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Random Notes, Mariner, 3/28-4/15/19, Shanghai-Tokyo--LIVE!*


Mr Rumor
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5 hours ago, Mr Rumor said:

At the hotel’s breakfast buffet just now.  Hey, it’s our birthday!  

 

 

No candles on the cakes? 🎂

Happy Birthday 🥂- Have a great day in Beijing 

 

Looking forward to your reports & photos

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So happy to be reading this blog! I have loved reading Mr. Rumor before.

Four of us (2 couples who met on the WC in 2017 and are traveling together)sailed recently on the Mariner from Singapore to Hong Kong, where we ALL (passengers) disembarked due to the charter of the Mariner from Hong Kong to Shanghai. We 4 have continued by land and air from Hong Kong to Beijing, Xi’an, a 3 day Yangtze River Cruise, and we now find ourselves in Shanghai.

 

Imagine our delight when we saw the Mariner docked here yesterday! Yes, she is here waiting for all of you to embark on the 28th. We, sadly, will not be here to see you off. We are continuing our journey tomorrow to Yangshuo and Guilin before returning to Hong Kong on April 1 and flying home on April 2.

Speaking for our foursome, we hope you all have smooth sailing and a wonderful time. We certainly did!

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15 hours ago, smg4412 said:

Today... The Forbidden City,  Tienneman Square and the Great Wall. A huge day for our “Bucket List”. 

 

14 hours ago, Mr Rumor said:

The buses are starting to line up for our big tour day—gotta run!

 

9 hours ago, flossie009 said:

The Forbidden City is truly amazing. Last time we were there we had to visit early, as later in the morning FLOTUS (Michelle Obama, now FFLOTUS) was visiting together with her mother (MILOTUS?).

The place was heaving with US Secret Service (very obvious, not that secret!)

The Forbidden City...I gotta say, it doesn't seem all that Forbidden with so many people going there!!!   :classic_tongue:

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Thanks Rachel... that was very kind.  I think it may be because you and I share the same profession. I’ve followed your blogs in the past with great interest. Deborah and I are doing a similar South America itinerary next February. 

 

And Rich... can’t believe I saw you a few hours ago and forgot it was yours and Ginny’s Birthday 😩. I’ve been known at times to be up in the “Space Shuttle” (just ask Deborah). Today was one of those days. Please forgive me. I lost track that we crossed the International Date Line getting here (like Phinneas Fogg in Around the World in 80 Days). So.... I kept thinking it was Monday. Of course, Deborah set me straight at dinner... As for our day in Beijing... that will come later..

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Steve, it was great checking in with you and Deborah at our unadvertised jade “shopping op” today.  As for our birthday, no worries—I didn’t give it a thought!  

 

You’re right, Flossie, the Forbidden City, Tian’anmen Square and a chunk of the Great Wall was a heckuva lot to cram into a one-day (10 hours and 15 minutes!) tour.  But it made for a (birth) day we’ll never forget.

 

Our ace guide Jason advised our group to stick to him “like sticky rice” in the Forbidden City due to the hordes of visitors, and we did just that on our one and a half hour glide-through.  

289145DE-B79E-4856-A3D0-0A78401FB840.thumb.jpeg.1c38d901893b819efafd13e3b0fa1f0b.jpeg

 

I was amazed at the vastness of the Forbidden City,  built in a mere 14 years (1406-1420) by one million laborers.  Here we are with one of the most famous buildings in the FC, the Hall of Supreme Harmony, looming in the distance.  Jason described it as “like the White House,” where the emperor had his important meetings, and where he celebrated his birthdays.

E2A52A96-E145-4D81-B3C0-F5FF27FD40CB.thumb.jpeg.19aea0a902833a2fd456ac38639c55d3.jpeg

 

Having done some refresher reading, I was aware of the fact that this year marks 30 years since the Student Movement of 1989, or as Jason put it, “the Tian’anmen Square movement.”  He was direct: “Don’t ask about it (when we’re there).  People are still pretty sensitive.”

 

But that was what was on my mind as we walked through the square, which is framed on three of the sides by Mao’s Mausoleum, the National Museum of China and the Great Hall of the People, where Mao and Nixon shook hands in 1972.  Then, suddenly, I found myself face to face with a uniformed group that Jason described as the “Riot Police,” apparently still on the march three decades later:

FA5B1360-EF9C-4E1D-9641-2C20BDD36769.thumb.jpeg.c65e30d6f1f32498e1ecd242337d30b4.jpeg

 

After lunch at that huge jade emporium, it was time to hit the Wall.  

 

Juyongguan Section is said to be one of the several best areas within a reasonable distance from Beijing to see and walk a portion of the Great Wall.  While most in our group turned right, into the sun, I suggested to Ginny and our friends Mark and Susan that we turn left.  Sixteen “Flights Climbed” later I had this shot:

B6758CDB-7BB2-49C7-9D94-2227D7C6388D.thumb.jpeg.b45b069a23e45b61a83d4fced006d29c.jpeg

 

On the walk back to the bus—a very careful walk, some of those steps are steep!—I invited Mark and Susan, Ginny, and a friendly gentleman who was just behind us to give me a wave:

666732C2-71B1-45F1-82D4-355021C356D6.thumb.jpeg.dcaa8c00f7da9579ae996a920227310f.jpeg

 

We returned to our hotel with just enough time freshen up and make our 7 p.m. birthday dinner reservation at the hotel’s Summer Palace restaurant. 

0E871227-C3D9-49EB-BAE6-8F46018745AB.thumb.jpeg.f84b8cab8db0f95f52a4076caaa2e152.jpeg

 

The restaurant had a couple of surprises for us at the end of our meal:  first, a traditional birthday soup called Longlife Noodles, and then a luscious fruit-topped cake.  No way we could eat the whole thing, so we brought two pieces over to two fellow cruisers sitting nearby who had been on our tour.  Lo and behold, they are fellow Roll Callers Mike and Bob, who have already posted on this blog!  We sat down for a chat, a nice way to end a wonderful day.

Edited by Mr Rumor
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What a fabulous birthday day!  Love the pictures!!  When we landed in Beijing, I think I saw the great wall from the plane, meandering in the mountains for miles and miles.  Is that possible?

 

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Agree, what a great birthday.  Lots to see and do in a short time.

 

Your pictures of Bejing, particularly those from your hotel room, suggest to me that the air looks clearer/cleaner than it was when we visited about 10 years ago.  

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Thank you for great photos, wonderful memories.  We saw the Forbidden City in similar circumstances some years ago whilst travelling independently with a guide, but more recently ending our Regent cruise in Beijing we had a free couple of hours on the Saturday afternoon before our Sunday morning flight home. We wandered over to the shopping mall attached to the hotel and spotted a signpost to the metro. No coats, no guidebook, no preparation...just a few coins to buy a ticket (two tickets 😉)  and ten minutes later we were in Tiananmen Square, pinching ourselves to check it wasn't a dream.  We ought to have got more from the guided tour and all of that but it's actually the low key scoot-through we remember best!   Have an amazing time - and many thanks for sharing your birthday with us!

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5 hours ago, forgap said:

What a fabulous birthday day!  Love the pictures!!  When we landed in Beijing, I think I saw the great wall from the plane, meandering in the mountains for miles and miles.  Is that possible?

 

Hi Jennifer, that subject came up on the bus yesterday, as it has been reported that the Great Wall is the only man made feature  that can be seen from space.  Jason went on to tell the story of a Chinese figure—I think an esteemed general—who, after returning from a space mission was asked if he, too, had seen the Wall.  His reply:  “No”.  According to Jason, this caused quite a stir in China, with many whispering that the general must be losing his eyesight!

 

UPDATE:  Ginny had this to add:  A second Chinese astronaut did see the Great Wall, according to Jason, but only on the “24th attempt,” when atmospheric conditions were just right.  (It was a long time in the bus, I must have tuned out for a moment and missed this!)

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4 hours ago, RJ2002 said:

Your pictures of Bejing, particularly those from your hotel room, suggest to me that the air looks clearer/cleaner than it was when we visited about 10 years ago.  

We were braced for much worse, and have been pleasantly surprised that we can see blue sky (the temperature has been perfect for us,  too:  cool in the mornings, warming to the low 70s).  It was smoggiest at the Great Wall.

 

The hotel’s cafe posts a daily air-quality report.  Yesterday’s read: “Moderate.  Air quality is acceptable; however, for some pollutants there may be a moderate health concern who are unusually sensitive to air pollution.”

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2 hours ago, Gilly said:

Thank you for great photos, wonderful memories.  We saw the Forbidden City in similar circumstances some years ago whilst travelling independently with a guide, but more recently ending our Regent cruise in Beijing we had a free couple of hours on the Saturday afternoon before our Sunday morning flight home. We wandered over to the shopping mall attached to the hotel and spotted a signpost to the metro. No coats, no guidebook, no preparation...just a few coins to buy a ticket (two tickets 😉)  and ten minutes later we were in Tiananmen Square, pinching ourselves to check it wasn't a dream.  We ought to have got more from the guided tour and all of that but it's actually the low key scoot-through we remember best!   Have an amazing time - and many thanks for sharing your birthday with us!

My pleasure, Gilly, and thanks for the kind words!

 

And thanks for sharing your Beijing story (I think I recall now reading it?).  As I noted above, it was a very long time in the bus yesterday as Beijing is so massive—23 million population, 5.5 million cars—and I thought there is no way I would want to strike out on my own in this city.  Your story helped me to open my mind!

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Well we weren’t in space as we approached Beijing but I was certainly spacey after the long flight!  We also saw the Gobi dessert, I think.   And, yes, I expected much worse air pollution.  It seemed far worse in Bangkok than China but we were immersed in diesel fumes on a tuk tuk ride!  

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I have a couple of minutes before we go down to an early breakfast—we’re off at eight for a tour of the Temple of Heaven, then it’s to the airport for our flight to Shanghai—so I want to do this quick post about China’s internet restrictions.  I found this card on my desk just after we checked in:

DB339DF0-0DE7-4E4C-AEAA-1C71794CFC56.thumb.jpeg.79d43b5e072d07eb64feeca2e4557e45.jpeg

 

Like many of you, I have a VPN so I thought I’d be fine.  I’m not (although I note that at least one of our Roll Callers was immediately successful at the airport in accessing one or more of the above sites with his VPN). Apparently, China has had success neutralizing many of the VPNs, including the one I subscribe to, Private Internet Access.  So, I’m Facebook and Google deprived until we board the Mariner, and determined that if we ever return to China to do a better job of researching which VPNs currently work in China!

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@Mr Rumor when we returned from China, I had to reset a whole lot of passwords and the like - your experience is a useful reminder to be prepared for that.  And I might add that my dh is the least spontaneous person I know, so quite how we made that crazy journey on the metro, I have no idea (he blamed/credited me 😎)  

 

So glad you're experiencing above-average air quality.  It makes such a difference!  

 

(and my word, you're hitting the ground running, aren't you?  Off to Shanghai already!?!)

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Rich.. We are able to get FB and Google on our AT&T cellular plan, but not on Wi-Fi here. Of course, we’re paying $10 per day for the privilege. 

 

I love your your description of yesterday’s tour. I’ll piggyback back on your insightful narrative and add some personal observations. The Forbidden City was much larger than we expected. With the crowds, it had a certain “Disneyland” flavor, eithout the smells. What impressed us was how respectful the crowd was. The history, as you described, is fascinating. Last night, I kept seeing concubines and eunuchs in my dreams. At my age, not a vision to which I look forward.

 

Tiananmen Square, I must say, was a disappointment. There seemed to be “no there, there”. Just another large, sterile square in a one time Communist country.  Maybe it was because I kept seeing visions of 1989. Also, there was just  too much “Mao”!! Not one of my favorite guys. But that is an “outside issue” here.

 

Deborah tells me I have to finish packing, in order to get ready for our flight to Shanghai. Also need to get down to breakfast and check out of the room. So... more on the Great Wall and dinner last night to follow... Steve

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10 hours ago, Mr Rumor said:

Steve, it was great checking in with you and Deborah at our unadvertised jade “shopping op” today.  As for our birthday, no worries—I didn’t give it a thought!  

 

You’re right, Flossie, the Forbidden City, Tian’anmen Square and a chunk of the Great Wall was a heckuva lot to cram into a one-day (10 hours and 15 minutes!) tour.  But it made for a (birth) day we’ll never forget.

 

Our ace guide Jason advised our group to stick to him “like sticky rice” in the Forbidden City due to the hordes of visitors, and we did just that on our one and a half hour glide-through.  

289145DE-B79E-4856-A3D0-0A78401FB840.thumb.jpeg.1c38d901893b819efafd13e3b0fa1f0b.jpeg

 

I was amazed at the vastness of the Forbidden City,  built in a mere 14 years (1406-1420) by one million laborers.  Here we are with one of the most famous buildings in the FC, the Hall of Supreme Harmony, looming in the distance.  Jason described it as “like the White House,” where the emperor had his important meetings, and where he celebrated his birthdays.

E2A52A96-E145-4D81-B3C0-F5FF27FD40CB.thumb.jpeg.19aea0a902833a2fd456ac38639c55d3.jpeg

 

Having done some refresher reading, I was aware of the fact that this year marks 30 years since the Student Movement of 1989, or as Jason put it, “the Tian’anmen Square movement.”  He was direct: “Don’t ask about it (when we’re there).  People are still pretty sensitive.”

 

But that was what was on my mind as we walked through the square, which is framed on three of the sides by Mao’s Mausoleum, the National Museum of China and the Great Hall of the People, where Mao and Nixon shook hands in 1972.  Then, suddenly, I found myself face to face with a uniformed group that Jason described as the “Riot Police,” apparently still on the march three decades later:

FA5B1360-EF9C-4E1D-9641-2C20BDD36769.thumb.jpeg.c65e30d6f1f32498e1ecd242337d30b4.jpeg

 

After lunch at that huge jade emporium, it was time to hit the Wall.  

 

Juyongguan Section is said to be one of the several best areas within a reasonable distance from Beijing to see and walk a portion of the Great Wall.  While most in our group turned right, into the sun, I suggested to Ginny and our friends Mark and Susan that we turn left.  Sixteen “Flights Climbed” later I had this shot:

B6758CDB-7BB2-49C7-9D94-2227D7C6388D.thumb.jpeg.b45b069a23e45b61a83d4fced006d29c.jpeg

 

On the walk back to the bus—a very careful walk, some of those steps are steep!—I invited Mark and Susan, Ginny, and a friendly gentleman who was just behind us to give me a wave:

666732C2-71B1-45F1-82D4-355021C356D6.thumb.jpeg.dcaa8c00f7da9579ae996a920227310f.jpeg

 

We returned to our hotel with just enough time freshen up and make our 7 p.m. birthday dinner reservation at the hotel’s Summer Palace restaurant. 

0E871227-C3D9-49EB-BAE6-8F46018745AB.thumb.jpeg.f84b8cab8db0f95f52a4076caaa2e152.jpeg

 

The restaurant had a couple of surprises for us at the end of our meal:  first, a traditional birthday soup called Longlife Noodles, and then a luscious fruit-topped cake.  No way we could eat the whole thing, so we brought two pieces over to two fellow cruisers sitting nearby who had been on our tour.  Lo and behold, they are fellow Roll Callers Mike and Bob, who have already posted on this blog!  We sat down for a chat, a nice way to end a wonderful day.

Jenny, our Chinese daughter,says you have to eat noodles on your birthday.  I gladly complied today, and amhappy you did as well.

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On 3/25/2019 at 2:25 PM, Mr Rumor said:

Before turning in (body-time-wise, I realize we’ve just pulled an all-nighter):  

 

The gentleman you see on the right in the Regent-sign photo above is Jason, who, it turns out, will be our “Shanghai and the Great Wall” guide.  We’re happy about being assigned to him—we had a one in six chance, giving you an idea of how many passengers chose this pre-tour—after getting a taste of his refreshing, non-party-line commentary on the mostly one-hour bumper-to-bumper drive from the airport to the China World.

 

A sampling:

 

Don’t use big bills when buying souvenirs, as your change could be fake yuans.  At the front desk I exchanged many of my 100-yuan bills for 10s and 20s.

 

Don’t drink the tap water—“it’s undrinkable.”

 

Brace yourself for “a million people around wherever you go.”

 

Be prepared for other aspects of “culture shock,” i.e., “a lot of spitting on the ground,” “cutting in line.”  He added, “You may risk your life crossing a busy road.”

 

Watch out for pickpockets!

 

G’night!

And be prepared for very dirty toilets!!  Not in your hotel of course but during sightseeing!  About the worst I have ever seen...

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Wes, thanks for the Myammar check-in and hope you’re having a fantastic time!

 

Hi from the Portman Ritz Carlton in Shanghai.  We had a drizzly welcome following the roughly two hour flight from Beijing aboard a China Eastern Airbus.  Our wonderful guide Jason accompanied us, but for our half-day Shanghai excursion tomorrow (Yuyuan Garden and Jade Buddha Temple followed by lunch at a local restaurant) before boarding the Mariner, he’ll share guide duties with an associate, Celina, a Shanghai resident.

 

We had one stop on our Beijing schedule this morning before heading for the airport, a visit to the Temple of Heaven.  Built in 1420, the same year that the Forbidden City opened, the temple was used by emperors in both the Ming and Qing dynasties to pray for bumper harvests and favorable rain. Today the grounds of the temple are very popular with the locals, especially the many scores who come each day to play cards and other games of chance.  We passed literally a football field’s worth of active games like this one as we made our way to the Temple’s most important building, the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvest:

33A03B0E-2E11-4F67-BF42-4259C1589555.thumb.jpeg.61d5ebc8e8347a2ad9b116f83a903366.jpeg

 

As we stood taking in the Hall a few minutes later I felt someone brush up against me.  A pickpocket?  Noooooo, it was a local who was maneuvering her way into a photo with me!

 

I was happy to oblige, then asked her and her four lady friends if I could turn the tables and photograph them with Ginny and fellow tour member Patsy:

064B3C52-DF2A-4532-86AA-CB6BDD8E9B49.thumb.jpeg.f70581a50cc5fb689c5c3e9b33412588.jpeg

 

A few minutes later a group of schoolchildren took their spots on the steps leading up to the Hall.  They were a happy bunch, and I was delighted to capture them at their giddiest: 

01F3A61B-B7B8-45BF-8630-FDE5B5AA3187.thumb.jpeg.59abbda7ffd38c6bcf78fbb34d4f4b11.jpeg

 

Unless I think of something to post about from the hotel tomorrow morning, the next time you will hear from me is from aboard the Mariner.  I feel real happy about that—just about as happy as any of those kids!

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16 hours ago, WesW said:

Wishing Ginny and you Fair Winds and Following Seas on your Asian adventure from Myanmar now onboard the Silver Shadow

cfa962d003d9ff0e16f0675c6234b4e6.jpg


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

I know that look. Same one in Bali at New Years on Mariner cruise!

Edited by briar14
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From the Now It Can Be Told Department:  

 

I wrote my post last night alone in room 1807 of the Portman Ritz-Carlton.  Where was Ginny? On the way to the Shanghai airport with Jason to retrieve the camera she had left on China Eastern Flight 5112!  

 

I would have accompanied Ginny, but I had an issue myself I needed to deal with:  I had apparently eaten something that was, ummm, causing me some discomfort.  More on that in a moment (but not too much more!). . .

 

It had already been a bit of a disconcerting day for each of us in terms of keeping track of our stuff.  Ginny was convinced she had earlier left her Regent hat and a pair of prescription sunglasses at the Beijing airport (it turned out she was right—they’re in the airport’s lost and found, according to Jason, and we won’t be bothering about them).

 

Then as we got the call to board our China Eastern flight I sprung out of my seat and started to stride toward the gate.  “You’re forgetting something,” Ginny said, handing me my “personal item,” a small bag containing my iPad, and other important items.

 

It was while we were waiting for the bus at the Shanghai airport that would transport us to our hotel that Ginny realized she had apparently lost her hat/glasses.  Just trying to console her on the bus, I said, “Well at least you have your camera—that’s the important item.”  Wrong.

 

The smartest thing we could have done was put the matter in the hands of Jason once we arrived at the Ritz-Carlton.  He sprung into action, photographing Ginny’s boarding pass and immediately calling the airport.  Feeling punky, I had to excuse myself and leave them in the lobby.  Ginny returned to the room shortly thereafter with the good news the camera was in L and F and could she have some yuan for cab fare.

 

It was a good two hours before she returned, camera in hand.  She was positively bubbly after a great conversation with Jason to and fro.  Meanwhile, I had good news to share myself:  I had nuked what was an apparent budding bacterial infection with a single Cipro!

 

During her wide-ranging conversation with Jason, Ginny mentioned that Route 66 came up.  It turns out that Jason, like Ginny’s  friend Yasuo, is a Route 66 enthusiast who intends to drive the length of it one day.  So we have dipped into our bag of Yasuo-bound Route 66 souvenirs and will divert a few to Jason.  Inside a cool Route 66 purse we’ll be giving him a handwritten coupon to share our favorite Route 66 haunts in the Land of Enchantment with him when he eventually makes it our way. (And, yes, today we will also be thanking Jason not only for his help with the camera but also his sterling work as a guide since Monday with a generous gift of yuan.)

 

So what are our takeaways from yesterday?  We did good by getting a fresh Rx for Cipro, but we’re got to do better job of keeping track of our stuff while we’re on the move!  As Yasuo reminded us (see earlier post, and, yes, I scoffed about his comment then):  “We old now!”

 

Great to have you back, little Canon. . .

F4A9275A-0C05-48E4-9A0B-9EB6CB3850B0.thumb.jpeg.c9fc25c2d94c4a9f9d9ad7ae54202094.jpeg

Edited by Mr Rumor
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