Kanazawa Castle

The original castle was constructed in the late 1500’s. This was the beginning of the town of Kanazawa. Much restoration was completed in the last few decades. We explored through the castle buildings and the beautiful gardens in the castle complex.

Being over 65, we got in free. This is the first time I have experienced in Asia where a tourist got the same rights as the locals. Every where else, tourists pay regardless of local customs. 20180629_114258

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Kanazawa, Ancient Architecture

Kanazawa was spared bombing during WWII. Many old structures remain. A few areas have blocks of preserved structures. Much has been torn down and replaced with modern structures. Following are a few photos of these areas.20180628_145825

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We went inside an old teahouse where geishas entertained rich men with music, dance and tea ceremonies.

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The hot new thing in Kanazawa is a soft serve ice cream cone covered with a sheet of 22K gold leaf,  which is edible. Guess gold prices are down. These cone go for about 10 USD. These were selling everywhere.

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Tomorrow, after another surprise Japanese breakfast, we will walk from our trusty Hotel Trusty to Kanazawa Castle and gardens. Only 3 blocks away.

Osaka to Kanazawa

Arriving Osaka from Shanghai at 10PM, we overnighted at the Nikko Kansai Airport hotel. The next morning we trained for 4 hours from Osaka to Kanazawa via Kyoto.20180627_105514

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We arrived Kanazawa and taxied to our hotel. Good new Hotel Trusty. Laugh at the name, so Asian. Everything gets an English language name even though it makes no sense. Brand new and contemporary in style, next door to Salvatore Ferragamo and across from Gucci. Guess we won’t be shopping. Our hotel tariff includes breakfast. Very Japanese fare. 20180628_090604

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We ate a lot of these goodies and not so goodies. Fortunately, they also had a Western section. Most guests here are Japanese. They are both.

The following photo is my oxymoronic post of the day. 20180627_182659

Today we begin our exploration of Kanazawa. Future post will encompass two areas, ancient architecture and the park gardens. Sayonnara for now.

Panjin, Goa, India

The Portugese colonized this area of India in the 1600s. The old town center is full of Portugese architecture. As is always the case, next came the missionaries. The Jesuit converter of the heathens was none other than St. Francis Xavier. We visited his body (you can see it!) at the cathedral in Goa.

The Goans, who can prove lineage, are eligible for work visas to Portugal. Once in the EU, they head up to England for jobs since they speak English. Now with Brexit all that has come to an end.

Goa is all about tourism and beaches. Beaches to the north are tan sand and about 50/50 Indian and Russian tourists. Huge beaches with 20 rows deep of chaise lounges for rent with thousands of people in them, all under umbrellas. Hotels to the north are shabbier and cheaper. Tourism started here along the northern beaches  in the 1960’s with American hippies. Think Ravi Shankar and the Beatles Magical Mystery Tour.

Beaches to the south are white sand, lightly populated with expensive resort hotels and European tourists. This is where the destination weddings happen.

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Basilica of Goa. Outside and in. Goa is 26% Christian.

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Francis Xavier’s body lies behind the 6 yellow framed windows. His head is behind the larger yellow window to the right. The miracle for his sainthood is that his body never decomposed. There was supposedly no taxidermy. Shriveled and leathery but still there.

 

 

Vijayanagara Empire, Hampi, India

The Muslim armies, from present day Pakistan and Afghanistan, began their long slow conquest of India and the idolatrous Hindus who believed in multiple gods and not just one god,  Allah.

Up in Punjab, which borders Pakistan, the Hindus freaked and accepted the concept of one God to avoid conquest. These are the turban wearing Sikhs of today.

South of Punjab, Hindu India slowly was defeated. This conquest took over 400 years.

The remaining undefeated maharajahs grouped together in southern India and formed the city of Vijayanagara in 1336 to defend against the advancing Muslim armies.

Vijayanagara developed into a city of over 10,000,000 population, the second largest city on earth. It eventually fell to the Muslim invaders in 1646.

The city was so destroyed that it was abandoned and never rebuilt. The glorious stone buildings are still intact though most in stone piles. The majority of the structures were wood thus non exhistant.

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Huge granite boulders were split into slabs using the technique employees by the Egyptians. They would chisel out 3″x3″x5″ deep holes in a line across the top of the boulder then pound in the same size wood plugs. Water was then applied and the pressure of the wood expansion would split the granite all the way through.

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Unique to this palace were the columns which were carved out of solid granite into many mini columns. These hundreds of columns were used as musical instruments and played by percussionists as dancers danced for the king and queens pleasure. Our guide gave a musical demonstration in the following video.

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For a 100 year period, architectural facades were influenced by Chinese architectural styles. The sandstone carvings included Chinese and Mongolian figures.

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X Rated. Sex Ed. 101

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The stables for the king’s 11 processional elephants.

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Being so into the beauty and reverence of Hinduism, these chaps tried to talk me into joining them on their pilgrimage to Kerala. Barefoot and fasting for 41 days. The barefoot and fasting wasn’t an issue but no wine was the killer. I wished them well.

 

Hospet, Kanataka State, India

Today we had a 7 hour drive from Hassan to Hospet. Maybe 150 miles but country roads make a long trip. Watching the countryside pass by never gets tiring. 75% of India’s population is rural in small villages. Most are in farming and a few industrial jobs. They are poor but have their communities. The govt. has large boarding schools where children from remote villages live and receive education.

Attached are some photos out our car window during our drive.

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Temple Trekking Around Hassan, Karnataka State, India

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Today was filled with visiting 3 temples. Hindus associate with one of three gods, Brahma, Vishnu or Shiva. The Brahmans are a by birth upper class in India’s caste system. The Brahmans are professors, doctors, almost all politicians inc. the Ghandis and currently Modi. There is only one Brahman temple in all of India and that temple is in Pushkar, Rajasthan State. We had the privilege of visiting that temple 2 years ago. All other Hindus choose to be followers of either Shiva or Vishnu. Every other temple in India is either a Shiva or Vishnu temple. Today we visited one of each.20180107_104742

The first was the Shiva temple in Halebidu, India. Construction began in 1121 and though not completed, ended 109 years later with a Muslim invasion. Much damage was done to the temple by the Muslim invaders. This temple is not a religiously functioning temple. All thousands of  carvings are done in sand stone, same as at Ankor Wat in Cambodia. Though not shown on this blog 😞, numerous carvings are erotic depicting the Karma Sutra.

The second temple was a religiously active Vishnu temple in Belur, India. Construction began in 1117. Religious ceremonies were happening inside but not OK to photograph. The photos shown are a mix of the two temples.

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Celeste with our guide for the day, Rena.

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Check the skulls and skeletons.

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As a Hindu priest leaves the temple, he gets a little procession.

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A couple of color shots for the day.

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Tomorrow we have a long 7 hour drive to Hospet. The temples we saw today are not UNESCO Heritage sites. Our guide says they have applied but there are so many like these two in India. Two days from now we visit Hampi which is a UNESCO Heritage site and the crown jewel of UNESCO sites in India.

Mysore, Karnataka State, India

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We spent a very busy 2 days in Mysore. This palace’s maharaja dynasty dates back into the 1300’s. The 46th maharaja of Mysore abdicated in 1947 when India became a democracy. Though the family is involved in current legal ownership issues in the courts, the palace is run by the govt. as leased tenants.

This palace covers 27 acres and was rebuilt after a devastating fire in 1897. The palace reopened in 1912. It was rebuilt for $4 million USD. Over 6 million people visit the palace each year, making the palace India’s second most visited tourist sight after the Taj Mahal. One might say it rivals the Palace of Versailles.

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The following people are members of the Jain sect of Hinduism. They dress very brightly. The Jains are the strictest of vegans and refuse professions which might lead to the death of any animal. Farming is at the top of the list since tilling the soil will kill insects.

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Later we visited a mountaintop temple after climbing 650 concrete steps barefoot to get there. Hindus are expected to make pilgrimages to about a dozen specific temples, located all over India, during their lifetime. This temple was one of them.

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As is always the case, every religious sight has hundred of vendors outside. In very crowded conditions, Celeste shopped for all the women back home on her list.

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Given that we booked this trip with the same domestic Indian tour company we used two years ago for our trip to Rajasthan (Rajasthan Tours Pvt. Ltd.) we have had hotel stays where we are the only Anglos. Still all 4-5 star facilities.

India is an amazing country. We have driven through some rural agricultural villages on our road trips where the people are very poor. However, They have motorcycles, satellite dishes on their houses and cell phones. Haven’t seen a dead person yet on the side of the road. India is anything but the stereotype back home. The guides have all voiced the same complaint that with multiple advanced degrees, there are no jobs. Silicon Valley wants those Indian computer degree grads.

We arrived this evening to a new town called Hassan. Touring continues tomorrow.

 

 

 

 

 

Backwater Barge In Alleppey, India

We arrived riverside at noon and motor boated out to where our own private barge was tied up to the shore. We were greeted by the 3 crew members, captain, first hand, and chef. The barge is all open air except for our air-con, ensuite bedroom.

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After an hour under way lunch was served. (see next picture).  We lazed around for the next 5 hours watching life in the villages along the shores as we traversed the lakes and waterways. The area is all rice fields. The fields were brilliant green

 

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Around 6:00, we tied up to the shore along a canal and spent the night. Dinner was served at 7:30. To much food! Soon thereafter we retired for the evening. The crew has their own quarters on the barge. The following morning after breakfast we were underway back to the terminal. Had a great time and a real experience.

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Munnar, Kerala India

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We checked into our hotel and Happy New Year was spelled out in rose petals on the bed. Also, a chocolate cake. We were one of only 3 Anglo couples at the hotel. Our New Years eve bash was a Bollywood spectacular. All of our fellow Indian revelers spoke perfect English, many were Americans home for the holidays.

 

The next day, after a little sleep in, our driver and guide for the day explored the amazingly beautiful hills of Munnar with their stunningly manicured tea plantations.

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Celeste and Junis picked up a few extra rupees by picking tea leaves.

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We visited a local tea picking family’s modest employer supplied home and had tea and cake. A totally fun experience. The women pick the tea leaves and the men maintain the farms and work in the tea processing plants. Very humble and gracious hosts.