If a Tree Falls in the Far East,
Does It Make a Sound?

A Spiritual Journey

(A slightly abridged version of my 1985 journal.)

By Tim Gielow

Posted here 4-17-08. Transcribed: April 2008.

A Pan Am 747.  Photo from the Internet.Sunday, January 6th

Well, here I am – Gate 15 at JFK – surrounded by about 100 Oriental people (Editor’s Note: I didn’t know I wasn’t allowed to say “Oriental,” back then.). The Hertz cruiser didn’t start up this morning (frozen fuel line is the current prognosis), and we reluctantly had to take the awesome “Cam.” Pops is pissed, but there’s not much that he can do. The plane leaves at 10:30 AM (in about 15 minutes) and Mr. Pan Am just told us to board the Boeing.

Whoa, I’m on the plane now. I snagged Dad’s window seat, and I am ready to go. Why, look, we have a fine view of the rest rooms. As far as strategic movie watching positioning goes, we got the shaft. The Emergency Door is right in front of me (blocking my leg room). At least, I have an easy escape route, if something goes wrong. There’s another American guy sitting next to Dad. He’s got a protruding belly and an open fly (due to the strain on the waistband). Tokyo looks like the last place that he would be going.

Interesting stats for you trivia buffs: The flight takes approximately 13 hours and 44 minutes, and did you know that the fuel makes up half of the plane’s weight, at takeoff? An abundance of fuel is ok by me.

The engines are revving. Hey, hey, let’s go!

Oh boy, complementary ginger ale and nuts!

That big guy downed three rum and Cokes. Dad let him have his pair of “Boeing Booties,” so he’s pretty happy.

Food comes in five minutes.

Every time I go to sleep, some stewardess wakes me up to give me food. First peanuts and ginger ale, then a tasty chicken dinner and then sandwiches, rice pudding and apple juice. Thank God for the Grey Poupon; it drained out my sinuses.

747 bathrooms are fun. I especially like the aquamarine water that flushes away whatever you’ve deposited. The question is, where does it go? A timely release of the stuff could create a messy situation for any unlucky Alaska residents.

I’m glad my feet are warmer.

Whoa, the fat man just purchased 3 more tiny rum bottles. Any normal sized human would probably be sufficiently snockered by now.

There’s the cutest baby waddling around. Whenever he looks at me, his mouth breaks out into a beefy grin. Pet Sematary (Editor’s Note – the book I was reading at the time) has a baby in it, too, and Stephen King is wonderful when it comes to describing child behavior and parental perspectives. I know that when Timmy Jr. arrives on the scene (or maybe Melissa or Christine), I’m going to be the one of the best damn fathers in world history.

Hold it, time for a statistics update. We’re averaging about 530 miles an hour, we’re 37,000 feet up (Dad says 41,000), and there’s a 14 hour time difference between there and home. We’ll arrive 28 hours later than when we left (depart 10:30 AM Sunday, get there 2:00 PM Monday). Also, the co-pilot’s name is Nietschke.

Pet Sematary is getting good. Winston Churchill (the cat) got hit by a truck, but came back to life. Now, he smells bad. Poor Louis is torn between sparing his daughter’s feelings and destroying the demonic feline.

After some figuring, the ETA has been changed from 2:00 to 3:00.

More food! This time: ravioli, mixed veggies and marinated artichoke hearts (plus an extra bonus mint).

I don’t even believe it; I’m in Japan. I felt so good, I even went up and checked out the cockpit.

Hai! = Yes!

Tokyo.  Photo from the Internet.The bus ride to Tokyo was loads-o-fun. Every car is spotless. Taxi drivers wear white gloves. There are jumbo driving ranges, rice paddies and even Disney Land.

The city – whoa… The roads are 8 stories up. Taxi drivers, I guess, are wild everywhere.

Imperial Hotel.  Photo from the Internet.This hotel (The Imperial) is unbelievable. You walk through the door and 30 people pounce and ask if they can help you. We have a nice room and a nice view of the Eiffel Tower (14th floor). (Editor’s Note: As far as I can remember, there was a similar looking building included in our view.)

We strolled through the city, and it was amazing. The Ginza makes the Champs Elysses look like downtown Ithaca. The stores are wild (the Sony building offers multiple floors of hands-on equipment). We ate at a pseudo McDonalds place called “Love.” People looked at us, like we were celebrities.

They have plastic replicas of all the food inside each restaurant, on display. There’s little shish kabob huts (Yakatori?) and jumbo pachinko palaces. The streets seem more dangerous traffic-wise and safer mugging-wise.

I saw an ambulance carry away a woman in a blanket. I have no idea what that was all about.

Fatigue set in, and I was unconscious by 9:30.

Tuesday, January 8th

People with colds, here, walk around with surgical masks on, so they don’t give them to anyone else.

Woke up at 5:30 and had breakfast with dad and fellow IBM-er Dan Kelly. He seems like quite a nice fellow.

Well, I’m on my own in the big city until 8:00 PM. I wonder how it will work out.

Taxi passenger doors and trunks open automatically (oh boy)!

Tokyo subway.  Photo from the Internet.The subways aren’t too bad. The only thing that baffled me is what to do if you’re without change. They’re pretty much like London and Paris, except they’re so damn clean.

I made it to Lisa’s district. (Editor’s Note: She was a friend from high school, who was living over there, because of her father’s job. I was planning on surprising her with a visit.) It was a long and tedious struggle, but my poor taxi driver finally found the house. Her brother gave me quite a cordial greeting. Not only would he not let me in; he also acted as if surprise visits from Americans happen daily at the Bryan abode.

I found out part of the scoop later. I don’t know how it happened, but Lisa was expecting me to arrive about a week and a half ago and stay for four months! Damn, I was all psyched up for the big surprise; now I’m nothing but tardy. I got her number, though (thanks to the pen of a nearby shop owner).

Tokyo subway.  Photo from the Internet.I then wandered aimlessly (seemingly forever) until I found a subway station. I then hopped up to the zoo. I had the best time. I felt like a kid again. Not only did I check in on Fei Fei and Huan Huan; I saw mammals, birds and fish that I never even knew existed.

Tokyo Tower.  Photo from the Internet.After that, it was more miles of walking, followed by an elevator ride up to the “Special Observation Deck” of the dreaded Tokyo Tower. I got that same frightening/exhilirating feeling that hit me when I shot up the Eiffel Tower. I found myself clutching the handrail in the elevator and wishing we’d reach the deck as soon as possible.

Disappointment of the day: The lady at the information desk said that the sumo folks will not be doing their thing until next week. I was so psyched to witness that spectacle.

“Mushi mushi?

I finally got ahold of Lisa, and we planned to rendezvous after dinner.

After an extensive Yakatori search, Dan, Dad and I settled down to a good old fashioned Korean barbecue. They give you hot towels before and during, and you cook your own stuff right there in the middle of the damn table. It was really good. I don’t think Dad was happy with my beer order, but I wanted to try it (and Dan was appreciative that he didn’t have to drink alone). I even finished all of my seaweed soup!

Oops, forgot to mention that for lunch, I had a chili dog (with a pickle?), fries (tasting remarkably similar to those found at Arby’s, in Ithaca) and a Sprite. Not to mention the fine choice of a post-lunch ice cream cone.

I was very late (about an hour) in meeting Lisa, because a few taxi drivers weren’t familiar with the Naseki Dori shopping street.

Wednesday, January 9th

I woke up at 9:30 and caught up on my news by reading “The Japan Times.

The male maid popped in and quickly exited with about 17 “sorrys” (and twice that many bows).

Lisa showed up at about 1:15. She said her interview went well with the “Hello Kitty” people. I am happy for her.

We toured supermarkets and grocery stores. Sometimes, it’s not the landmarks, but the everyday places that are the most interesting. I love learning about this place!

I had a pizza! Good old “Shakey’s” (located in friendly downtown Shibuya). God knows why I ordered mine with Canadian bacon on it. It wasn’t bad, but I wish I could figure out what the hell the cheese was.

I had dinner (although I was bloated with pizza) with Dad and Dan at this mass production pork palace. It was really good. Between the soup, rice, cole slaw-like stuff, pork, sake and beer, I was one stuffed geijing. Thanks for dinner, mama san!

Pachinko parlor.  Photo from the Internet.We checked out the local price on canteloupe (a whopping thirty bucks for one), and played a little post-pork pachinko. That’s such a crazy game.

Dan seemed a little tipsy. Good for him.

Pops and I were both dead on our feet, so we hit our respective sacks.

One interesting sight was the lunchtime exercise of the rooftop businessmen, across the way. I thought for sure runner #1 was intent on suicide, until I saw two sweats-clad execs running behind him.

Thursday, the 10th

Breakfast was good. I had bananas with cream, OJ and French toast. I don’t know about others, but I find being waited on hand and foot makes me feel somewhat uncomfortable.

Tokyo Disneyland.  Photo from the Internet.Lisa arrived at 10:00 AM. We hit the streets, en route to Tokyo Disneyland. On the way, this guy took our picture and took down our names. I didn’t know what the hell was going on. I thought, for sure, we’d have to pay for a couple of lousy photos. Instead, since we were “cute Americans,” we were supposedly going to appear in some car magazine (or so we were told). Lisa says I could be a big model over here. Blond-haired Americans are a hot commodity. Now, that is an exciting prospect.

I went on Space Mountain! I had just the right amount of trepidation. It was great. Zoom, whip, swoosh, and it’s over. Supposedly, it’s not as exciting as the one in Florida, but I enjoyed it, nevertheless.

We took the “skyway” (a source of childhood terror, at Busch Gardens) to Fantasyland. I wanted to test out the “Grand Circuit Raceway,” but it looked too damn boring.

We went through the “Haunted House.” Somehow, it loses its effect when the voices are in Japanese.

We exited from there, just in time to view the gala parade. All these characters from American history – all of them with slanty eyes. The Charlie Chaplin guy was quite a disconcerting translation. I loved seeing the Eastern portrayal of the Western world. One sidenote: the Japanese aren’t very good break dancers.

Then, it was on to “Peter Pan’s Flight,” which was quickly followed by a successful stint at the shooting gallery. Oh, how could I forget? We were treated to an ornithological musical revue in the ever popular “Enchanted Tiki Room.” The bonehead disappointing move of the day: I forgot my camera.

It was back to the Bryan residence for a little pre-dinner “Coke Light.” We went with Momma B. to an Italian restaurant (“Antonio’s”). I had some fishy (?) tasting canneloni with meat sauce. Between a woman scooping out a lemon and an Oriental staring me down, it was an interesting meal. The sponge cake was awesome!

Lisa and I then wandered the backstreets of Rappongi and Shibuya. Each time I take the taxi back to the Imperial, the fare is higher than it was before!

Friday, January 11th

 6:30 breakfast, as usual. I had waffles and bacon this time. It’s farewell for Dan “the man” Kelly. Now, how the hell am I going to get to Mt. Fuji without spending a Japanese arm and a leg?

The answer is “I’m not.” Lisa thought her dad said that an info booth was located in Hiroo Station. In fact, it was supposed to be at Hibiya Station (right across the street). I was late for the rendezvous, because the cute information lady took 20 minutes to locate sumo info for me. Anyway, the information booth was never found. We ended up going back to my sumo helper. She said “No dice” and urged us to sign up for a 50 dollar tour.

Well, what do you think we did? We headed to Shibuya to catch a flick (“Gremlins”). The movie was fun. It cost a beefy six bucks, but the seats were comfortable (very similar to those found in any Chrysler Cordoba). There were about a million ads and 6 previews. They were selling posters, t-shirts, etc. It was more like a play or concert than a movie.

We took the long walk back to the Naseki Dori, and I taxied back to a napping dad. We ended up taking a long and cold walk to find a French restaurant. God knows why, but I ordered veal.

Saturday, January 12th

You would think the wake up time would be pushed back a little on the weekend? No way. I was up at 6:15. We hit “Cycles” for the usual breakfast (love those bananas and cream) and headed for Asakusabashi.

Wrestlers at Asakusabashi.  Photo by Dad.Wrestler at Asakusabashi.  Photo by Dad.I don’t even believe it, but we got to see 16 sumo wrestlers (in all shapes and sizes) warm up for the big tournament, which was going to be held the following day. One guy was 488 pounds! Those guys are crazy. Stomp stomp, boom, grunt, splat. It was freezing in that tiny room, and they’re all walking around practically in the buff (bare feet too). And I was disappointed, because we couldn’t see the tournament? Ha! This morning, we got a behind-the-scenes look. We were closer (I could reach out and touch their undulating bellies), and it didn’t cost us a single yen.

It’s freezing, out.

We scanned through the International Arcade. It’s simply amazing how many different electronic gadgets they have on display. I almost bought a watch for four bucks, but changed my mind.

There were a few Japan Bowl players milling around. I saw monsters from USC and BYU. Those guys do not look too bright.

We had strange pastry things for lunch. The hotdog and cheese was awesome; the macaroni left a nauseous taste in my mouth. Then, I hit the sack for a mid-afternoon nap. I am psyched for a scheduled disco outing.

We watched pro wrestling on the tube. The action was incredibly fast and furious. It makes US wrestling look like a Sunday brunch at the Schenectady Women Gardeners’ Club. Still, that Baba The Giant guy is pretty wimpy for a seven footer.

Then, it was off in search of a Tempura. A brief stroll through the Ginza, and we were there – the “World Renowned” Tenichi Tempura House.

The hostess set the Japanese land record for saying the most consecutive “Hai’s” in one phone call.

We were seated at the bar and had an up close look at the frying process. We had mushrooms, asparagus and shrimp (dad wasn’t happy with the absence of oysters). The radish with tempura sauce was pretty unpleasant, but the post meal Cola quickly remedied that.

We both ate something that resembled a fetal robin, but it was kind of tasty.

Dad was so frustrated with the mama san’s lack of attention the he called her a “dingbat.” That posed no real problem, until we found out that the Japanese couple next to us was from Westchester. I was worried that harsh words would ensue (maybe an international incident), but nothing was exchanged but pleasantries.

Off to the “Big Apple Disco!” They won’t let any guys in who are not accompanied by a female. They try to keep things balanced. Supposedly, they are not too keen about letting Marines in, either. They’re worried about fights.

The place closes at 11:30?

Mixed drinks are free (there is a $14 cover charge), but beer will cost you. Some Phillipino guy tried to pick me up. When he said, “Don’t I know you from somewhere?” I almost laughed in his face.

There were Marines in the place, and they were flocking around Lisa like vultures around an unattended carcass.

Not only do Japanese people not know how to dance; they dance alone and stare at themselves in the mirror (the whole outer wall of the dance floor was one big mirror). I was (seriously) the tallest one on the entire dance floor.

Sunday, January 13th

Oh boy, we finally got to have breakfast during the cheese blintz hour. Dad opted for the timely special, and I went for a more substantial choice – scrambled eggs and ham.

Due to a misunderstanding, Dad managed to receive two cups of hot chocolate. I could only drink half of one (due to a well documented childhood trauma).

We strolled through the park (Hibiya Park), viewed the frolicking Japanese youth, oohed at the fountain and cooed with the multitude of crumb snatching pigeons. Kids are pretty much the same all over the world. “Oh, to see the world through the eyes of a child

Dad was grilled by a local, as to what the U.S. was all about (“Who’s #1? Who’s #1?”)

There were classic examples of the “ugly American” on the bus to the airport. I can see girls at Ithaca being exactly like that in about 20 years. They marry someone rich, so they can travel the world, shop, smoke, swear and complain.

Narita’s security measures are pretty scary. Gun ports in the main lobby are disconcerting, in the very least.

I checked out the Japan Bowl in the electronic equipment gift shop, while Dad purchased his “Walkman/Talkman.

I copped a window seat, but there was no window.

They serve pretty good chow on these jumbo jets.

Here we are – Hong Kong – a first even for “Intercontinental Freddie.” Things are not as immaculate as Tokyo, but the place sure has got atmosphere.

There is more neon here than Tokyo.

A Mercedes drove us to the Hyatt. Dad wasn’t sure if you’re supposed to tip in H.K., so he didn’t. The sour puss on the driver told us maybe we should have.

This place is a far cry from The Imperial, but it’s fine with me. I guess Dad is used to better, because he doesn’t seem happy about it.

We wandered a little (it was late). We played “Name That Foodstuff,” got many an offer to be patrons at local skin joints (I could feel dad wincing with every proposition) and hit the sack.

Now that I have been there, I can see why Dad is so impressed with Japan. The prevailing attitudes of respect, discipline, perfection and cleanliness suit him to a “tee.

Monday, the 14th (in the land of the “sardine high rise”)

Great breakfast! That ham and cheese omelette made me smile (and I rarely do that before 10 AM).

Do you know that the orange juice here is thicker than most popular brands of duck sauce?

I don’t even believe it, but we are scheduled to take a one day tour to China, tomorrow. For a 21 year old, I’m sure going to have an impressive passport. Departure time is 6:45 AM, so let’s hope the “Travelarm” doesn’t go on the fritz.

The Star Ferry to Hong Kong.  Photo from the Internet.We copped the ferry over to Hong Kong (we’re staying in Kowloon), for a mere 10 cents.

Conversion update: 7 H.K. Dollars = 1 American $

Travel 2nd Class and save 2 cents (seriously).

We climbed aboard the top part of a double-decker bus and proceeded to go on one of the most breathtaking rides of my life. I felt like I was on Space Mountain (except not as secure). Skinny roads on mountain ledges make my stomach do flip-flops. I wasn’t alone. There was an elderly southern couple next to us, requesting divine intervention.

I want to ride in a rickshaw.

We shot past Aberdeen and Repulse Bay and into Stanley (shoppers haven and heaven). The prices were absolutely fantastic. No overhead, no shipping costs, no fancy displays; just piles and piles of great stuff at rock bottom prices. I got so excited, I bought a pair of Guess jeans for 11 bucks (the folks at Ithaca are going to flip). Add to that another pair of funky pants, a shirt, shorts and a jacket, and you’ve got one successful day at the market. Dad spent 22 dollars more than I. I had to take out a cash advance from the 1st Federal Savings and Loan.

Snacking opportunities consisted of jumbo tongue, brains (or were they intestines?), and squashed goose. That being the case, we decided to skip lunch and hit the nearest bakery for dessert.

Dad got his ceremonial sample of sand. He almost picked up a handful that had recently been watered down by a local mutt.

I developed a crush on this worldly Vancouver female, on the bus ride back. I know she was lonely, but I felt too nauseous to be outgoing.

We shopped for an incredibly long time (we were done at around six), so we decided on a non-elaborate dinner in the hotel and an early retirement. I’m becoming amazingly adept at using chopsticks. I handed my sweet and sour pork and rice with nary a miscue!

My eyes are barely remaining open, as I write, now. Must scrub the dental work and go to bed. Next time I write, I will have a big, bold, brand spankin’ new China stamp in my passport. Good night.

Tuesday, January 15th

Up well before 6:00 AM (so what else is new). After the same hearty breakfast as yesterday, it was off to the bus, to the hydrofoil, to the bus that would take us to China. No cute people on the tour, to speak of. I guess I ‘ll just have to make do viewing the Chinese culture and countryside.

The jetfoil was interesting but basically uneventful. Dad had Mary Newcombe’s long lost Cantonese cousin sitting next to him (she of the unmistakable smoker’s hack). At least, he had some sort of tube with him (?)

To get to China, we had to pass through Macau (apparently a Portuguese territory). Hence, it was a day of many passport stamps.

They don’t fool around in customs. They want to know everything from your birthday to the jewelry on your person. Borders may be arbitrary/imaginary lines, but crossing one into a communist country has its pronounced effects on the central nervous system. I was #6 in the country, following Dad and the fine family of four from Britain.

I have never seen so many damn Australians in my life!

Mario was our host, and Ree was our guide.

There were poor adolescents tugging on my hand, saying “Hello, hello!” and begging for money. A man even came up to the bus with a monkey, hoping its antics would further incite us to give him a handout.

First stop was a poverty-stricken farm town. I think it’s time to give up complaining. My life is too good to entertain any gripes. Walking through this town can make almost anyone feel fortunate.

China Travel Service tour of Zhongshan County and Zhuhai City.  Photo by Dad. China Travel Service tour of Zhongshan County and Zhuhai City.  Photo by Dad. China Travel Service tour of Zhongshan County and Zhuhai City. Photo by Dad.

I squeamishly bought a Chinese army hat for a bargain of 4 Hong Kong dollars (57 cents) from the local mama san.

After a brief water buffalo photo session, it was on to the Sun-Yat-Sen Memorial School.

The roads are skinny and rough, and there are so many bikers that our driver rarely had his hands off the horn.

All the Sun-Yat-Sen sights were pretty boring. A flower peddler woman had an incredibly expressive face, but both Dad and I felt too awkward to ask for a photo.

Lunch was good. I enjoyed impressing the Aussies with my chopstick expertise and hearty appetite. I even downed a not-so-frosty mug of Chinese beer.

After a disappointing pastry and an endless wait (at a resort that had about as much to offer as the Ciccarino backyard), it was on to the main street market.


Dense crowds of peddlers, patrons, bikes and forever honking Isuzu vehicles. Tiny knick knacks, hash and sugar cane. Elderly squinting faces, beneath layers of fatigue and soil. Not to mention the roasted butterball dog (makes the compressed goose seem like a Quarter Pounder with Cheese). After an hour of boredom, a mere half hour in this whirlwind of culture was a shot to the solar plexus.

China Travel Service tour of Zhongshan County and Zhuhai City.  Photo by Dad. China Travel Service tour of Zhongshan County and Zhuhai City.  Photo by Dad. China Travel Service tour of Zhongshan County and Zhuhai City. Photo by Dad.

A billion folks, and they’re not receiving any worldwide charitable attention. 48 born a minute, 30 live to the next minute. Those Westerners who don’t appreciate what they have are really missing the boat. Perspective is the key to life. This sort of travel offers a valuable one that should not be forgotten.

Wednesday, January 16th

Up early for a fine breakfast buffet at the nearby Holiday Inn Café Vienna. This Cantonese guy whips up a mean omelette, right before your eyes. Love those Danish!

First stop: Aberdeen. Those double-decker bus rides are pretty amazing. Everybody and everything here is either jam packed together or piled on top of each other. You can’t walk 5 feet in any direction, without bumping into a skyscraper.

Walking by the local meat market, we got the pleasure of seeing several large animal heads being carted away in baskets. They looked like oxen, by the size of them, but I never was too good at identifying carcass parts.

This little woman snagged us about a minute later and wouldn’t leave, for anything. She wanted to take us for a spin around the harbor on her souped up sampan. She must have followed us for 10 blocks. Everywhere we turned, she was there. “Hello. Hello. 50 dollar for sampan?” over and over. If we hadn’t lost her (by ducking behind a small, but quite aromatic fish truck), I bet Dad would have slugged her. Circling back, we got pestered by four other short, wrinkly ladies, each as irrepressible as the first.

Near Aberdeen.  Photo by Dad. Near Aberdeen.  Photo by Dad. Near Aberdeen.  Photo by Dad.

There were wall to wall “junks” - families who spend their entire lives on a boat. Just thinking about that lifestyle doesn’t go over very well with a certified land lubber like me. They probably get land sick.

After a lengthy wait, we copped a bus to Ocean Park. It’s a theme park located on this mountain, with a spectacular view of Repulse Bay, Aberdeen and the rest of the glorious Hong Kong coastline.

The cable car ride to the other side of the mountain (which jutted out into the ocean) was nothing less than breathtaking.

We caught the end of a pseudo Sea World type show that I thought was very entertaining (keep in mind, I’m usually very easily pleased). The seals were worth a few smiles, and the divers were downright fun to watch. I’ll be knocking ‘em dead, with my newly acquired diving ideas, the next time I climb up the high board, at Ithaca.

From there, it was on to the Wave Cove, sprinkled with content looking seals and a few walrus type fellows. The view from that point (of Aberdeen) was definitely photo-worthy.

We then followed the signs to the “Thrill Rides.” It took a good 20 minutes of contemplation and nerve building (plus a loan from Dad), before I climbed up the steps to ride


Picture a winding, looping, terrifying roller coaster, perched precariously on the edge of a mountain, overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Three (count ‘em – three) loop de loops and enough gut-wrenching turns to loosen your cuticles. I have a history of being ride squeamish (ever since a traumatic childhood incident at the Dutchess County Fair), but I was determined to overcome my fears. If those polyester-clad, Oriental businessmen can do it, so can I!

View of Repulse Bay.  Photo by Dad. Ocean Park.  Photo by Dad. Ocean Park.  Photo by Dad.

I did it, all right. It was great. Didn’t even close my eyes, cry, kick, shout or scream. Ha! I did feel a little woozy, though. I guess you have to overcome these monumental barriers a little bit at a time.

I wobbled back to the cable car, and Dad and I went in search of giant panda. We found him sprawled out on a rock, behind a glass-enclosed pen. Dad thinks he was napping; I think he was dead.

I have now seen three pandas in less than a week and a half. Now, how many American born, 21 year olds can make that amazing claim?

We got back to Hong Kong around dusk and took the tram up to Victoria. My word, this sure was quite a day of transportational thrills and chills. One flimsy cable pulls this hefty carriage up 1305 feet. Not only did we take in a most impressive birds-eye-view of Kowloon and Hong Kong, we also had dinner.

After a scrumptuous portion of New Zealand steak, I had my first ever helping of Baked Alaska. Yum. Nothing like a meal, with a view to boot!

The view from Victoria Peak.  Photo by Dad. The view from Victoria Peak.  Photo by Dad.

The even would have been perfect, if that tiny bathroom attendant didn’t give me a dirty look. I can get my own paper towels, thank you.

I took a few nocturnal photos of the sleazy neon signs, near our hotel, and then fell asleep right before the big crash in “Airport 1977.

Thursday, January 17th

Another fantastic breakfast bonanza buffet at the Holiday Inn. It felt good to get some good old American corn flakes in me.

There was many a hassle, at checkout time. Besides the secret $55 bill for the limo, we got caught in the middle of an automatic bar controversy. Just as in the Hertz scandal, Dad was not pleased.

We have one monster long day ahead of us. Still, neither jet lag, typhoon, earthquake, volcano eruption or diarrhea could, in any way, prevent me from having nothing but fun in Hawaii!

(On second thought, diarrhea might do it.)

(Editor’s Note: I don’t know why, but I did not continue writing in the journal for the last leg of the trip - Hawaii. Perhaps writer’s cramp had taken hold? My sincere apologies to any reader who feels cheated by this heinous omission.)

The black sand beach on the big island of Hawaii.  Photo by Dad. On the big island of Hawaii.   Photo by Dad. On the big island of Hawaii.   Photo by Dad.

Hardened lava on the big island of Hawaii.  Photo by Dad. Hardened lava on the big island of Hawaii.   Photo by Dad. On the big island of Hawaii.   Photo by Dad.

01-06-85: Depart JFK on Pan Am 803
01-07-85: Arrive Tokyo; stay at Imperial Hotel
01-13-85: Depart Tokyo on Pan Am 21
01-13-85: Arrive Hong Kong; stay at Regency, Kowloon
01-17-85: Depart Hong Kong on Pan Am 22
01-17-85: Arrive Tokyo
01-17-85: Depart Tokyo on Pan Am 830
01-17-85: Arrive Honolulu
01-17-85: Deparat Honolulu on Hawaiian Air 312
01-17-85: Arrive Hilo, Hawaii; stay at Sea Mountain, Pahala
01-19-85: Depart Hilo on Aloha Air 49
01-19-85: Arrive Honolulu
01-19-85: Depart Honolulu on Pan Am 838
01-20-85: Arrive JFK