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Everything posted by Tigerlily75

  1. Do you want to know what I did this morning? I shipped 5.93 kilograms of clothes home by sea to make room for more shopping 👀. It cost 5500 yen. I’ll see them in a few months! (I hope).
  2. Fukuoka (Hakata) Japan I had written down a few things to do here, and so we decided at the last minute to go to Nanzoin to see the rather huge reclining Buddha. It was a nice little trip to the country side! We got the ships paid shuttle to the train station and promptly got very lost within Hakata station. A very nice man noticed us looking lost and not only offered to help but then escorted us (a good ten minutes) (we were really really lost) to the right place. Not only did he escort us, he did so in a manual wheelchair, all the way to the right gate. People are so kind! Nanzoin and the reclining Buddha: Green tea ice cream. We’ve eaten a lot of ice cream in Japan! It’s on every corner and very good. On our way back to the station, just look at this guy: The train station: Back at Hakata Station, where there was a farmers market going on. Lucky, because I had nearly forgotten to buy the most prized strawberries in Japan, grown in Fukuoka! More cuties: The view from the Westerdam!
  3. We have been so blessed with the weather! I only wore my thermals in Shanghai, most days we’ve ended up in tshirts by the afternoon. I’m sorry you had to miss this trip, and hope you can book again!
  4. A week or two before your trip I would search “latest information IC/transit cards Japan (or first port)”. People are constantly posting updates on blogs and YouTube. You could also ask at the train station. However if you can’t get one, or can’t get one straight away, you won’t be stuck. You can use cash for everything, and many locals do so it won’t be unusual. You can buy train tickets at the ticket machines which have an English option, and you can pay the bus driver directly (upon exiting). For the bus you need exact change, however they have a little change machine on the bus. At shops and restaurants you can also pay cash, or often you can use Mastercard/Visa. The best ATM’s for foreign cards is inside convenience stores, and they are everywhere.
  5. There was a shortage of chips that go in the physical cards, hence the recommendation for Welcome Suica for which there’s a limited supply for tourists. But that’s only if you need a physical card. You don’t need a physical card to add to your Apple Wallet. Just open the wallet, click the plus sign, choose transit cards, and then choose Suica. Then you can add yen to it straight from Apple Pay, wait a few seconds for it to update and you’re good to go. It will automatically be in “express mode”, which means when you want to use it, you don’t need to open the wallet, or double click or use Face ID. You just tap your phone to the machine and it will read/pay automatically. When using it for transit, you’ll tap as you go through the gates (or get on the bus at the rear entrance), and it will say “card read, trip in progress”. Then as you exit the gates (or the bus at the front) you tap again and then you are charged for your trip. For paying in convenience stores etc, just say “Suica”, then tap the machine when it’s ready. In shops and restaurants there’s usually signs showing symbols of what payment methods are accepted, ie visa or Mastercard, if it says “IC Cards” or has the Suica symbol you can use it.
  6. The only place I got cash for in advance was China, because we were going straight to Disneyland and China is tricky when you’re not local. So I also had Alipay etc as back up. For there I got about $150aud worth for a 2 day stop. We ended up using Alipay for a few things, like a dumpling place that didn't accept cash. For the rest I used ATM’s when I got there, and I just guess how much I’ll need and then get out more if I need to. In Korea we used cards to pay for shopping, and I got out I think 40,000 won for street food. We still had 7,000 won when heading back to the shuttle bus, so we just found someone to give it to on the way. Japan is easy, because most of the ports were in Japan plus we have 10 days in Tokyo. So I just withdrew 50000 yen the first go. But I also added Suica to my Apple wallet and it’s amazing how many places you can use it. I don’t need nearly as much cash as I thought, although the ramen restaurant tonight was cash only, so you do need some! You can top up Suica directly in your wallet any time, it takes about two seconds. You can use this for transport, convenience stores, vending machines, some restaurants and some shopping. You don’t have to open the wallet, just tap your phone straight to the machine to pay and you’re good to go. It’s the fastest and easiest method of payment for sure. And some places of course accept visa/mastercard also.
  7. BUSAN SOUTH KOREA Oh my beating heart. I hadn't paid much attention to this port stop. I’ve been to Korea multiple times, and given it was only one day in the country, other places on the itinerary - like Shanghai and Japan had really taken over planning. I had thought we might visit Gamcheon Culture Village (spoiler: we didn’t) but other than that, the only real plan was to visit Olive Young for my daughters shopping spree (I assume you all know about Korean skincare, right?). So it wasn’t until we stepped off the ship that something came over me. like I suddenly just realized OH MY GOD I’M IN KOREA. I was sooo excited. I love Korea. I love the food, the music, the culture, the history, the art. I even love the alphabet and how they just decided to make a whole new one one day, and they based it on science and you can actually learn it in about three hours. And did I mention the food?! The food is SO GOOD! So we shopped, and we ate. And ate. And ate. And then we went back to the ship so happy. if you haven’t been to Korea before, you should! And not just for one day on a cruise ship. Busan! Gimbap for breakfast! But it was only the beginning!
  8. Still in Nagasaki, we left Chinatown and headed to Glover Garden. Both Chinatown and Glover Garden are easy walking distance from the ship. Some nice views there too! some stops along the way Views from the gardens. We then wandered into this surprise little museum:
  9. Nagasaki continued: We then took a public bus back to Chinatown. This was February 10 and the Lunar New Year! Celebrations were in full swing. Public transport is very easy in Japan. And especially easy if you’ve added a Suica card to your Apple wallet. Suica is the best thing since sliced bread.
  10. Nagasaki, Japan Our arrival: We took a cute little street car to the Atomic Bomb Museum and Peace Park. It was very moving. Despite everything behind it, all I could think about was the people there, going about their daily lives, and the moment everything stopped:
  11. Kagoshima continued: We got the shuttle ($25) which dropped us near the ferry port. Here I entered my first konbini and fell in love with Japan: We caught the ferry over to Sakurajima, home to a very active volcano We took the local shuttle bus around the island, which operates like a hop on hop off bus, stopping at various interest/viewpoints along the way: Back at the ferry terminal on Sakurajima, we took a walk (all uphill!) to a dinosaur park, which seemed partly abandoned and/or partly under construction. But it was still fun to visit. For as long as I’ve known her, my daughter has loved dinosaurs Back at the terminal, it was time for some “ash cream” - ice cream dusted with volcanic ash, before heading back to the ship.
  12. Kagoshima, Japan All the horror stories about immigration in Japan fortunately didn’t pan out for us, it went pretty quickly and pretty smoothly. Here is our arrival:
  13. So here’s some random food/ship photos before our arrival into Kagoshima, our first port in Japan:
  14. Sorry all - I will finish this! Kudos to anyone who actually does it live, it’s harder than it looks! We were so tired every night. We are now in Tokyo. The cruise was great. I loved the food and the staff are excellent. The ship itself is beautiful, and our cabin was great. Especially the water pressure in the shower! I won’t be able to comment too much on the entertainment, as it turned out we didn’t attend much at all. Being a port intensive cruise, by the time we finished late-seating dinner, we were ready for bed! Or at least, downtime and then bed. I did attend one dance show and a magician. All the ports were great, and we were blessed with such great weather. My one small complaint was the port talks were a waste of time. Often contradictory and the cruise director seemed confused by the most basic of questions. For example he didn’t know what Suica or Pasmo cards were, and for Busan he told us the shuttle was free (it wasn’t ) and then said it would drop us off at X, then later said the drop off point is near Y, and these two places were an hour apart! So trying to plan our days was a bit harder and felt like mystery surprise days, but hey they always turned out well, so in the end it didn’t really matter. Overall, my daughter who wasn’t so keen on cruising before would definitely cruise again after this - “but not on Carnival” she said lol. She really loved HAL. I’ve saved the dailies and will photograph them (though I only have my iPhone) and I’ll get back to the ports in just a moment!
  15. And now for Shanghai proper - day 2. This was a bit of a disappointment, not the city itself but how little time we had there! We were docked at Wusongkou Cruise Port, and the free shuttle takes about an hour each way. The last shuttle back was at 3pm. Of course, you don’t want to cut it too fine, so we wanted to be back at the shuttle stop by 2.30pm latest. So maybe 4-5 hours in the city. We went to the Yu Gardens first, then wandered through old town. Old town is beautiful with lots of lovely shops, and decorated for Chinese New Year. We could have spent a fortune here! And would have if we had more time! Then we took the metro to the Shanghai Propaganda Poster Center, wow is this a hidden spot and a little hidden gem. It had moved from its original location, so I had to guess from peoples comments online, and made myself this little map to get there from the Jing’an Temple. Basically just roughly guessing where it was. Well, it was correct, and a little weird to walk into a random building and just hop in the elevator to the seventh floor like I belonged there. But there it was! No photos allowed, but I bought the postcard pack! Then we caught a DiDi (like Uber) back to the park near the shuttle stop, and walked part of the Bund. You can’t download the DiDi chuxing app anymore, but you can use the mini DiDi app inside Alipay. I had attached my Australian Mastercard to Alipay and it worked perfectly! Then we wandered old town again and had to get a soup dumpling, the large xiao long bao you stick a straw in! Alipay again to the rescue, they did not accept cash. Back to the shuttle at about 2.30. We read my plan for the day again when we got back, and couldn’t stop laughing at what I had thought we could fit in versus what we actually did! But still, it was a fun day. We got to ride the metro, take a DiDi, eat soup dumplings, see old Chinese architecture, glance at a temple, do a little bit of shopping and see the (somewhat smoggy) view of the tv tower!
  16. What a busy few days. I present to you.. SHANGHAI DISNEYLAND!! We made it!! And it was incredible. There was wonder and magic at every turn. So much detail, beautiful costumes, shows, parades, theming, happiness everywhere. If you ever go, DO NOT MISS Pirates of the Caribbean. Amazing. Also, get a free standby pass for the Mickeys Storybook show when you enter, it was great. The staff were amazing and kind. There’s not much English but it’s totally fine, charades is a universal language! If you need the wifi for the app, go to guest services and they will set it up for you (you need a Chinese phone number) and get your pass for Mickeys Storybook. We had our home phone plans, but still needed some help. There are people there that speak English. For the females, when you enter a toilet block, there’s western toilets at the end. (good to know, right?) We used Mr Orange Transfers to drive us there and pick us up after the fireworks. They were fantastic!! It was like having friends in China. With all the passport angst I asked them and they rang Disneyland for me. They also gave us weather reports and clothing recommendations and stayed in touch the whole way through. Just great. We got our passports back at the very last minute. But somebody else got in fine with the stamped copy! Ok, here’s the pics:
  17. I believe ocean bar is all carpet, I will check again when down there next. There’s ballroom dancing around 5pm in the rolling stone lounge. Will double check that too. I will come back for a proper update soon, it’s been a very busy time in Shanghai!
  18. Bye Hong Kong.. taxi to the port from Eaton HK - HKD$108 (US$14) Hello Westerdam!
  19. And some last pictures from around town. The star ferry, Peninsula Hotel, Pottinger Street, a dragon lantern And the offerings at McDonald’s! some streetscapes:
  20. Finishing up in Hong Kong - I totally could have stayed another week or two! We skipped the hotel breakfast again (seriously, don’t book a hotel package with breakfast in a place full of good food, it’s just a waste!) and headed out for dim sum: It was so good!
  21. A quick update on the passport situation. I spoke to a lovely man at guest services, and the passports are with Chinese immigration officials who are onboard processing them. He understood our situation perfectly and they’ve had this problem before. Bottom line - it’s up to the Chinese officials if the actual passport will be released in time, it’s really out of HAL’s hands. We will be given a stamped copy of our passport, and can only hope we get the actual passport too. He took our cabin number and will follow up with us. If not, we can then hope the fact our copy is stamped by immigration officials might be enough. I suspect not, but we could always try. And failing all that, then we just don’t go into the park. That’s just the way things go when travelling to foreign lands. And we already know we’d like to come back to China in the future and see it properly, so we could always just do it then!
  22. We are on board and sailing! It’s a little rocky, hoping my SeaBands stand the test of time. I will be back later to update properly and post the last of my Hong Kong photos. Meanwhile I need to finish my coffee, shower and get myself coherent before heading to guest services to beg for my passport for Shanghai. Shanghai Disneyland will absolutely not let us in without a physical passport. They don’t accept copies. HAL already made us get unnecessary visas by not telling us until yesterday that the 144 hour visa free channel will indeed be open, they can at least give me my passport with my visa inside! There’s a Shanghai port talk and Q&A at 10am, which sadly clashes with the cruise critic meet and greet. But if guest services don’t really know the answer I might have to skip it and go seek an answer there, which would be a shame. Stay tuned! On the upside - the ship is beautiful, our upgraded cabin is fantastic, and dinner was delicious! It’s going to be a great cruise. More later!
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