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Amazing Morocco

April, 2017

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I must confess prior practically total ignorance of Morocco. Whatever I thought I knew was wrong. Similar to my mistaken preconceptions of southern Spain, I thought that Morocco was all desert. Instead, it turns out that the northern half of Morocco is equally lush and . . .

An Iranian in America

March 29, 2012

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No, I have not traveled to Iran, but my across-the-street neighbor just returned from a one month visit to his hometown of Shiraz, Iran...  

Attempting to Understand Balkan History

October, 2015

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In this post, based on what I learned during our Viking River Cruise from Bucharest to Budapest, I will attempt something very difficult: to explain the history of the Balkan countries in a short essay. This journey up the Danube River has been an amazing history lesson. I’ve learned that the Balkan situation is even more complicated than the Middle East, because the Middle East crisis escalated mostly in the last century, whereas the Balkan region has been at war for more than a millennium. . .

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.

 

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. 

Beppu and Usa

Ancient Temples and Hot Springs

10/26/2023By Dallas Smith0Travel: Seven Japanese Cities Visited on the Viking Cruise
 This post has a gallery attached
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Cabo San Lucas: Our First Port of Call

January 2022

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Departing Los Angeles and three days at sea, our first port of call of our world cruise was Cabo San Lucas, at the tip of the Baja California (Lower California) peninsula.  The word “cabo” means “cape” in Spanish, referring here to the termination of the Baja Peninsula.  It is a famous tourist destination, famous for its Marlin fishing competition and as a destination for partying American college kids on Spring Break.  It is known for its dramatic stone formations in it harbor, which includes a dramatic stone archway...

Cadiz, Spain

March 2022 - World Cruise

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Until today’s port visit, Cadiz was just a name I had encountered sometime in the past.  I didn’t know anything at all about it.  Now at the end of the day, I feel enriched by learning about this city, as well as having visited an historic village named Vejer de la Frontera. 

Cape Verde

February 2022

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I first heard of Cape Verde Islands in the title of a jazz composition by pianist Horace Silver, The Cape Verdean Blues. 

Caritas = Caring Science

and Autumn Images of the South

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It has been said that the American healthcare system is not about health, nor is it a system.  Rather, it has been described as a pyramid scheme run by insurance companies with government collaboration, in which exorbitant premiums are collected from those who can afford to pay.  Profits are maximized by simply paying out less in benefits than what is collected in premiums.  The sicker the American population is, the more profits can be made by the insurance companies.  Care is withheld from the uninsured...