November 6, 2018 – Sea Day

On this sea day we attended several lectures. The first was by Ian about Make the Most of Your Visit to Nha Trang and Phu My, Vietnam. The second lecture was by a new lecturer by the name of Kate Mead about Vibrant and Varied Vietnam. Kate is from England but has lived for the last 40+ years in Hong Kong. She showed us many slides of Vietnam and tried to prepare us for some of the clothing, food, motor bikes and culture we might find in Vietnam.

In the afternoon we attended a lecture by Captain Thomas G. Anderson called The Box that Changed the World. In this lecture he discussed in detail about how the cargo container has changed the world. He showed many slides about the size of the boxes, the ships that haul them, the shipping docks that load and unload them and how this has changed how we transport goods and materials around the world. He also discussed and showed slides on how these boxes have been used to house the homeless around the world, high end homes that have been built with container boxes as well as commercial spaces that are built with container boxes.

Later in the afternoon, Ian lectured on the Vietnam, Land of Dragons. He showed many slides about life in Vietnam and things we might come across in our travels in Vietnam.

The evening’s entertainment was a celebration of country, folk and rock music presented by the Amsterdam singers and dancers. The performers were great, but the show was not one of our favorites as we did not recognize most of the music.

November 5, 2018 – Hong Kong, China

Nan Lian Gardens

Nan Lian Garden

Nan Lian Garden Bonsai

Chi Lin Nunnery

Peninsula Hotel

This morning we headed out on the ship’s shuttle to a subway stop where we took the subway to the Diamond Hill subway stop. Along the way we met up with two of our fellow passengers Pat and Paula who were headed to the same spot. There we walked a short distance to a beautiful park called the Nan Lian Garden and connected Chi Lin Nunnery. The gardens include several structures, ponds, lakes, a mill, a restaurant, gallery and exhibition space and the gardens are immaculately manicured.

After exploring the gardens and a ceramics exhibition in one of the structures, we headed to the adjoining nunnery for a look. Chi Lin Nunnery is a large Buddhist Temple complex founded in 1934 as a retreat for Buddhist nuns and was rebuilt in the 1990s following the traditional Tang Dynasty architecture. The temple halls have statues of the Shakyamuni Buddha, the goddess of mercy Guanyin, and other bodhisattvas. The statues are made from gold, clay, wood and stone. The nunnery is in extraordinary condition and the gardens, as well as the temple structures, are breathtaking.

The Chi Lin Nunnery uses the traditional Tang Dynasty architecture with a design based on a Sukhavati drawing in the Mogao Caves. It is constructed entirely with cypress wood, without the use of any nails and is currently the world’s largest hand-made wooden building. This construction is based on traditional Chinese Architecture techniques that uses special interlocking systems cut into the wood to hold them in place. The complex with 16 halls, a library, a school, a pagoda, a bell tower and a drum tower, covers an area of more than 360,000 square feet. The Chi Lin Nunnery buildings are the only buildings to be built in this style in modern-day Hong Kong. We really enjoyed our visit to the gardens and nunnery.

Our next stop, after Pat and Paula went their own way, was to the famous Peninsula Hotel in Kowloon where we had a look inside the lobby as well as the arcades of high-end retail shops. If you are looking for Harry Winston, Tiffany of any number of high-end jewelers and watch makers you may well find them here. Not many customers there, but they probably do not need to make many sales at these prices.

Since some of the ship’s guests departed yesterday and were replaced with a new set, we were required to have another emergency life boat drill before sailing from Hong Kong. At 5:30 we attended a sail away party in the Crow’s Nest bar.

We attended the sail away party in the Crow’s Nest before dinner and then enjoyed a comedian by the name of Andrew Kennedy. Andrew was a Top 20 Comedy Showdown Winner on Comedy Central. He is born to mixed race parents from Venezuela and England and grew up in Hong Kong, Connecticut and a few other places. His comedy is based around his family experiences with three boys each of different shades of brown, one gay and all quite tall. He speaks English, Spanish and Cantonese as well as being able to do many impersonations. He was very entertaining.

November 4, 2018 – Hong Kong, China

Dim Sum Restaurant

Dim Sum Food

Wei and Kent at the Bakery

Wei and Mark at the Tea Shop

We arrived in Hong Kong before 7:00am to cloudy skies and an expected high of 81 degrees. On our last visit to Hong Kong we were docked right in the heart of town by the Star Ferry but now all ships are docked at a new cruise terminal where the old airport was on the outskirts of town. They offered two buses that take you to two different subway stations to allow you to get into town easily.

Hong Kong, now officially Hong Kong Special Administrative Region People’s Republic of China, consists of a mainland on the country’s southeastern coast and about 235 islands. It is bordered on the north by Guangdong Province and on the east, west and south by the South China Sea. Hong Kong was a British dependency from the 1840’s until July 1, 1997 when it passed to Chinese sovereignty. In 1841 British naval officers hoisted the Union Jack over the empire’s newest addition. At the time the land was a barren island with hardly a house upon it. Today it is covered with more skyscrapers than anywhere else in the world and has a population of about 7.5 million people. Hong Kong’s mainland consists of the urban area known as Kowloon and a portion of the New Territories, a large area that became part of Hong Kong in 1898. Lantau Island, ceded to Hong Kong as part of the New Territories but often considered separate from that region, is the largest island. Located about six miles east of Lantau Island and across Victoria Harbor from Kowloon is Hong Kong Island. The city of Hong Kong, also known as Victoria, faces the harbor on the northern part of the island. In total there are only 422 square miles of land area.

For lunch we met up with one of our past international students who studied at San Diego State in 2008 by the name of Wei Toh. He invited us to join him for a dim sum lunch at a restaurant called Lin Heung Teahouse in central Hong Kong. The restaurant was very unique to us although Wei said this is typical Hong Kong Style. The large dining room was filled with round tables of eight chairs and each was full and people were hovering waiting for folks to leave to get a seat. Once you found a chair, a waiter would bring you a small bowl for your food, a tea cup a small ceramic spoon and a pair of chop sticks. Next came a small bowl with hot water to wash your dishes and utensils even though they had been cleaned in the kitchen already. Some folks even used tea to wash the utensils and dishes before they began eating.

Meanwhile older women would roll small carts out of the kitchen with a couple stacks of bamboo steaming trays/baskets and people would follow them until they stopped in an aisle to sell their goods. Once each revealed what item she had on the cart, people would ask her for one, two or three baskets and she would stamp their card so they would be charged properly after eating. The restaurant was a wild experience. Wei ran around the restaurant chasing rolling carts to retrieve our lunch. We had pork buns, pork ribs, pork liver, pork dumplings and a sweet bean curd bun.

After lunch we attended a festival of the Hong Kong Heritage Association that was having an open house of several Hollywood Road area historical buildings, as well as street music and dance performances. Wei wanted to show us the former Central Magistrate complex that used to house the police headquarters and prison. This complex of buildings dating back several hundred years was closed for about ten years as they renovated it and had just recently opened it as a public complex. There are now shops, museums, restaurants, performance spaces, and outdoor spaces for special events. Also included in the complex are some of the jail cells as they once stood.

We stopped at a favorite egg custard bakery that Wei likes to try the pastries, reminding us of the Nata pastries you find in Portugal: small custard pies with a flaky crust about three inches in diameter. Along with the custard we sampled the local favorite tea milk made from condensed milk and tea. Delicious.

After exploring some of the shops around Hong Kong Island we stopped for tea and crumpets at a favorite tea shop. We had a very spicy hot Chai tea, sponge cake with a green tea spread and a banana and peanut butter scone.

After Wei left us, we explored a section of Hollywood Road’s antique shops before catching a double decker tram through Hong Kong island. We then took the subway to the Jordan subway stop to make our way to the Temple Street night market which began about 5PM. At the market they sell mostly souvenir items like artwork, toys, tea sets, wall hangings and a few clothing items. We stocked up on our Chinese wine bottle bags that we enjoy sharing with friends. Kent did a good job of bargaining with the lady although she appeared to be unhappy with the price. I suspect it was all part of the game. She came down to less than half of the asking price on the bags.

The evening’s entertainment was a local folkloric show that gave a dance show featuring dances from around China. This included a Tibetan dance, a Taiwanese dance and a Korean dance from North Korean.

November 3, 2018 – Sea Day

We had another sea day as we traveled from Taiwan to Hong Kong. The weather was about 70 degrees although mostly cloudy skies.

In the morning we attended the Morning Show with cruise director Jorge who interviewed one of the ship’s crew members who is a deck officer by the name of Eric. He is from the Netherlands and had dreamed of sailing a ship since he was a small boy when his grandmother took him on a ferry ride.

Ambassador Krishan Rajan gave two lectures: one was on Ghandi as the world is about to celebrate the 150th anniversary of his birth. His other lecture was on how Eastern Culture, Faith and Philosophy interact with the age of Artificial Intelligence. Artificial Intelligence continues to play a huge role in the world and one day might take over more and more of the roles of man. What issues and consequences might this cause in the world? Unknown.

For lunch we dined in the Pinnacle specialty restaurant with our friend Clydie from Florida and a couple by the names of Michael and Nancy from Buffalo, New York. Michael and Nancy have been very kind to us and we have shared many tours with them but sadly they are headed home tomorrow. They do not want to miss the grand babies 2nd birthday party, Thanksgiving and plans for the Christmas holidays.

The evening’s entertainment was a second show by the New York boys group Shades of Bublé.

November 2, 2018 – Keelung (Taipei), Taiwan

Boa-An Temple

Boa-An Temple Altar

Martyrs Shrine

Grand Hotel

Grand Hotel Lobby

National Palace Museum Treasure

Lin An Tai Historical Home

Chiag Kai Shek Memorial Hall

Chiag Kai Shek Memorial Hall Museum

Chiag Kai Shek Changing of the Guards

Chiag Kai Shek Memorial Grounds

Taipei 101 Skyscraper

Our tour this day was a private tour that we took with our neighbors Ana Maria and Sandra. They had arranged for a van to pick us up at the port with a driver and guide to show us the best of Taipei. Our guide was Roger, a young man of 27 from Keelung, Taiwan, who guides as a second job. His regular job is a kitchen helper in a restaurant. The day was wet and rainy most of the day but it did not dampen our spirits of adventure.

Our journey commenced with a relaxing drive from Keelung City, Taiwan’s second-largest port, to the Dalongdong Bao-An Temple. This temple was originally built of wood at this site in 1742, followed by a more permanent structure begun in 1805 and completed in 1830. This temple is known for its huge scale, grand style and exquisite carvings. The temple includes an entrance hall, main hall, and back hall with guard rooms on the sides. Every inch of this temple is so detailed with finely carved wood, stone and ceramic materials. The most recent renovation of the temple came in 1995, and what a spectacular job they have done.

On the slopes of the Qing Mountain, our next stop was at the Revolutionary Martyrs’ Shrine, a stately monument constructed in 1969 to honor the 330,000 brave men who sacrificed their lives in key battles. Two of these battles were part of the revolution against the Republic of China and the War of Resistance against Japan. With a style reminiscent of Beijing’s Taihe Dian Imperial Palace, this stunning shrine is surrounded by more than eight acres of grass and features a bright red main gate guarded by uniformed officers. We were able to catch a simplified changing of the guards due to the rain.

We then headed to the palatial Grand Hotel, which was built in 1952 in the decadent style of classic Chinese architecture. The hotel was considered the finest hotel in the world by 1967. Ronald Reagan and Dwight D. Eisenhower both stayed here. The two-story lobby with a mega pot full of living lavender orchid plants was spectacular. Everyone who entered the hotel wanted to take their photos in front of this mega bouquet.

Our next stop was at the Lin An Tai Historical House and Museum. The family which had owned this home had become wealthy from the trade business and built this very large home beginning about 1785. The house is built in what they call the Fujian style incorporating courtyards, woods and gardens that are all about nature and shaped to embody the pristine elements. The home is quite large with many rooms situated on a large parcel of land with lakes, several out buildings, bridges and covered walk ways. Many of the rooms are furnished allowing you to see how the family might have lived here.

Back on the road, we headed through the bustling city of Taipei, where taxis, buses and motorcycles zip along the busy streets. Here we visited the wonderful National Palace Museum, with one of the largest collections of ancient Chinese objects and art in the world. Many objects were said to have been brought to Taipei by Chiang Kai-shek from Beijing. Spanning more than 8,000 years, the impressive collection includes bronze, paintings, jade, ceramics, and precious objects amassed by ancient emperors and more from the Sung, Yuan, Ming and Qing dynasties. The museum is very modern with all items marked in English and beautifully displayed. We spent about 90-minutes looking through three floors of priceless objects.

For lunch, we headed to a busy neighborhood in the city with many shops of local delicacies of food and a shopping district. We tasted pineapple cookies in a local bakery before sitting down in a noodle shop for beef noodles. Sandy and Ana had brought their peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and went shopping, so we ate while our guide watched us struggle with the noodles and chopsticks. Finally, he ordered forks for us. The noodles are handmade on the premises and are irregular in shape with a chewy texture. In the bowl of noodles were chunks of beef, leaves of spinach and bok choy and a beef stock. Along with the noodle soup we tried the onion pancakes. All was good.

Next, we headed to Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall — a regal monument paying tribute to the former President of Taiwan. With its brilliant blue glazed-tile roof, gold apex, white marble and natural red cypress ceiling, the shrine is designed to convey sacredness, solemnity, hospitality and peace. Inside, we saw valuable artifacts related to the late president’s life, including photographs, cars, a recreation of his office and historical documents. Upstairs in the main hall where there is an enormous statue of Chiang Kai-shek, we watched another changing of the guards. The solemn ceremony lasted about ten minutes.

Lastly, we headed to an old village museum from which we could look up at the exterior of the Taipei 101 Skyscraper built to resemble a stalk of bamboo tied with elegant ribbons at each fret.

All in all, it was a wonderful busy and tiring day in Taipei even with the poor weather (Kent’s legs were tired). The evening’s entertainment was a 24-year-old man by the name of Cy Leo, considered one of Hong Kong’s most promising harmonica players and song writers. His father was a champion harmonica player so he began playing at birth. His concert was the best received with the most applause of any show we have had so far this voyage. It is amazing the music he can create with such a simple and small instrument.

November 1, 2018 – Sea Day & Keelung, Taiwan

Keelung Salvation Altar

Guanyin Statue

Reclining Buddha

Keelung Night Market Vendor

This morning we spent aboard the ship as we sailed to Keelung, Taiwan, (located outside Taipei), arriving about 1:00pm. We attended a cooking demonstration in America’s Test Kitchen with chef Spencer who showed us how to make brownies by scratch and a chocolate Crème de Pot.

Taiwan is officially part of the Republic of China with Japan to the northeast and the Philippines to the south. The population of Taiwan is about 23 million. Disputes remain between China and Taiwan as to the legitimacy of Taiwan’s independence. China still claims they control Taiwan although they have an independent government.

Keelung is located in the northwestern portion of Taiwan and is considered one of the wettest and gloomiest cities in the world with 146 inches of rain annually on average. Following the defeat of the Japanese in World War II, the Japanese retreated from the port of Keelung. It was also the main port from which Chinese officials entered Taiwan to take over Taiwan from Japan. In the 1960’s Keelung was known for its coal mining but by 1984 it was the seventh largest container harbor in the world.

The weather was pleasantly warm although it was raining on and off throughout the day. At 2:00pm we met up with Sandra and Ana Maria to walk into town and to explore the Zhongzheng Park up on the hill above the ship. The park features a five-story tall white statue called Guanyin who is the guardian of the fisherman and sailors. Similar to the Statue of liberty, you can go inside the statue and climb to the top peeking out of small port hole windows. Surrounding the statue is a large array of Buddha statues in stone, some gilded and some ceramic. There are several shrines, one with a reclining Buddha.

Also, in the park is a small museum dedicated to the local Ghost Festival that takes place in July. The ghost festival includes a lantern festival where lanterns with family’s surnames are set afloat in the river. Those who burn the brightest and make it to the ocean will have a lucky year. The climax of the festival is a Pudu salvation ceremony where people seek to appease the spirits of the dead and pray for peace and well-being, while keeping lost souls from making mischief.

After visiting the park, we made our way down the hill to the town where we visited several commercial streets selling clothing, food, games and housewares. There are several streets that are closed to the public and feature a night market where many vendors sell all types of food for snacking. There were stands with seafood, soups, kabobs, desserts, meats, and so much more.

The evening’s entertainment was a British comedian by the name of Ivor Richards. He mostly told short one liner jokes but it was an entertaining show.

October 31, 2018 – Naha, Japan

Okinawa War Memorial

Gyokusendo Caves

Shurijo Castle

Shurijo Castle Throne

Snake Wine

Halloween Pumpkins

Naha is the capital city of Okinawa Prefecture with a population of about 325,000 inhabitants. Naha is located on the East China Sea on the southern part of Okinawa Island. Naha suffered extensive damage during World War II and most of the city had to be rebuilt after the war. In 1987 the US military released a large parcel of land to the Japanese that had been used for US Military housing. This land has now been developed as the new metropolitan center with many upscale western brand fashion boutiques, restaurants, movie theaters and shopping centers.

We took a tour titled “Okinawa In-Depth.”  We learned about Okinawa’s embattled past with a visit to the Okinawa Prefectural Peace Memorial Museum. The museum is very located in a very large building overlooking a memorial garden. The exhibits were well presented and many included English descriptions which are always helpful. In 1945, a fierce battle by the Japanese army and US forces took place on these islands—a “typhoon of steel” that lasted 90 days and decimated the island’s physical landmarks, rich cultural legacy and killed 200,000 people (More than 100,000 Civilians were killed in the battle). The Battle of Okinawa was the only ground fighting fought on Japanese soil and was also the largest-scale campaign of the Asia-Pacific War. Even Okinawa’s civilians were fully mobilized. A significant aspect of the Battle of Okinawa was the great loss of civilian life. Under the most desperate circumstances, Okinawans directly experienced the tragedy of war, and it is this experience that is at the center of the “Okinawan Heart”—the term that describes a resilient attitude towards life that the Okinawan people have developed, where personal dignity is respected above all else. Okinawans reject any acts related to war and cherish their own culture. The Cornerstone of Peace, located on the Hill of Mabuni where one of the fiercest battles took place, stands as a symbol of the tragic loss. At Memorial Park we saw the numerous black marble memorials dedicated to those who lost their lives in the Battle of Okinawa.

Next, we walked through the amazing Gyokusendo Cave, located in the Okinawa World theme park. It is a two-mile-long cave renowned for its intricate limestone formations and is the largest cave of its kind in Asia. With 900,000 stalagmites and stalactites and underground streams, the cave offers exquisite and mysterious scenery along its dimly lit path. The entire cave is not accessible but a large section is well illuminated and has staircases and metal walkways to navigate through the cave. We have seen much more interesting caves in the world but this one may be the largest in size.

We had some free time to explore the Okinawa World Theme Park as well. Here they have a traditional crafts village housed in 100-year-old buildings that have been moved here from around the island. The village includes a blown glass studio, tie dye shop, many gift shops, a brewery and more. The theme park also has an orchard with a variety of tropical fruits like mango, papaya and pineapples.

We then made our way to a Mercure Hotel where we enjoyed a nice buffet lunch with a Halloween theme. They had labeled all of the dishes with names like blood soup, monster curry, etc. We have not seen many fresh salad bars but this hotel had a very nice fresh salad bar with fresh greens and a variety of fresh vegetables. Most of the vegetables we have had at restaurants are cooked vegetables.

We then stopped at Shurijo Castle to visit this UNESCO World Heritage Site. It shows strong Chinese architectural influence because Okinawa’s ancient Ryukyu Kingdom was a vassal state of China. The castle is a unique mixture of Japanese and Chinese styles where 19 structures originally stood within its walls. It was the residence of the King and the seat of local government until 1879, when Okinawa was made a prefecture of Japan. The castle was obliterated during the Battle of Okinawa in 1945 but, to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the return of Okinawa to Japan, the Japanese Government rebuilt Shurijo Castle. It was opened to the public in 1992. West of the castle stands the Shureimon Gate—the ancient portal used for welcoming the Chinese ambassador. The gate was rebuilt in 1958.

The castle is built around a main central square with many brightly red painted buildings. The interior of the castle, used for the king and queens living spaces, was a typical Japanese home with many sliding doors and woven mats on the floors. The public areas reserved for ceremonies and political business was very ornately decorated in bright red with gold and colored accents. A platform with the king’s ornate throne was prominently featured in one room. Another room was reserved for morning prayer, where the king and his female attendants would pray for peace and security of the Kingdom and prosperity of the royal descendants.

Lastly, we were taken to Naha’s commercial heart with a drive along Kokusai Street where we passed hotels, department stores, restaurants and theaters. We were then given some free time to stroll through the area that combines cosmopolitan flavor with genuine folk appeal. We purchased a few boxes of cookies for our cabin stewards and a young lady named Amie who works at the coffee bar in the library that is always friendly with us and gives us chocolates.

Back onboard the ship we received word that due to a severe weather system we would not be able to make our next port of call, Ishigaki Island, in Japan. They informed us that instead of heading to this southern Japanese island, we would proceed directly to our next port of call, Keelung, Taiwan.

The dining room was decked out in black and orange for Halloween and the kitchen staff had carved about twenty pumpkins for the occasion. Many guests were dressed in costumes making for a festive occasion. After dinner there was a Halloween party in the main show lounge. They had decorated the room with many scary creatures, lots of colorful lights and the band that normally plays in the Crow’s Nest bar was performing on stage. They had a costume competition, folks voted for their favorite carved pumpkin and there was dancing. Ana Maria and Sandra, who live in our building in San Diego and are onboard, won the prize for most creative costumes. Sandra had made them each a cat costume which was very cute and handmade as compared to the store-bought costumes that most folks wore.

October 30, 2018 – Sea Day

This was a quiet sea day to recover from the past two busy days in Shanghai and to prepare for the upcoming days in port in Japan and Taiwan.

As we were sailing this morning the captain spotted a life raft in the water that we turned around to investigate. The raft was a small black rubber raft with an orange colored tent on top. Luckily no one was found to be in the raft so we brought it aboard and continued our journey onward.

The morning included a lecture by Ambassador Krishna Rajan who lectured further on China and its relationship with India and other Asian Countries.

For lunch the ship served a huge brunch with a sampling of fifteen different items served in three courses. It was a wonderful meal but far more than we would have eaten if we were going to have our normal lunch onboard the ship. Our pants are already starting to get tighter than we would like so we need to start eating less or exercising more.

At 2:00PM the ship’s clocks turned forward an hour as we moved east from China to Japan. Typically, the clocks have been moving back one hour during the night so this was a bit of a change and we lost an hour’s time in the blink of an eye.

The evening’s entertainment was a show featuring the music of Michael Bublé. Three young men from New York had traveled thirty hours to meet the ship and perform for us. They had very nice voices and harmonized well. Some of the songs were familiar to us, while others we did not recognize as Bublé songs.

October 29, 2018 – Shanghai, China

Great Canal Boat

Great Canal of Suzhou

Great Canal

Humble Administrator Garden

The tour we took on this day was titled “Scenic Suzhou.” A town of great scenic beauty, Suzhou was founded in the 5th century BC and inspired the famous Chinese proverb, ‘In heaven there is paradise; on earth Suzhou and Hangzhou.’ The bus ride took about 1.5 hours through what was once the countryside and today is mostly built up to reach Suzhou.

First, we took a boat ride on the Grand Canal to see the beauty of Suzhou—whitewashed houses with gray tile roofs, old stone bridges spanning a spider web of waterways, women washing clothes in the river, and children playing nearby. These canals were hand dug long ago (about 250 BC?) but have stood the test of time and are still interesting to see today. The boat we rode in was an old wooden boat that seated about thirty people and was diesel powered. Most of the homes here do not have modern plumbing so locals have to use public toilets installed along the streets. Recently the government has begun to relocate local residents in hopes of renovating these old structures into shops and hotels but to keep the historic nature of the structures.

Next, we stopped at the Silk Embroidery Research Institute to learn more of this region’s important contribution to the silk and textile industry. There we saw how local families make a living making elaborate silk embroidery art work. The silk threads used in the embroidery are very fine and have an extraordinary luster to them making the pieces bright and colorful. Some pieces are one sided like a wall hanging while others are double sided and require a stand and glass to appreciate both sides of the embroidery piece. They create florals, dragons, carp, kittens in all types of sizes from quite small to very large. Some of the embroidery pieces take years to stich because of the complexity and detail of the pieces.

After our visit to the silk institute we had lunch at a local hotel called the Garden Hotel. The lunch was a traditional style Chinese lunch served at large tables of ten with a lazy Susan in the middle of the table. We enjoyed about ten different dishes including rice, eggplant, pickled seaweed, crab apples, chicken, fish, pork, spinach and more. Most of the items were very tasty to us, although some folks had a hard time eating some of the dishes.

Next, we visited one of China’s most famous gardens, the Humble Administrator’s Garden, which occupies an area of ten acres. The garden’s name comes from the proverb which says, ‘To cultivate a garden for a living is really the politics of a humble man.’ About two thirds of the garden is made up of lakes with islands dotted throughout. Throughout this large garden there are many pagoda-covered pathways for enjoying the gardens in rain or to gather shade on hot days. Weeping willow trees, bonsai, maples, lotus plants, azaleas and chrysanthemums abounded throughout the gardens. Unfortunately, we did not have more time to explore more of the gardens.

Two of our fellow passengers, Sylvia and Beauford asked us to join them for dinner to celebrate Sylvia’s birthday. The dining room stewards brought her a cake and sang a birthday greeting to her.

The evening’s entertainment was a Big Screen Movie in the main show lounge titled “On Wings of Eagles.” The movie is about Eric Liddell, one of Scotland’s greatest athletes (a runner) who won China’s first Olympic gold medal and about his return to war torn China. It is a heart wrenching movie about the Japanese occupation of China.

October 28, 2018 – Shanghai, China

Desserts

Lunch with Chris, Jeff, Erica and Emma

Fish dish

Bread with Pineapple

Shanghai at Night

Dragon Dancers

Shanghai is the largest city in China by population with about 25 million residents and the second largest city in the world. It is the financial center and transport hub with the world’s busiest container port. In the last two decades Shanghai has been one of the fastest growing cities in the world. Since 1992 Shanghai has recorded double-digit growth almost every year except during the great recession of 2008 and 2009. The three largest service industries are financial services, retail and real estate. Manufacturing accounts for about 40% of the total output. The container port handles more than 30 million containers annually.

In the morning we walked about fifteen minutes to the Bund where we met up with Chris Lin, a student who studied at San Diego State University in 2012. He now lives about a 90-minute subway ride away from Shanghai (The Bund) and came in to town to meet us. We caught up over coffee at a Starbuck’s before heading out by the subway to meet up with another student. The subway is very extensive, modern and clean. The problem is there is a huge number of different lines going in all directions and it is difficult to navigate from one line to another. In one case we had to change lines by exiting one station and walking about a block down the street to enter another station to catch another train.

For lunch we met up with another student named Jeff Tang and his wife Erica and there two-year-old daughter Emma at a “family friendly” restaurant. Jeff and Erica were in San Diego for a several years and had Emma when they were in the states. The restaurant provided you with slippers to wear when you entered the restaurant. Once inside there was a plethora of toys everywhere for the children to play with. There were cars to ride on, stairs to climb, a kitchen to play in, a stage to perform on, video games and so much more. The staff was plentiful and they assisted with watching the children play while the parents dined. They had Halloween decorations hanging from the ceiling and music playing.

After lunch and a quick “catch-up,” we left Jeff, Erica and Emma and headed to a large high-end shopping mall in Shanghai where Chris wanted to take us for dessert. This wine, coffee, tea and dessert shop was beautifully designed with luxury finishes and was filled with mostly young professional people well dressed. The locals were on their cell phones, lap-tops and such. There is no expectation of you to hurry, you can sit and spend as much time as you like in the shop.

Chris had a friend named Adrian who joined us at the dessert spot and we ordered several fancy pieces of cake. The desserts mostly had three different flavors in one cake. They would have one flavor of cake, another flavor of filling and the third flavor for the frosting. Most of the flavors were not familiar to us so we were happy to explore the unique flavors. Everything was excellent.

For dinner, Chris and Adrian took us to a beautiful Cantonese restaurant. The restaurant was arranged like a large ballroom with large round tables throughout. Each table was covered in a white linen table cloth embroidered with colorful flowers and matching napkins. The menu was very extensive and of course we did not know quite what to order so the boys did the ordering. They selected several pork dishes prepared in different ways, a bread with pineapple, white rice, a vegetable dish of white mushrooms stuffed with carrots and other vegetables, a broccoli dish with fish and a chicken dish. Everything was delicious.

After dinner we took a taxi back to the bund near our ship where we could admire all of the incredible lights on the buildings. The bund side of the river houses the financial center of the city with most of the buildings from its colonial past. From this side of the river you might think that you are in any European city with gorgeous traditional buildings. The other side of the river is much newer and is filled with modern high-rise towers of all shapes and sizes. At night all of these buildings on both sides of the river are illuminated. The newer buildings appear to have television screens for siding and elaborate light shows are illuminated on the sides of the buildings. The Bund is crowded with many people who come out to see the night lights.

Chris gave us some gifts before we parted for the night. The first was an elegant tea set with wooden stand, tea pot and tea cups. To accompany the tea, he gave us two boxes of local pastry delicacies, one with pineapple and the other with bean curd.

We were sitting on the bus and were apparently mistaken for the dance hosts on board the ship (they travel in pairs). This has happened a couple of times….don’t know why. Guess we look like dancing fools…..or, more likely, we’re just a couple of men together!

Back onboard our ship we were entertained by a local Chinese dance group featuring the dragon dancers, young ladies dancing, drummers all in local costumes.

All in all, it was a great day for us to spend time with these students that we have shared time with in San Diego and now got a chance to visit in China and to meet Adrian.