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Friday, June 24, 2005

The Port Meme

Thanks to Chaotic Synaptic Activity, I was tagged for the "port meme." Well , nothing is ever easy, even counting ports...I mean does Oakland count as part of San Francisco or as a separate port? As member of ship's company or do duties ashore in a port count?

Number of ports I've visited: over 50

Most recent port I visited: On US Navy ship- Doha, Qatar
On Navy duty: Manama, Bahrain
On my own: Norfolk, Va

Port I never want to see again: King Abdul Aziz Port, Dammam, Saudi Arabia. Nice port facility but I've seen enough of it.

Three ports that were the most memorable:
(1) Hong Kong: One of the most amazing cities I've ever been in - we were on an extended deployment - my wife came to Hong Kong when we visited for some R&R - we stayed out at Repulse Bay in a great old hotel (now gone)...and the XO gave me some "basket leave" - tram to Victoria Peak, ferries across to Kowloon and some great, great food...
(2) Kuwait City: Involved with reopening of port after hostilities ceased in Desert Storm. It was stunning driving up through Kuwait while the oil fields were still on fire and rolling through Kuwait City and seeing the senseless destruction the Iraqis had carried out - more like vandalism than warfare. The "highway of death", the smells, the sand table where the Iraqis planned to meet the amphibious invasion they knew was coming...
(3) Subic Bay: Often visited, never forgotten. Our wealth compared to the poverty outside the gates. Before martial law, the streets of Olongapo were like the Wild West complete with gunfire and holdups of "casinos" - the little kids making a living diving into the filth of "Perfume River" for coins tossed by sailors. And the base golf course actually had a hole that had a "rope tow" to get to the tee box. The Chuck Wagon bar with "Randy and the Boys", the main club and visits to the Cubi O'Club (now recreated (mostly) at the Naval Aviation Museum in Pensacola). Grande Island. The shipyard workers were great and you could get almost anything done in Subic.

And Wellington, New Zealand (beautiful country and great people- need to wander back there someday) and Singapore - clean, friendly and it was a great experience sitting in the Raffles Hotel having a Singapore Sling or a gin and tonic (shades of Somerset Maugham). And I seem to recall some sort of "curry alley" where I learned about a new level of spicy food... And who could forget returning to San Francisco after a long deployment...

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