Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Guadalcanal






Thursday, 7 Feb 08:



The Solomon Islands were a 3 1/2 day sail from New South Wales. There was a reoccurrence of ethnic violence as recently as 2006. The entire Chinatown in Honiara, the capital, was destroyed in 2003. I toured a mostly recovering definitely third world country and saw lots of decaying infrastructure: potholed streets, a botanic garden reverted to jungle, a sad looking but beautiful parliament building (built by a Japanese construction company with US money, go figure), the very moving US Memorial within sight of most of the WWII battlefields here on Guadalcanal, but also saw lots of smiles and a very busy downtown. Most communications are firmly of 1960s variety and are via short wave. (Even Internet access uses Packtor-2 on HF, probably to Australia.) But the Australian and New Zealand peace keeping force is down to a token size, the people I spoke to have a great attitude even though the Solomon Islands have a way to go. I must say that it is somehow refreshing to visit a place with lots of potential, no Starbucks or McDonalds, just starting a tourist industry, and apparently quite aware of what needs to be done to recover from the past. Population might be a problem in “H4” since kids apparently grow on trees. See picture.

The cruise is going very well. The very multi-national staff is working well together onboard, my lactose free chocolate desserts keep coming each evening—last night was a chocolate hazelnut soufflé and the night before a very rich chocolate sorbet—and I have met a number of nice dining companions. Last evening I had dinner with a Danish HR guy who recently took the super luxurious “Silk Route” train from Hong Kong to Moscow and a long retired English professor from Illinois. Most of the passengers on this cruise are from Australia and GB.

After breakfast we will get cruise by Plum Pudding Island near Gizo, the location where JFK’s PT-109 was rammed. No doubt a narration will be broadcast from every loudspeaker and bloody maries will be served. Another “sea day” tomorrow and then the three stops on the island of New Guinea.

For the time being the satellite link from the ship appears to be having problems uploading pictures. I'll add the pix later when I can. Regards from 9 degrees south.

1 comment:

Nozima Abdullayeva said...

silk route train
http://www.eastroute.com/