Rena and Wade Around the World

Our first Round the World trip from Jan 2006 - July 2006.

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Location: Regina/Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada

The adventures of living and working abroad. From Cayman to Europe, a break year and side adventure travels, this is our story.

Monday, July 03, 2006

The End?

A 158 days and 15 countries later, we landed back in Canada. It was a fabulous vacation and truly the experience of a lifetime, but honestly we were happy to be home. We were beginning to feel like travelling gypsies...and as far as I know, no one likes gypsies, maybe not even gypsies themselves.

It's been great catching up with family and friends. Of course, everyone has lots of questions about our trip and we are getting quite good at anticipating the questions. We have therefore decided to blog them in order of popularity:

1. What was your favourite country?

Can't say that we had one. Each place was so different from the next and always an adventure that it is really hard to say we had one favourite place. There are certainly days that stick out in our minds more than others (either because they were fabulous days to remember or because everything was going wrong!). Our top picks are: Desert Safari outside of Dubai, Hiking part of the Great Wall of China, Hiking Torres del Paine in Chile (once we were no longer lost!), Visiting the Elephant Nature Park outside of Chiang Mai, Thailand and motorcyclying the back roads around Natrang, Vietnam.

2. Are you engaged yet?

Be happy that we aren't divorced after 158 days of 24/7 !!! I'd have to say that this trip was a bigger test of faith than the infamous "sponge painting" ever was!

3. Did the trip enlighten you or change your lives?

I think it would be a bit dramatic to say it changed our lives, but it did open our eyes. Seeing things for yourself is an experience like no other, especially when we come from such a privileged country. It certainly made us very grateful for everything we have and a lot more compassionate and aware of the hardships that other people face. Well, comparatively anyways. We certainly will never feel sorry for people on welfare in Canada again! That is luxury living in comparison to how poverty is defined in good portion of the rest of the world.

We also learned that I have a quick temper and Wade is directionally challenged. We're not pointing fingers, but I think we both know which parent we've inherited these traits from! Luckily, we've found a fix for these character flaws.....Wade admits that I'm always right. Unfortunately, he sometimes forgets this fact.

4. Are you going back to Cayman?

Well that's where our Round the World Trip started and technically that's where it ends!

So that's all for now folks. Stay tuned for more adventures (albeit probably not as exciting) of Wade and Rena. Thanks to all for reading and taking an interest in our blog.

Happy trails....

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Our Trip At A Glance

It all started in late December 2005 when we flew from Cayman to Saskatchewan via Calgary to be home for Christmas. From there we departed for Santiago, Chile on January 4th. After a month or so in Chile and Argentina we flew to Hong Kong via Los Angeles. From Hong Kong we flew to Singapore and worked our way north through Malaysia and Thailand. Then into Laos and from there to Hanoi, Vietnam. We spent a month travelling south through Vietnam and then made a side trip to Siem Reap in Cambodia. From there it was it was off to Beijing via Hong Kong. We spent a month in China seeing Beijing, Shanghai, Chongqing, Chengdu, Xi'an and then back to Beijing. From Beijing we travelled to Japan, via Hong Kong of course. We flew into Tokyo and travelled to Kyoto, Hiroshima, Nagano and then back to Tokyo. From Tokyo we flew to Dubai, via Hong Kong. Then a direct flight to London. From London to Vancouver to Calgary and finally back to Saskatchewan on June 12, 2006.

We've posted a few maps below with our route marked out in green. Double click the maps to enlarge them.

From start to finish

South America

South America enlarged


South East Asia enlarged

Friday, June 30, 2006

Back in Saskatchewan

After a quick stop down in London we headed back to the centre of the Universe, well okay maybe just the centre of Canada, to Saskatchewan. After some tough travelling moments during the last 6 months, we ended up getting pampered. We were upgraded to Business Class from London to Vancouver and it was a sweet 9 1/2 hour ride. Funny how when you are travelling in some of these places (obviously London excluded) that flight days become something to look forward to...sleep, service, endless amounts of movies and on some of the flights a bottomless glass of wine. At least we're not perpetuating the "Cheap Canadian" stereotype!?!

Favourite Airline: Cathay Pacific, followed by a close second of LAN Chile.
Worst Airline: Vietnam Airlines

Anyhow, after a plane change in Vancouver and then Calgary, we were back in the homeland. For how long, we had no idea, however, it ended up being quite short. 2 1/2 weeks allowed us a very quick visit with the promise to return later in the summer. We enjoyed not having to plan out our days and just relax and spend time with family and friends.

One of the first thing Wade did at home was go golfing with his friends outside of Saskatoon. I now remember why the license plates in Saskatchewan say Land of Living Skies. How beautiful is this picture?

Of course, we also had a few presents to hand out when we got home. Although, some were not as appreciated as others. Avery, Wade's nephew, does not seem too pleased with his Vietnamese outfit, particularly as it appears that Vietnamese babies have smaller heads! Don't fret Avery, it just means you are smarter than the average bear with that big brain of yours!!!!

We also made it back in time to take in our friends Maggie & Jeff's wedding. They had a lovely day for an outdoor wedding. Congratulations to you both. Oh, and our apologies for Wade doing the worm on the dance floor, but it was requested and how could Wade disappoint his fans?

The day after the wedding there was a big party out at Jeff's parent's farm. As has become tradition with Jeff, he is the bonfire king. Well, him and Shane.

And we got to spend some quality time with our friend's kids Jack & Kamden. Wade was very disappointed that he missed this season of hockey and so he made up for it by playing with the boys. Jack's right in there, but Kamden seems a little leery of Kamikaze Kenny.

Monday, June 12, 2006

The Thames/ Windsor (England)

Our last day in London was spent boating on the Thames around Windsor. Our friends Nicola and Craig took us out on Nicola's family's boat and we had a fantastic time. We pottered up and down the Thames and then had a picnic on the grounds just outside of Windsor Castle.

Here is our El Capitan, Miss Nicola. Someone had to keep charge of the boat with two crazy Canadians and a couple of Kiwis as the crew.

Here is a picture of Wade with the two Kiwi's, Craig and Stewart. What a small world it is when we found out on the boat that both Craig and Stewart had worked with our friend Jamie's brother Greg in New Zealand some years ago. Jamie, pass on a hello from Craig and Stewart to your brother.

And we even came across a set of locks on the Thames. Okay, they may not be the size of the Three Gorges Dam or the Panama Canal...but they were still tricky and Nicola safely navigated us through!

Here is a look at Windsor Castle looming in the background. Apparently the Queen was in as the flag was flying (apparently she likes to spend Sunday's in Windsor and attends church there), but once again we were not invited in for tea. That's okay though as we had a fantastic picnic, complete with Champagne. I say we go visit Nic and Craig more often.

And here is a picture of some of the buildings that line the Thames around Windsor. Just like a postcard. Isn't England charming.

Thanks Nic and Craig for such a great day!!!

Sunday, June 11, 2006

London (England)

After a few hot days in Dubai, we boarded a plane in search of cooler climes. Although our time in London was short and sweet at only 4 days, the weather was AB FAB! At 30 Celsius it was not exactly cool, but enjoyable none the less. Everybody seemed to be out in the parks sunbathing. Guess sunshine is a rare occurrence in England!

We hit all of the typical tourist destinations. Here is a look at the Parliament buildings and Big Ben. Wade loved the architecture in London. He said it looked like a real life Gotham City.

A side view of Westminster Abbey. We thought it was picture perfect.

And of course, Buckingham Palace. No such luck in spotting the Queen, apparently we were not important enough to be invited in for tea.

Last but not least, here is a picture of Wade at Tower Bridge. No London Bridges falling down here.

The best part of being in London was that we got to meet up with some old friends from Cayman, Nicola and Craig. On Friday night Nicola took us out for a night on the town, which included dinner in the Covent Garden area pictured here. We had a great time and headed out to one of the nearby pubs for an after dinner drink. To our astonishment the pubs close here at shortly after 11 p.m.! We couldn't believe it. Who thought such a big metropolis would close down so early.

Just when we thought the English were completely lame, we experienced Football Spirit. On Saturday afternoon the kick off game for the World Cup between England and Paraguay was on. Wade and I decided to get into the local culture and head to a pub to watch the game. Here is a picture of the pub. After the game the streets were roaring with fans. Probably the most accurate description of what this was like is to quote the following which Wade found on the londontourist travel website "The worst part about the English in general is their total inability to hold their liquor, and their frequent occasion to prove it."

The above being said, we had a great time in London and couldn't help but admire some of the Football fans for their team spirit.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Desert Safari (U.A.E.)

So one of the top 10 highlights of our trip was this day, just outside of Dubai. We went on a desert safari which included sand duning in Toyota Land Cruisers (serious amounts of fun when you weren't fearful of rolling), visiting and riding camels, partaking in an Arabian BBQ and belly dancing.

Our safari consisted of 5 Toyota Land Cruisers with 6 people in each and a driver. We whipped around the desert for a couple of hours, which was better than most roller coaster rides we've been on. The inclines were insane at some points and we were sure we were going to roll. We soon discovered why a safari was necessary. Every single Land Cruiser got stuck at least once, except for one. Here is a picture of a rescue mission!

Wade made a friend out in the desert. Apparently a fair weather friend, because after he discovered that Wade didn't have a Coke to feed him, he really wasn't interested anymore. One of the drivers fed this camel two Cokes and he loved it. That would probably make a fantastic commercial for Coca Cola.

By the way, Wade and I converted while in the U.A.E. Do you think we fit it? Actually, I found covering my face very hot and uncomfortable. I don't think this is for me. Wade on the other hand seemed to like his get-up.

Wade also seemed to enjoy the belly dancing and was even selected from the audience to partake. It was a pretty funny sight to see him trying to wiggle his hips and shake his body. Unfortunately, our camera does not take the best night pictures and none turned out. Too bad, although after the Arabian Princess post I think I'm banned from such unauthorized posts anyways. Guess you'll just have to use your imagination!

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Dubai (U.A.E.)

After a very, very long day of travel from Tokyo to Hong Kong to Bangkok to Mumbai ...we finally we landed in Dubai. If you ever want to have the experience of being a stunned animal caught in the middle of a circus, we recommend you take a flight from Bangkok to Mumbai. It is an experience like no other and your heart will go out to the "defeated" flight attendants at the end of the show. Also highly recommended is serious amounts of alcohol. It will help to numb the pain.

We only had 4 days in Dubai and we knew we were in for some trouble when we arrived at 10 p.m. and it was 40 degrees Celsius. Ouch! Somehow we did manage to fit a fair bit in despite the heat. During the days the temperature varied from 42 to 55 degrees Celsius. Perhaps summer was not the best time to visit!!!

Dubai is truly bewildering. The amount of oil money being funneled into building the new city is staggering. It must be one of the most aggressive building undertakings the world has ever seen and our pictures do not do it justice. One of our friends told us some crazy statistic that something like over 50% of the cranes in the world are currently stationed in Dubai. After being there and seeing it, I would believe that stat. Here is a picture of one small section under construction. Multiply this by about 25 and you'll have an understanding of how much construction is going on around the city.

They are essentially building a mega city like Shanghai, Hong Kong or Manhattan and all at once. Not a building here and a building there. Massive, massive structures going up everywhere you can see. They are even building the largest building in the world. Here is a picture of some of the more uniquely shaped buildings that are already standing.

The development of Dubai is really unique. Everything is being laid out in zones ...such as media city, investment park, sports city, internet city, etc. Of course there are also some outlandish projects such as the 3 palm developments and the world development. Yes, villages in the shape of palm trees are being built out on the ocean along various points of the shoreline of Dubai. The first to be completed will be the Palm at Jumeriah Beach which is slated for completion in 2008. We could see the construction and tried to drive out there to get a better look, but unfortunately only construction crews have access. Oh yes, and the world project...well they are building a village out in the ocean in the shape of the world naturally. Apparently Rod Stewart has already purchased England. Wade and I will have to look into Saskatchewan. Oh, and because the Arabs and the Jews aren't the best of friends, apparently Israel doesn't exist in this world! That certainly is one way of dealing with people you don't like.

Here is a view down the main financial district road. Many more buildings are slotted to be going up, but at least some of them are already standing.

And of course what is a trip to Dubai without seeing the only 7 star hotel in the world, the Burj Al Arab. Of course, Wade and I were dying to see the inside. Unlike other hotels around the world, you cannot just walk into the Burj. It is by appointment only. The "cheapest" appointment we could get was booking breakfast in the lobby. Even so, it cost us US$60 a person and as Wade commented "We didn't even get bacon!" (the Western food item Wade missed most on our travels). It was interesting to see the inside, although our access was restricted. As you can imagine, there was gold everywhere. We tried to walk around the property after breakfast and were kindly reminded that breakfast did not warrant us that privilege. So after a final look, we had the valet bring around our Honda Civic, while other people were parking Bentleys, and drove away realizing that some people just have a different life!

Here is a look at one of the nicer mosques in Dubai. The Jumeriah Mosque. We really wanted to attend morning prayer one day, but seemed to run out of time. It was interesting to hear the calls to prayer being broadcast from the various loudspeakers positioned around the city. We could even hear it from inside our hotel, although it was not for this particular Mosque.

One day we decided we ought to see the famous Gold Souk in the old part of Dubai. The concierge at our hotel told us it was a mere 20 minute walk and then a boat ride across Dubai creek. 1 hour and 10 minutes later, we arrived at the Gold Souk completely overheated and dehydrated. Other tourists arrived in taxis!!! Plus we had fared being yelled at by an Arab who was apparently very offended at us taking a picture as we made our way to the Gold Souk. Thus there are no pictures of the Gold Souk (we soon realized no one was taking pictures so it indeed must be considered rude). However, it was jewelry shop after jewelry shop and gold like you would imagine Egyptian Princesses would wear. Although it was apparently well priced, we abstained from purchasing. At this point, we were really more interested in water. Anyways, here is a picture of an alley way in the old part of Dubai (before we got yelled at for taking pictures).

Speaking of shopping, the malls in Dubai are crazy. Look out West Edmonton Mall. The latest mall in Dubai, Mall of the Emirates, has an indoor ski hill. Yes, complete with chairlift and artificial snow. We had to go see it, but we didn't ski. We felt it might be embarrassing to be shown up by the Arabs at a winter sport! Some of them were actually pretty good.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Arabian Princess

So, after 5 full months of travelling, both Wade and I are feeling a little grubby and hobo “ish”. As such, when we arrived in Dubai, Wade announced that he was going to go and get a hair cut. Unfortunately for him, he forgot to leave me the key for the hotel while I was in the internet shop and so I had to go hunt him down at the Barber’s. This is what I found when I walked in. Yes, my boy, sheepishly looking up at me while he is getting a pedicure! In these 5 months, I have not had my hair cut once, nor have I had a pedicure. I have now rightfully passed on my tiara to Wade and he has officially taken over the title of “Princess”. I think he has gotten a bit soft. Either that or he now thinks he’s a Sheikh.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Mt. Fuji (Japan)

What would a trip to Japan be without seeing Mt. Fuji? Probably better than spending 2 ½ hours on a bus to get there, see nothing but clouds and then spending 2 ½ hours getting back. Yes, our last day around Tokyo was a bit of a bust. Seriously, we couldn’t even see the mountain...we literally had no idea where it was, that’s how cloudy and misty it was. So here is a picture of what we saw.

Here is a picture of what we should have seen.

And, finally our fortunes took a turn for the better and when we were flying from Tokyo to Hong Kong we got to see Mt. Fuji peaking through the clouds! What a sighting!

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Tokyo (Japan)

After a whirl wind tour of Kyoto, Hiroshima and the Japanese Alps, we had 5 days to explore Tokyo itself. Tokyo is the world's largest city with greater Tokyo's population estimated at 35 million people. That's more than all of the people in Canada! Even so, we didn't find that it had the big city mentality. People were always very courteous and extremely helpful and patient with us silly tourists.

Unfortunately, we had a few major disappointments. The Sony interactive showroom, which displays all of the latest gizmos and gadgets, as well as new technology in the works, was closed for renovations for the exact 5 days we were in Tokyo; the Sumo wrestlers were in hiatus after the end of their season; and we were unable to locate any Geishas (although there are apparently only 1,000 left in all of Japan). Lucky for us, we did find this Samurai Warrior!

We also managed to make a few other strange and unusual spottings. Although these may look like one of George Lucas's latest creations, it is actually the latest Toyota concept car. It's also the same vehicle and can change its shape back and forth depending on its driver's preference. Don't think it would survive well in Saskatchewan. I don't even think it would survive in Cayman! Still, pretty cool to look at.

We think this may be Bo Peep...although she seems to be missing her staff and sheep. Weird, yes, but not unusual. All sorts of dressed up ladies and men can be seen wondering the streets...even in the business district where this picture was taken. Although, the best exhibitions can be spotted on Friday and Saturday evenings. Wade got a slightly dirty look after taking this gal's picture! He has however, grown fond of the knee high stockings that all the ladies wear (even with their business suits) and purchased me four pairs. I hope that this fashion statement doesn’t make me look like a call girl at home!!

After leaving the Land of Oz, we went to the district of Shibuya. It is considered the young district of Tokyo given that all the trendy fashion designers, bars and restaurants can be found here. Oh, and you don't see anyone over the age of 35!

Japan is the largest consumer of fish in the world, so we felt it only fitting to visit a fish market one morning. It was a massive open air, bustling and smelly place and one had to be careful not to get run over by the many motorized carts whizzing around delivering fish from the stalls to the awaiting commercial purchasers parked outside. We meandered through the many narrow aisles looking at everything from tuna to octopus, urchin eggs to red caviar. And, some things we still have no idea as to what it was. Once our shoes were sufficiently covered in fish juices, we decided it was time to leave. Here is a picture of a tuna who’s seen happier days.

Naturally once you've left the fish market, it's time to hit the nearby local sushi bar, even if it is only 8:15 in the morning. Yes, we ate sushi for breakfast and surprisingly enough it was wonderful. Freshness seems to make all the difference in the world and I think we are now forever spoilt. I have never tasted raw tuna that melts in your mouth like this stuff did. Yummy, yummy. We managed to eat sushi 4 straight days in a row after this and discovered it is even better with sake!

Another strange phenomenon in Tokyo and Japan itself for that matter, is the vending machines. It must be the vending machine capital of the world and we were told some crazy statistic such as one vending machine for every 12 people. Wade of course was delighted to find out that you can purchase beer from the vending machines. Especially since there were multiple vending machines around our hotel. What he was not so impressed about was that when the shops close, so do the vending machines. Seriously, what is the point of having a vending machine if it’s not available after hours? Still haven’t figured that one out. It also took us a while to figure this one out. We went to this restaurant and tried to order food….only to discover that you do not order from the waitress, but rather the vending machine in the corner. It was really quite good for tourists as there were pictures beside each selection. We made our selection, paid the machine and it issued a coupon. We handed the coupons to our waitress and then she emerged from the kitchen with our steaming plates of food! Strange, yes, but I guess it does prevent dining and dashing!! Later, we found many more of these restaurants all over the city.

We were warned by many people that Tokyo is extremely expensive. Although we did find it very expensive, now being independent travelers and not having received a paycheque for nearly 6 months, we did manage to stay within budget. Well, until we went for coffee one day that is! Who would think that coffee in the subway could result in US $6 a cup, and a small cup I may add! I guess we should have guessed when we walked in and a sign featured in the coffee house said that all coffees were served in Astor cast bone china by Spode! I have to admit, it was a nice tea cup, but I think this finer moment was a little lost on Wade. Here is a picture of Wade trying to drink out of his teacup, complaining that he can’t even fit all of his fingers properly on the handle!

Lastly, here is a picture of a typical street in the suburbs of Tokyo.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Hakuba / Nagano (Japan)

After the "heaviness" of Hiroshima, we kicked back in the Japanese Alps around Hakuba, near Nagano where the 1998 Winter Olympics were held. The scenery was breathtaking, although a tad bid chilly at about 15 degrees Celsius or so.

Here is a picture of the ski jump at Hakuba that was used for the Olympic games. We marveled at how similar the scenery was here to that of the Rockies.

Okay, well similar to the Rockies apart from rice paddies in the forefront!

We stayed in a sleepy little village of about 10,000 people just outside of Hakuba. When I say sleepy I mean that pretty much everything was closed for the season and there wasn't even a single restaurant open. Good thing we had a kitchen at our disposal.

We had no idea that the weather would be as cold as it was and unfortunately did not bring the appropriate clothing. We were surprised to learn that ski season ended only 10 days prior to our visit at the end of May! Wade of course used this to his advantage and accurately aimed a couple of snowballs into the back of my head. Here is a picture of Wade shivering in his windbreaker on a little hike that we did at the top of the ski runs (one gondola and two chairlifts later). I'm glad he didn't have any mitts or a few more snowballs may have been lobed my way.

Back down at the bottom the weather was a little nicer and we enjoyed a walk around the village. We also enjoyed some hot cocoa to warm us up!

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Hiroshima (Japan)

In Grade 7 I wrote a speech about the first atomic bomb that was dropped on a place called Hiroshima on August 6, 1945 at 8:15 am. I'm sure most kids like me absolutely dreaded this part of the curriculum that required you not only to face your fear of public speaking in front of your peers but also fain commitment and passion to the topic of your choice. I remember in my innocence thinking how horrible this act really was. However, once I had given my speech and gotten over the horror of having to compete further in a regional competition (I thought I had a plight worse than the victims of Hiroshima) it somehow was neatly filed away in the back of my mind.

That part of my brain was seriously shaken up on May 25, 2006. It is one thing to know of the text book, dullified (a word invented by me) version of horrible acts in history. It is completely another thing to witness the living memorial to the people it directly affected and still affects. The history books do not adequately convey the human experience of this tragedy. Perhaps if I had understood that better in Grade 7 I would have won the regional competition, although God forbid I may have had to go onto the National competition then!

Here is picture of the A Bomb Dome. It was built in 1915 and was a beloved landmark prior to the bomb. Although the subject of much debate, it has now been preserved as a memorial of that fateful day. Everything has been left as it fell. The bomb exploded 600 meters above and 160 meters to the southeast of the Dome. It's shell is one of the few buildings that survived the blast, most were obliterated. It is believed to have partially survived because the blast was almost directly above it. There was not a single survivor from this building.

Here is a look at the Cenotaph for the atomic bomb victims. Framed in the background is the A Bomb Dome and the Pond of Peace. All of this is within Peace Memorial Park. Rumour had it that no grass would grow in Hiroshima for 75 years after the bomb was dropped. Guess that rumour was wrong since its 60th anniversary was last year. It is amazing when you are walking around the city and the many parks to think that this place was the target of an atomic bomb and was reduced to nothingness. The resilience of the people and the city is astonishing.

350,000 victims resulted from a flash second in August 1945. At detonation the temperature at the center was 1 million degrees Celsius resulting in a massive fireball. After 1 second, it had extended 280 meters and surface temperatures reached 5,000 Celsius. Pressure of several hundred atmospheres were created disintegrating buildings and people alike. 30 minutes after the blast, black rain poured from the sky. The Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum contains pieces of white walls outside of city that have thick black streaks running down them, forever preserved in the plaster.

Most horrifyingly preserved in the museum are shadows permanently etched in sections of walls on display which are the last remains of the carbon from the bodies of the people standing in front of them at the time of the blast. Roof tiles from houses outside the city welded together in twisted sculptures from the searing heat. Little girls and boys metal lunch boxes containing fossilized remains of rice that were never eaten. Keep in mind, this is all that is left as a remnant of the girls and boys. By the end of December 1945 when the immediate affects of radiation started to settle down, 140,000 people had died. The rest of the 350,000 people continued to suffer for many, many years. Some have still not found an end to their pain.

Here is a picture of Hiroshima after the dropping of the bomb. Most buildings within a 2km radius of the hypocenter were crushed instantly. One of the most memorable and heartbreaking stories is that of a girl named Sadako. Sadako suffered from leukemia. She believed that if she folded 1,000 paper cranes from the paper her medicine came in, she would be saved from death. A monument has been built in remembrance of her and for all of the children that were innocent victims of the bomb. Today the paper crane is a symbol of peace around the world. While we were at the Peace Memorial Park we were handed paper cranes by some Japanese children from Osaka that were at the Park as part of a school field trip.

War might be war, but dropping atomic bombs on cities of innocent people is monstrous and inhumane. Worse yet, is just a few days after Hiroshima, another bomb was droped on Nagasaki. There simply is no justification for it. The mayors of Hiroshima have made it their mission to formally protest all nuclear tests going on in the world to this day. Walls of letters of protest that have been written over the last 60 years are contained in the Hiroshima Peace Museum. We read some of them. The latest letter was dated February 24, 2006 and sent to George Bush and Tony Blair. Here is an excerpt from one of the letters:

"With the international community gravely concerned about nuclear proliferation, the US purports to be leading the effort to find a peaceful resolution to the problem of Iran's nuclear program, yet you conduct a subcritical nuclear test, a clear indication that you are developing new nuclear weapons. Such behaviour is intolerable. You have brought the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, the international agreement regarding nuclear weapons, to the brink of collapse, and, we fear, are provoking a new round of proliferation."

To end this posting on a more positive and hopeful note, here is a picture of a beautiful Hiroshima at night.