Pacific Islands

In the late 1980’s I used to visit various Pacific Islands on business (someone had to do it!).

On one trip I flew Sydney, Nauru, Tarawa (in Kiribati), Funafuti (Tuvalu), Suva (Fiji).
Kiribati – pronounced Kir-i-bahss – which is the Gilbertese for Gilbert Island, and Tuvalu is the new name of the Ellis Islands, as in Gilbert and Ellis Islands, which used to be a British protectorate until 1974 when they became the independent countries, Kiribati and Tuvalu, after they held a referendum.

I flew from Nauru on Air Nauru to Tarawa.001

The parking of aircraft in Nauru was simple – leave them alongside the main road in a lay-by. The island is so isolated that security was ‘limited’ at that time. The traffic had to stop for the aircraft to cross the road to allow passengers to board.

Tarawa is the name of the main atoll of Kiribati and the capital on Tarawa is Betio. (pronounced ‘bay- she – oh’)

Tarawa is remember for some very heavy fighting by the Americans, against the Japanese during WW2, and the beach on which I walked still showed the remains of landing craft, small tanks or amtracs and pieces of aircraft, along with defensive pillboxes manned by the Japanese.

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As I looked out over the 800 to 1200 yard coral reef, (see picture below) across which the troops had to fight their way ashore under withering machine gun fire, I could feel the ghosts of those brave men who died that November day in 1943.

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The area of the Betio atoll, is three miles long by half a mile wide. 1,115 Americans were killed or listed as missing, and 2,234 were wounded. Of the 4700 Japanese troops defending the island only seventeen were captured, along with 129 Koreans. It was estimated that 4690 Japanese died defending this now forgotten part of the Pacific.

The Americans had to estimate how many troops were defending the atoll. The best guess was about 3100 men, which was reasonably accurate, considering that they were unable to send in reconnaissance units to obtain a more accurate number. The Americans realised from aerial photographs, that the Japanese built their latrines over water, in multi-holed wooden buildings. By counting the number of latrines they worked out the relationship between the number of backsides and to a latrine and estimated 3100 troops!

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Defending the beach I saw eight inch guns still point out to sea. When I visited Betio I was told (not by locals) that the guns had been removed from Singapore, after the fall of that island, and transported to the Pacific to defend Tarawa. Later I read that the Imperial War Museum in London stated that Singapore didn’t have any eight inch guns for the Japanese to capture, so they couldn’t have been transferred to Tarawa from Singapore. They were in fact manufactured in Britain for a 1905 contract to supply eight inch and twelve inch guns to the Japanese navy. The Tarawa defensive guns appear to have been part of the 1905 contract.

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The above pictures show the Japanese HQ building with shell a machine gun damage, which when I visited was being used a simple squash court.

004 Inside another Japanese bunker.

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 The above shows what is left of a captured Japanese bomber strip, which allowed the Americans to carry the war to other islands.
The modern airport is about a twenty minute drive from this area.

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The above picture is to show how shallow the soil is on Tarawa – this is a local grave yard. After the war the American causalities, from this battle, were laid to rest in the war cemetery in Hawaii.
The marking of the grave’s perimeter, in many cases, was often done by using empty glass bottles – beer bottles and soft drink bottles.

 On completion of my business in Kiribati I flew to Funafuti the capital of Tuvalu with  Airline of the Marshall Islands. Quite a noisy trip.001

Tea?

In the mid 1960’s I paid off a ship in Khorramshahr, (which is in Iran) and drove to Abadan (still in Iran) to fly Iran Air to Tehran to catch a BOAC (now called British Airways) flight to the UK. This was before the fall of the Shah of Persia, which didn’t happen until 1979.

Iran air

This trip from Abadan sticks in my mind due to the huge amount of hand baggage that the passengers were allowed to carry on board such a small aircraft (small for today’s aircraft), from memory it was a B727/100. At that time  Iran Air only had two jets, one B 707 & one B 727.

The hand baggage of one person included a small primus stove.

After we had taken off, and the seat belt sign had been switched off, the passenger with the stove squatted in the aisle and lit the primus to make his tea. The surrounding passengers didn’t react. I could see the tea maker a few rows ahead of me, and as I unfastened my safety belt to tell him to put the naked light out, there was a blared movement of a stewardess moving from the for’d part of the aircraft to the tea maker. I’ve never seen a cabin crew member move so fast before or since.

Once a year

Turkey-PictureChristmas comes but once and year that is the only time my wife & I eat turkey. Over the years we have experienced different ways of cooking the turkey so that it doesn’t dry out.
The ‘must have Christmas turkey’ is a hangover from our time in the UK, before we emigrated. Our Australian friends lean towards pork, ham or shellfish – prawns, oysters etc.

The best turkey recipe that we have found was sent to me a few years ago by a friend, who is half Dutch and half English, and now lives in the UK.

The process is quite simple – cover the turkey in streaky bacon, and then foil.

This year we set our oven to come on at 1.30 am Christmas morning at a temperature of 70 degrees ‘C’. (set for seven hours at 70 degrees)

At 8.30 am the temperature was increased to 180 degrees ‘C’ for three hours, which allowed us to go to 9.00 am church.

At 10.30 am the foil was removed from the turkey – the oven remaining at 180 c – depending on your needs, the removal of the foil can be between 30 to 60 minutes, before the end of the three hour period.

At 11.30 am the bird was removed from the oven and wrapped in plenty of towels (or you can use a blanket). The turkey will stay warm for hours, leaving the oven free for other food to be cooked.

We sat down for lunch at 2.00 pm and the meat was moist, tasty and appetising – dry turkey is a thing of the past.

Fear of a major loss – free speech

Under Australian law same sex relationships have the same rights as heterosexual de facto relationships and married couples with regard to
Taxation
Superannuation
Health Insurance
Social Security
Aged care and child support
Immigration
Citizenship
Veterans’ Affairs
so what would be gained by calling a same sex de facto relationship marriage? Marriage according to the current law is between a man and a woman, and has been for quite a long time, well before
the definition of marriage was written down in the law books. .

Currently, in Tasmania, the Catholic church has been reported to the anti discrimination commission because of certain wordings in their booklet ‘Don’t mess with marriage’.

The person who lodged the complaint is in a same sex relationship.

If the anti-discrimination commission rules in favour of the complainant and condemns the Catholic church how far will the ramifications of disagreeing with someone go, with regard to free speech in Australia?

At the next general election (in 2016) will one political party be able to complain to the ant- discrimination commission about comments made about them, by their political opponents, if they disagree with the comments?

Is the next complaint to be made against an Australian religious organisation because the priest, vicar, rabbi, Imam or Hindu Pundit refuses to ‘marry’ same sex couples, in or out of a religious building?

I wonder what would happen if a heterosexual male wished to join a lesbian club – would he be allowed to join? Could he claim discrimination if he was refused membership?

How far are we willing to see our freedom of expression and values be devalued?

We have read of Christian bakers refusing to bake cakes to celebrate a homosexual ‘marriage’ and being fined many thousands of dollars.

What would happen if a Muslim worker at a newspaper was required to publish cartoons mocking Allah? Would he be fired for failing to do his job?

Have we forgotten that Nazi brown shirts would stand at the door of Jewish establishments to make sure ‘decent’ Germans did not do business with the Jews.
It wasn’t long before the brown shirts were no longer required, because the law was changed and the Jews were out of business – The Law for the Restoration of the Professional Civil Service, was passed in 1933.
People didn’t speak out against what was happening then and before long they were too frightened to speak out against anything..

Is the anti-discrimination commission the latest way of stopping people speaking their mind when they feel that something is not right?

Remember the frog in the cold water who didn’t realise that he had a problem until the water boiled – is Australia (Tasmania) that frog?

I have sampled various layouts and colourings and I am still trying  to get the best image / colouring, because I am new to this type of communication.

Any comments or suggestions would be appreciated.

Foreign cinemas

Having been a fan of the cinema since I was a child & I can’t help but visit the cinema when I travel.

In the 1964 I was in Moji , in southern Japan, when I found that I had time on my hands so decided to visit the local cinema to see Charlton Heston in Exodus.

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As one would expect, none of the signs were bi-lingual, and few people at in that part of Japan spoke English, but how hard can it be to buy a ticket and sit and watch a film? I bought my ticket, and the cinema had plenty of seats from which to choose. I picked a good seat and waited for the film to start.

A tap on my shoulder and a very polite gentleman bowed and showed his ticket while pointing at my seat. It was obvious that he was indicating that I was in the wrong seat, so I bowed and moved to another seat. As the cinema filled I ended up bowing and moving a number of times while working my way to the front of the cinema, and very close to the screen. It was when I was asked to move once again that I realised that my ticket did not entitle me to a seat at all, but only to stand in the side aisles while watch the film with a few other unfortunates. It was very disconcerting to turn ones head to watch an arrow cross the screen, and to spend so long looking up Moses’ nostrils.

In 1965 I was in Port Sudan on the Red Sea, so once again I decided to visit the cinema, but this time to see The Great Escape. I’d seen it before but it was the only English speaking film I could find at that time in Port Sudan.

Great_escape

As I purchased my ticket I was given a choice of Stalls or Circle, and because the price difference was small I chose Circle. The lights dimmed as I entered, and I noticed curled wire between the Stalls and the Circle, and I thought what a good idea to add atmosphere to a prison of war film.

At the intermission the lights came on and I saw that the wire was barbed wire. It was then that I realised the wire had nothing to do with atmosphere for a prison of war film, but to keep the Stall patrons from leap frogging over the seats so as to sit in the Circle, once the film had started.