breakthroughs in the Sino-Australia economic relationship: we signed the ChAFTA and put it into force, which means a better business environment and fewer barriers for exporters, importers, investors and service providers. We also concluded a bilateral sanitary protocol for exports of live beef cattle from Australia to China, a very popular move from the perspective of Chinese consumers. The estimated value of capital flow between the two countries was around $10 billion for 2015. According to Chinese sources, the stock of cumulative Chinese investment in Australia is over $75 billion.
These important cooperation projects will make positive contributions to the development of local or regional economies by creating jobs, tax revenues and new facilities or capacities to meet the growing demand of various consumers. Last year, Australia joined the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank as a founding member, and our cooperation in this sector has entered a golden age.
We are now working together to build or run ports, urban light rail systems, roads, railways, power grids, aviation facilities and gas pipelines in Australia.
We also work together to improve the tourist infrastructure by opening more flights between Australian and Chinese cities, by building more hotels, restaurants, holiday resorts, serviced apartments, and by simplifying the visa application process. As a result, over one million Chinese visited Australia last year, contributing significantly to the surplus of trade in services.
The Chinese economy is in the process of restructuring and transformation for better quality and higher efficiency. In 2015, the Chinese economy grew by 6.9 percent and remained a key driving force for global growth. Under the Belt and Road Initiative for international partnership and sustainable development, Chinese and Australian firms can collaborate further to explore new business opportunities. This year marks the first year of China's 13th Five-Year Plan (2016-21), a critical year for our economy to evolve into a new normal of medium-to-high speed growth. China will uphold the concepts of innovation, coordinated and green development, opening up and inclusiveness. China is committed to deepening reforms and opening its door wider for more international exchange and cooperation. Du Kang, the god of liquor who was said to teach people how to make baijiu, is highly respected by the locals in the town of Maotai - where the liquor is produced - in Guizhou province.
A visit to the Moutai sorghum processing plant is an unexpected experience in today's machine-driven processing world.
At the factory, women in white uniforms intently observe the red-on-white bottles that pass through four assembly lines. Home to dozens of other liquor brands, Guizhou also serves as a hub for liquor traders across China. He said the local economy is dependent to a large extent on Kweichow Moutai, which employs about 70,000 farmers in the province in addition to more than 20,000 workers in its production facilities.
According to Deng Qingqing, a certified wine taster and plant manager at Moutai, the brand stands out because of its unique processing techniques.
She explained the process of making Moutai: "The workers steam the sorghum, and let it dry for a while and then put it in the pits where they mix it with yeast. It was poured during visits by US President Richard Nixon and Japanese Prime Minister Kakuei Tanaka, as well as at Sino-British negotiations on Hong Kong when Deng Xiaoping and Margaret Thatcher toasted.
Moutai in foreigner's eyes is not just a beverage but something that represents a nation and has a history.
One of the secrets behind the high-quality reputation of Moutai comes from the clean, pollution-free water of the Chishui River.
To treat his young sons, Li said he would sometimes dip his chopsticks into the Moutai he was drinking to let them taste a drop.
Li, now in his early 60s, has retired from the plant, but his two sons have taken jobs there.
Older consumers like Li tend to be the norm in the baijiu market, said Derek Sandhaus, author of Baijiu: The Essential Guide to Chinese Spirits.
It's a marked contrast to Western drinking trends, Sandhaus explained, where consumers' alcohol intake tend to mature in their 20s. Chinese people may recognize the prestige of a brand like Moutai, but few grasp the peculiarities that differentiate one class of baijiu from another. Modern Chinese dining habits are another impediment to the appreciation of baijiu, said William J.
You can't enjoy the variation among baijiu if you're committed to "pounding down" a bottle of a single type, Isler said. The Capital Spirits baijiu bar was initially frequented by expats but Isler estimates that 60 percent of his current clients are Chinese, with almost half of them women. His consultancy specializes in introducing Western consumers to baijiu in the hopes that it can establish niche markets overseas in the same way that the Mexican liquor mezcal has. Isler is adamant that success abroad will translate into success domestically for Chinese brands, especially those hoping to attract younger adults.
Moutai has already started its foreign expansion, investing a reported $11.76 million to open a store in Paris. Overseas purchases account for 7 percent of Moutai's sales, Yang said, and he admitted that Chinese travelers account for most of those purchases.
If Moutai's overseas ambitions succeed, it could mark a new direction for the baijiu drinking culture, one that lifts the world's best-selling spirit to new heights. A visit to the Moutai Museum gives people an opportunity to learn the brand's centurylong history and the local culture relating to baijiu. For those not familiar with the alcohol making process, Moutai facilities may not be the most appealing. Another secret ingredient comes from the emerald river that has carved a majestic swathe through the valley. To attend to current demand for the famous Moutai liquor, it must be tempting for the company to use modern machinery.
I was particularly surprised when I was told that Moutai had released a new product oriented more for women, with a fruity blueberry taste and a lipstick inspired bottle. Reviewing the stock price, it is also surprising to find that Moutai has been resilient despite the recent convulsions of the Chinese stock market. Is no secret that Moutai sales suffered from the government's anti-corruption campaign, limiting excessive expenditure. The stock price of Moutai plummeted to 116 yuan per share in January 2014 but, at the time of writing, recovered to about 230 yuan a share.
Thinking of a possible future driver for a significant increase in sales, Moutai will soon launch mass-oriented products, sharing some of the secrets from the "Moutai Standard" while having a more affordable price point. While not targeted as an elite drink, the new product can be distributed through other channels, such as the Internet. I am left wondering if young people will be willing to drink baijiu as their grandparents did, especially when facing a deluge of new beverage products.
Moutai has diversified its product portfolio to meet the demands of high, medium and low-market consumers. By the end of last year, 34 foreign-invested banks had branches in Qingdao, accounting for 90 percent of the province's total number of foreign financial institutions. Many financiers like Gao said they see tremendous prospects in the city's financial sector because of the city's geographic advantages, strong industrial foundation, government support and preferential policies. Officials believe the financial sector will grow by 15 percent in the first quarter of this year.
In February 2014, Qingdao gained approval from the State Council to build the Qingdao Wealth Management Financial Comprehensive Reform Pilot Zone. Li Qun, Party chief of Qingdao, said he and other city officials will make "all-out efforts to achieve the goal of creating a wealth management sector in China with a significant international presence". The city has formed a leadership group, headed by Qingdao Mayor Zhang Xinqi, to establish a development plan for its financial industry.
Officials at all levels are reportedly learning about the industry and gaining insights from attending high-level financial events. It has implemented 35 new financial reform policies, including mortgage plans to benefit small and medium-sized high-tech companies with loan financing, pilot programs for qualified foreign and domestic partners, allowing overseas investors to convert foreign currencies into yuan for private equity investments in China and raising funds for overseas investments.
In June 2015, Qingdao became the first pilot city to allow its companies to obtain loans in renminbi from South Korean banks. Guo Qiang, general manager of Sinopal, a local company specializing in electrical machine research and development and the first company to try the financing channel, said the reform allows the company access to low-cost financing. Officials said financial reforms have spurred rapid growth in profits for the financial industry, in the number of financial institutions and allowed the stock market in Qingdao to surge. In 2010, the financial industry contributed to 4.2 percent of Qingdao's gross domestic product.
There are nearly 500 financial companies in various forms, including funds and asset management companies.
It has attracted 11 banks to set up private banking branches for a combined asset value of 70 billion yuan. Asset-trading platforms have sprung up in the city, including the Qingdao Over-the-counter Clearing House, the Qingdao International Marine Property Exchange Center, Haier United Credit Asset Trading Center and the Arts Exchange Center. More than 300 companies have been listed in the Qingdao Blue Ocean Equity Exchange, a regional equity trading market. The market's total transactions for the past year exceeded 10 billion yuan, raising more than 2.7 billion yuan for companies. Wang Daoyun, chairman at the Blue Ocean Equity Exchange, said "the exchange has become a 'holy destination' for startups. The booming financial industry is helping Qingdao buffer the overall slowdown in the Chinese economy, Li Qun said. Li Qun said Qingdao's economy has historically been dominated by large enterprises such as Haier and Hisense, but the rise of the financial and asset management sectors could help funnel funding to its small and medium-sized enterprises. Adjacent to the picturesque Laoshan Mountain, Jinjialing was chosen as the core area for the national wealth management reform pilot zone in Qingdao. Over the past two years, it has gained tremendous growth momentum in its aim to be among China's leading financial districts. Wang Zhengrong, general manager of Shandong Financial Asset Management Qingdao, recently moved into his new office in the CMB Tower in Jinjialing. In 2014, Qingdao's first independent insurance company, Qingdao Zhonglu Insurance, opened for business in Jinjialing. The Lanhai Equity Exchange, which has been operational since April 2014, is dedicated to developing a multi-tier capital market in the area.
Through the first two months of this year, tax revenue generated from the financial sector in Jinjialing reached 740 million yuan; total loans and deposits in local banks hit 342 billion yuan and 280 billion yuan respectively, increases of 2 percent and 4 precent from the same period last year. With breathtaking natural views, Dapeng Peninsula, located to the east of Shenzhen, is undergoing rapid development in its green industries. Surrounded in pristine environment, govt aims for low-carbon economic development, Chen Hong reports. Hong Kong director Stephen Chow's latest film is casting the scenic Dapeng Peninsula, located in Shenzhen, Guangdong province, into the limelight. In the movie, the heroine, who happens to be a beautiful mermaid, lives in a mysterious but luxuriant forest surrounded by a crystal-clear sea and steep cliffs adorned with a waterfall.
The peninsula's beaches are the best option for people visiting or living in Shenzhen, the fourth-largest city on the Chinese mainland by gross domestic product, to spend a weekend with their family and friends. In the mountains of Dapeng, visitors can ride their bikes, hike, fish, or swim while breathing in the fresh air. Gabby Turner, who is 28 and from the state of Wisconsin in the US, has been working in Shenzhen for more than three years as a kindergarten teacher. What impresses him the most about Dapeng are the villager's homes that have been converted into cozy bed and breakfast guesthouses. He suggested booking the guesthouses in advance with prices rising due to an influx of tourists from surrounding cities and neighboring Hong Kong. Turner said every morning he jogs about 10 km through Shenzhen and wishes he could "join Dapeng's New Year Marathon as soon as possible". According to statistics by the administration of Dapeng, its air quality is the best in the city.
The air quality in Dapeng was measured as "excellent", meaning an AQI below 50, for 356 days last year.
While its GDP has grown steadily, its smog-filled days dropped from 187 days 10 years ago to 35 days last year. It has been an universal problem that the economic development has been achieved at the expense of the environment at present or in the past, but the Shenzhen government tried to avoid it. The Shenzhen government set up a functional district to manage Dapeng Peninsula on Dec 30, 2011, and issued a policy for it to be evaluated by measures other than GDP performance, which is different from nine other districts in Shenzhen. The new district also has a critical mission of exploring a green and low-carbon economic development model that will include restoring polluted environments, developing and protecting marine resources and fostering an ecologic culture.
One of the district's major goals is to develop into a world leading coastal tourism destination.
Wang Jingdong, the top leader of Dapeng new district, said tourism projects in Dapeng must be of high quality while being friendly to the environment. He said the district's departments are working on proposals or are in talks with the world's leading theme parks, such as LEGOLAND Parks, Universal Studios and Nickelodeon Universe. The district government also signed a cooperative agreement with Shenzhen Agricultural Products Co Ltd, a State-owned listed company, at the end of last year to build an agricultural park for residents and visitors to experience what farming is like.
Wu Zhong, one of the city's legislators, said the tourism industry in Dapeng should have a long-term outlook, improve services and consider building an aquarium or an international conference center. Other legislators have said that the new district should introduce more high-end international hotels to diversify the area's hospitality sector. Currently, small guesthouses dominate the sector, with just a few five-star hotels under construction. Apart from the tourism industry, the district government is also prioritizing the marine industry, with the area's long coasts and deep sea environment creating numerous opportunities. With its subtropical climate, Shenzhen has an average temperature of about 22 C all year round, with summers sometimes as long as six months.
In January, the Dapeng district government signed a framework cooperation agreement with Shenzhen Qianhai International Boat& Yacht Exchange Center to set up headquarters in Dapeng and provide import and export services for yachts in Hong Kong, Macao, Guangdong province and other bayside locations in the Asia-Pacific region.
The exchange center will also work together with the government to make Dapeng a headquarters for the world yacht industry.
It's expected to build an industry that could produce an output of more than 10 billion yuan a year in the near future, according to industry insiders. In a bid to explore better ways of balancing the environmental protection and economic development, environmentalists, scholars and government officials from home and abroad will gather in Dapeng for an international forum on ecological civilization from April 16 to 17. Their topics will touch upon the development of marine resources and ecological protection, comprehensive resolutions for the urban environment of the bay areas. Xinzheng, a small city in central China's Henan province, has summarized its experience in implementing a new-style urbanization process during recent years, so as to share it with other cities in the region.
The city has undergone gradual but continuous changes since 2009 to arrive at today's fresh new look. It has demolished 156 villages and built 50,000 new houses for nearly more than 10,000 resettled households.
It also established 34 ecological corridors, eight sewage treatment plants, a landfill and a garbage incineration and power generating plant. In 2009, Xinzheng started its urbanization process by reconfiguring the layout of its villages. In 2012, the city further centralized the 146 living areas into 52 communities, which were categorized into three levels based on their development stage and functional location. A community at the highest level, for example, has finished the transformation and upgrade of leading industries and the renovation of shantytowns, while the lowest level is still cultivating leading industries such as textiles and environmentally friendly architecture. The local government believes the scale and speed of rural labor migration to cities should depend on the size of urban industrial clusters and the number of new jobs.
It has therefore made many efforts to build more industrial zones and highlight the development of pillar industries to increase jobs. The government eliminated 500 companies with high pollution and high energy consumption, and encouraged profitable and environmentally friendly companies to move into business parks set aside for the use of farmers. In Mengzhuang town, a farmers' business park has built 125,000-square-meter factories and is now home to 98 small and micro companies.
In the past three years, the government used all the newly added land designated for construction to establish and expand industrial zones.
It also adjusted the city's leading industries from 12 sectors including nonmetal mineral manufacturing and smelting and pressing of ferrous metals to three, which are business logistics, food processing and biomedicines. In 2015, the total added value of the three new leading industries reached nearly 33 billion yuan ($5.09 billion), accounting for almost 50 percent of the city's GDP. It has organized 12 free training sessions, set up 62 farmers' associations and reformed government services by reducing 262 administrative examination and approval items to 138 items, and cutting more than half of the related 1,310 procedures.To better finance the project, the government adopted such methods as financial leasing, trust funds and city investment bonds to attract social capital.
An annual forum on the Yellow Emperor, regarded as a founding ancestor of the Chinese nation, has helped Xinzheng city and the Yellow Emperor culture enjoys a widespread reputation, the event's organizers said. This year's forum, which starts today, will include a painting and calligraphy exhibition as well as a seminar on the qualities of the emperor.
The legendary ancestor is said to have been born in Xinzheng in Central China's Henan province more than 5,000 years ago and is also known as the initiator of Chinese civilization. Since the cultural forum started in 2006, 56 speakers have delivered 68 speeches at the events. Noted historian Li Xueqin said that commemorating and paying tribute to the Yellow Emperor showed the Chinese nation's respect of history. Li Boqian, a retired professor from the School of Archaeology and Museology of Peking University, said remembrance of ancestors is a tradition in China and also forges important ties in keeping the country unified. Wang Liqun, a literature professor at Henan University, said the Yellow Emperor is the common ancestor of the Chinese people and they should study the initiatives of the emperor's time. Such speeches have helped Chinese learn more about the emperor, the culture he created and the role that culture plays in today, the forum's organizers said. Guests at the 2009 forum paid much attention to rock paintings in the Juci mountain region as research on the images had been organized the previous year. Li Xueqin said the discovery of the paintings provided a great chance to learn about the Yellow Emperor culture as well as other Chinese cultures in ancient times.
Rock art expert Gong Tianfu said the pictures help make Henan more appealing and are another treasure of Xinzheng. There are more than 3,000 rock paintings in the Juci mountains that were formed at least 4,000 years ago, Zhengzhou Daily reported.
Xinzheng is fewer than 40 kilometers from Henan's capital Zhengzhou and has a population of 786,000. The city, home to Zhengzhou Xinzheng International Airport, is an important transport hub in China.
Historical and cultural celebrities born in the city include philosopher Han Fei of the Warring States Period (475-221 BC) and Tang Dynasty (AD 618-907) poet Bai Juyi. Local officials said the city focuses on the development of its sectors of logistics, food, tobacco, biological medicines and advanced manufacturing, as well as improvement of traditional manufacturing.
Huangdi, whose personal name was said to be Gongsun Xuanyuan, was born in Xinzheng, Central China's Henan province, about 5,000 years ago.
The ceremony was listed as a national intangible cultural heritage item by the State Council in 2008. In 2007, Olympic champion Deng Yaping lit the flame for the ceremony's "sacred fire altar", which expresses the hope that the Chinese civilization will be passed down through the generations. The ceremony has also attracted Taiwan politicians and dignitaries, including Lien Chan, then chairman of the Kuomintang, Wu Poh-hsiung, former chairman of KMT, and Yok Mu-ming, chairman of Taiwan's New Party. Hundreds of Chinese and overseas companies, associations and institutions, as well as more than 100,000 Chinese people, have participated. For many, the event promotes the traditional Chinese culture and instills a sense of belonging for overseas Chinese. Participants in the Silicon Valley round of the 2016 Sino-US Innovation and Entrepreneurship Competition in February hope to make it to the finals in Shandong province.

Ninety teams of students from Chinese and American universities and research institutions will participate in a heated competition in Qingdao, Shandong province, from Friday to Sunday. The event will focus on projects in the sectors of healthcare, life sciences, information technology, the Internet and engineering technology. Since the end of 2015, a series of contests had been held in the United States, including on-site preliminary contests in Washington, Houston, Chicago and Silicon Valley and online contests.
President of Rice University David Leebron, Chicago Innovation Exchange Center Executive Director John Flavin, Silicon Valley-based Tech Reactor Chief Innovation Officer Johann H. Zhang said many project initiators during the preliminary contests showed a strong interest in joining the Sino-US science and technological innovation park jointly founded by SDU and the Qingdao city government.
He also expects to help the student innovators build a foothold for their projects in Shandong, in addition to continuing to attract more projects and push joint research and development between China and its US counterparts. As a leading university administrated by the Ministry of Education, SDU has devoted great emphasis to and foster student enthusiasm on startups and innovation. Zhang said the university is not aiming to build 'a factory' or 'a company' on campus, or pushing all students to initiate businesses or become entrepreneurs. To this end, the SDU is forming what it calls a "business maker culture," aiming to root the concept deep in campus life by optimizing the institution's curriculum and stressing real practices.
The academic credit administration has included results from the startup and innovation classes and students' performances.
Resources to share classes of campus include opening the startup and innovation classes to the public and online courses. SDU will include results from the classes in student files, evaluating their performance in the field. In recent years, the university has injected hefty capital into its innovation education and allocated a special fund for related projects and research. The teahouse is part of the university's efforts to reflect the nation's Internet Plus strategy and the government call to offer "spaces for makers". In 2015, more than 100 events including a career leader forum, startup English corner and university startup salons have been held.
Some top-quality resources and projects from Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou have gathered at the makers space. The new school is expected to benefit from the advantages of the university's branch located at Qilu Software Park, which is a cluster of small- and medium-sized enterprises and an incubation service park has been built there. A "maker's street", which is a street mainly serving those maker's demands, a center and an incubator have also been built.
The Sino-US science and technological innovation park jointly founded by SDU and the Qingdao city government is a prime example. It is split in two areas - an international industrial park at the Qingdao High-tech Industrial Development Zone and an international research park that is under construction at a Qingdao campus zone attached to SDU. SDU and the Qingdao High-tech Industrial Development Zone reached an agreement in October 2015 to build the international industrial park. The new campus not only provides excellent resources for students, but also creates top conditions for cross-disciplinary study as well as studies on emerging subjects. On June 13, 2015, SDU inked a strategic partnership with Haier Group to jointly build a 2025 Innovation and Startup Alliance, which is planned to accelerate the synergic effects among the university and the Fortune 500 company and the transfer of technological achievements. The alliance will set up more makers' spaces and startup funds, in a bid to provide solid support to students. Currently, the Qingdao High-tech Industrial Development Zone has set up a 20-million-yuan angel investor fund while the alliance has attracted 1.3 billion yuan from 1,328 venture capital firms and 98 incubators. Some 30 companies including Glorious Oriental, Insigma under Zhejiang University and the US-headquartered Dow Chemical are founding members. More than 100 universities and occupational institutes from Guizhou and Shandong have expressed interest in cooperation. There, as we watched the surf crash on the shore, we dined on spinach salads, curried shrimp and Mary, the breast of chicken. We passed by the Pacific Naval Command Center and then on into the small park and visitor center that houses the entrance to the Arizona Memorial.
As I looked to the North, at the mountains not far away, I could imagine the first wave of 187 dive-bombers and then the second wave of torpedo planes appearing like an evil apparition over the nearby crests.
These thoughts careened through my head as I looked at the raised nameplates of the mighty battle ships nearby.
From the Arizona memorial, we boarded our buses and rode up into the hills to another peaceful military cemetery called the a€?Punchbowl.a€? Here, amidst the bucolic rows of trees, shrubs and neatly trimmed grass, lie 39,000 military men and women who saw service in the pacific theaters, in various wars of our history. As we drove through Honolulu, the bus passed by several old churches and then by the Queen Iolani Palace.
We were tiring with the long and active day so we retreated to our cabin, We opened the balcony door and sat for a time in the fresh sea air admiring the moonshine of the ocean beneath us. On the journey down the mountain, we could espy Nihau, the a€?forbidden islanda€? about 11 miles from Kauai. We walked down to deck five and boarded the motorized tender for the short ride to the Lahaina docks.
The small basin between them is shallow and became an ideal breeding ground for the sperm whales from time immemorial. It was misting lightly as we stood outside the center and looked across the Caldera, or Volcanoa€™s mouth.
It was only 12 years ago that an enormous lava flow had slid down the mountain and destroyed 189 homes and virtually the entire town of Kalapena. We traversed the volcano on a ring road watching the lunar landscape created by the sulphur and old lava flows. From the Volcano house, we rode a brief way to the a€?Akatsuka Orchid Gardensa€? to admire the many gorgeous varieties of colorful orchids that the island produces. From the Mona Loa Nut factory, Derek drove us to the ocean shore, at the afore-mentioned site of the unfortunate town of Kalapena. After our late morning siestas, we stopped by the deck 14 trough to ingest the appropriate caloric overload. The waiters served up the usual five star extravaganzas as we sipped a nice bottle of Mondavi Merlot and got acquainted with this charming couple.
We were now some 800 miles South of Hilo and still had another 400 miles before we reached that small speck in the Pacific labeled Christmas Island. An art auction was taking place in the wheel house lounge, so we sat through that for a time enjoying the banter of the auctioneer and the lively patter about artists a€?not yet dead.a€? Then, we watched the delightful comedy a€?Analyze That,a€? with Billy Crystal and Robert De Niro. Breakfast found us in the deck 14 Horizons court and then we sunned on the aft section of deck 12 for an hour or so before retreating to a€?Octogenarians row,a€? on covered deck 7, to read our books and enjoy the lazy motions of the ship. Even turtles get sunburned , so we packed it in and walked three miles (12 laps around deck 7) enjoying the vigor and the sweat that the walk produced. It was another a€?formal nighta€? for dinner, so we repaired to our cabin to dress in our a€?Cinderella Clothesa€? and venture forth once again down the grand promenade on deck 7. In the dining room, Kevin and Laura shared a good Cabernet, sent by their travel agent, which we helped them enjoy. The Princess Lounge provided another interesting song and dance routine titled a€?Rhythms of the City.a€? We watched and appreciated the talent and energy these kids put forth. Just off the bow of the ship a jagged and erose peak, with a phallic shape, rose needle-nosed into the surrounding sky.
The driver pulled along the side of the road and bade us look at the ubiquitous holes all along the roadside.
Near the end of the tour, the guide stopped by the most famous eatery on the island, a€?Bloody Marya€™s.a€? It is a grass roofed, sand- floored and quietly elegant restaurant made famous by James Michener and others. We were up early to watch the Dawn Princess sail into Opunohu Bay on the North Coast of Moorea, some 130 miles Southeast of Bora Bora. We assembled in the deck 7 Vista Lounge and then walked school fashion, through the ship, to the gangway on deck 3 for boarding the shipa€™s tenders.
The pier area is a simple jetty with a stone rest room and a nearby municipal building for the gendarmes.
Along the sides of the road, our guide pointed out thin Mahogany trees, acacia, tulip, a€?lipsticka€? trees, guava, banana, teak, lice and Chinese chestnut trees along the roadside.
Along the coast road, we could see the island of Tahiti rising up from the ocean, some 11 miles away. The Moorea Sheraton again has those delightful grass-hutted rondevals, with glass bottomed floors, sitting on piers looking into the bay. We descended to deck 7, saw and talked with Laura and Kevin Hanley for a bit, before returning to the cabin to read and relax before surrendering to the welcome arrival of the sand man.
We had arrived in Tahiti, a€?The Gathering Place.a€? Just the sound of the name brings up worldwide images of soft breezes, exotic women and an escape from the harsh realities of the Old World.
Most of us carry visions of Tahiti in our head from the various versions of a€?Mutiny on The Bounty.a€? The film, made from a James Norman Hall novel detailing a mutiny aboard Her Majestya€™s ship a€?Bounty,a€? captained by the now famous Captain Bligh and his first mate Fletcher Christian. Whalers, merchantmen and adventurers arrived in waves bringing new world gifts like STD and the moral standards of seamen who had been afloat for a year and away from leavening strictures of women and polite society. During the 1840a€™s, France consolidated its control of five of these small island chains into what we now call French Polynesia. Tahiti, one of the larger islands in the group, is actually comprised of two extinct volcano mounts and the slopes surrounding them. After breakfast on deck 14, a wooden a€?Le Truka€? shuttled us into the Centre De Ville, on the waterfront. Next, we came upon the two-story version of the central marketplace in Tahiti, a€?Le Marche,a€? or the market.
It was nearing noon, so we decided to stop by one of the many portable a€?Les Roulettesa€? for a snack. We continued walking the small streets, enjoying the feel of a culture and language not our own. We sunned for an hour, on deck 12, had a refreshing dip in the smaller spa pool and then retreated to our cabin to consider the logistics of packing for the trip home. We packed our clothes, kept some necessary toiletries and clothes for a carry on bag, and then put the bags outside the cabin for pickup. Later I learned that although people know China for its teas, it ranks only third among the world's black tea exporters, after Sri Lanka and Kenya. Although the majority of the rest of the world drinks black tea, which the Chinese call "red tea", China produces and drinks mostly green teas.
While other parts of the world spend a few dollars on a pound of finely chopped black tea, for 200-400 yuan ($31-$62) one can only get an average tea in the Chinese market. It is estimated that there are more than 2,000 teas in China if you divide them geographically, including more than 600 locally famous brews. A written record about Shennong, the legendary Chinese ancestor who started agriculture, tasted hundreds of grasses to find the proper grains, but was made ill from toxins many times a day.
Burnett will also be regional general manager of Crowne Plaza and Holiday Inn Hotels in Beijing. Chin, from Malaysia, has worked in the hospitality industry for 21 years and embarked on a career in China in 2001. Presented by one of the world's most influential trade publishers, TTG Publishing, the TTG China Travel Awards honors the most outstanding performers for their contributions to the travel industry in China. At The Peninsula Hong Kong, Goyard will launch an exclusive limited edition of its emblematic Bourget trolley suitcase. With a population of 24 million people, Australia has the fourth-largest economy in the Asian region and the 12th-largest economy in the world. In 2014 Chinese investment in Australia exceeded AUD$64 billion and two-way trade in goods and services exceeded AUD$150 billion. China and Australia are complementary economies and Australia continues to be a supplier of iron ore, coal and liquefied natural gas. But their importance is far outweighed by a services sector that accounts for four out of every five Australian jobs and around three-quarters of its annual GDP. And while this is below longterm growth rates, because of the size of the Chinese economy today, each percentage point of growth is equivalent to approximately 2.5 percent of growth 10 years ago.
And because consumption rises much faster each year than GDP, it is the biggest contributor to China's growth. Over the years, the company has maintained expertise and strength of resources to achieve good growth.
We have unrivalled quality programs and we offer trusted advice and support to consumers in many ways. Pregnancy and Breastfeeding Gold is also a wonderful product as a prenatal vitamin with additional nutrients that support a woman while she is pregnant and nursing.
We will continue to explore the many different ways the Chinese consumer shops and we know that we will need to build a presence on other retail websites, in stores and to support the various other retail platforms as we expand our offering. This includes working with organizations such as the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) on the sustainability and traceability of our supply chain. We have deep knowledge inside the company with a quarter of our employees holding a healthcare qualification. New deals of mergers and acquisitions or investment cover a broad range of sectors and products, such as oil and gas, electric power, renewable energy, food and beverage, agriculture, aquaculture, mining, banking, securities, construction, housing, healthcare, hospitalities and logistics. At the same time China has become a major overseas investor, with an outward investment of over $100 billion last year. Efforts will intensify for supply-side reforms to stress the role of market forces for sustainable development. But the drink is far from rough - it is renowned for its rich, mellow taste and "sauce-scented" bouquet. As the story goes, Du Kang stored cooked sorghum beans in a hollow tree stump one winter day. One is struck by the mix of traditional methods and state-of-the-art technology that is used in the production.
Each of the women, like most workers at the plant, average a six-hour shift each day, five days a week.
There are some 157 villages surrounding Renhuai city, where sorghum for Moutai is cultivated. About 70 to 80 percent of the population's income is derived directly or indirectly from the baijiu industry.
Afterwards, they leave it in the pits for 30 days, take it out and repeat the process twice.
After spending a long time in Guizhou province, I can certainly say this national drink holds a special place in the hearts of Chinese people. Back then, a bottle of the Kweichow Moutai he helped produce cost about 6 yuan, a big investment for a worker earning around 30 yuan a month, but nothing compared to the 1,000-yuan ($154) bottles sold today. It was his way of introducing them to baijiu, or white liquor, a drink that has become a symbol of Chinese national pride. With globalization and greater economic prosperity, a new type of drinking culture has emerged. But despite the fact that older, more experienced consumers tend to dominate the baijiu market, Sandhaus argues that there is still little awareness about the history and diversity of the celebrated liquor.
The drink itself has been around for centuries, but the industry was only established in the 1950s.
Many remain obscure, but Moutai distinguished itself early on as a patriotic favorite, given its role in cleaning wounds and healing soldiers during the Red Army's Long March.
In 2014, he co-founded Beijing's first baijiu bar as an alternative to the pressure of banquet binge-drinking. He stocks the bar with over 50 types of baijiu, including a lighter, more accessible version of Moutai's classic liquor called Moutai Prince. Though Isler said baijiu is essentially "invisible" in the overseas market, there is reason to be optimistic. More locations are planned for the United States, Russia, Japan and Australia, said Moutai's deputy general manager Yang Daiyong. I always deal with wine distribution in China and recognize the strong brand perception of Moutai for my clients, visiting the source was among my top "things to do in China".
Likewise, Moutai will soon release a mass oriented product, selling for less than 100 yuan ($15.5) per bottle. As a product historically linked to official banquets, Moutai seems to be one of most affected products. Even more striking is that at the current share price, its price-to-earnings ratio is trailing at 18 times, which means Moutai shares might be cheaper than the average for beverage companies. Thus far, 2.33 billion yuan in loans have been loaned out, helping save a combined financing cost of 53 million yuan for enterprises. Last week, it released the Global Financial Centres Index, with Qingdao ranked 79th among the world's leading financial centers, the first time Qingdao has been listed among the top 100. Qingdao Rural Commercial Bank opened their headquarters in Laoshan with registered capital of 5 billion yuan, while CITIC Securities has invested 3 billion yuan in the area. The concentration of financial institutions has brought remarkable economic growth to the area. Premiums in the insurance industry achieved 340 million yuan and deposits in local trusts reached 157.1 billion yuan. Dapeng makes up half of the city's coastline, where 54 out of the city's 56 beaches are located. People-oriented policies are the core of the new-style urbanization, the government said, which requires the provision of equal public services and political treatment to urban and rural residents.
Some Chinese classics, such as Records of the Grand Historian written by Sima Qian during the Western Han Dynasty (206 BC-AD 24), included the Yellow Emperor.
They talked about the relationship between the Yellow Emperor and the Chinese nation as well as why it is necessary for Chinese to worship the ancestor and learn related culture.
It would help attract more Chinese and foreigners to visit the mountain and Xinzheng and help both the city and province prosper, he said. The Beijing-Guangzhou railway and high-speed railway, Beijing-Hong Kong-Macao expressway and national highway 107 pass through Xinzheng.
He has been recognized as the earliest leader to unite China and the ancestor of the Han Chinese, according to Chinese mythology. In 2006, there was only one sponsor, the Henan Provincial Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference. It has also played an important role for promoting the peaceful reunification of the mainland and Taiwan, the government said. From 2009 to 2012, it was named one of the most internationally influential worship activities by People's Daily.
They attracted more than 120 projects and 41 teams were chosen to take part in a road show.
Gutierrez, Haier Group Rotating Chairman Zhou Yunjie, Trend Micro Founder and former director of Intel Research Center in China Wu Gansha, Director of Information Science and Engineering School of SDU Huang Weiping and experts on startups will share their insights during the events.
They not only serve the few who are ambitious to start their own businesses and keenly interested in innovation, but are also open for every student here.
It has offered special training camps for students with strong innovation abilities and given special certificates for quality performances in building and operating virtual companies. The park will focus on biology, pharmaceuticals, materials, energy, oceans, the environment, information and transportation. The Shenzhen Virtual University Park and Suzhou's higher learning innovation district are actively encouraging local universities to join the park.
A Hawaiian woman gave us two flowered leis and then asked for $10 contributions for the local boy and Girl Scout troops.
We walked along the world famous Waikiki beach, gazing down the beach to a€?Diamond Head.a€? The massive granite outcropping had been so named by Captain Cook, an early explorer who saw the crystallized volcanic material glinting in the noonday sun and thought the peak encrusted in diamonds. We stopped for some decent Kona coffee in the Outrigger and watched the moving tableau around us.
We managed that well enough and then had coffee and croissants in the lobby area of the Tapa tower. We were headed for the holiest of military shrines in the state, the Arizona memorial, commemorating the Japanese sneak attack on Pearl Harbor, December 7th, 1941. He told us about the a€?Hawaiian Home Program.a€? Residents of Hawaiian descent are eligible to purchase homes and receive the land for $1.
A large group of high school kids were passing the time like all kids, singing, joking and clowning around. A graceful white arch of stone, with a series of open side vents and open roof area, house two smaller enclosed marble rooms at either end.
They had launched from the Akagi, Kiryu and two other carriers sailing a short 220-mile to the Northeast. We had a nice Fiume Blanc for openers, then a shrimp appetizer, crA?me of mushroom soup, pastry filled with shrimp calamari and other seafood, in a lobster sauce. Instead of molten rock, I could see the flow of electric lava as it slid down the mountains in the dark.
We read for a time and then surrendered the hypnotic sway of the ship as we drifted off into the land of the great beyond. Our immediate impression of the islands is that it is lush and tropical, with a much smaller population (56,000) than the other isles in the chain. The driver told us humorously that in the early 1960a€™s whole families would bring picnic food and camp out nearby to watch the light change colors. The growers, ironically, found that a€?burning the fieldsa€? lowered the molasses content in the plants and increased the sugar yield from the cane. There is a moral here someplace about pretending who you are not and the consequences of that action.
In many ways, the Hawaiians resemble Native Americans with their preoccupation with superstition, mythology and colorful sagas transmitted orally throughout the generations.
We ascended, in a series of gradual switchbacks, 2,800 feet to the top of the islanda€™s extinct Wai ali ali volcano. The Sinclairs, a family of Slave traders from Massachusetts, had purchased the island from King Kamehameha in the 1830a€™s.
We boarded the vessel and had a nice lunch of fish, fruit and vegetables in the deck 14 buffet. After dinner, I was still reeling from a bad head cold, so we retreated to the room to read and retire. These a€?tendersa€? are wholly enclosed lifeboats that are capable of ocean sailing in an emergency. They spawn here from December through April and then in May, begin their swim up to the Aleutian Island chain. We walked the paved ocean path, along the beach, enjoying the swaying palms, the flowering hibiscus, the neatly manicured lawns of the huge hotels and the general aura of opulence.
We met and talked with Marty and Tom Bleckstein, who live on Maui and were aboard for the cruise to Tahiti. Jon was our waiter again this evening and we exchanged a a€?Magandang Gabia€? (good evening) and a€?Mabuti, salamata€? (I am fine, Thanks) in Tagalog.
It was cloudy and warm, with the promise of rain, something that happens often on this side of the island. Great white swaths of dried calcium and super heated sulphur remained from the flows of heated magma.(magma below ground, lava above) As the mist and rain seeped into the ground, steam rose as the water hit heated rock below. The fiery lava seeped into the ocean and created super heated mists that explodes the rocks and created the black sand beaches that we were to see in a few hours. We were stopping at the a€?Thurston Lava Tube.a€? The 360 yard, ten foot high tunnel had been carved out by heated lava.
In a few hundred years, this newest portion of Hawaii will be a tropical beach and palm grove. We had a glass of the Merlot in the cabin as I wrote up my notes and we settled in to relax for a bit. As we watched the big island settle into the Horizon, we met and talked again with Tom Bleckstein.
The sky was studded with gray clouds, the air was warm and a brisk trade wind was quartering us from the northeast. Proper dress was required, so we cleaned up some and venture in to this now familiar place of gustatory titillation.
It is every bit as funny as a€?Analyze this.a€? The really is a wealth of things to do shipboard if you seek them out.
This was the a€?island tour.a€? We never did find Captain Cooka€™s Hotel or any other commercial establishment for that matter.
We enjoyed Lobster appetizers, pea and onion crA?me soup, filet of Halibut in peppercorn sauce and Macadamia nut ice cream, all accompanied by a Mondavi Merlot and good coffee. These kids might not be on Broadway, but they gave 150% in energy and we enjoyed their performances.
We enjoyed the film and then made our way to deck 12 for Hagendaaz ice cream floats topside. It was a€?Italian Nighta€? in the Florentine room and we were looking forward to the gustatory experience. This introduced crab and melon ball appetizers, a Greek Salad, Norwegian trout for me, all followed by an Austrian Sacher Torte and good coffee. The Palm trees and the vegetation here are lush and green, a result of the 74 inches of annual rainfall. It is a collection of those lovely, small grass-roofed huts that sit out on piers right over the ocean.
The crabs are apparently nocturnal creatures and come forth at night o feed on the fallen fruit of the many trees I had noticed. These were provided by the government, at a cost of $2,000, to any of the islanders whose homes are destroyed by the various hurricanes that sweep over the island.
A large wooden gargoyle sits in front of the restaurant, near a wooden sign carved with the names of all of the a€?famousa€? people who had dined here. Shrimp cocktails, lentil soup, Alaskan crab legs and a wonderful black forest cake made for an elegant and relaxing repast. Several tents had been put up by local vendors hawking jewelry and Moorean arts and crafts.
The deep blue of the far ocean, azure sky, studded with white puffy clouds, all accented the deep emerald of the lush vegetation on the island.
These are limestone temple sites where yearly the islanders had sacrificed humans in a ritual to please the great god Oro.
The 4-masted Windjammer and the Paul Gauguin were sitting at anchor in turquoise Opunohu bay, the palm trees were swaying in the breeze, against the brilliant backdrop of multi hued sapphire sea, azure sky and emerald hills.
A large car ferry and a smaller and swifter catamaran ferry made regular, daily trips to nearby Tahiti.
The heat and humidity were intense, so we decided to hop the tender for the air-conditioned comfort of the Dawn Princess, sitting placidly at anchor in the bay. Even a dip in the small pool couldna€™t revive us, so we headed to the cabin for a 2-hour nap.
English Captain James Cook and French explorer Captain Louis Bouganville had first discovered these a€?Society Islandsa€? in the 1760a€™s.
The backdrop images in the film are mostly taken from the lovely islands of Moorea and Bora Bora. The Protestant missionaries had come in the early 1800a€™s and banished most native cultural practices, including ritual sacrifice of humans.
Mount Orohena, at 6,700 feet, dominates the larger chunk of the island (Tahiti Nui) Mount Aurai, at 6,200 feet sits on most of the smaller portion of Tahiti (Tahiti a€“Iti). A small tourist pavilion, adjacent to a newly constructed town square, dominates the waterfront here. The offer of $120 for a cab ride, with a driver who knew little English, didna€™t seem too enticing to us.
The traffic is heavy and runs in twin ribbons of moving steel separating the town and the ocean. The first floor of this open-air barn is filled with food vendors selling everything from fruits to fish and any number of sundries. We dodged the speedy traffic and visited another elegant Joualerie where we found a beautiful set of black pearl earrings to match the necklace pearl we had just purchased.
A small bronze bust of Louis Bouganville commemorates this eminent French explorer after whom had been named the colorful tropical flower a€?Bouganvillea.a€? We sat for a time in the shade and enjoyed the lush tropical foliage, the colorful flowers and the heat of a tropical isle and each othera€™s company.
The next chore was to find a€?le box postal.a€? It isna€™t like our cities, where you can find a blue, US mailbox on every corner. We walked back to the waterfront and caught a shuttle for the 15-minute ride to the commercial end of the port and the welcome air-conditioned bubble of the Dawn Princess. Although it was too strong to my tongue, I felt it was a necessity because it was comforting to my body.
Some mingqian cha, green teas made with the first spring sprouts before qingming, the tomb-sweeping festival that fell on April 4 this year, cost more than 1,000 yuan per 500 grams. Many Australian service companies are keen to collaborate with local business partners to extend their expertise to China. To share more about the company, Christine Holgate, CEO of Blackmores, sat with China Daily reporter Song Mengxing to share her views on the company's market expansion and future plans in China. We will further the work of the Blackmores Institute because knowledge and education is so important, and this will include partnering with leading universities. Rain filled the stump, and in the spring he noticed a fragrant aroma coming from the stump. Their wage is about 100,000 yuan ($15,420) per year, more than the average starting salary in big cities of China. Mao Zedong and Zhou Enlai, founding fathers of the new China, helped nurture the brand to its present-day popularity. President Xi Jinping toasted Barack Obama with Moutai during the US president's state visit in June 2013.
It already has a growing network extending from Asia to North America, Europe and Australia. After hearing so much of its appreciation and surrounded by the irresistible aroma of the white spirit, it was simply not possible to return home without a bottle of Moutai.
In recent decades, baijiu has become a pillar of banquet dinners, where it is used to give toasts until a bottle of the high-proof liquor is empty. The company's goal is to raise foreign sales to 10 percent by the end of the year, and to 20 percent over the long run. Moutai needs to be stored in relatively small ceramic jars for at least four years, meaning dozens of vault-bunker-type buildings to keep the liquor ageing. However, the most impressive image during the visit was the labor during the fermentation process, shoveling the grains time after time. They age the liquor in ceramic jars, the older the better, even if it they are hard to manipulate and require a huge storage area.
Some other components of the "Moutai Standard" are even more secretive, such as the barefoot crushing of the grains, a tradition that remains to this day. To enhance the employable skills and entrepreneurship abilities of farmers in urban areas, the city government launched six projects, including training, setting up farmers' associations and improving the urban-rural social security system.
Later, the All-China Federation of Returned Overseas Chinese and the All China Taiwanese Association joined the organizing committee in 2009. To further encourage the students, SDU set up a maker's space at the university - a teahouse named Phoenix Tea. The Northwest and later, the Pacific Ocean were clouded from view as a massive front roared beneath us.
Tiring, we headed back to the room to read, make some notes and surrender to the Hawaiian night. The a€?Don Hoa€? style preacher had everyone singing God Bless America and other group songs.

A list of the sailors and marines lost that day, in raise metal etchings, adorns one wall, with a plaque and several American and military flags.
The sight of an entire fleet of attacking planes, on a warm Sunday morning, must have been surreal as the angry wasps spit fire and lead into the row of battleships at anchor.
In the words of a prescient Japanese Admiral, with their surprise attack, they a€?had awoken a sleeping giant and filled it with a terrible resolve.a€? The conflict wasna€™t to end for four long years. The bus took us to a virtual a€?sea of luggagea€? and calmly suggested we a€?identify oursa€? for processing. Diamond Head, Waikiki beach and the other recognizable features of Oahu blended into the Ocean dark. The informative bus driver gave us a running narration of the fauna and flora of the island as well as a cultural overlay that we found interesting. I dona€™t know how true the story is, but it gave insight into the islanders endearing trait of not taking themselves too seriously. The stone foundations of a a€?Russian Forta€? gave rise to another tale of Colonial treachery and Hawaiian retribution, swift and sudden.
It was a beautiful day and we decided to walk from the port area to the nearby Sheraton hotel and beach area. We sipped some passable Cabernet as the erose skyline of Nawiliwili harbor and Kauai faded into the setting sun. They can seat almost 90 people and are a bit removed from the old a€?lifeboatsa€? that ships used to carry.
One can only speculate at all of the events, legal and foul, that must have transpired under its shelter. Whale blubber and whale oil fueled the lamps of Europe and America during the 1800a€™s, until the advent of mass production of electricity. We had enjoyed this low-key, unhurried look at Maui, without the hustle and commotion of a guided tour. His grasp of plate tectonics, the mechanics of volcanic eruption and a score of other disciplines, involving agriculture, local flora and fauna and marine biology were not just superficially acquired. The actual volcano mouth was surrounded by succeedingly larger depressions that extended out further.
The lava had the consistency of brittle tar that had frozen in wildly flowing waves of super heated rock. When the surface of a lava flow starts to cool, the molten lava often is still flowing beneath the surface. We had a leisurely breakfast on the balcony, watching the white caps of the blue sea swell and flow around the big shipa€™s wake. We had brought our books with us and sat outside, on lounge chairs on the covered promenade deck. Four photographers were busy taking pictures of passengers in their tuxedos and evening wear.
We breakfasted in the deck 14 Horizons Court and then sunned on the aft fantail of deck 12, enjoying the leisurely time to read, try a cooling dip in the small pool and generally laze about the deck.
After the movie, I sent some e-mails into cyber space enjoying the novelty of transmitting from the middle of the ocean via satellite, something that would have been near impossible only a few years before. The performance was blocked some by clouds, but we watched it eagerly enjoying the light play of sun on water and sky as the day turned into night at sea in its daily magical performance. We smiled at the co-incidence and enjoyed another meal with these charming young people from London. Even better, across the bay at a now abandoned similar anchorage, the area had been named Paris.
After the show, Mary and I wandered topside to look at the full array of celestial beacons that adorned the heavens.
Even the name conjured up visions of Polynesians in outrigger war canoes with the sound of drums resonating in the humid air.
I dona€™t usually like lounge singers, but this engaging performer gave convincing renditions of Neil Diamond, Frank Sinatra, Paul Anka, Elvis Presley and a bevy of others, in a toe-tapping medley that left you smiling. W returned to our cabin to read (a€?Backspina€? Harlan Coben ), write up my notes and retire. The bay in which we were anchored, and most of the visible island, once were ensconced firmly in the center on an ancient caldera of a volcano that had risen some 13,000 feet into the Polynesian sky. The sturdy vehicles were clean and comfortable with seat pads, not anywhere near as Spartan as the guides had warned us.
We drove by and admired Papaya, Banana, coconut and the famous breadfruit trees for which the HMS Bounty had come to the Society Island looking in the 1800a€™s.
The tab was a respectable $500-$800 a night for those fortunate enough to be able to stay there. Tongue in cheek, the guide explained that, like most social programs the program has those who used it unfairly. French is spoken on the island exclusively and French Polynesian Francs the currency of choice..
Rotui was already peaking out from the gray wisps of cloudy garlands capping its erose peak. The 53 square mile island, shaped like a butterfly, is a popular destination for upscale tourism.
It had rained heavily a few hours before and the small rain puddles made the walk through the open field interesting. The a€?lipsticka€? tree had small fuzzy buds that when rubbed on lips or fingers had the same effect as rouge. Small bushes, with thin and wiry leaves, are carefully tended by laborers and then harvested for their sweet fruit. All high school students have to commute daily to Tahiti as well as many workers who commute daily. Then, Lobsters tails and a light parfait, all washed down with a Mondavi Merlot and decent coffee completed this wonderful dinner. We could watch half a dozen freighters lading cargo, the men and forklifts scurrying here and there, noisy and busy at work. The accounts they brought back electrified Europe enticing artists like Gauguin and adventurers of every type. The missionarya€™s razed the several Marae (sacrificial altars) and brought the European version of a straight-laced version of an unforgiving deity.
A few hundred yards over sits the huge Ferry dock for the daily shuttles to Moorea, visible on the horizon, just 11 miles Northeast of Tahiti. The Tahitians are religious about stopping for pedestrians crossing the street, but it is still proved to be an adventure.
We then walked down the main gallery of deck 7 and had some coffee in the small lounge outside of the restaurants. Neon signs from the honk tonk clubs a€?Broadway,a€? a€?Manhattana€? and others vied for the club trade.
That comes down to six main categories -green, white, yellow, dark-greenish (oolong), red and black teas.
There are many enticing Chinese stories about tea like this one that draw people like me to learn more about the beverage. He discovered the process of fermenting the beans to form an alcoholic drink, now known as baijiu or white spirit.
The workers at the distillery, and the farmers that supply raw ingredients, certainly embody many of the hallmark characteristics of the nation.
I was not previously a big fan of Chinese liquor but Moutai created a very different impact and I ended up buying four bottles. The precious baijiu also needs high security standards including electric fence, and not even pictures are allowed inside this area. The Overseas Chinese Affairs Office of the State Council and the Henan provincial government joined in 2012 and the Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council joined in 2013. It has become the first "online to offline" startup service venue of all universities in the province.
Nieman Marcus, Nordstroma€™s, Macya€™s and many other toney shopping meccas lined the streets of the main boulevard.
We also found out later that the sand had been imported from Australia due to a lack of white sand locally. You always think it will evaporate like some ephemeral bubble that will just go a€?popa€? and disappear. A small park area looked out across the channel to Ford Island, where the graceful white arch of the monument sat atop the sunken remains of the Battleship USS Arizona. The rugged green mountains that split the island were just to the North of us, with gray garlands of fluffy clouds drifting across them.
The channel from Ford Island to Oahu is narrow and an entire fleet of ships was berthed here. It was like an Arabian bazaar trying to search for our two black bags amidst a sea of hundreds of others. Ozzie Nelson was paging me and we returned to the stateroom for a long afternoon nap, my favorite activity in the tropics.
It was to be the first of twelve such meals that would impress us greatly and expand us measurably. The bus passed through Poi Pu, with its alley of mahogany and Eucalyptus trees that met overhead.
Some small shops and restaurants are clustered nearby, but the real attraction if the golden beach and the bright blue ocean. We had enjoyed our visit to the island, though we thought that a goodly supply of books would be needed for an extended stay here. Radiating outward are collections of small commercial shops, hawking the usual tourist wares, and several streets of small, neat homes. It is a modern, tri-level shopping court of high priced shops like Versace, Ferragamo, Tiffany and Gucci. The Marriott, Sheraton, Hyatt and Maui Ocean Shores are beautiful in their landscaped elegance.
It gave us a softer look at a place that deserves to be further explored on another occasion. It is these incidental meetings shipboard, either at dinner or casually, that much enhance the entire experience. When you think of lava exploding all the way up through 31,000 feet of mountain, that makes for a degree of physical force that is hard for me to grasp. It was fascinating for me to look at this cone and realize that enough volcanic material had erupted from this aperture to create 4,000 sq. Off to the Southeast, visitors were warned from walking because the sulphur fumes could be toxic. The top layer of the flow had that crystalline diamond effect as the molten surface rock cooled and crystallized.
Our fellow park bears were munching at the sample a€?buffet linea€? like people who hadna€™t just consumed 1200 calories at the Volcano House. It was geriatrics row, god bless them for the gumption to be still traveling at an advanced age.
Tonight was the first a€?formal dinnera€? in the Florentine room and we wanted to be alert and enjoy the affair.
It is a life speed gear that I am not much familiar with, but would like to experience more of it. It was a€?French Night.a€? I had escargot, French Onion Soup, Orange roughie and an apple tart with ice cream for desert.
We returned to our cabin to shower and prep for dinner, much appreciating the splendor of our surroundings in juxtaposition to those available on Christmas Island. The Mondavi Merlot led us into squid and shrimp appetizers, Zuppa minestrone, swordfish griglia and then finally a delicate Tiremisu with good coffee. It had been a long day in which we had witnessed the span of events from first light to twinkling evening. We met Kevin and Laura Hanley in the deck 5 lounge, had coffee and got better acquainted, before entering the Florentine Room for another wonderful experience. The erose, emerald remains of an ancient volcano rose up in front of us, cloud shrouded, mysterious and tolkienesque in the early morning sun.
I had recognized the craggy skyline from a modern painting by an Italian artist named Freshcetti, I think. When Brigitte Bardot, the French actress, had visited the islands, she took up their cause.
Almost instantly, a small army of these crabs crawled forth from their burrows and began dragging the fruit and peels back into their holes.
The Bora Borans called these homes, the French equivalent of a€?re-election homesa€? for the propensity of mayors to award these homes to certain favored islanders during re-election years. We cooled off from the sun and then decided to walk the roads for a bit to see what local culture we could absorb.
For reasons, unknown to me, the sun sets earlier here, by some 45 minutes, than in the Northern climes. We walked topside to once again admire the stars emblazoned across the inky night of these former Society Island in French Polynesia, glad that we were here and together. A dozen or so of the huge, air-conditioned land cruisers were waiting their aging cargos for the daya€™s tours. Many of the island women wore it in place of costlier lipstick, hence the name of the tree. These sacrifices are laced through the Hawaiian legends as part of the reason the ancient Hawaiians had fled the harsher culture of Bora Bora and Moorea.
This island is the most beautiful in the chain and the one we would most like to return to.
That was something we will long remember during the cold and snowy Winters of our home in the frosty northern climes.
Then, we stood nearby eating our sandwiches under the protective shade of a large Monkey pod tree. Colorful cotton sarongs, flowered garlands and other bright pastels adorned these handsome people.
We had agreed to have dinner with Jazz and Janice, from London, this evening and met them in the lounge. The river of cars left a trail of red taillights flashing in the dark, as they rounded the bend towards the air port.
In 2015, it won a gold medal at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition, placing it among the best liquors globally. The fermentation facilities are even older, originally built in white iron that has turned gray from the dust and steam from distillation.
We checked in at Continental Airlines and then went through the security screens to gate #22 to await our flight eastward, to Newark airport in New Jersey.
Over 1,200 men were still entombed in the sunken wreck and the site was treated respectfully as a burial ground.
Missouri, a€?Mighty Mo.a€? She and the submarine a€?Blowfina€? are anchored just around a bend in the lagoon and are available for boarding and viewing to the public. The driver noted several times the 1893 takeover of the Hawaiian republic by British and American military. Nihau still lies in the hands of Mrs.a€™ Sinclaira€™s grandsons, the Gay and Robinson Company, who also own about one third of Kauai.
We sat for a time under a shade tree and watched the ocean crash against the shore on a golden day in Kauai. When the waves are choppy, the boat can rise and sink several feel, in an instant, making getting on and off interesting, especially for the older folks on board. We browsed some shops for a bit and then hopped a cab to nearby a€?Whalera€™s Villagea€? on Ka'anapali beach. We stopped at the Marriott for coffee on the ocean and watched the comings and goings of the many vacationers.
It looked like Dantea€™s version of the nether regions and it held us spell bound at the raw power and energy contained in the process. The super heated gases, just above the molten rock, further molded and carved the area until a fairly smooth rock tunnel is created through which the lava can flow like tooth paste through a tube.
We enjoyed the sea, sky and harsh lava for a time and then set off back across the fractured flow for our bus. We wished them a good evening and returned to our cabin to read and finish yet another lazy and enjoyable day at sea. I wondered at the ancient mariners who had sailed these lonely seas for thousands of years using these same beacons as their maps. Dawn Princess had crossed the equator several hours before, so we were watching our first sunrise on the Pacific Ocean and in the Southern Hemisphere. We were even treated to the fabled a€?green flasha€? as the sun sank beneath the waves and hissed as it hit the cool waters.
I can die happily now, I have had everything wonderful that I ever wanted to eat on this cruise. We had enjoyed the day and each other to the fullest, in the South Pacific, enroute to Bora Bora and Tahiti. We had breakfast on the balcony and enjoyed the sea air, the azure blue sky and the rolling, royal blue waves around us, We were steaming south at 19 knots and fast approaching Polynesia.
In the old days I think they used to throw first time crossers over board for the novelty of the rite. We would pay for these extravaganzas with a few zillion hours in the health club for the next few months.
From the high deck of the Dawn Princess, it looked like we were entering one of those mysterious isles that you see in King Kong or Jurassic Park. This particular erose formation had probably fed the imagination of a thousand painters and artists over the centuries. Bora Bora has several large and very posh hotels that cater to the carriage trade form all over. The women vendors gave demonstrations of how they dyed the colorful garments in a process similar to a€?Batika€? in the Caribbean.. The homes looked prosperous enough, with their stucco walls and tin roofs, used to catch the rainwater. Then we retired to our cabin to read for a time and fall into the arms of Morpheus at sea off Bora Bora. The temple area had fallen into disrepair, but a small grass-roofed hut and some printed information boards filled in the blanks.
We had just last year seen a Gauguin collection at New Yorka€™s Metropolitan Museum and yet another small collection at the Art Gallery of Toronto.
The second floor is filled with scores of small vendors peddling what we lovingly called a€?Le Jonk.a€? Sarongs, bead necklaces, carved figures of marine life, Tahitian gods and all manner of jewelry, tee shirts and other sundries, that gladden a shoppera€™s heart, are on display. They share that warm and gracious charm that we had experienced and enjoyed from their Hawaiian cousins.
It is a custom we had much enjoyed in Paris and Firenze, walking about a crowded square with a sandwich and bottle of water, enjoying your busy surroundings. We watched for a time, admiring the pomp of the ceremony, whatever it was.a€? a€?Department de Francea€? shined out from a brass plaque on the lanai wall. We watched the huge car ferry and the smaller catamaran from Moorea glide by our ship for their mooring across the bay. The surreal experience ended gradually as the tender ferried us back to the reception center. The natives, in relating the destruction of the monarchy have that mildly pissed off attitude that you hear when native Americans talk about how their lands were stolen from them.
Then we walked them through a line to run them through a huge x-ray scanner for transport to the ship.
The hunger monster was calling so we ventured forth to the buffet lunch on deck 14, The Horizon court. It freed you from the fear of being stuck with morons and cretins for dinner during the entire cruise, an experience we had already suffered thorough on an earlier cruise. It was to be a medley of nationalities that had me speaking Polish, Tagalog, Spanish, French, Italian and mumbling bits of Rumanian and Hungarian.
Here, the wave erosion had formed several a€?blow holesa€? where the seawater exploded from fissures in the rocks as each wave crashed upon them. Hard drinking, hard living and men who had been at sea for a year had their effect on the local populace both in terms of quality of life and gene pool additions. We browsed the shops for a time and then discovered a small whaling museum on the second level.
Inside are displays explaining measurement of earthquakes, pre volcanic expansion and scores of other details relating to volcanoes.
Grasses and scrub trees had already started to cover the rock, attesting to its rich mineral content. We walked the damp tunnel and were mindful of the heat and energy that had created this natural wonder.
The lunch was middling to poor, a€?slop the hogsa€? variety, and the place was crowded to the gunnels with tourists from everywhere.
We didna€™t want to waste the lethargy so we repaired to our cabin for a delicious one-hour conversation with Mr.
A humorous Hungarian waiter gave a knowledgeable and entertaining lesson on appreciating and purchasing Pinot Grigio, Fiume Blanc, Shiraz, a Mondavi coastal Merlot and Korbel champagne.
We put aside our glass slippers and magical robes and surrendered to the sandman, happy to be here and with each other, someplace at sea in the vast pacific.
The Dawn Princess proceeded South at a brisk 19 knot pace and we could espy nothing around us except for sky, wind and wave.
The dining experience was delicious and consistent with the other elegant repasts we had enjoyed aboard the Dawn Princess. They must have gazed in wonder, even as we now did, at the full array of twinkling beauty that we now admired.
We saw and talked to Kevin and Laura Hanley, a couple from Maywood New Jersey, whom we had met on the ship. I would never have thought of myself on a cruise like this, growing up in a working class section of Buffalo, New York. But, it is worth it three-fold for the pleasure that we experienced in this 5 star dining emporium. The scent, on the ocean breeze, was pregnant with the healthy rot of tropical jungle just tweaking our nostrils. The Southern Hemisphere star show rose on the horizon and we looked up at these strange constellations for a time before heading back to our cabin to shower and prepare for dinner.
English seems to be spoken by workers in the tourist industry, but is neither known nor spoken by most of the populace.
We were confirmed admirera€™s of this artista€™s brilliantly colored renditions of Tahiti and her people. We browsed the shops, bought some bead necklaces for a few of the kids at home and enjoyed the color and commerce of a real market place. On the grounds of L'hotel de ville sits a large open-aired hut with a brown grass roof upon the large structure. You can still see the large circular bases of the massive gun turrets rising just above the surface. The Arizona, the West Virginia, the Oklahoma and the California all were caught in the initial barrage and either exploded or sunk.
But the memories have followed me home from that haunting place in the beautiful Hawaiian sun.
Maybe they too will discover the notion of gambling casinos and how they can fleece their lands back from us someday.
We had a nice medley of shrimp, salmon and fruit for lunch as we took stock of our surroundings.
First though, we headed for the Vista Lounge on deck 7 with our large orange life jackets for the mandatory lifeboat drill.
If you were topside, you were at the furthest end of the pendulum and felt the full range of the sway.
This particular formation was called the a€?spouting horna€? for the noise and spray that exploded from it. Harpoons, scrimshaw (carved whale bone) abounded in small exhibits that told you everything you would ever want to know about whale blubber, whaling and the industry that surrounded it. Golf courses, shopping, trendy restaurants and the finest white sand, that California could supply, make Ka€™anapali beach a comfortable and elegant escape from the everyday grind.
Kilauea about 11 miles from and below us, but it was too difficult to get us safely near enough to view the phenomenon. At the other end of the tunnel, we ascended a few sets of stairs and the hiked through the dense tropical rain forest to our bus, admiring the many varieties of plants and flowers everywhere around us.
We finished quickly, browsed the cheap souvenir shops and then did a a€?Chevy Chasea€? outside looking at the scenery, before boarding the land cruiser to continue the tour. We chatted with Marty Bleckstein, the photographer from Maui, as we watched this spectacle and enjoyed her company. We read for a bit before drifting off to the roll of the ship-plowing forward, ever forward, to our exotic destination. It apparently has great medicinal effects but had a malodorous side effect that wrinkles the nose. The traffic was both swift and steady as we walked the roads with their too narrow shoulders. Reportedly, the islander who owns the land you walk across to get there, charges a $2 levy on anyone crossing his land, capitalism in the tropics. Moorea is a gorgeous arboretum and botanical gardens that is a pleasure just to ride through and enjoy. We had also hoped to see the spectacular black sand beach and lighthouse at Point Venus, the Vaima Pearl Center and a few of the waterfalls cascading from Mt. Most of the rest of the ship is an indefinite mass that lies below, a sepulcher to those who went down with her. Lastly, we walked through yet another line to pick up our cruise credentials and be scanned and have our carry ons searched yet again before walking up the gangway to the ship.
This ship was to be at sea for twelve days in stretches of the Pacific where even the birds didna€™t fly. We watched for a time as the frothy turquoise sea crashed upon the eroded black lava formation.
I sent some e-mails into cyber space from the 12th floor business center and Mary did some laundry in a small area near our room. The surfers, divers and swimmers enjoyed their recreation while the sunbathers reveled in the warm hot Hawaiian sun. The fissure here were more brittle, like shattered pottery in a huge black piles of hardened tar. We all posed for various pictures and decided to join each other for dinner in the Florentine room. We then sunned on the aft section of deck 11, enjoying the steaming morning sun on our bodies. The natives say that as a reminder, the soldiers had left behind 100 children of mixed parentage. The guide pointed out that all islanders who pass on are buried under small, roofed tombs in their front yards. Small clumps of people would stand and talk animatedly under the shade of a tree or that of a buildinga€™s awning. A filet of salmon and baked Alaska for desert was all washed down with some decent cabernet. An armor-piercing bomb, from a Japanese dive-bomber, had pierced her forward magazine.The ship virtually exploded and sank in minutes on that fiery Sunday morning 62 years ago. We all paid attention to the crews explanation in the proper use of the jackets and tenders should an emergency arise. We were tongue in cheek cautioned about removing lava samples, because Pele would bring us bad luck. Luckily for us, the rains had stopped for a few minutes to allow us this walk through the lava.
It is these chance encounters with people from everywhere that make the cruise experience so enjoyable. I can now empathize with turtles and crocodiles for the languid pleasure of basking in the warm sun. They were an improbable pair that had been married for 26 years and they got along famously.
It was nearing the end of the steamy summer season here (Dec.-April) The Spring season is reportedly much cooler.
They waved shyly back at us and returned our greeting with a soft a€?bonjoura€? before scurrying away. It had a walker, with a red line though it, apparently warning people from walking across lava that had not yet cooled and risk being burned alive. A refreshing dip in the small pool, in the health spa, felt wonderfully cooling after the 88-degree heat.
We enjoyed chatting with the London kids this last time and were pleased that we had met them. Burning oil, smoke, noise and confusion reigned for several hours that day until the attack ended. I was enduring a bad head cold or I would have tried to mitigate the caloric onslaught as well.
This light wine immediately took on a much fruitier and fuller taste to some chemical transfer or other. We didna€™t think it odd to see the well-tended graves in the front yards of the prosperous looking homes. The local school had let out for lunch and the kids were walking the roads like kids everywhere.
They had an early flight out tomorrow morning and a lay over in Los Angeles, before the long flight back to Heathrow in London. We had shared the experience with Lynn and her father Peter from London and two Torontonians, Judy and Paul. We also neither saw nor encountered beggars or pan handlers of any kind during our stay on the island. Inside, several bars and galleries led to the central three story, open well that extends from deck 5 to deck 8.
A huge waterfall, far in the distance, gave testimony to the force of the winds this high up. The shipa€™s two formal restaurants, several boutiques, the casino and other small cafes all opened off of this central court. It is resplendent in gleaming glass and shining brass with marble staircases and open glass elevators. We did our a€?Chevy Chasea€? and appreciated the beauty of the a€?Grand Canyon of the Pacifica€? as Mark Twain had once called it.

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