A Travellerspoint blog

En Route to Busan South Korea

Monday, 26 March 2012

A chilly sea day with a forecast maximum of 10 °C, long-johns and thermal vests just to step outside. Inside the temperature remains quite comfortable. Clocks were put forward an hour overnight as we are now heading in a North Easterly direction through the East China Sea.
Jenny filled out the immigration and customs forms required for entry to Japan. We are given detailed instructions on how they should be completed and then they are collected by the cabin-steward. They will no doubt be matched up with our passports and returned to us in time for disembarkation at our first Japanese port.
After breakfast I attended William Roberts' lecture on the Korean war and the ongoing Armistice with many personal insights from his tour of duty in the 'Peace Village'. Heather followed on this with an overview of the Kim Dynasty and the various family members. She touched on the many farcical events and statements by the all powerful military regime to perpetuate the cult image of Kim Jong-Un.
Lunch and then Lindsay's talk on the visit to Osaka, coupled with Heather's personal recommendations it looks as if Nara may well be the best option. There's no way we can do everything in even one port, let alone all of them.
Formal night so we dress up and go to another great dinner. Declined the 'entertainment' options as we weren't impressed with one and had also seen the other, Busan tomorrow, another whirlwind day with only two sea days in the next six.
There is a blackout on satellite communications while we are in Japan, not sure when that stats and ends so will post entries as and when I can.

Posted by greynomadm 04:29 Comments (1)

A Day in Shanghai

Sunday, 25 March 2012

View 2012 Cherry Blossom on greynomadm's travel map.

Something caused me to awaken at about 0300 this morning. I suspect it was the light that was switched on to enable the pilot to board the ship. I quickly threw on some clothes and went out onto deck 7 just in time to observe the pilot transferring to the ship. I had intended to go back to bed but went back to the cabin only to put on some warmer gear, went back on deck and stayed there until we docked at about 0600. An amazing journey up the river,
Managed to acquire some breakfast and prepared to go ashore. Those booked on ship's tours were allowed to disembark first but we were in the first batch of self guided visitors to leave the ship, we were through immigration by about 0730.
We walked along the Bund and made our way to Nanjing Road which is the major shopping precinct in the centre of the city. At this early hour there were groups of people performing dance steps, flying kites and generally enjoying the relative quiet. It was Sunday and stores didn't open until about 1000 or 1030 so we filled in time observing the locals. By 1100 we were ready to head back as our feet were growing tired. On the return trip we decided to try the tunnel under the river. It was a strange experience to go down an escalator and be shown into a driver-less capsule that travelled sedately along this tunnel while strange light and sound effects assaulted us from the many windows. After about 10 minutes we disembarked on the East side of the Haungpu river. Up the escalator and we found ourselves somewhere near the base of the Pearl Tower. I took some photos of the Bund and we returned.
Quite relieved to be back on the ship just after 1230. We took off our boots and found some food then retired to the cabin and watched the constant flow of river traffic sailing past. A quick rest and off to the Princess Theatre to watch an impressive performance by the Shanghai Zhoukou Acrobats. A very clever, agile and amazingly strong group of young men and boys. They obviously know no fear building towers three and four high all supported by the guy in the middle.
We were a little late departing and then the ship reversed down stream for about 3/4 mile and then performed a 180º clockwise pirouette. The sun had disappeared into the smog by the time we headed downstream some two hours latter we join the main river and head out to sea.
I missed the dinner in the dining room and didn't relish eating by myself so had a chili pie from the Terrace Grill. HOT !!!

Posted by greynomadm 06:01 Comments (0)

Approaching Shanghai

Saturday, 24 March 2012

Another sea-day as we approach the estuary of Chang Jiang. The temperature has pummelled down to just over 14 °C and a very strong wind making outdoor activity very difficult. Tried a few circuits of the Lido Deck but gave up and got dressed for breakfast. Most of us are now in long pants and cardigans or jackets - that's while indoors - on deck it is jumpers and waterproofs.
Decided to photograph the atrium area while waiting for Lindsay's lecture on the port of Nagasaki in the Princess Theatre. This lecture was followed by William Robert's coverage of Korea's history up to the start of the Korean War.
Lunch in the Horizon Bistro where the theme was "Pub Food" featuring Fish and Chips and Bangers and Mash. We exercised great restraint and limited our intake.
Another 'Future Cruises' lecture pointing out all the options for sailing to and from Australian ports. Some are part of a regular schedule and there are 'one-offs' such as a repositioning from Sydney to Singapore when one of the ships is taken out of service for a two-week dry-dock overhaul.
Heather's lecture on the Surge in South Korea's Suicides was sparsely attended because her topic many have been distasteful and because it clashed with the "Trivia Tragics" - same enquiring minds ??
After dinner we had a chat with Heather as she provided us with her recommendations for Nagasaki, Osaka and Yokohama. I thought I was pretty good at planning these adventures but I'm not even second rate compared to her. Colour coded folders with brochures, personal notes and Internet pages for each port - and she's been here !!
Entertainment in the Theatre was the Comedy and Juggling of James Bustar - the 'juggling' was very clever, the 'comedy' was pathetic.
The pilot boards tonight and guides us into Shanghai to arrive at 0600 tomorrow, a very long slow trip in.

Posted by greynomadm 13:58 Comments (0)

Through the Taiwan Strait

Friday, 23 March 2012

Decided to do the Internet thing before 0600 this morning and it appears that the system responds better at that time. I just hope there are not too many others that get the same idea and crowd out that time slot.
No sign of a sun-rise we're sailing under a low cloud covering the whole sky. So no outdoor photography today. Decided to photograph the various art works displayed in the area of the forward stairwell.
Attended Lindsay's lecture on the port of Busan, it looks like there will be lots to see. Busan is the second largest city in Korea and is located on the South Eastern tip of the peninsula.
Attended another lecture by William Roberts who described the confusing battle of Midway and explained why this is considered the turning point of the war in the Pacific.
Lunch at the Horizon Bistro featured a German theme with an amazing range of sausages and also deserts. I scoffed down a kransky with saurkraut and bread dumplings and a piece of pork. Both of us pigged out on a slab of 'black forest cake' - all low-calorie of course.
After lunch a lecture by Heather on the change of leadership in Hong Kong and the China mainland this year. She also pointed out the rising level of discontent in China and the challenge this presents to the leadership.
A gathering of Veterans brought about 20 blokes out of the woodwork, there was a disproportionate number of Navy types.
Another great dinner, I begged off on the ice-cream tonight and had the cheese platter instead. Not sure which dish would have done the least harm to the midriff. Sea is a bit rough and there's a 47 knot wind which is causing the ship to move about somewhat.
Off to the Princess Theatre to listen to Roland Storm. He's a 60s rocker, now nudging 70 playing all the songs that fit right in with the age bracket of the audience. He certainly dragged out all the old songs and carried them very well. Lots of fun and a great show.
Had our passports returned today, we'll need them on Sunday to get into Shanghai. Some new stamps in there too from Hong Kong, Indonesia and Malaysia. There will be a few more before we get back home.

Posted by greynomadm 05:32 Comments (1)

Hong Kong Markets

Thursday, 22 March 2012

Up quite early this morning and up to the Lido for breakfast, back to the cabin and prepared to go ashore. Given our experience with the MRT yesterday we had no problem finding the train and made our way to the station near the flower market. It isn't quite what I expected, the 'market' consists of three city blocks of small shop-fronts selling flowers. The range and variety is quite incredible and one wonders how they can obtain so many identical blooms. Individual rose buds are encased in a mesh net and then bundled into bunches of matching colour. We spent almost two hours walking and gawking.
Back on the MRT to the area of the "Ladies' Market", but we're way too early, they don't actually start until noon and when we arrived they were busy setting up their stalls. We filled in some time at McDonald’s where I had the biggest Cappuccino ever. Back on the streets we found a photographic place that actually had genuine spare batteries for my Lumix Camera, they aren't readily available.
By 1130 many of the stalls had sprung to life and we managed to acquire some essential items such as a replacement rucksack, a cardigan for Jenny and a Chinese shirt for the forthcoming Asian Night.
Found our way back to the MRT station and back to the overseas terminal where jenny was looking for some gift wrap. One of the 'officials' in the complex guided us to a location information board. You touch this thing and a person's image appears on the screen and asks how she can help. You tell her what you're after and she tells you where to go and simultaneously draws a mark on the plan of the complex from where you are to where you have to go. Quite blows you away.
Back to the ship for lunch and tried to sort out our purchases and filled the afternoon resting our feet. We were due to depart at 1700 but didn't let go of the lines until almost 1730, by which time we were due for dinner so I didn't get to see Hong Kong on the way out.
After another excellent dinner we headed for the Vista Lounge to have a giggle with Mike Harris who was advertised as having a million laughs. He was OK but not great.

Posted by greynomadm 14:35 Comments (2)

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