We then went to a local fish market where the fish were kept alive in various tanks that allowed people to select what they wanted to eat. There were some nearby restaurants that they could take their selection to have cooked. Behind the fish market were some of the fishing boats that were used to catch the fish. Our last stop on this excursion was a Buddhist Temple. Every temple we have seen is very colorful (primarily reds and gold) and has a large figure standing in front of the temple or on the roof of the temple. We will certainly see many more temples along the way during our cruises.
After Keelung we had a sea day before arriving in Nagasaki, Japan. This city is most famous for being the second city in Japan (after Hiroshima) to have an atomic bomb dropped on it. From the cruise port we walked to Peace Park which was created as a memorial to this devastating act. In the park are several sculptures from various countries paying tribute to the devastation of this city and the desire for it never to happen again. One statue in particular was the Peace Statue; the elevated right hand points to the threat of nuclear weapons, the outstretched left hand symbolizes tranquility and world peace. A prayer for the repose of the souls of the war victims is expressed in the eyes. The folded right leg symbolizes quiet meditation, while the left leg is poised for action in assisting humanity. Over 75,000 people lost their lives to this one bomb and 75,000 more were seriously injured. Many more thousands died in the years after the bomb due to radiation poisoning and cancers caused by the radiation. You can still see the outline of the prison foundation. We walked over to the actual epicenter of where the bomb struck and a black monolith was erected in the exact spot of impact.
A short distance away is the Atomic Bomb Museum which we went through. It reminded us eerily about the 911 memorial in New York City. Besides providing all the history about the creation of the bomb and the devastation it created in the city, the museum also had a lot of information about the various peace movements underway to help ensure an event like this never happens again.
Our next stop was the site of the Martyrdom of the 26 Saints of Japan. This memorial was built for some of the first Christian ministers and some of their Chinese Christian converts who were killed by the Japanese government who did not allow Christianity to be practiced until the 20th century. We then moved on to see Fukusai Temple that was founded in 1628 by the Chinese Buddhist monk Kakukai. The roof of the temple was shaped like a turtle shell with a turtle head protruding from the front of the temple. Our final stop in Nagasaki was at Chinatown. This area was very colorful and interesting to walk through. There were many different things you could eat and we tried one of the fried balls with some sort of sweet bean center. It wasn’t too bad. We found Nagasaki to be a very interesting port to visit.
Our next port stop was Busan, Korea. This was our first of three stops in Korea and was also the port where we had our Distinctive Voyage excursion. Distinctive Voyages is a program that is offered to some travel agents to provide an extra set of amenities for their customers that book with them on certain defined cruises. We went on this specific cruise because we acted as a host for these other travel agent’s customers. We host a cocktail party and escort them on one complimentary excursion. Busan was our port to escort a group of 22 passengers on an excursion led by a local tour guide. Our first stop was at the Hongbeopsa Temple where we participated in a formal Korean Tea Ceremony. The making and drinking of the tea was as much for meditation as it is for drinking the tea. The ceremony was extremely interesting and the temple was beautiful. This temple was even nicer because the floors were heated. Since you have to take your shoes off before entering a temple, having warm floors is nice when the temperature outside is in the 50’s. After leaving the temple we headed back into town where we went to a Korean restaurant to try some traditional Korean food (Bulgogi – with beef or Bibimbab – vegetables only). This was served in a large pot on a warmer and each pot served around 4 people. The food was very good and was served with rice and several other side dishes. After lunch we went to the Jagalchi Fish Market. This was a large fish market right on the harbor and contained many vendors selling fish, snakes, crabs and other assorted seafood delicacies. This market was somewhat unique from what we had previously seen in that all the fish were kept alive in fresh water tanks and the pure size of the market with so many different vendors all selling the same seafood items. It was quite a sight to see and we were told that the seafood was actually purchased (auctioned) nearby under large roofed structures where the fishing boats came in. The vendors at the market would keep the fish alive until they sold them or they unfortunately died. Once a fish died they had to immediately sell it either to a customer or to one of the many vendors “outside” the market who had their own stalls and just sold dead fish. Whatever dead fish couldn’t be sold that day had to be put on ice until the next day when they tried to resell it. We were told this whole process is regulated by the government to ensure the safety of the food that is being sold. Our excursion ended with this visit and so did our trip to Busan.
In the next two days we will visit Jeju Island and Seoul in Korea before heading on to China.