|RESUME' OF KEN AND GLENNA'S "AROUND THE WORLD" TRIP|
Ken and I left Detroit on Friday, Dec. 19th, 1969. Had two stops in Boston and London, before arriving in Istanbul, Turkey. Enjoyed ride from airport into Istanbul-Hilton Hotel. Passed many shops, market places, mosques. People have interesting dress - pointed shoes, robes, etc. Next two days visited the most important mosques, St. Sophia Cathedral, many other landmarks - from 6th century, etc. Visited Palace - so beautiful, with marvelous crystal chandeliers, and paintings, but they wouldn't turn any lights on - they cited some palace that burned down 30 years ago, on account of faulty wiring! On a gray, rainy day, this was most frustrating to us. Had interesting lunch in small restaurant by ourselves, with 2 or 3 kittens keeping us company with their fun antics. Got a kick out of the waiter running down the street to get our tea - and carrying it back through town on a swinging type tray with little glasses. This was commonplace, saw it constantly throughout the day. Weather was cold, and it was distressing to see all the many men washing their feet outside in fountains or troughs of cold water before entering the mosques. This is part of their religion. It was bad enough for us to just remove our shoes before entering. Our feet were so cold walking around - even though there were carpets on the floor. There was no heat, and when you returned outside, our shoes would be so cold. Over and over, on our tours, we were taking them off and back on.
Had a delightful buffet dinner in Sadrivan Supper Club in hotel. Entertainment featured belly dancer, adagio dance team, etc. All very nice. Next day visited Topkapi Palace, filled with thousands of beautiful art objects - china, porcelain, jewelry, crowns, thrones, clothes, all breathtakingly beautiful. Also visited the Grand Bazaar - featuring thousands of small shops all under cover. Many selling only fine gold jewelry - very expensive, don't know who buys it all to keep so many shops in business. All cars are old in Istanbul - 200% duty on new cars - so very few around.
On to Beirut, Lebanon. Lovely city from the air. Traffic is one big nightmare. Thousands of cars, all constantly blowing their horns, and no traffic rules at all. Everyone turns all directions from anywhere at all, can park anywhere, horribly confusing. Took tour to see ruins of ancient Roman city, and beautiful Jita Grotto Cave. Whole cave tour is done in boat. The views are spectacular of stalactites and stalagmites. They have done a beautiful job of artificially lighting it all.
On to Teheran, Iran, arriving about midnight, at the beautiful, new Teheran Hilton Hotel. We toured on our own - via cab and map. NO ONE spoke English - very frustrating, but so much fun, when we eventually succeeded in making our way through the museum, bazaars, palace, Crown Jewels, etc. One cabbie couldn't understand our directions, he took our paper, left cab, and ran here and there through different shops, and finally returned beaming, and drove us right to our destination. On the whole, the people always seem to be very helpful and understanding. The dress of these people was all so interesting. We were dying to take pictures, but you just can't. In the orient, we found everyone looking at us. Ken's hat with all the many little metal flags of other nations we have visited draws their attention, and then they always look to see if their flag is included - disappointed if not. We couldn't find any of these flag pins in the orient, so couldn't add to his collection. Completely veiled women - not even an eyelash exposed - walked around all in black, plus so many other unusual outfits. What a disappointment when you have cameras, not to get their pictures. But you realize it would be rude to take them so you don't. Even though the subject may not see you, it is the other people watching you, that keeps you in line.
The Palace, where the Shah of Iran and his Farah were recently crowned, was magnificent. The walls and ceilings were made up of zillions of small mirrors, and the reflections were marvelous. Like diamonds all over. And the Crown Jewels were unbelievable. They are kept in a huge room size bank vault. Seemed like every diamond, emerald, and precious stone in the whole world was there. Fabulous crowns, thrones, novelty pieces - like a world globe, 2 1/2 ft, high, and with 51,000 gems, totaling 18,200 carats. This was Christmas Eve day, and we had a delightful dinner in our hotel. The room was beautifully decorated, musicians were playing our Christmas Carols, at candle-lit tables. The menu featured the American favorites of Egg Nog, Turkey, dressing, and flaming plum pudding with sparklers. They couldn't have honored us more, and we did appreciate their efforts. A tray of cookies, featuring a gingerbread Santa, and fruit and nuts were also sent up to our room.
Christmas Day and on our Air India plane - as we entered, was a music box playing Jingle Bells and a sign wishing us "A Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!" Made us feel good as this is no holiday in India. Visited Old and New Delhi. Words can never describe what we saw in Old Delhi. Millions of people, oxen, animals, all so seemingly poor. Ancient carts, tools, dress unbelievable, mostly rags. People pawing thru garbage for scraps of food. Young children 4 years of age and up working in the fields - children younger than 4 naked from waist down. All kinds of little outdoor shops and services, but all so poor and nothingish. People, are like flies, there are so many, and so many babies! Wonder about India 10 years from now. Animals, lots of them unattended, all over the place - in the roads with the cars, people, and bicycles - and the horns blowing constantly here too. Right on their heels and they can't really get out of the way - it's like after a football game at Ann Arbor - crowded but like that all the time.
Ken had his shoes cleaned by a small boy about 7 years old at airport. He did an excellent job - no child here could have done the same. And the market places - flies all over the unwrapped food, naked children, half-starved mothers and children. All age people selling things you can't possibly need or want. This is the hard part of traveling, ignoring their pleas. If you start to give to one, all the rest would converge on you, we had been warned. You feel so helpless, yet so rich and pampered in comparison. And you wonder why we have so much in our country and they so little in theirs. Saw dancing bears, snake charmers, fight between mongoose and cobra, cow dung scraped together and formed into flat rounds by little girls, in their bare hands, and sold for fuel to heat and cook with. Small tents that house 8-10 people, bicycles loaded 12' high with cans, brush, etc. Women carrying old fashioned jugs and water pitchers to well for water on heads and shoulders, men selling few stalks of sad looking celery, sitting on sidewalks or pavement, or a few other misc. vegetables - so pathetic, because you can't imagine anyone buying them. Old Indian men (like Gandhi) in white romper type outfits, bare feet, walking sticks. Saris - some lovely, others filthy, women working on roads, and buildings, carrying cement by hand. Men cleaning airport runways by hand, just squatting over and brushing them. No modern machinery anywhere. Yet big airports - jet planes. By contrast, there are the clean, wholesome looking Indians too, you see in the hotels, shops, traveling, etc. And New Delhi is a modern clean city with many new buildings, etc. Women, with star of decoration on foreheads, Saris with bare midriffs, men with fancy or plain turbans, white romper type pants with modern sport jackets (that gets you!). And still there is a quiet dignity to the Indian people - the women have beautiful carriages, and are mostly slender. The Indian greeting of bringing the hands to the lips, and bowing their heads is very lovely. The people we came in contact with were very, very friendly.
We arrived in Agra, India to see the Taj Mahal, and our first view of it was on Christmas Night, in the light of the full moon. We were very lucky to have a full moon - it was a very impressive sight. There are no electric lights anywhere near or around it at all. Made of beautiful white marble, so majestic and so symmetrically balanced, it is a grand sight to see. The next day we were able to see much more in the daylight and viewed the interior. It is very exquisite, with hand carved marble and unbelievable flowers made with precious stones and set in marble all by hand. The Taj was built by the Emperor Shah Johan as a memorial to his beloved wife. It is a sad but interesting story that the son of the Shah overthrew his father and imprisoned him in a palace about a mile away from the site of the Taj. The Shah could see from his balcony the Taj being built, but was not allowed to visit it. He died while imprisoned there.
On to Bangalore, India where we were met at the airport by our little adoptive child, Sonam Dolker, and Mr. and Mrs. Jehanger. He is in charge of all the Christian Children Fund activities in India. Sonam was a delight! Her father had accompanied her to Bangalore, and couldn't speak any English, but he was very pleasant, and we all had a real good time.
Glenna, Sonam, and Ken in Bangalore, India
We went sight-seeing and shopped. Bought Sonam a camera, ring, material for a dress, etc. The hotel restaurants with dance bands were all new to Sonam, and she enjoyed every minute. We hated to leave her there, not knowing what the future may bring. She is 17 and in her last year of both high school and care by Christian Children Fund. We assured her that we would be happy to finance her way through secretarial school if she so desires, after graduation. She, and her family, are Tibetan refugees, and her whole desire is to help her own people and sometime be able to return to their own land. We feel this is an impossible dream.
Sonam and Glenna after Sonam became a U.S. Resident. (2001)
Speaking of India, and while in Agra, we had the greatest bother trying to get a certain flight reaffirmed, because we had already been delayed 14 hours on a previous flight, so it had goofed up our schedule a bit. This was most important to us, as it would involve our being on schedule to meet Sonam as planned. We were finally told the flight was fully booked and we would have to take a later one. We were really mad as we had tried unsuccessfully for 2 days to get this flight confirmed, and they had all given us the run-around. So finally they relented and said we could be #1 and #2 stand-bys. We were still unhappy for on a hot day, who wants to pack their cases, go to the airport, and perhaps wait in vain? So, we complained some more, and they said to come at the time and they assured us they would take us. We were then satisfied, but for the next 3 hours I felt badly about the poor Indians or whoever, who would be bumped off in favor of us, but feeling this was most important for us to be on time in Bangalore and not having Sonam and these people waiting in vain. Well, we got on the plane - and it left - with 12 passengers! - and about 52 empty seats! I thought Ken and I would blow a gasket. But this is typical of some of the small annoyances you encounter when traveling - especially in the orient.
Our next country was Ceylon. Beautiful land, all lush and green. Millions of coconut trees. Economy appears much better than India's. Very primitive, however. Low bungalow type homes, tucked in among the heavy foliage. Reminds us of Africa, as we have seen it at times in the movies. Most men were dressed in white straight skirts, down to their ankles. All waiters and most everyone else was barefooted. Lovely warm climate, but unfortunately having torrential type rains we cut our visit short and went on to Singapore. Will mention while in Colombo, Ceylon, we attended the theater and saw Walt Disney's "The Waltz King" - story of Johann Straus, Jr. Never expected to see an English speaking film there. Ken will criticize if I don't mention our cabbie racing us back to our hotel from the theater - as if we were being madly chased - in the heavy, pouring rain - and no windshield wipers working at all. We couldn't see a thing out of the windows, and don't know how we avoided an accident!
Singapore has the fourth largest port in the world. When you see the many, many ships you feel it must be the largest, but Rotterdam is number one with New York, Yokohama, Singapore, London, and Hong Kong following. We enjoyed Singapore. Much to see and do. Beautiful new hotels, lovely shops, very high prices - like coffee or tea per cup 50 cents U.S. ($1.50 Singapore money). We enjoyed a harbor cruise, pedi-cab ride at night through Chinatown where they were celebrating their New Year. Lots of activity, people all out on streets, eating, and making merry. Watched part of a Chinese play. Saw the new movie "Hello Dolly", here in English, with Chinese sub titles on our New Years Eve. Beautiful weather here - first opportunity to swim and sun at poolside. Saw wonderful Jade and Ivory. Visited Tiger Balm Gardens - a fantasy land featuring animals, statuary, etc. Also Botanical Gardens and Crocodile farm.
On to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia - believe this is 14th flight. All different airlines and stewardesses. Such interesting costumes, thought later that I should have taken their pictures. Everything from Mimis, Saris, bare midriffs and robes. Believe me, it takes courage to go up in a strange Jet plane, piloted by a man wearing a turban! Well, we arrived safely in Kuala Lumpur, were driven to our beautiful, modern hotel, with revolving cocktail lounge! One extreme to the other - every minute. This is why Ken and I love to travel. We visited tin mines, saw zillions of rubber trees, watched the white rubber ooze out and witnessed the rubber during all stages of processing. All very interesting. Saw a visiting Russian Leningrad Ballet at night that was lovely. Window shopped (actually shops were open) must comment on sidewalks abroad - particularly on this trip - if you ever went over 25 steps and didn't have to detour around broken cement, open manholes, etc., it was a miracle. In one block you might be in and out of the road 3 to 6 times, plus circling here and there. It's a miracle, we said, if we survived the sidewalks - especially with so many interesting and unusual sights drawing our attention every second. Vice President Agnew was expected in Kuala Lumpur in the next day or two, and it was exciting to see our flags flown for the occasion. And at the airport to hear their military band practicing our "Star Spangled Banner".
Our next flight was to Penang, Malaysia, Beautiful island, wonderful coastline. Lovely gardens with thousands of monkeys running around quite tame. Fun to feed them and watch them run and play. Took steep, exciting ride up mountain in little railway cars. Had dinner up there with lovely view below of city. Visited Snake Temple with real live snakes all over the place, loose. Can't imagine how these customs got started, but they are still practiced today, with no sign of an end. Why cows, snakes, and monkeys should be sacred to all these people we can't understand.
On to Bangkok, Thailand, where we met Don and Diane. Lots of fun telling them of our trip and visit with Sonam. Visited the Palace (huge area of fancy buildings and statuary only found in Siam) and the Floating Markets. The latter were so fascinating it would take pages to describe. The people bring their produce, etc., in for sale by boat. You see the homes and way of life of the people who live along the klongs (canals). The area is really very attractive, as far as trees, etc., is concerned. However, as you travel along in your boat looking this all over, you see people bathing in this river, washing clothes, brushing their teeth, children using it as toilet, plus thousands of small (and large) boats expelling oil, garbage, etc.! But they all look healthy and happy! Makes me think we may be a little too fussy over here, but I don't wish to change! We four stayed at the beautiful Siam Intercontinental Hotel, where we enjoyed the fine pool and gardens. Also shopped for Thai Silk and jewelry.
The kids returned to Saigon, and Ken and I went on to Cambodia. Visited the extremely interesting temples and palaces built in the 9th-12th centuries, and then forsaken and lost for hundreds of years, and rediscovered in the last 50 years. Some were completely covered over with trees growing out of the buildings 30 to 40 feet high. Absolutely unbelievable and most fascinating to see. Cambodia is real old world - NOTHING modern here. Many bicycles and pedi-cabs, few cabs, few cars. Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., visited here the same time as us. He also stayed at our hotel. Happy to say, he was very down to earth in sport togs, seemed to look older than on TV, but debonair, lovely voice, and beautiful smile, we are all familiar with. Had the biggest language problem in this country. Nobody spoke English so that we could really understand it all - but always we seem to manage to get where we want to go, at least in the end, sometimes the very end, we would get there! Sometimes a little beat, quite a bit shaken, but after we had gathered together our wits, it would call forth a laugh and a good rememberance for the future.
Left Siem Reap in 72-passenger Jet with 3 of us passengers aboard. The other man was from Hong Kong and we became very paly, and toured Phnom Penh together the next day. Later on, he called us while we were in Hong Kong and we took luncheon-cruise with he and his wife and children, and later visited his apt. home high up in the hills. On arrival to Phnom Penh however, we made arrangements for visas from Japanese embassy to get us into Saigon. Our traveling in Cambodia created this problem, but they came through for us.
This city has a zillion (it seems) bicycles and there are bicycle repair shops all over the place, one after another. We got in a 3 wheel pedi-cab and motioned to the driver to drive us around for about an hour. He caught on and it was very interesting. Had the usual hassle about money later on. They sure like to overcharge the Americans. Of course, sometimes we goof as far as their money is concerned, and THAT is no help! Had relaxing cocktails at pool side, followed by lovely Filet Mignon dinner (very good!). Later walked up and down looking at shops. Children up, thick as flies, after 9 PM. Lots of cooking done along the street and for sale. Usually smells pretty awful to us, so we wouldn't bother trying it - especially after having seen how they often wash their dishes! Next day, with our friend Jim Payne, watched the Royal Ballet made up of many children all ages, practice their dancing, and the older boys did a monkey dance, and sword dance. Also saw floating houses (they move in and out with the tide), village on stilts, and huge modern sports stadium most of our cities would envy!
Don met us at Saigon Tan Son Nhut Airport. No problems there. He drove us around the military areas. Extremely interesting. Soldiers, equipment, convoys, planes, helicopters, barb-wire, pill boxes, look-outs, sentrys, hospital, barracks, offices, various services, bicycles, motor scooters, and Vietnamese people everywhere! Picked up Diane after work, visited their villa, and went out to dinner. Don paid boy to watch his car parked in metered spot, so no one would steal hub caps. Don says the Vietnamese people steal anything and everything - burns him up. And you can buy everything on their black market - meaning the PX is empty, but all our merchandise is available out on the street for a good price. The next day Don took us about 17 miles outside Saigon to see a lot more of our military installations, bridges bitterly fought over and won, trenches no longer being used. Feel sorry for all the American boys over there. Later played badminton at Le Cercle Sportif Club. It was real fun playing with all the different people. I got a chuckle looking over at Ken on another court playing partners with an Indian in full beard and turban! Most didn't understand English, but no problems with the score! Later the Indian man bought us cokes. Back outside to crazy Saigon traffic. Decided in the future I would worry less about Don in the war, and more about him riding his Honda in the crazy traffic. He took me for a thrilling ride on the back of his Honda - there is a rule that passengers must sit side-saddle - that way, it is much harder to throw grenades. Believe me, that is sure true - riding side-saddle you are so busy holding on for dear life, a grenade couldn't be thrown with much accuracy or distance, so it is a good law - during a war.
Glenna riding side-saddle behind Don on his 250cc Honda along Cach Mang, main road from Tan Son Nhut
to downtown Saigon
Left Saigon and flew into paradise - otherwise known as Hong Kong. A real tourist delight. Beautifully laid out area - hills, sea, port, modern hotels, and apts. Zillions of colorful Chinese neon signs, shops galore, everything appealing to buy, wonderful restaurants. We had a ball! Flew from one fascinating thing to another for 4 full days. Bought 5 couldn't-possibly-resist-them sweaters, had shoes, suits, dress made. Bought badminton racquets and golf balls half the price we would have to pay here - for our own merchandise! Figure that out! Even went sightseeing! Saw the most fascinating fishing village in the world - Aberdeen - must have been thousands of Chinese Junks and San-pans. Took a ride on one thru the congested area - two women paddled our boat. Also took tram up to the top of mountain for magnificent view of cities below - both during the day and at night, especially beautiful and colorful at night! Had marvelous dinners two nights at Juno revolving restaurant - the panaramic view couldn't possibly be more colorful and interesting - a sheer delight. Attended a beautiful Chinese Theatre Restaurant, and took two cruises around the harbor. Our hotel was the super deluxe Peninsula, which meets all its guests at the airport with private Continental or Cadillac Limousines. The rooms are huge and beautifully furnished. Baths are carpeted with twin marble bowls and other fixtures. A real experience in deluxe service too.
Left Hong Kong with regret, but anxious to see Japan. Had one stop in Taipei where we bought a few souvenirs before continuing on to Osaka. Our lovely new Hotel Plaza had kimonas and sandals all laid out on the beds for our comfort. Two Japanese businessmen met us at airport, and were anxious to talk with Ken. We obliged at breakfast the next morning. Afterwards, the one man insisted on his chauffeur and secretary to escort us to Kyoto for the day. We had an interesting luncheon with them and saw a lot of shrines, etc., but we weren't too thrilled with their company. Rather than continue to be involved with them, we left Osaka for Tokyo in the morning. Would you believe we were met at the Tokyo airport by two more of their representatives? Could have flipped. We made it very plain we wanted to be on our own and managed to do so. Took a day tour by train to Nikko. Saw Mt. Fuji from the train, Nikko and surrounding area is beautiful! Lovely mountains and streams and waterfalls. Many temples and shrines. It was cold however, and once again, having to remove our shoes and boots before entering these buildings kept us cold and uncomfortable. Japan should be visited only in the warm weather! Enjoyed the other 4 or 5 couples we were with. And our Japanese girl guide certainly entertained us - with songs and stories. Spent the next day in Tokyo viewing the city (largest in world) from high tower, and seeing many sights. Attended Japanese night club which nearly had Ken and I in stitches. The Japanese ladies kept running here and there, back and forth, table to table, and heaven knows where else. They wore the traditional dress and the little sandals would plop, plop - as they took their quick little running steps. Only when we returned home and read an article about Japan, we found these ladies were hostesses at the nightclub and many patrons would ask that they join their different tables during the evening. Consequently they would run from one table to another, satisfying them all with conversation or dance, then on to the next, and back again a little later!
It seemed as though half the people in Japan had a cold and we would tell because they all tie a white mask across the face to prevent germs from spreading. To us they all looked like they were wearing gas masks and even though we knew it was practical it looked so darn silly to see them all over this way. We got a kick out of the way the men and women would bow and bow repeatedly, upon meeting, their lovely manners, even the bellboys upon leaving you in the elevator, would turn and bow and ask to be excused. But then you get out on the street and the drivers wouldn't show one drop of courtesy to a pedestrian or each other. In fact, when we later reached Hawaii, and their driving manners compared to those here in the states, we were proud of our fellow men and the regulations we employ in our driving. The Japanese women seem to be continually hurrying. Before long we realized we preferred the poise and dignity of other women we had seen, like in India, etc. Our hotel in Japan was the New Otani and was lovely. Brand new but with gardens 300 years old on the property. Just lovely to walk through. Decided to leave Japan 2 days early and have an extra day for sunning in Hawaii and an extra day later in Arizona with Sharlene, Gary, and Jon.
We loved Hawaii! Beautiful weather, sea, surf, flowers, shops, places of entertainment. And the natural wonders of volcanoes, black sand beaches, waterfalls, parks and flowers, and golf courses! The last was not a natural wonder, but I had to get it in! But we didn't golf - not with only six days. We visited three islands. Oahu (Honolulu, Waikiki Beach), Maui, and Hawaii - which is the largest and has the biggest volcanoes and most to see. We sunned and swam, took Catamaran ride, rode the outriggers, visited the Polynesian Cultural Village, which was lovely, and featured a lot of different island entertainers at night. Bought some beautiful floral shirts and dresses. Watched the hula over and over. Enjoyed little orchids decorating our plates at all our meals. Many fresh fruits, perfect weather. Really hated to leave here.
Glenna and Ken, probably in Hawaii
Continued on to Los Angeles and Phoenix, Arizona. Although sunny, it was deceptively chilly. However, the natives (including Gary) refused to believe this and ran around without sweaters most of the time! We were met at the airport by Sharlene, Gary, and Jon. All looked great, lots to talk about, their new little house and property to see. Their yard is filled with many grapefruit, orange, and pecan trees. They celebrated my birthday with a home-made cake and gave me a darling jewelry box. We attended the Prada Del Sol Parade which was fun - 2 1/2 hours of horses, bands, floats, music. Little Jon was a delight and we had a lot of fun. Relunctantly left them after 3 day visit, to return home to cold, miserable Michigan. Amazing how good it seemed to get back there!!
This trip certainly seemed to us to be the highlight of our life. It was amazing that our 35 flights all were so smooth and pleasant. We came home well rested, satisfied that we had seen the most possible in the 6 1/2 weeks we were gone, that most of the food had been delightful, and that nobody could have returned with more souvenirs -120 for friends and relatives - heaven knows how many for Glenna - and I believe even 3 or 4 for Ken! This resume' covers about half of what was in my daily diary of the trip. Wish it was possible to have covered more of the interesting details, but it would have been much too lengthy.
Updated January 2012