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One small step and a giant leap

Here’s a different kind of article that blends three of my favourite topics – transport, space and watches. Its the 50th anniversary of the first moon landing. That’s the Apollo 11 mission in 1969. It took a lot of calculations for men to finally reach the moon and return safely to earth. There certainly were a lot of factors that affected the trip and these are not as simple as traveling between points A and B like what we usually try to figure out for conventional earthbound transport.

Did you know the first watch on the moon was an Omega Speedmaster chronograph? They needed them and other instruments for their precision that’s required for such sensitive and demanding missions.

Subsequent versions of the moon watch have already had updated movements inside them but these Speedmasters are still the standard in as far as NASA is concerned.

There were actually 2 moon missions in 1969. The first one, Apollo 11, in July and the second, Apollo 12, in November. The next one, Apollo 13, was a failure in terms of the moon mission but succeeded in terms of the astronauts surviving what must have been a terrifying ordeal in space. If you watched the movie, there was a part there that was supposed to have happened where they used it the chronograph of their watch to time a procedure they had to do while troubleshooting their module.

Quite expensive these Omegas are. However, there’s another watch that has been officially recognised as used on a moon landing. That other moon watch is a Bulova (sorry Rolex but the watch that was supposed to have been brought to the moon was more an accessory or memento than an instrument actually used by an astronaut on the moon). Here’s a piece associated with the 4th (Apollo 15 in 1971):

Back of a Bulova moon watch model stating the mission when it was used.

Advisories and policies pertaining to EASTS 2019 in Colombo, Sri Lanka

The 13th International Conference of the Eastern Asia Society for Transportation Studies (EASTS) will be held from September 9-12, 2019 in Colombo, Sri Lanka. However, with the bombings last April 2019, a lot of people mainly prospective participants have worried about the security situation in the city. The local society in the Philippines, the Transportation Science Society of the Philippines (TSSP), also communicated its members’ concerns to the EASTS Secretariat. While TSSP received informal correspondence on the situation and assessment by the secretariat, only recently has the EASTS policy been released:

http://easts.info/policy-about-easts-2019-conference/

In addition to this, the organisers have sent the following email to assure prospective participants about the security situation in the city and country, which I quote below:

“Dear Author,

Thank you for submitting a paper for EASTS 2019, the 13th International Conference of the Eastern Asia Society for Transportation Studies hosted by Sri Lanka Society of Transport & Logistics (SLSTL). We are pleased that EASTS has decided to continue with hosting the conference in Sri Lanka, despite the unfortunate incident, that took place on the 21st of April 2019 taking into consideration the rapidly improving situation in Sri Lanka.

As the host institution I write to encourage your participation and wish to convey that the decision to continue was made based on the following facts and security measures currently in place.

Current Situation
·       There have been no further terror attacks since 21st April the day of the Easter bombings.
·       Security Forces have identified those responsible and arrests have been made both in SL and overseas.
·       The attacked churches (St. Anthony’s Shrine, Kochchikade, St. Sebastian’s Church, Katuwapitiya and Zion Church, Batticaloa) and hotels (The Kingsbury, Shangri-La Colombo and Cinnamon Grand Hotel) are now restored, refurbished and opened to the public.
·       Emergency has been lifted and the country is functioning normally.
·       All schools, universities, Government and private workplaces, hotels, public places, etc. have implemented body and bag/luggage scanning.

Travel Advisory
·       UK relaxes travel advisory to Sri Lanka
           https://economynext.com/UK_relaxes_travel_advisory_to_Sri_Lanka-3-14701.html
·       India relaxes travel advisory to Sri Lanka
           https://economynext.com/India_relaxes_travel_advisory_to_Sri_Lanka-3-14596-7.html
·       Switzerland relaxes travel restrictions to Sri Lanka
           http://www.colombopage.com/archive_19A/May28_1559020675CH.php
·       China lifts travel advisory on Sri Lanka
           https://www.newsfirst.lk/2019/05/26/china-lifts-travel-advisory-on-sri-lanka/
·       Australia relaxes travel advisory on Sri Lanka
            https://www.newsfirst.lk/2019/06/14/australia-relaxes-travel-advisory-on-sri-lanka/
·       Italy relaxes travel advisory
            http://www.dailynews.lk/2019/05/31/local/187125/italy-relaxes-travel-advisory
·       Germany soften travel advisories on Sri Lanka
            http://www.dailymirror.lk/business-news/India–Germany-and-Switzerland-soften-travel-advisories-on-Sri-Lanka/273-168105

Hotel Security
Hotel security has been strengthened and meetings are held periodically. SLSTL is satisfied that all the nominated hotels and the Waters’ Edge, the site of the conference have made arrangement that allow a safe environment for the conference to be conducted. See below article in this regard The Kingsbury stands strong.
http://www.ft.lk/travel-tourism/The-Kingsbury-stands-strong/27-677814

Government Support
In order to solicit the highest level of Government support for the conference, Prof. Tetsuo Yai, President, EASTS and Prof. Shinya Hanaoka, Deputy Secretary General, EASTS have also been invited to make a personal visit to Sri Lanka to meet the relevant Government Ministers and Heads of Security Establishments ahead of the conference to finalize arrangements.

As such we are confident that Sri Lanka is now very much safer than before the incident and we encourage you to take part in the conference without fear.

lovesrilanka.org / #LoveSriLanka
http://lovesrilanka.org/

We look forward to welcoming you in Sri Lanka for EASTS 2019.

Thank you.

Yours Sincerely,
Prof. Amal S. Kumarage                                                                         
President – Sri Lanka Society of Transport and Logistics (SLSTL)
Senior Professor, Department of Transport & Logistics, University of Moratuwa”

 

Here is the link to the EASTS page providing information about the conference: http://easts.info/easts-conference/

I am among those looking forward to traveling to Sri Lanka this coming September. Sri Lanka is a beautiful country and I became familiar with it mainly through a close friend I met when we were students in Japan. We still keep in touch through email after he moved with his family. They are now residing in Australia.


Arko along the highways

I tried to take photos of the arches that used to typically mark the boundaries between cities, municipalities and provinces en route to Baler, Aurora. I didn’t find many despite the numerous towns we passed along the way. Here are the one’s I saw, with some apparently rebuilt after the road widening projects of the DPWH.

Welcome arch to the Province of Nueva Ecija as we exited Tarlac Province – the first town after La Paz, Tarlac is Zaragosa, Nueva Ecija

Welcome arch of the Municipality of Aliaga, Nueva Ecija

Cabanatuan City’s arch as we exited towards Llanera

Welcome arch of Llanera, Nueva Ecija

Relatively new and modern arch design of Rizal, Nueva Ecija

More on these arches soon!

Do you have photos of arches in your place that you can share? Post them on the comments section! 🙂

On the Holy Week rush and long distance trips

It’s that time of year again when people travel a lot of mostly to go back to their hometowns to spend the Holy Week break there. Many will also be going on leisure trips; heading to tourist destinations such as beaches, which are likely the most attractive places during this sweltering summer season. Most people will likely travel on land and would be taking public transportation in the form of provincial buses (while there will be more cars on the roads, more people will be on high occupancy vehicles).

Provincial bus terminal near the end of Gil Puyat Ave. (formerly Buendia Ave.)

One wonders if the mode shares for these provincial trips could have been different at least for Luzon Island if the old PNR northern and southern lines were retained, maintained and modernised. What used to be the Main Line North stretched all the way to San Fernando, La Union with stations at most major cities and towns in Bulacan, Pampanga, Tarlac and Pangasinan including Malolos, San Fernando (Pampanga), Angeles City, and Dagupan City. Meanwhile, the Main Line South stretched all the way to Legazpi City in Albay with stations in the provinces of Laguna, Quezon, Camarines Norte, Camarines Sur and Albay. These included stations in Calamba, Los Banos, Sta. Cruz, Lucena and Naga. Surely, more people would have taken the trains for these long distance trips if the rolling stock were a lot like those operation by Japan Railways?

Visita Iglesia itinerary?

I spotted this ad at a nearby SM mall listing churches that can be part of a Visita Iglesia itinerary in the Province of Rizal. I took the following photos showing the major churches in the province. These include old churches found in the older towns including those in Morong (ca. 1620), Taytay (ca. 1630), Pililla (ca. 1672), Baras (ca. 1686), San Mateo (ca. 1716), Tanay (ca. 1783),  and Binangonan (ca. 1800). Antipolo has one old church – Boso Boso Church (ca. 1669). The Shrine of Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage while being the more famous of the two was completed in 1954. The first church though was completed in 1632 but was destroyed several times due to unrest, earthquakes and the Second World War. Cainta also had an old church (ca. 1707) that was destroyed several times including during WW2, and the new church was completed in 1968.

We’ve visited many of these churches before but are no longer into the Visita Iglesia considering our experiences of traffic congestion the past years when this tradition became more of a tourist thing or gig. We’d rather go to a nearby church to pray or stay at home to enjoy the peace and quiet; not to mention the comforts of being at home.

Trip to Baler

I have yet to post a few more articles about my trip to Naga City,Camarines Sur and yet here I am traveling again, this time to Baler, Aurora. I have made it a point to travel to at least one new destination every year and this year it looks like I will be traveling to at least one new local destination and perhaps one new place overseas. So I will be concluding March by sharing this photo of two bancas (the type with the outriggers for balance) I took earlier this morning during my stroll along the beach.

These boats are used by fishermen though they can also be used for transportation along the coast. These are the non-motorised type so it takes some skill and constitution to paddle these vessels especially when the waters are choppy.

I promise to post more about this trip soon including sharing photos of arches and the dam roads of the Canili River Reservoir and the Diayo River Reservoir in Maria Aurora town.

Looking forward to another long road trip

It has been a while since I had a long road trip. The last one was not particularly long as it was only until Lucena City in Quezon. Prior to that was a trip to Baguio City. And so I am looking forward to this trip to Bicol this week and I do hope to take a lot of photos along the way. That includes photos of arches that I have not had the chance of taking that I know I can get a lot of during this trip that will take us through several provinces in Southern Luzon. Those photos and the experiences from the trip will probably dominate the postings this February.

Back in Bangkok

I am back in one of my favourite countries to visit – Thailand. I was a frequent visitor between 2002 and 2008. After that, I have been to the Kingdom only twice – in 2012 and in 2013.

Suvarnabhumi Airport is the main gateway to the Kingdom of Thailand. I was among the early users of this airport when it replaced the old Don Muang Airport that was closer to the Bangkok city center.

I was witness to the development of their transportation infrastructure including the construction of two links to Suvarnabhumi Airport – the express railway and the expressway. Shown above is a welcome sign as you leave the airport. In my case, I decided to use a taxi to get to my hotel as I had some luggage with me.

I will be posting about Bangkok in the next few days. I just need some time and the opportunity to take some nice photos to show here.

Ferry ride from Darling Harbor to Cockatoo Island

I had an opportunity to ride the ferries going around Sydney including some of the islands that were part of the attractions of the city. We rode a ferry from Darling Harbor to Cockatoo Island, which used to be for shipbuilding and repairs. It was also historically significant not just because of the ships that were built or repaired there but also because it was used as a correctional facility.

Information and fares – one can get detailed information on ferry services at the wharf and also purchase single trip or top up cards from the machines conveniently located in the area.

Information on the ferry services including the network and use of Opal cards to pay for your fares

One can use the Opal card to take ferry rides. You can top up (reload) at terminals at the wharf

The wharf where we were to await our ferry for Cockatoo Island

Sign showing which ferry lines dock at Wharf 1: F4 is for Circular Quay and F3 is for Parramatta, which includes a stop at Cockatoo Island.

The arrival of our ferry at the port

The cabin was practically empty when we boarded the ferry.

A better look at the spacious cabin

Advisory for all passengers

Ferry layout and safety plan

A view of the bridge and showing the name of the ferry. We discovered that each ferry was named after a prominent female sports figure.

Our ferry ride to Cockatoo Island afforded us splendid views of the waterfront properties and landmarks. The ferry also had few passengers so we could go around the boat to have an appreciation of the sights as well as the vessel itself. I will post some photos of the views from the ferry in a future article.