In a previous life, there was a lot of travel involved. These travels extended as far west as the Far East and as far east as Europe and the Middle East. There were also some 200 destinations in the Northern Hemisphere and the United States.
It's tough to choose a favorite destiniation. There were so many interesting places including:
When thinking about the Asian places visited, thoughts revert to Japan and what a squeaky clean country it is and for the most part free of violent crime. Osaka, Japan, is remembered as a lively city of millions. We took a train to Kyoto on one layover, and the trains were so clean and smelled so good. Of course there were signs for every town we passed by, and if you looked close, every town we passed through had the name of the town in English. It makes one wonder if we would place the name of towns in America in Japanese language.
In Kyoto, we visited the world's largest Buddist shrine. This behemoth of a statue of Buddha is housed in this giant building. Crowds waited in line to enter the house of Buddha. A park surrounded the shrine with tiny little deer, and of course cash machines for obtaining food for the deer, which ate right out of your hand. After you would hand them food they would very politely bow to you.
Another interesting place was Kuala Lumpur. We flew the inaugural flight there with Asian flight attendants, and the head of the Asian flight attendants went along to smooth things out. He was of Chinese descent but worked in Tokyo and became a citizen of Japan. When you become a citizen of Japan, you must take a Japanese name. So this fellow by the name of Yankiue Su Yamamoto was well acquainted in Kuala Lumpur and took us on a long walk to a sidewalk restaurant, where he was well known, and we received first-class treatment. On the trip from the Kuala Lumpur airport into the city, we passed this giant walled-in prison with the words in giant letters: Mandatory death sentence if convicted of running drugs." The next morning the bill for breakfast was alarming: $32 for two eggs and toast. But then it became evident that the cost in U.S. dollars was a fraction of that.
We used to go to a favorite restaurant in Narita, Japan, about 40 miles from Tokyo. The food was cooked right in front of you by the chef, Aukie, and we never really knew what we were eating, but was it ever scrumptious. As the years went by, Aukie built a second floor on, and his wife was our waitress. A crew of 14 would come to dine, and we would all give our orders to her and she never wrote anything down. Yet she never made a mistake. We never heard her speak a word of English.
Probably the most memorable airline trip was when I ferried a Boeing 727 to Tel Aviv, Israel. Our hosts set up a tour of the Holy Land in Jerusalem, about 40 miles from Tel Aviv. Along the way were burned-out relics of the '67 war. Old destroyed tanks and guns were sitting rusting in the countryside. We got to visit the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, and after a lengthy time standing in line, we got to enter the Tomb of Jesus. That was a very solemn and moving experience. There was about a two-hour wait to see a part of the cross, but time was short so we missed it.
I feel so blessed to have been given the opportunity to visit these places.
Gerald Jerry Krueger is a retired educator, coach, commercial pilot and farmer. Write him at firstname.lastname@example.org. His column publishes Mondays.