Saturday, February 15, 2014

The Mount Kelud volcano erupts in East Java and Yoichi Masuzoe wins the Tokyo governorship

In Singapore over the last few days, at the beautiful Fullerton Bay Hotel, living a Travelife, I finally had time to catch up on some of the news in the past week.

Two things made me sit up over my morning herbal tea, when the newspapers were delivered.

First is the fact that Mount Kelud, a volcano in Indonesia's East Java, is erupting as I write this, and spewing ash over this entire part of Indonesia.

This includes the tourist destination of Yogyakarta, and Surabaya, which is Indonesia's second-largest city.

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I was in East Java -- in these very places that are now all over the news because of the Mount Kelud eruption -- literally just a few days ago.

The two key cities in this area are Surabaya and Semarang.

Surabaya is an interesting city with a lovely heritage hotel and some well-preserved museums. 

It's so unfortunate that now most of the city is apparently covered in volcanic ash and the airports are all closed.

I hope the volcano calms down soon so that East Java can return to normal.

We at Travelife Magazine, the leading travel & lifestyle publication, send our best wishes to the Indonesians.


The second surprising news is the fact that someone I know just won the governorship of Tokyo, perhaps the richest amd most modern city in the world.

He clinched the governorship via a landslide election victory just a few days ago as well.


Yoichi Masuzoe is now officially the governor of Tokyo, and he is part of the ruling party of Japanese Prime Minister Abe and Finance Minister Taro Aso, who incidentally both live in my neighborhood in Tokyo.

Finance Minister Taro Aso. who is of a famous Japanese political dynasty and who was also once Prime Minister of Japan, lives two houses down from me.

In between our houses is the residence of an ambassador.

Meanwhile the official Tokyo governor's residence is just a few streets away from my house as well.


I knew Masuzoe-san from a very long time ago, when he was a media personality in Tokyo.

I used to host very big dinners in Tokyo, and he would attend whenever he had time.

In fact, I remember how we once watched a baseball game together.

And he created quite a ruckus in the VIP stands at Tokyo's baseball stadium as so many fans wanted to have their photos taken with him.


Then we went for a yakiniku dinner in one of his favorite restaurants in Shinjuku, together with his entourage of assistants.

It was lots of fun and the yakiniku was delicious.

I think the restaurant brought out their best beef for him, a famous Tokyo personality.


One funny conversation I remember having with him involved a wager we had done regarding who was more famous in Tokyo, among ordinary Japanese: Philippine President Fidel Ramos, who was the president at that time, or Ramos the Brazilian soccer player playing for the popular J-League and the Japanese soccer team.

Ramos vs. Ramos.

He actually made this into some kind of on-air survey and I think the outcome was even -- with just as many people in Tokyo aware of President Ramos as there were people aware of Brazilian soccer player Ramos.

This was just another evening in Tokyo many years ago, in an already never-endingly eventful Travelife, which I remembered this morning in Singapore, on just another wonderful weekend in my still never-endingly eventful Travelife.

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