The Philippines, Taiwan and Japan are very modern and yet traditional countries. Accompany us on this voyage to the Philippines’ northern islands and Taiwan to the southern islands of Japan. Our voyage takes us some of the outstanding natural sites these three countries have to offer. We will visit National Parks, see traditional buildings including castles, homes and warehouses, and feel ancient spirituality in shrines, temples and memorials. In Japan, our visit is timed with the cherry blossoms - a natural event of great significance.
• Walk through the Vigan Heritage Village and see historical constructions dating back to the Manila Galleon times
• Sample traditional Philippine delicacies on Ilocos and Sabtang Island
• Visit Naha’s Shuri Castle, a UNESCO World Heritage Site
• Photograph the ancient cedars on Yakushima- Japan’s first UNESCO World Heritage Site
Day 1 – Hong Kong, China
Embark the Silver Discoverer for this delightful Silversea Expedition across the South China and Philippine Seas, “Ancient Island Nations of the Western Pacific.” This afternoon, you will attend a safety briefing before leaving Hong Kong.
At sail away watch Hong Kong’s skyline recede in our little ship’s churning wake. Later, important members of the crew will be introduced, as well as your Expedition Team. We invite you to familiarise yourself with your new home away from home, meet some of your fellow travellers and in the evening enjoy the first of many memorable meals in The Restaurant.
Day 2 – At Sea
While Silver Discoverer sails across the South China Sea in a south-easterly direction, take this day to settle in and relax. Perhaps enjoy a leisurely breakfast and then join our lecturers for talks about the Philippines. Topics might range from the archipelago’s colonial time to the 20th century, its modern history, but above all its natural history and the attractions we intend to visit.
Day 3 – Vigan, Philippines
As we land in Salomague, on Luzon’s northwestern shore, we will be welcomed by a local band before heading south to Vigan and its historical district. We will see the Bantay Church and bell tower, Ilocos’ oldest structures dating back to 1590. A Filipino style “fiesta” lunch will be had in a beautiful garden known as the Hidden Garden. This will also include a demonstration of how to prepare Pinakbet –a popular northern dish of mixed vegetables steamed in fish or shrimp sauce. Later a pottery factory specializing in jars is visited and we will ride in horse-drawn carriages to the Syquia Mansion, a museum dedicated to the Philippines’ sixth President. A walk through the Vigan Heritage Village with its mestizo district of old colonial, Spanish-style houses and tasting of local delicacies will end the excursion.
Day 4 – San Vicente, Luzon, Philippines
Today the village and port of San Vicente, located on Luzon’s northern shore, want to welcome us. After a short stop on the mainland, we will take a local boat across to Palaui Island for a hike to its northern cape and a lighthouse at Cape Deception. Located south of the lighthouse are Engaño (Deception) Cove and Urdine Cove, offering the opportunity for swimming.
Later we will head for Punta Verde and a Filipino style lunch. The final stop on Palaui Island will be the Elementary School for interaction with the school children. Returning to San Vicente, we will take our Zodiacs back to the ship.
Day 5 – Sabtang, Philippines
Arriving quite early in the Philippines’ northernmost province, we will want to make the most of our visit to Sabtang Island. After our Zodiac landing there will be a a welcome reception. Board local motorcycles with sidecar to reach Savidug Village for a short nature walk and to explore vernacular stone houses and backyards. At the Chamantad Tinyan View Point souvenirs will be available and the opportunity to witness weavers, who produce the traditional “Vakul” head gear for women and “Kanayi” gear for men.
At the island’s Centro Plaza, the tasting of local food will be accompanied by a cultural festive dance presentation.
In the afternoon Silver Discoverer sails north across the Philippine Sea. Our lecturers will want to prepare you for our visit to Taiwan with talks or seminars.
Day 6 – Hualien, Taiwan
During the morning, Silver Discoverer approaches Taiwan’s east coast and Hualien.
There will be several options to spend the day either hiking in the Taroko National Park or visiting the Pine Garden and learning about the Buddhist Tzu Chi (compassion and relief) Foundation and seeing the best preserved Japanese style temple in eastern Taiwan.
The Taroko National Park covers more than 92,000 hectares in the northern section of the Central Mountain Range. This park features high mountains and sheer gorges. The spectacular Taroko Gorge and the scenic beauty of Liwu River, the varied mountain peaks, numerous waterfalls, diverse plant forms and animal life, together with the indigenous Taroko people, create a rich texture of this unique natural ecosystem.
The third choice would be to go whale and dolphin watching on a local boat.
Day 7 — At sea
Silver Discoverer will head on a northeasterly course, and this sea day will be used for recaps to sum up the experiences in Taiwan and to present talks and lectures to prepare you for the Japanese islands and ports of call. Spend some time on the outer decks to see if you can spot any marine mammals or seabirds en route to Okinawa. Our culinary team might present an engaging and interesting cooking demonstration, while the Bar Team is always ready to prepare a refreshing drink.
Day 8 — Naha, Okinawa, Japan
Okinawa is a typical Japanese subtropical region with a warm climate where cherry blossoms bloom in late January, and the swimming season lasts from April to October. There are more than sixty islands between the main island of Okinawa in the North and Yonaguni Island at the south-western end.
Departing from the pier and travelling towards the southeast corner of Okinawa, the first stop will be at the former Japanese Navy Underground Headquarters. One can walk down the 101 steps into the narrow tunnels to get a unique insight into the conditions and experiences of the soldiers and officers inside the headquarters.
We will then visit Kokusai Street. This street used to be called "The Miracle Mile" because of its rapid recovery after the post-war era. On Kokusai Street vendors and shops sell everything from original Okinawa-made crafts, local t-shirts and original designs to imported goods. Along Kokusai Street there are said to be as many places to eat as there are things to buy. After some free time to explore this area, we will return to the ship for lunch.
After lunch we will see Shuri Castle, the administrative center and residence of the Ryukyu royal family for over 400 years. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the castle rests on a hill providing outstanding views of Naha and the sea. Surrounded by tall curved walls, the bright red castle is a mixture of Japanese and Chinese architectural styles. You will see the lavishly decorated Main Hall and the ornate Shurei Gate. Known as the Gate of Courtesy, it typifies Okinawan architecture and serves as a symbol of modern day Okinawa.
Day 9 — Amami, Oshima, Japan
Amami Oshima is an unspoilt natural paradise situated in the Amami islands and surrounded by transparent waters with brightly coloured coral reefs and tropical fish. Our day will start with a visit to Oshimatsumugi Kimono village where we can watch the process of making tsumugi and kasuri silk-cotton fabrics. This is a craft complex in a beautiful hillside setting among flowers and many of the plants used in the process of dyeing.
In Bashayama Village enjoy lunch including Keihan, one of the specialities in Amami. Keihan consists of chicken, egg and other various ingredients placed on rice and covered in chicken broth. During lunch we will also have a chance to see local people playing the Shamisen. After lunch, we can relax at the beautiful beach or stroll through Kenmunmura village with its traditional houses.
If you prefer a visit with a little more activity, then choose the canoeing tour in Amami Oshima’s Mangrove Park. Amami Oshima holds Japan’s second-largest mangrove forest and is inhabited by the Amami Rabbit, a national protected species. You will canoe for about one hour amongst the mangroves.
Day 10 — Yakushima, Japan
Yakushima, Japan’s first UNESCO World Heritage site in 1993, is famous in botanical circles for its great many garden plants, including dwarf plants which have evolved to grow smaller than their mainland cousins. We will spend time on nature walks including Yakusugi Land, a nature park populated by a number of the island’s ancient cedar trees, including the Buddhasugi (a 2500-year-old cedar), Futagosugi and Sennensugi. There are different trails for different levels of activity and while walking, we will see the very clear stream running through the forest and the unique plant life on the island. There will also be a chance to see Yaku Monkey and Yaku Deer.
After your walk in the forest you will visit the Yakusugi Museum, which tells about the vegetation of Yakusugi, as well as the history of Yakushima.
In the evening attend the Videographer’s presentation of our voyage documentary.
Day 11 — Nagasaki, Japan
Following breakfast, disembark Silver Discoverer.
Please Note: Expedition highlights and wildlife listed here are possible experiences only and cannot be guaranteed. Your Expedition Leader and Captain will work together to ensure opportunities for adventure and exploration are the best possible, taking into account the prevailing weather and wildlife activity. Expedition Team members scheduled for this voyage are subject to change or cancellation.
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