Welcome to my blog! I hope you enjoy your visit. Here are a few links to things that may interest you:
こんばんは。How’s it going?
This morning we woke up extra-early to depart the ship and head to the airport for our flight from Wuhan to Shanghai, and as a good omen, there was a beautiful sunset to accompany us!
It was a quick trip and by noon we were on the famous Bund waterfront. The skyline on the other side of the river was stunning! What an amazing introduction to Shanghai. 😮
After that, we had lunch, then checked in at our hotel. We didn’t have any other official activities planned (besides dinner at the hotel) but a bunch of us headed over to an underground shopping area to check out the items on sale. This shopping area is famous for its counterfeit goods and there were plenty to choose from! The most popular items were handbags and backpacks, t-shirts, shoes, and watches.
I had a fun little adventure when I was led to the back room of one of the stores to check out their selection of “Rolex” watches. I actually had little intention of buying one, but I wanted to check them out and haggle a bit on prices. Of course, I left without buying a watch, but it was an interesting experience, for sure.
I’m not a hardcore watch enthusiast, but I don’t understand why you’d want to buy a fake Rolex… I mean, do you really intend to fool people? Because you are still paying a lot for a nice fake, but at the end of the day, it’s still a fake. I’d rather pay $1 for a “true” fake and have a laugh showing it to friends than pay $300 for a high-quality fake and keep up the charade. But that’s just me.
That goes for the shirts and backpacks as well. If you look at the quality of these items, you can tell quickly that they aren’t real, but they still cost about $10 after bargaining. And do you really want a backpack to use every day that isn’t that great quality, and whose logo is kind of wonky?
After shopping, it was time to head back to the hotel, but instead of taking a taxi, my brother and I decided to try out the subway system. From purchasing tickets to finding the train and taking it to our destination, it was really easy and efficient. A great way to get around town!
Back at the hotel, we had dinner before heading to The Bund again to check out the skyline at night. There were a ton of people there enjoying the view, which has to be one of the most spectacular cityscapes I’ve ever seen. It was awesome!
Here are a few more pics from the day:
こんばんは。 How’s it going?
Today was a bittersweet day for me because it is our last full day on the ship, which has been an absolute blast. The reason it has been so wonderful is that I have enjoyed spending time with the crew and getting into a daily routine.
For instance, we wake up and head to Taichi for half an hour, then to breakfast, and then enjoy the planned excursions. In between the scheduled activities, I enjoy hanging out on the sundeck editing photos, or running in the gym, or having a drink in the bar. And because we see the same crew, we have plenty of opportunities to chat and joke around with them. It’s so much fun!
But knowing that it’s our last day makes it bittersweet and a bit sad. 😢
Today’s morning excursion was a walk into the port city of Wuhan. There’s a popular shopping area that our tour leader brought us to, and then we split up to explore the area on our own.
But before we separated, I saw a haircut place which was only 10 yuan, so a spur of the moment decision had me sitting down for a quick trim. It was fun, and I can now say that I got my haircut in China!
After that, I walked out of the modern shopping district and wandered around the local area, where I explored narrow alleys, a small sewing/tailoring street, and an indoor meat market. It was pretty cool! I kind of got into the groove of asking locals if I could take their photos, and everyone I asked was willing and happy. That was so fun!
The afternoon excursion was to the Hubei Provincial Museum to view a set of ancient bells that were found in a tomb and then listen to a performance on a copy of the bells at the museum’s music hall. The bells were pretty cool, but I enjoyed the accompanying traditional Chinese flute and Guzheng zither even more.
For tonight’s meal in Wuhan, we had an extra-special treat because my brothers, mother, and I were invited to dinner in town by the ship’s Program Director. We ate at a hotpot restaurant, which was such a great experience. The hotpot itself was divided into two sections so we could have a mild broth on one side, and then a spicy broth on the other, and when asked what level of spiciness I wanted, I went for the maximum!
Both Angie (the Program Director) and I love spicy food, but the rest of the group doesn’t eat it so much, so they suffered a bit when eating from that side of the pot. But for this special opportunity, I would have a HUGE regret if I didn’t go for the maximum spiciness. I have to say that it was indeed fiery, but not unbearable for myself, so I was really happy. 🔥🌶🤪 Anyways, we had plenty of cold beer to help us with the spicy food. 🍺
So now it’s time for rest, and as I mentioned before, I am filled with a bittersweet feeling because we are leaving the ship tomorrow… but the journey will continue for a couple more days in the city of Shanghai. Onwards!
こんばんは。How’s it going?
Today was a special day of the vacation because we made a visit to the local school here in Wuhan that the cruise line sponsors. During the visit, the elementary school kids held a musical performance for us before we visited the classroom for some fun activities, such as singing and English lessons.
Honestly, when I read the description for this “excursion”, I didn’t know what to expect, so I went into it with an open mind. But after meeting with the school kids, it was readily apparent how much this sponsorship means to them. I believe that the visit from the guests is a highlight of the kids’ school year, and happily, it happens with regularity as long as it is cruise season.
You might not know it, but I was a teacher for a few years, and I thoroughly enjoyed the job. It was so satisfying to know that you have a direct influence on people’s lives and that motivated me to give it my best effort every day. I have a tremendous respect for teachers because of this.
The school visit ended late morning and we returned to the ship for lunch and a couple onboard activities, one of which was a visit to the bridge of the ship. We got to learn about the chain of command, the navigation tools used, and even a bit about the nature of the Yangtze river. Although it was a short time on the bridge, it turns out there’s not a lot about it that you wouldn’t expect. 🙂
The next activity was a presentation by the chef about how to make Chinese dumplings, complete with recipe sheet. In our house, we don’t cook dumplings so this was new to me. I think the filling is similar to gyoza, but the skin is doughier and since it is boiled, the dumplings are juicier and softer. Honestly, though, I prefer the gyoza we make at home, which is steamed and fried in the skillet.
The evening featured a performance by many of the staff members dancing in ethnic costumes. It was fantastic to see the beautiful types of clothes.
Later in the evening, we ended up at the dancefloor once again, but now the musicians/DJ were used to us and played a bunch of reggae and some calypso as well and we did the limbo to close out the night. Another wonderful day in China!
Here are a few more photos from the day:
こんばんは。How’s it going?
Today’s highlight excursion was a visit to The Three Gorges Dam, and while it was interesting and awe-inspiring, I have to admit that I had more fun on the ship.
First of all, my mom and I started attending the daily Taichi sessions first thing in the morning. Today’s started at 6:45 am and plenty of other people showed up! The classes are taught by the ship doctor’s assistant, Ella, and she does a great job of explaining the poses and sequences. It’s really relaxing and fun, and it’s a great way to start the day and get the energy flowing.
So, after Tai-chi, I ate a light breakfast (which can be difficult on a cruise!) of juk (rice porridge) and spicy pickles, and of course coffee, then it was time for the excursion. I guess since it was considered the highlight, I will post another photo: 😝
On the way back to the ship, we shopped a bit by the food carts and we had a visit from a very friendly kitty cat. He was so cute!
Back onboard, we proceeded to enjoy ourselves with unlimited drinks due to the extra spirits package we purchased. It was well worth it! On a ship like this, we tend to gravitate to the 6th deck which has the bar, dance floor, and outside deck. And since we’re there so often, it’s natural to make friends with the bartenders and crew. They are all so friendly and fun.
Here are some more photos from the day. Enjoy!
こんばんは。Today our ship cruised into the Three Gorges section of the Yangtze River and the scenery changed from great to AMAZING! The banks of the river rose steeply on either side and as we cruised along, one of the ship’s guides explained how the river changed when the dam was built, how the local populations were relocated, and also a bit about the “hanging coffins” which are stone coffins that were found high in caves along the walls. It’s still a mystery as to how they got there, which amazes me.
But the highlight of the day was definitely the sampan boat tour, which took us into a narrow gorge, The Shenong Stream. Our tour guide was excellent, funny, and cute and we were kept entertained the whole time learing about the local traditions, the way people live, and for this particular tour, a bit about arranged marriage! It was so interesting to learn about local matchmakers and the customs surrounding arranged marriages. I have to say that I’ve been very happy with both our main guide and the local guides so far on the trip.
After the sampan tour, we had a few activities onboard the ship before arriving at the Three Gorges Dam, where we entered the locks. I stayed awake for the first lock, but then was so tired, that I decided to call it a night.
Talk to you tomorrow!
こんばんは。How’s it going?
Today’s travels took us to the town of Shibaozhai to visit the fantastic temple and pagoda. As you can see from the photo above, this pagoda is very tall – there are 99 steps to the top. But getting to the actual pagoda was a little bit of a journey as well because we had to walk up a hill from the ship, then across a suspension bridge known as the “Drunken Bridge” because you feel a bit tipsy due to the up and down motion of the structure.
Most of the tour group accompanied the local tour guide to the top of the pagoda and were rewarded with an amazing view of the surrounding scenery including the Yangtze and ship. It was interesting to hear how the region was affected by the Three Gorges Dam Project, and in the case of the Shibaozhai pagoda, a giant dike was constructed to protect it from the rising waters.
On the way back to the ship, my brother and I decided to take a short detour through the town and check out the local happenings. I enjoyed taking some street photos, but soon it was time to return to the ship.
To finish off the day, a bunch of us hung out in the lounge and had some fun on the dance floor which is something I rarely do! In fact, the only time I dance is during family reunions so I guess this as appropriate timing. 😆
I hope you had a nice day!
こんばんは。How’s it going?
The flight above Chongquin was absolutely stunning – I have never seen a more impressive city from the air. It honestly looked like a creation from SimCity! There were winding rivers, modern bridges, skyscrapers galore, and other details such as highway clovers and sporting stadiums. It was surreal!
Anyways, after we landed, we took a short bus ride to the cruise ship where we would be spending the next several days, traveling down the Yangtze river.
The check-in process was quick and we were soon settled into our cabin and the drinks started flowing. 🥂
As the sun went down, the city of Chongquin started to light up and a festive feeling came over the entire ship. It really felt like a new phase of vacation was beginning!
Dinner was delicious, but everyone was tired from a long travel day, so it will be an early rest for us. 😴 Please enjoy these pictures from the day: