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Live Blog: Millennium 30 March 2019 - Shanghai to Tokyo

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Day 3: Shanghai Part 2

Taking Portia’s advice, I had tried to arrange a later pick up time for our evening boat tour as it was now 4.15pm and our pickup was set for 5pm. I got a text message saying okay, but as it turned out it wasn’t. We were luckily ready at 5pm, Jenny and AL who had gone down to the lobby at 5pm sent a message saying we need to come ASAP as the tour guide was worried that the Friday afternoon traffic was going to make us late for the boat. We manged to get away about 20 minutes late and arrived at the dock about 15 minutes later. 

 

Zan was our tour guide, and he was lively! Full of information and so much energy. He was relieved that the traffic was light and we had plenty of time. He was telling us that he had tried to pre-book the tickets but was told he couldn’t, so he had rung a ‘friend’ who organised the tickets for us. The word ‘money’ was mentioned in this sentence too and I figure the time when he disappeared from our view (about 10 minutes) had something to do with finalising some sort of transaction! We joined the queue to board the ship and waited for the gate to open. 

 

Our tickets were checked, and we had our first experience of what I can only call a ‘Chinese rush’. The pace was on to get a position early at the next barrier where we had to wait again. At this area, a man and his family who had been ahead of us at the first barrier but whom we passed, appeared in the queue, literally pushing people out out the way to get ahead in the queue. He tried to push ahead of two women in front of us but they weren’t having any of it, giving him the evil eye, and telling him to stop. He got just ahead of us, with his family queued up beside us. The second barrier went down and the race was on. It was apparently to get the best position for the views but as it turned out, there was plenty of standing room on the top deck where we were headed. 

 

It was chilly but okay with three layers on including a down jacket, and better than last night where it was freezing and raining. The boat tour shows you the Huangpu riverside in all its glory - and here the difference between 1984 and today was stark. The side of the hotel opposite the Peace Hotel was mudflats and fields in 1984 and now it is a symbol of Shanghai’s growth and development as a city and business centre.  We sailed up one side of the river and then along the other side, with a lightshow of flickering and changing lights along the bund. Spectacular. 

 

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Looking back towards the Bund

 

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Monument to People’s Heroes

 

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Looking back towards the Bund with Light Show - the darker river boats were everywhere along the river, transporting coal, among other things.87052DD6-E8A9-4345-A4C3-0B110A605B82.thumb.jpeg.ca65e9de0eb268985dc4c9b02febe7d1.jpeg

Oriental World Tower

 

The trip was about 45 minutes and we walked along the waterfront to the agreed meeting place for the van who was picked us up. Five minutes later we were on our way to the restaurant for dinner on the opposite side the river, the newer part of Shanghai. Traffice was heavy - it was around 7.30pm - and we had some experience of what driving in Shanghai was like — interesting. We arrived at the restaurant - a small frontage but it went on forever. We had a private room which was great and again, we were the only Westeners there.

 

Here Zan ordered for us again, and what a meal was had! The dishes kept coming. This was all halal food, and it was delicious. Every dish was superb, and when Zan asked us what our favourite was - we all agreed it was the chilli chicken - he ordered some more. There was a belly dancing performance which was good too, although I have to say the costumues were more modest than the ones I have seen in Australia. And as the universe usually decides, the bottle of red wind that Zan ordered was from a Geelong winery just near Melbourne - that always happens/ At one stage, the fight for control of the lazy susan got too much, and a bowl clipped a beer bottle right in front of me, and splashed over my iPhone, the table and my leg before I got stop it no harm was done.

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It was a great night. It was back to the hotel then, a long drive back across the river and up to our hotel further north, but we were soon back in our room and bed.

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On 3/28/2019 at 9:40 AM, musik07 said:

Looking forward to hearing about the revolution. I would love your opinion on the mattresses. I had posted on the revolution thread and got iffy answers. We have never had an issue on Celebrity with mattresses but on Royal my parents lug a topper to make it bearable, even after the revolution. I would love not to lug a topper to Alaska this summer so looking forward to an opinion! 

I checked this morning with everyone in our group (a grand total 6 people) and we all agreed we thought the mattresses are okay. I am a bit sensitive to firm mattresses but the one on our bed is fine - not too soft, not too hard. The pillows though are way to soft for my liking.

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A few comments on the ship. From my perspective, the revolution has created a ship that is just . I may not have a fine eye for design though, but I didn’t see any glaring issues as I walked around today. There is a bit of a lack of attention in some places, like the wall finishes in Tuscan Grill entry where the tiling doesn’t seem to have been finished, but generally everything ticks boxes for me. My sister says the new staterooms are great, and she really likes the new colour tones and the more modern decor. She has sailed on Solstice before.

 

Alan hates the new OceanView Cafe but I don’t mind it. The circular nature of the serving areas means until you find out where everything you want is, you can walk in circles for a while. I like the mixture of furniture styles, although today at lunch when it was really busy - about 1-2pm, there were still people wandering around looking for a table, but it seemed like there was a lot more seating than before.

 

But the gym is way smaller that the gyms on other ships. It was crowded this morning when I up there and it feels claustrophobic. There’s no lack of equipment but it’s clustered close together in some places and finding floor space for mat work was a bit tricky today, but then it was a sea day.

 

As others have said, and we all agree, that the staff is wonderful. Friendly, smiling, nothing too much trouble. 

 

I’ll post other comments as they come to me, so I’ll finish for now.

 

 

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On 3/31/2019 at 8:57 AM, mazza said:

I checked this morning with everyone in our group (a grand total 6 people) and we all agreed we thought the mattresses are okay. I am a bit sensitive to firm mattresses but the one on our bed is fine - not too soft, not too hard. The pillows though are way to soft for my liking.

Thank you so much. My mom and I had decided we would have had to pre-ship a mattress topper to vancouver becuase of luggage limitations so this assures us a bit that we will be fine without! I know it is subjective but if EVERYONE is saying the are awful that has to count for something. 

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Following. I’m enjoying your live review very much. We sailed on Millie for our first cruise (2006) and we’re to sail her again in 2021. I wish DH and I could go on a cruise with my siblings. We’re very close, though we’re separated by many miles. It’s lovely to see you all together🙂

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Seoul, South Korea

The sunrise this morning was quite good:

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Incheon Sunrise

 

This was an early start as we had to be in the Theatre at 7.30am. I'll post the information we got about the Immigration process for the cruise when I've finished this post, but basically we had to go through South Korean immigration either independently or as part of your tour group this morning between 7.15-9.15am. You surrender your passport so the ship can process our arrival in Beijing, then at some stage we get our passports back because we have to have them with us while we are doing the multi-day tours. You can come back on board at night while the ship is docked in Tianjin but you can't go ashore between 10pm and 6am. We hand back passports so the ship can manage the Tianjin departure. It's a bit convoluted, but it seemed to work okay this morning.

 

It was freezing cold this morning when we we escorted out on the deck to get to the Rendezvous Lounge from the Theatre and avoid the queue, and it remained cold whenever we were in the open air - very cold, especially in the wind. Our tour guide, Joanne, said it was unusual for it to be this cold at this time of the year.

 

I booked the Art of Seoul tour because I wanted some history, as well as some down time to do your own thing (AKA shopping). Our bus ride to Seoul was about 90 minutes, with a fair bit of traffic in places and Joanne provided lots of information about Seoul and life/culture in South Korea. Our first stop was the National Palace Museum of Korea which is interesting because the palace had been demolished in 1993 because someone didn't like the architecture - more or less. It is a good place to immerse yourself in Korean history and learn of the kings and emperors, invasions and treaties that have marked Korea's history. It has artefacts from the Josean dynasty and for those of us interested in history, it was a great place to visit.

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King's Placenta Jar, kept for posterity

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Royal Throne

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Formal dress

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Gate to Gyeongbokgung Place

 

Joanne is a school teacher so she lined us up in two rows to walk to the National Museum of Korean Contemporary History across Gyeongbokgung Place, quite a large square where we got our first of many glimpses of young Koreans dressed up in rented national dress to have their photos taken at various historical places we went to in Seoul. 

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National dress rental store

 

The Contemporary Museum focused on history from the early 19th century and took us through to the modern day. It too was an interesting and useful way to get a snapshot about Korean history in an hour, including the invasions, resistance movements and treaties that have marked Korea's history.

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Leaving Gyeongbokgung Place

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An early resistance newspaper

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The start of the 38th parallel border

 

Next stop was an old street with modern stores where we had free time (eg shopping). Alan and I stayed in Starbucks because he wasn't 100% with aches and a fever. Although he's been taking paracetamol to keep it in check, he's feeling tired and isn't in the mood for shopping and neither am I. There weren't two seats together when we walked in I ordered as Alan worked to get two chairs together. Just as he finished, three nice South Korean men reorganised themselves so that we could sit at a table. That was nice. We sit by chance next to a Canadian couple visiting their daughter and son-in-law in Seoul, both cruisers too, so we had a nice chat before they left. Not long after Jenny and Elizabeth arrived to pick us up and we were back to the bus and off to lunch.

 

Lunch was Korean BBQ at the Maple Tree House (part of the tour). Joanne asked for volunteers to sit up the stairs (imagine her counting many stairs upwards as though it was a long climb) and we did along with two either. As it turned out another Celebrity bus arrived and downstairs was chaos Joanne told us when whe came to visit along with two other people. Lunch was wonderful - cooked at the table with rice and a range of sides. There were two servings of the beef, which we helped cook ourselves. Yummy.622933281_IMG_0431(2).thumb.JPG.ad32c062c904eebe4d74737d8b370032.JPG

Steak cooking

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Steak eaten

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Maple Tree restaurant entrance

 

Back on the bus, we headed to our last stop - Buckchon Hanok Traditional Village - an enclave of old traditional houses in the centre of Seoul. There was a particular street where we walked up a steepish hill to get a view across Seoul from the top and then to take a closer look at the houses and alleys from the outside. People live here so there were signs everywhere saying to be quiet, as Joanne had alerted us to, and one man who, as you walked gently shussed us as we passed as a reminded. One of our group got her photo taken with the young people in traditional dress, so I took a photo of them too. There was a little wait here till the bus arrived and AL tried some local green tea ice cream which he proclaimed as delicious.

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Up we come

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Traditional houses and streets

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An example of young people in traditional dress

 

We then were off back to the port and after Joanne provided a little summary and some more information, she gave us 'nap time' which I think we all took advantage of. As we arrived in Incheon (meaning kind river), she gave some more info about the area and then we were back at the ship, earlier than usual by 30 minutes because the traffic was lighter than expected. A good tour despite the bus with a group of 40 with the Korean BBQ lunch as the highlight. Seoul is a very modern city, built up from Incheon to Seoul, busy vehicle and people wise, and very clean. It feels like a safe city that would be good to visit again.

 

There were several stalls on the pier with traditional South Korean arts, dress, craft and food, music and cute creatures waiting for us. That was nice. I got pulled up at security here because I'd left my phone in my pocket after taking a photo of the cute creatures so had to be screened again, but I don't mind that at all. Being able to tap your card is much quicker that having to hand it over to the security person to scan it too. 

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South Korean wares

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Cute creatures

 

We regathered in the Rendezvous Lounge for a pre-dinner drink, listening to the four person group with a female singer who sang 70s and 80s songs (matching the demographic of course!) before heading to Blu for dinner. We asked for Daniel again but it was quickly clear they were VERY busy tonight, as though something had gone wrong.I asked Daniel and he said yes he was busy but he was learning to cope with being busy with the help of his boss, all with a smile on his face. The filet mignon was the highlight here, beautiful, tender, melt in your mouth. Of course, my first attempt to take a food photo failed, but I've posed it anyway.

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Bad photo of filet mignon

 

Dessert was had, even though it was unnecessary, and we left the others at the table to retreat to the cabin and another failed attempt to upload this post, so I went to bed. 

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1 hour ago, Silkroad said:

Following. I’m enjoying your live review very much. We sailed on Millie for our first cruise (2006) and we’re to sail her again in 2021. I wish DH and I could go on a cruise with my siblings. We’re very close, though we’re separated by many miles. It’s lovely to see you all together🙂

I think we as a family are very lucky that we have always had a good relationship while our parents were alive even thought we too live miles (well kilometres for us) apart, but after our parents were no longer with us, that relationship actually got stronger and we agreed to holiday together once a year. It's really lovely being together in person again, and cruising is perfect for such reunions! 🙂

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A little more about the cabin beyond my initial thoughts. We are in 9106, and I am happy with the new style and decor generally, although some like Alan will baulk at the 'faux finishes'. The feeling I'm getting is more like being cocooned in this a comfortable yet not 'loud' space. It's just there and it's good to be in it - my view anyway. There is noise from above but it's incidental, background noise almost and certainly not enough to upset me (and excessive noise upsets me).

 

Now for some details. I am writing this at the desk which is long and narrow, and is now home for our electronics for charging. Two US and one European here and two USBs, so plenty of room and connections. That's not include the two US and four USBs in the bedside lamp, although once you put an adaptor plug in it's hard to get access to the USB points. The desk chair is comfortable and fits under the desk. The four drawers are unused, and the mirror over the desk is perfect when lit for makeup etc. 

 

What I'm calling the 'mini couch' is now home for our day bags and clothing waiting to be worn again. You could fit two people on here at a pinch and I don't miss the little table because we never have room service. The upside of smaller couch and no table is that it feels roomy in the space between the bed and the veranda door.

 

The balcony furniture is good, but it's been too cold to sit out there so far. It looks longer and narrower than the standard balcony on the S class. I don't think they did much to the underside of the overhang because it's got signs of rust.

 

As mentioned already the mattress on the bed is firm, but not so firm as to inflict hip pain and one firm mattress I had did. The pillows are way too soft for me but I love the new doona/quilt. Very snuggly. The bedside tables are fine and like others, I've put the phone on the shelf below. There's one shelf here I'm not using.

 

The safe is smaller - we are using it for our wallets and passports while our electronics are on the desk where we charge them when we go out. We've never had any problems leaving them out like this. We aren't using the cupboards above the well stocked fridge at all, and the four drawers next to the fridge we have used for pants, tops etc. The wardrobe is fine for what we brought - I've got the low hanging left hand side (no dresses) and Alan has the left hand side. I'm using the shelves for shoes and bags, and the space under Alan's clothes is for dirty clothes. We have only had one door clash with the bathroom door - I was standing at the wardrobe and Alan came out the bathroom, but it was no big deal.

 

The bathroom is small and perfectly formed. The open shelves work well, they are quite large, and the things we have put there have not moved one inch since we left Shanghai. There is some space too next to the sink and a good sized shelf under the sink which is where we put our toiletry bags. The shower is big, and the water does pool on the shower floor but there's no flooding of the room. The towels are nice and plush and for once Celebrity is following its long espoused environmental policy and not replacing towels if you hang them up. Not having somewhere to hang the bath mat is annoying, so we just leave it on the floor. Here too, there are signs on rust at some points on the door frame which appears to have a new cover over the old frame. There's also an adhesive covering on the door which still has air bubbles. I can't help but try and squish them out, but no success.

 

I won't include photos because there's been lots of them already but if you have any questions, or want a photo of something, let me know. I'll post on the next sea day about food and dining generally, after we've been to some more speciality restaurants. 

 

 

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A few things about the cabin I forgot. There is a place to hang the bath mat over the shower door - I realised that just now when I had a shower. When I looked on Day 1, I didn't look hard enough obviously! There is also a bar for shaving legs and I agree its positioning is a little weird as your head ends up against the taps but it really couldn't go anywhere else. There a grab rail too and an extendable clothes line. 

 

There looks like you could store smallish things above the wardrobe too, and our two large and one small pieces of luggage went under the bed without any trouble. The air conditioning is working well for us, so earlier problems with it seem to have been fixed. And I really like the magnetic door and the big 'DEEP SLEEP' sign that you can whack on the outside of the door so you aren't disturbed.

 

And as an aside, the app is working well for me on board - a few of us arrived at 7am for breakfast in Blu this morning, and I pulled out my phone and confirmed it was actually 7.30am. Finding places on the ship is also easy using the app, and it has been working consistently since we boarded. 

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11 hours ago, FlorenceItaly said:

Really enjoying your live posting.  Thank you so much!

Thank you!

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7 hours ago, singinalot said:

your photos are making me want to visit Asia (which wasn't previously on my list)

We are so close to Asia in Australia but we have really only started travelling in the region in the last few years. There’s a big difference between developing and more developed countries but wherever we have been so far has been fascinating.

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We returned to the Millennium about about 4pm this afternoon after a two day, one night tour of Beijing organised through Tianjin Port Tours. I'll post reports on the two day separately but mastering photo uploads is making me a bit slow in getting these reports uploaded.
 
Day 1 Beijing
I woke early again and could see through the veranda door that we were in port but still sailing slowly. When I eventually got up we were docked at the Tianjin cruise port which is in a very stark looking landscape. 
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Tianjin Cruise Terminal Surrounds
 
We had been told verbally and in writing that we wouldn’t be allowed off the ship until 8.30am, so taking that advice seriously, we decided to have breakfast in Blu which opened at 7am. Elizabeth had headed up to the Cafe already but we caught up in Blu, and while we were there, an announcement was made that the ship was cleared - at 7.30am. Sigh. So off we went to get ready to disembark by 8am, our tour start time, when they announced that Chinese Immigration were ready for Immigration Group 2 - our group was Group 11 (this was advised to us the night before with the dailies). We kept going, checked with someone and they told us not to wait.
 
Off the ship and into the immigration area, then a short wait in a short queue where there was a check of photo/me/visa and we were through. We headed to the door which was crowded by tour guides and taxi touts. We found our guide, Lisa, towards the back of the crowd and we walk to the van, pack our bags and we are off.
 
It’s three hours, 37 minutes drive to Great Wall at Mutianyu, our first stop. The port area is stark, the roads are wide and pretty deserted. We pass a large power plant and cranes, so many cranes - there is construction going on everywhere here.
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Power Station near TIanjin
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Construction Cranes
 
We had our rest stop, luckily with one Western toilet, but still a bit ‘rough’, and without toilet paper, which I came prepared for. We bought some more in the little convenience store which was enough for the duration. I’d actually order some rolls on Amazon before we left and one roll of that was more than enough for us for the two days. 
 
Not too long after our rest stop, the traffic strangely divided and went into two lanes that went in different direction. It was a driver security check at the border between Tianjin and Beijing. Once through the check, it was like horses being released from the starting gates, cars going everywhere. We found our place and continued on. And on. And on.
 
We finally arrive, get dropped off at a parking lot at the base of the Wall, walk up a hill, and had lunch at the restaurant here. Great food at a table in mild sunshine with the Great Wall in the background.
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We then walked further up the hill towards the cable car entrance. We While we could have walked up, Lisa didn’t recommend it, instead telling us it was better to get the cable car up to the top of the wall and then walk a section from there. The ticket cost was not included in the tour, so it was lucky I had enough cash. The lift is actually a ski lift with two attendants to ensure you get on properly. As we walked up a chair was coming around the corner and two Chinese voices yell at us “hurry up, hurry up, stand here. We did as we were told and then I fell into the chair, the top rails are put down which also bring up a footrest which we didn’t see, and then another yell as we were departing “feet up, feet up”. It was a gentle five minute ride to the top when two more attendants start with “feet off, feet off” then when I didn’t get off quickly enough “quickly, quickly” accompanied with a pull to get us out of the path of the next chair. We survived the trip and it was fun.
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Walking to the Cable Car entrance - many people, from very young to very old here
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View from the ski lift
 
Then we were on the Wall with two options. Left was less strenuous, right more strenuous. Both had a multitude of steps and slopes to walk up and down. Alan went right while the rest of us went left. Tracing the Wall along the mountain slopes here gives some idea of its magnitude and how difficult it must have been to build over the three dynass that built and maintained it. As we reached the first guard station, a man was trying to sight his drone and bring it back to him but it appeared to be lost. He asked us to look too - AL and Tom could see it so they tracked it by sight until it disappeared. He and his partner decided to walk up further to see if they could find it and we kept walking. More stairs, more slopes, more views. Amazing. 
 
After about three guard towers, we decide it’s time to turn around and walk back down. Back at the first guard station, Tom looks over the wall, looks down, and sees the drone below him, lights still blinking. Then an old man, a worker there, used a rickety wooden ladder to get down to the ground to pick it up. He came back to us, and tried to give it to us. We shook our heads and tried to explain that it belonged to someone else who had walked further along the wall. We pointed in the direction and then tried to us sign language to describe the man and what he was wearing but the language barrier was too much. He really, really wanted us to take it but we kept saying no, and pointing further up the wall. We had to leave to make our meeting time with Lisa, so I don’t know if the drone and its owner were ever reunited. But that was some coincidence. Here are some Great Wall photos - as you can see it's very dry, very brown because of a drought.IMG_0500.thumb.JPG.bcb8ef95140c61426250b7a71991d983.JPG
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Here we are at the Wall. As amazing a place to visit 35 years later.
 
We brought some roasted peanuts on the way back to the bus - 20 yuan - and they were delicious, highly recommended. Then it was a longish drive through increasing traffic to get to the Summer Palace. The Palace is in a built up area, and not at all like I remembered. We hopped out of the bus, walked to the ticket booth for Lisa to get tickets - she asked for our passports here - then we walk to the ticket gates where we had to show our passports again, and were held up when Elizabeth tried to go through. An interchange in Chinese and Lisa was running back to the ticket office and came back with a ticket. She explained that the Summer Palace is free to anyone over 60 but Elizabeth hadn't reached that milestone yet, so she needed a ticket.
 
This is the summer home of the emperors, and now open to the public. Around 20-30,000 people visit every single day. By this time it was about 3.30pm and it closed at 5pm, so after a map review and some information about its history, and a stop at the Hall of Benevolence and Longevity Hall, we did a brisk walking tour around Lake Kunming, which I do remember from 1984. We start our walk by winding our way on a path around a building that only has space for two people - this was slow and kind of ridiculous, with some people trying to push their way ahead in a space where that was impossible. No anger of any sort though; we just kept moving forward slowly and eventually arrived at the  'long corridor' which ran along one side of the lake. Lots and lots and lots of people here. 
 
We had some interesting insights into local life here, with a wide range of ages all mingling together comfortably. There are also lots more boats on the lake now, and smaller little craft as opposed to the bigger boats we sailed on the lake in 1984. And the woodwork and colours that were used here were quite stunning. Many of the tourist sites were repainted for the Beijing Olympic Games, so look quite vivid. 
 
Our final stop was the Marble Boat, built in 1755 to represent the stability of the Qing Dynasty. the wooden pavillon on top of the marble base was burned down in 1860 and rebuilt by Empress Dowager Cixi in 1890 using funds embezzled from the navy which took over control of the boat. I remember this boat from 1984 - it hasn't changed a bit.
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Outside Hall of Benevolence and Longevity - the dragon represents the emperor and the peacock the empress. Usually the dragon has a ball in its claw representing power but its absence means the empress is all powerful.
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Posing in front of some cherry blossoms - love the colour
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Lake view
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Temple view
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Marble Boat
 
While we were at the Palace, Lisa asked us if we wanted to do anything else because we would finish early tomorrow at 12.30pm - which I thought was odd since our itinerary indicated we would have a full day tour - but I mentioned the old area of Beijing and someone else mentioned the pandas at the zoo. She immediately suggested a special package for us that included a Peking Dinner, a Kung Fu Show, the Beijing Zoo and A Hutong tour of old houses - for $AUD200 each. We talked about this a bit but ultimately say no.
 
We exited the Summer Palace and made our way through heavy traffic to our hotel - the Crowne Plaza Wangfujing in the centre of Beijing. On the way, Lisa tells us not to drink the water from the tap, cleaning our teeth with it is okay as long as we don't swallow the water. The hotel is 5 star, comfortable, lovely lobby, good beds, reasonable pillows, big room and bathroom but no shower. Our room looks over the high atrium down to the lobby. We tell Lisa we won't be taking up the additional package and after making sure we are checked in out, she says goodbye and departs. We put our luggage in our rooms, freshen up and regather in the hotel lounge.
 
We have a drink and then make a booking at a restaurant that serves Peking Duck on the mezzanine floor - this turns out to be a business separate to the hotel but it was a good choice for dinner. There weren't many people here, and the front of house manager was a German expat who had been in Beijing for 10 years who looked after us very well. We had a wonderful dinner, and the Peking Duck was as tasty as we hoped. 
 
Elizabeth wants to take a walk so we head outside, spot a convenience store where we can check again for the floss we need but it's not there. In the next block we can see lighting, music and a lot of noise, so Tom decides he wants to take a look and everyone else joins him. Alan and I go back to our rooms, and I'm in bed and asleep without much effort. 
 
Apparently the lights were coming from a large brand shopping centre, and there was music and people dancing. There was a large police presence but apparently, everyone was having a great time. Lisa tells us the following day that this happens every night and that a lot of older people go to these gatherings because they are happy and enjoying life. That is a nice thought that I hope is true.

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This is wonderful! You make your journey come alive on the page, and your photos are lovely. Thank you🌺

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5 hours ago, Silkroad said:

This is wonderful! You make your journey come alive on the page, and your photos are lovely. Thank you🌺

Thank you for that - I was a bit wary about doing a live blog but I'm liking doing it a lot.

 

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A reasonable night's sleep, shower, taking some photos from the hotel room, and then to breakfast. I put my bread into toast and went to get some fruit, came back to only one piece of toast. Thinking someone must have taken my toast, I put another one in but nothing came out. That’s weird I thought, maybe it’s stuck and I’ll push it out with another piece of bread - nope. So Elizabeth looked underneath and three slices of toast were stacked at the back. As we were doing that one of the managers asked us if we needed help and they took over. That was my excitement for breakfast!
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Construction, construction everywhere - view from hotel room
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Street view with the trees starting to bloom
 
8am and we meet Lisa in the lobby and head off for Tiananmen Square. We got off the bus, went through a security check, walked a little way, reversed direction and then walked through a tunnel under the road to get to the Square. Lisa told us the history of the Square and the functions of each building - when we said we had been to see Mao’s embalmed body in 1984, she said she’s never been there, and you have to reserve tickets to go the mausoleum now.
China Railway Museum
China Railway Museum, now housing old locomotives - and a European style building
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Zhengyangmen gatehouse at the south end of the SquareIMG_0550.thumb.JPG.5f44f22addfaaf8075a2c02aaa6b81d8.JPG
Great Hall of the People
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Mao Tse Tung's Mausoleum - we went here to see Mao's embalmed body in 1984, but no return visit today. Look closely to see the security cameras on the light post. These were everywhere.
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Entry to Forbidden CityIMG_0554.thumb.JPG.3b28c1125454b3979772c1831568c371.JPG
 
While in the Square, Lisa offered us a photo package where a photographer would come with us for the day, but we declined that too. After a group photo, we were walking through another tunnel and then up next to the entrance to the Forbidden City.
 
This is a place that just keeps on going and going and going. Every gate leads to another vista and another temple or building. I didn’t remember that from our 1984 visit so it was all new again. We didn't get to see the concubines' quarters this time, but passed the eunuchs' living area instead. Before we left, Lisa pointed us to the souvenir store, and we all decided to have a look. Almost immediately, Alan and I found some red plates and a vase that was just what we needed for our fireplace in the living room so made a purchase. Jenny brought some smaller red versions of jewelry boxes and Elizabeth had her name perfectly painted on the inside of a tiny glass bottle. I've only included a few photos here to avoid photo overload and I'll put more on my blog when I've got that sorted.
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Rubbish collection Chinese style - on our way into the Forbidden CityIMG_0577.thumb.JPG.a743d4945440a3b58350fa9db8fe21f7.JPG
Entering the Forbidden City
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Ceremonial urns
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Water storage jar - there were several of these in these courtyards. They were originally gold plated.
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A single piece of marble was used to create this carving of dragons playing with pearls - 17 meters long, 3 metres wide and 1.7 meters thick, weighing about 250 tons. Apparently, if you touched this carving in the Ming and Qing dynasties, you could be executed.
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Eunuch quarters - very plain and sparse. The yellow and green bricks are original and get their colour from glazing.IMG_0627.thumb.JPG.7e1c196f0740c8a8725730cff7af6648.JPG
Garden view - really old trees here
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AL was approach by these two boys with a cheery 'Hello' and Alan had a chat, teaching them a new bit of sign language.
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Jade Wall, Forbidden City
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There is a moat around the Forbidden City - this view shows the walls
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Another moat view, with old Beijing houses on the left
 
Our final stop was the Temple of Heavenly Peace, where we’d also been in 1984, and which I remembered well. We entered the complex via another long corridor walk and then through the ticket gate. We had some free time here, so we checked out the temple - but like other places, we can’t go into the building now so the others didn’t get the image of looking up to its dome and marveling at this structure built without nails or cement. We also visited two other buildings that described the procedure for worshipping the heavens, and one about how the temple was constructed. There were four tours from the ship here at the same time, and I realized how glad I was that we were in small group with Lisa.
 
One interesting thing was that because there is no charge to come here, a lot of seniors visit to meet friends, play cards and games and just catch up. The photo below shows them sitting on the left of the photo all along the wall.
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Lisa giving us some information in the 'long corridor' to the Temple itself. IMG_0656.thumb.JPG.8d4feb40fed061cd06c4a2ae77ffd9e1.JPG
The Temple
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A close up of the colours and construction
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Group photo at the Temple
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There looked like there were a lot of school groups here, playing a range of games and doing activities. This game where you had to keep the paper multicolour bird (on the ground in the foreground) in the air looked like fun.
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Wind-up car in the parking lot!
 
Lunch was at another local restaurant, more good food and tofu for the first time. We had a confusing conversation here about tipping - we don’t tip in Australia, and while the principle is fine, knowing exactly how much to tip is a challenge, especially when you have to convert from USD to CNY to AUD to know how much we were paying but finally agreed. Here we had the delight of a Japanese toilet with heated seat and a plentiful supply of toilet paper. We were heading back to the ship now - a three hour drive with a stop half way. We dropped Lisa at a subway station as she wasn’t doing the return trip to the ship with us, just the driver.
 
Our drive back actually took around two hours; our driver was in a hurry to get us there so he could get back to Beijing by nightfall. And once out of Beijing, it was freeway all the way. On our rest stop, AL decided he wanted an ice cream but no one spoke English but with the help of the driver, who also didn't speak English, and sorting our Korean from Chinese coins, we eventually got the purchase done. I should mention that the driver kept us out of a couple of accidents these two days - the driving style here is based on playing chicken I think - do what you want to unless you can't. It was often frightening to watch but we were all safe and sound.
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Typical of apartment buildings along the freeways and roads as we headed back to Tianjin
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Back at the port - the Millennium is waiting for us
 
At the cruise terminal, but as we were on our way in, Jenny unfortunately tripped and fell, and sprained her ankle pretty badly; she couldn't put any weight on it for a little while but eventually made it back to the ship and on board. Jenny is the most resilient person I know and said she didn't need ice, but me, the queen on ankle sprains (my most recent one in Paris last year before the Azores/Canaries cruise when I missed a step) conspired with Elizabeth to get Naresh to get her some. 
 
While that's happening, I collect everyone's passports which we need to hand in for Tianjin port clearance when we depart tomorrow, and drop them off at Guest Relations.
 
We went to the cafe then to get afternoon tea and Elizabeth suggested strapping since Jenny's ankle was now the size of a large egg, and luck was with us because the medical centre had just opened. There Jenny bought a ankle brace, put it on, and said it was immediately better. The sister there told her in no uncertain terms to ice it and rest it. 
 
Dinner was a very quiet Blu - Daniel told us they had about 6 tables the night before. Service was excellent 🙂 and there was time to chat with the hostess and the waiters like the old days. Lamb shanks was on the menu tonight and I had that for a change - it was delicious but the serving was WAY too big for me. All the food continues to be excellent. Jenny shows us her thumb just before we leave which has a huge black bruise on the underside - this is what must have hit the ground first when she fell. I take a couple of food photos here but forget what they are!  I'll get food photos right by the end of the cruise.They look good.
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Back in the cabin, I could see a ship's tour coming back on board. It was 8pm and I'm glad we got back in the afternoon. I decide not to go to the show - a Stevie Wonder Tribute - but everyone else does. I fail to get Day 1 Beijing uploaded to CC so give up and go to bed. We watch a movie when Alan returns and then another good nights sleep. 

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You are amazingy, I feel as if I am right there along with you touring.  I am enjoying this so very much.  Thank you! I look forward to each of your posts. I 

will wave as we wait at the port in Yokohama to get on, however you most likely will have already departed!  🙂 

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2 hours ago, Rina155 said:

You are amazingy, I feel as if I am right there along with you touring.  I am enjoying this so very much.  Thank you! I look forward to each of your posts. I 

will wave as we wait at the port in Yokohama to get on, however you most likely will have already departed!  🙂 

Thank you. It would be great if there was some magical way for CC people to recognise each other as we pass in cruise terminals! 🙂 You will enjoy the Millennium, especially the staff, who are all fantastic - they make the cruise a great experience.

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I am just really enjoying your postings! post as many photos as you want, it's not an overload.  🙂

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Today was our final day docked in Tianjin. I had another good night's sleep, but no matter how hard I tried, I could not stay in bed beyond 6.50am. So up, shower, down to the Cafe to get tea for us and tiny pastries. While I'm in the lift balancing two hot teas and a packet of yummy things, I notice the sea is churning a bit, so it must be windy. I open the veranda door when I'm back in the cabin and step out and it is, it's chilly but not too bad, but not so good you can spend very long out here.

 

We had breakfast around 9am, but Naresh was cleaning our cabin when we returned so we went for a walk on Deck 11 or tried to. It is a very hazy day from the smog, and while the sun emerged at times it was windy and cold on the deck so we only did a few laps before going back to the cabin which was finished. AC went to the gym and I caught up with CCc posts, and then got a message from Jenny at 10.30am saying she was at Cafe al Bachio so I headed there. While we were here AL ran up to tell us that Deck 9 was flooded so we were off upstairs to see what was happening. There was water in the corridors and staff were already working on it. Towels at the doors, the cabin attendants had been into each cabin to get everything off the floor, and the big water vacuum machines were hard at work. Lots of officers, cabin attendants, and even the Captain was there to get it sorted. This went on all day and our cabin attendant worked all day but still managed to get our cabins sorted for the evening turn down service. Quite amazing. Here are two photos - these were taken not long after AL - who was in his cabin - heard running outside and put his head out to see what was going on, and then came down to get us. By the time we got back maybe 10 minutes later much of the surface water was gone and driers were comng out. 

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Jenny and Elizabeth's cabins had really wet carpet while we, next door, had none. The carpets in their cabins will be replaced tomorrow - as we returned from dinner tonight, they were already at work changing the carpets in other cabins and one couple had to be moved to a new cabin. We found out tonight that a water pipe burst and it must have been a big one given the amount of water in our corridor, and apparently Deck 8 was worse. It was impressive though how quickly the staff were there taking care of things, all very calm although I'm sure it was organised chaos to some degree.

 

Back to the day. After we saw what was going on on Deck 9, we retreated back to the Cafe, had more tea and coffee and pastries, and hung around there for a while. AC had been to the gym and went back to the cabin for a shower before meeting us on Deck 5. While we were there, AL went to Guest Relations to talk to someone about their cabin being so wet, and came back to tell Jenny to see Marina about the cabins tonight.

 

Eventually, we moved to the OceanView Cafe for lunch, and then went our own ways until we would meet at 5.30pm for drinks before our dinner at Qzine  at 6.30pm. After catching up on my email, AC and I went to the gym and then met up with everyone in the Rendezvous Lounge at 5.30pm. The Qzine meal was good as usual - and for the first time I think, I didn't walk away feeling over-full. Qzine is on Deck 11 which you get to by the midship stairs or lifts. It's a pleasant area and the staff are attentive, although service got a little slower as the restaurant filled up.

 

Jenny, Elizabeth and I went to Guest Relations to talk with Marina but she was busy so we headed up to the cabin before they went to the show. Here we met one of the officers and Naresh, and he sorted out the time for carpet replacement but also rang Marina who came up to Deck 9 to see us. They both spent about 10 minutes with us, explaining and indicating that they were working on some form of compensation but right now they were pretty busy - understandable. Jenny and Elizabeth went to the show, I went to the Cafe to get some tea and I'm writing this post.

 

Alan came back from the show early - and he discovered a small wet patch on the carpet outside our bathroom door but everyone had finished for the night, so I'll let Naresh know tomorrow so it can get dried. I went and got more tea and a cake for Alan and keep writing this post. The seas are rougher tonight; Captain Alex told us in a very funny announcement today that there might be rough seas and he was right. It's the gentle and quick rocking from side to side so nothing too bad - yet. I'll post this and time for bed. Getting on post online on the day it is describing is, I think, a first for me!

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44 minutes ago, singinalot said:

I am just really enjoying your postings! post as many photos as you want, it's not an overload.  🙂

Oh don't give me permission to post photos - I take way too many!!😄 I'll post a link to my blog when I've got them all up there - the internet is a bit erratic on the ship in terms of speed, and uploading can take some time but at home, I can get them uploaded much quicker. 

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Enjoying your blog.  We are joining Millennium in Tokyo April 27.  We are in 9096.  Hope the water/carpets will be sorted by then.

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1 hour ago, flyingshoes said:

Enjoying your blog.  We are joining Millennium in Tokyo April 27.  We are in 9096.  Hope the water/carpets will be sorted by then.

Yes they will be - some were changed last night, and more affected cabins will be done today. Not all cabins were affected though - ours wasn’t.

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8 hours ago, flyingshoes said:

Enjoying your blog.  We are joining Millennium in Tokyo April 27.  We are in 9096.  Hope the water/carpets will be sorted by then.

Duplicate post

Edited by mazza

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