Japan & China 2017

October 2017
October 2017
  • Day20

    Shanghai to Home

    October 27, 2017 in China ⋅ ☀️ 16 °C

    Another early start to have our final breakfast with Sarah and Ann. We still can't believe they were on this cruise. We left the ship around 9am and joined our Shanghai Delights and Airport Transfer tour. First stop was the Shanghai Museum. They only allow 8000 people to go through per day. We found the shop a little more interesting than the actual museum. Next stop was Old Shanghai and Yu Gardens. It would be easy to spend hours there but because of our late departure it was a very quick visit. Back on the bus we made our way to Pudong International Airport. It took us about an hour. The Maglev train (magnetic levitation) only takes 9 minutes at about 400 kilometres per hour. Security at the airport was very tight. You are
    scanned as soon as you enter. As we were around 5 hours early check in wasn't open. We found a Family Mart and had some "delicious sandwiches ". Actually they weren't too bad. Check in opened at 4pm. It was an interesting experience. They didn't issue my boarding pass because security wanted to look at my bag. After taking most things out we found the problem, it was our luggage scales. I had to go back to the counter with my bag and try again. All okay this time and my boarding pass was issued. We then had to line up at immigration. We found out there we needed a departure form. I presume we should have received one at check in. Luckily they handed us some and we filled them in there and then. Then security again. My carry-on went through but they wanted to check it again. Had to take everything out again, scan it and all was okay. Almost an hour to get through immigration and security. We left on time and we actually slept for a few hours. Quite a smooth flight, the odd bump or two but nothing major. We landed right on time, there was the usual stampede to get off but it didn't do them any good because about half of the luggage went to the freight area and we had to wait well over an hour for it to turn up. No problems with customs and then off to the Virgin domestic transfer area to check in and catch the bus to the terminal.
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  • Day20

    Zhujiajiao - Watertown

    October 27, 2017 in China ⋅ 🌙 16 °C

    We left the ship at about 9am for our tour, Sarah and Ann joined us again. It was perfect weather, a little cloud and around 23 degrees. Our guide Kelly was excellent. She gave us plenty of information about Shanghai and surrounds plus some Chinese history lessons. We drove along the Bund which looks out towards Pudong which is the new area of Shanghai. It's home to the tallest building in Shanghai at 632 metres and the Iconic Pearl TV tower. The city is very beautiful with lots of gardens. They even have roses growing in the middle of freeways and tollways. The traffic was fairly heavy and we didn't arrive at Zhujiajiao until about 10:30am. There were lots of buses already there and a lot of tourists as well. We walked over old bridges along waterways and narrow streets lined with shops and restaurants. A large portion of the people that live here have their business downstairs and live upstairs. There were several groups of primary school children walking around with teachers. As usual with these tours, time is limited so not much of a chance to buy anything. We did try some freshly squeezed pomegranate juice which was refreshing. We visited the old post office and a shop selling traditional Chinese Medicine. Lastly we hopped on a boat which was propelled much like gondolas . He took us back to our starting point. We boarded the bus and made our way back towards Shanghai for lunch. The traffic was heavy and it was around 2pm before we reached the restaurant. The food was delicious and they had a few western style toilets which was a bonus. The last stop of the day was a silk factory. We were given a short overview of the process from silkworm to spinning and then we were shown how they make a silk doona. They are exceptionally light and don't absorb moisture. Of course the main aim is to sell you something. We ended up with 2 silk filled pillows., 2 pillow cases and a silk doona cover. After our stop we continued on to the ship. It was a great tour and even the other passengers were okay this time. We dropped off our purchases and then went back out for a walk along the Bund and to view the lights. The light show starts at 6pm and finishes at 10pm. It certainly is spectacular. We were heading back to the ship when two Americans approached us, they were having trouble navigating their way back to the ship. They walked back with us and were very grateful we were able to show them the way. Dinner was next and we said our good-byes to our wait staff(Herri, Arief & Romeo) and cabin stewards. There was time for some photos on deck before packing.Read more

  • Day18

    Sailing towards Shanghai

    October 25, 2017, East China Sea ⋅ 🌙 17 °C

    We started late today and didn't go to breakfast until 9:30am. At 11am we went to a talk on what to see and do in Shanghai. Lunch was next and then another talk by Master Kam on modern China. His talks are excellent, it's just a pity he wasn't given more time. We stayed on to hear what we would be missing on the next leg of the cruise to Hong Kong. Then it was back to the cabin for a little snooze before our walk around the deck. Our walk was cut short tonight by the crew scrubbing the decks. It was gala night tonight so we had a pre-dinner drink in the Ocean Bar and then headed off to the dinning room. We are not supposed to arrive in Shanghai until 8am tomorrow but we are already heading up the river as I write this at 11:15pm.Read more

  • Day18

    Qingdao

    October 25, 2017, Yellow Sea ⋅ 🌙 13 °C

    We were up early again today for another tour. The ship docked about an hour early at 7am but due to delays in receiving clearance we were an hour late leaving on the tour. The terminal was enormous and I would estimate it was about a kilometre just to walk out. We had a lovely young girl called Sophie as our guide. Little did she realise what was to come. Her English wasn't the best but she was trying hard. Unfortunately, she had to deal with a vocal minority of guests (Americans of course!) who were extremely rude. "Turn on the air", "we can't hear you", "you're too loud ", "why are we stopping here" and "when are we stopping at a rest-room" were some of the many comments. Of course please and thank you don't exist for these people! The first stop was at St Michaels' Cathedral which seemed a bit unusual but this area was occupied by the Germans. There were lots of brides and grooms having their photos taken. The weather was perfect which may have explained their presence. After the church we went to Zhaoqiao Pier which is used as the symbol for Tsingtao Brewery and Qingdao. We then drove through Badaguan another favourite spot for brides and full off more European style buildings. Lunch was at a rather grand hotel and then on to the Zhanshan Buddhist Temple. The last stop was the Tsingtao Brewery for a whirlwind tour and tasting. Sophie sang a traditional Chinese song at the end of the tour. Not long after boarding the ship the Captain announced that a guest had to leave and we would be late leaving. We watched proceedings from the promenade and saw a lady and all her luggage loaded into a waiting ambulance. While we were waiting to depart a car turned up and two ladies got out one of whom had a bandaged eye. They were both wheel-chaired on and we set sail. About half an hour later we could hear the bow thrusters and the First Officer announced another guest had to be disembarked. We did a 360 and headed back to port. We left port for the second time at about 8:30pm. We didn't go to the show tonight. It was Annie Gong. We have seen her 3 times now. We are starting to sound like Bill and Mary-Ann!.Read more

  • Day16

    Sailing towards Qingdao

    October 23, 2017, Yellow Sea ⋅ 🌙 13 °C

    We were woken this morning to the ship moving quite a bit and spray hitting our window. By the time we went up to breakfast it had settled down. On our way to breakfast we ran into Sarah and Ann, so we joined them and heard all about their time in Beijing. After breakfast we went to a talk on Qingdao. We had a wander around the shops and bought a couple of $10 watches. We had our Mariner lunch today and on the way we met Dolores who organized our Beijing excursion but was unable to go because she had a fever. We had planned to sit with Sarah and Ann but they had just been presented with silver medallions for spending 300 days at sea with Holland America and had to sit at a reserved table. The lunch was very enjoyable and the food was excellent.
    After lunch we went to "Ask the Captain ". Captain Chris Turner answered questions from the audience which was very informative. After the Captain we stayed on to hear Master Kam talk about modern China. At 6pm we did our laps around the promenade deck. Its a good time to go as a large number of guests are at dinner. Went to dinner at 8pm as usual. Our two wait staff were very tired tonight. They did breakfast in the Lido followed by the Mariner lunch and then dinner. We gave the show a miss tonight and had an early night.
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  • Day15

    Forbidden City, Tianjin

    October 22, 2017 in China ⋅ ☁️ 12 °C

    After Tiananmen Square we went under the road to the entrance to the Forbidden City. Some very stern looking security at the entrance. One Chinese tourist went to take a photo and was quickly reprimanded. The Forbidden City seems to go on forever. We basically walked through the centre. The crowds had started building and it would be easy to become separated from your group. We all made it to the end okay. Our guide took us to lunch at one of his favourite local restaurants. The food was similar to last night. The service is pretty well non existent. We wondered why there wasn't any service cutlery until we watched the guide just eat straight from the platters. The food was good but toilet facilities were very ordinary. Not so bad for men but squat toilets are not all that wonderful for the ladies. After lunch it was time to make our way back to the ship. We made good time and were back at the port by 4pm. The Americans handed out tips but we didn't feel they were justified. Our guide gave next to no commentary which was a pity. It will be interesting to compare with the ships tours we have booked on the last two stops. There was a great show on board tonight, Mark Haslam performing Sleight of hand. Amazing!Read more

  • Day15

    Tiananmen Square

    October 22, 2017 in China ⋅ ☁️ 12 °C

    We were lucky at Tiananmen Square, being a group we bypassed the lines and most of the security. There were a large number of people there but not too bad. The Communist Party "election" and meeting only had a couple more days to run. There was lots of security both in suits and uniform.

  • Day15

    Temple of Heaven

    October 22, 2017 in China ⋅ ☁️ 12 °C

    After a late finish last night we had an early start at 7:30am this morning. First stop was the Temple of Heaven. We were there by 8am and there were already lots of people around even at that time. We wandered around and saw some of the local people doing Tia Chi. Next was Tiananmen Square. We were told on the ship that we probably wouldn't be able to get near it.Read more