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Bali

Indonesia's Paradise Island

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Bali is an island populated by 95% Hindus, but are only 5% of Muslim-majority Indonesia.  As early as the first century CE, Indian traders spread Hinduism and Buddhism to East Asia, including what is now Indonesia.  Hinduism in Indonesia reached its height by the 7th century. It was during this period that the Buddhist temple of Borobudur was constructed.  (Borobudur was featured in my previous Indonesia blog.)  By the 13th century, Islam spread through the islands of Sumatra and Java, supplanting Hinduism.  However, Bali remained almost exclusively Hindu, despite the rise to dominance of Islam throughout the rest of what is current-day Indonesia.  Bali has maintained the ancient Hindu religious practices which are also still practiced in India. 

Indonesia

Jakarta, Borobudur, & Surubaya

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Indonesia is the fourth most populous country in the world, after #1 India, #2 China, & #3 USA, numbering 279 million people (source-Wikipedia).  It is the world's most populous Muslim country.  It is the world's 14th largest nation by area, and the world's largest archipelagic state consisting of over 17,000 islands. 

But beyond these statistics, I was very impressed with the warmth of the Indonesian people. The attached photo gallery illustrates their warmth.

Singapore

A Unique City-State

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Singapore is a very small country located at the bottom of the Malaysian peninsula.  It has no natural resources.  Alli its food has to be imported.  As a financial center and trading center, Singapore is extremely successful.  Its citizens enjoy one of the highest median incomes in the world.  Singapore's citizens are 70% of Chinese ancestry.  Other ethnic groups include Malays, Indians, Thais, and more.  Enjoy the photo gallery of Singapore's rich urban landscape.

 

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Impressive Buildings

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Kuala Lumpur is the capital of the country of Malaysia.  Known previously as Malaya, the country was colonized first by the Portuguese, then the Dutch, and finally by the British.  In World War II, it was occupied by the Japanese.  It became independent after WWII.  In 1963 Malaya joined with Singapore, changing its name to Malaysia, adding the "si" for Singapore.  However, the confederation lasted only two years because of resistance to the potential influence of Singapore's majority Chinese population.

 

Ayutthaya, Thailand's Ancient Capital

Photos from Ayutthaya

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Ayutthaya lies about a two hour's drive north of Bangkok.  It was Thailand's capital for approximately four hundred years, founded in 1351.  It was burned by Burmese invaders in 1767, which resulted in its abandonment and the establishment of Bangkok which remains Thailand's current capital.  

Below is one of the oldest Stupas, built in the 14th century, in the same era as the construction of Cambodia's Angkor Wat, the world's largest UNESCO world heritage site.  Stupas are Buddhist cylindrical structures containing the ashes, bones, or remains of religious figures, and are intended to function as pilgrimage sites for worship and meditation.

 

Saigon, aka Ho Chi Minh City

Vietnam's Largest City

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Our third (and final) Vietnamese port of call was Saigon, the former capital of South Vietnam, which was renamed Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC) after the victory of North Vietnam at the end of the Vietnam War.  HCMC is a large prosperous city.  We were lucky to be met on two consecutive days by our old friend Bob, who is married to a Vietnamese lady and has retired to live in Vietnam following his long career in Reno as a counselor and professional musician.  I played many gigs with Bob in Reno over the years.

 

The Vietnamese/American War Memorial Museum

Personal Reflections on the Vietnam War

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The Vietnam War, as it is known to Americans, is known in Vietnam as the American War.  Vietnam has suffered through wars with the French and the Chinese.  But Vietnam's victory over the US military in 1973 demonstrated the limits of US military hardware against a people defending their home territory.  The US faced this lesson again in Afghanistan.  The United States of America's military budget is larger than the combined military budgets of the next nine countries.  We cannot trust that we will remain safe in the world solely because of our tremendous military expenditures.

Tokyo

10/26/2023By Dallas Smith0Travel: Seven Japanese Cities Visited on the Viking Cruise
 This post has a gallery attached
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After a long transit from Reno via Los Angeles to Tokyo, we boarded the Viking Orion and enjoyed our first excursion in Japan.

Shimizu

Viewing Mount Fuji

10/26/2023By Dallas Smith0Travel: Seven Japanese Cities Visited on the Viking Cruise
 This post has a gallery attached
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Mount Fuji was an impressive site as our ship approached the Shimizu harbor.  Mount Fuji is Japan's highest mountain, an active volcano in a perfect conical form.

Kyoto Shinto Shrines

Visiting Shinto Shrines and Buddhist Temples

10/26/2023By Dallas Smith0: Seven Japanese Cities Visited on the Viking Cruise
 This post has a gallery attached
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Shinto is Japan's "native" religion, dating back at least two thousand years.  The Shinto temples in Kyoto date from the eighth century, when Kyoto was the most powerful city in Japan.