Archive for October, 2011


         

        Yes, the Yangtze river cruise. We embarked Victoria Cruise ship Selina from Yichang to Chongqing (almost). The boat  wasn’t exactly 5 star looking but it wasn’t too old and decent-sized for the number of passengers expected on board. The rooms we just enough (especially since I had my own room hehe) and had their own balconies. I had to keep in mind that this was a river cruise not one of those bigger cruise ships at times though as I was looking at the food choices which were modest but sufficient enough.

Like at the hotel we stayed at in Shanghai, some things we served constantly each day in the breakfast, lunch, and dinner sometimes so you pretty much acquired a taste for rice, fried noodles, steamed buns,and some sort of steamed or fried vegetable combo but if you like chicken, beef, pork, or fish with your meal then you would’ve been content with how they prepared it for lunch and dinner. The ship consisted of mostly Chinese, French (Canadians), UK and American tourists.
                                                
 One of the three excursions we got to participate in was the Three Gorges Dam, which was pretty dam big (Get it?! dam?…’cause it’s a…ok I’m sorry.). Boy I was not prepared for the persistence and aggressiveness of the vendors along the dock (and the same lady made sure to be there and picked me out EXACTLY when our bus returned close to the dock, they don’t play).

Sorry, it was raining and I was on the move

                                   
Next was the Daning River ferry boat ride through the lesser gorges, where our guide pointed out a “hanging coffin”  to us (they are coffins up high on the edge of caves in the gorges/mountains, how those people got up there to do that they still haven’t figured it out) and a sampan ride on the Ma Du River to the mini gorges. The sampan ride was my favorite as you could really get the feel of the scenery and up close view through the gorges. There were small waterfalls and the water itself was a lot fresher looking than the Yangtze water itself. Someone said they spotted a monkey but I didn’t see it…:(.

     Lastly, was Fengdu, or “Ghost City”. Stories of monsters, torments, and the like painted the city. The area around the temple was pretty but some of those depictions of what happened to bad folks in the other realm was kind of creepy, to say the least.

***Warning: graphic photo ahead…

It forever rained during our stops

uh…

Overall I enjoyed the cruise,except for one part: The dock at Chongqing was flooded and the other passengers to board next were stranded over night so we had to cut our cruise short and we were herded off that night by bus to Chongqing, which took 3 and 1/2 hours. But what upset me the most is that they had “hired”(and I use that term VERY lightly) locals to carry up luggage back and forth from the ship to the buses, going up lots of steps by tying the luggage to, wait for it…LARGE STICKS!!! What kind of crap is that?! Victoria cruises needed to stop being cheap and provide a better way of transit than that instead of exploiting those people. I would’ve carried my own bag if I had of known ahead of time what they were gonna do! Needless to say my tips went to the locals.

Stay tuned for my review of Xi’an, home of the Terra Cotta Warriors!!!

China in Review: Shanghai

The city were it all started….


forgive me if my humble camera skills aren’t up to par

                        
                     Before I delve into Shanghai, I just though I’d mention the airline really quickly. Air China had pretty consistently good service throughout our travels, and gave me my first taste of duck. I admit, it’s pretty good.

Now…

We kinda had a rough start. Long story short, our plane was delayed, and the tour company (which will get a post to itself later) thought that we had stayed over night in Beijing. So when we finally got to the hotel past midnight (even the driver got confused on where it was) the attendant told us he had no idea of a reservation made for us and so on. Many hours, arguments, and calls to the tour operators later we finally get things straightened out the next day. So our first stop in Shanghai was the Shanghai Historical Museum:

                                                    

While waiting for the rest of the group to arrive, our tour guide took us to the Shanghai History Museum.The museum was pretty big with four floors dedicated to their history of weapons, clothing, ceramics, calligraphy, etc. It’s worth checking out especially if you’re a historical buff.

                                                

  Next we headed to the Yu(yuan) gardens. The 5 acre garden contains lots of beautiful scenery, architecture interestingly shaped rocks and those orange fishies (Koi I think, but I could be wrong)! I think this would be a wonderful place to unwind when there aren’t many tourists around. Close by is the market/bazaar where you can do some shopping and get all your souvenirs (and be possibly bombarded by knock-off designer bag pushers).

Before leaving for the Yangtze (or Chang Jiang to be correct) river cruise, we also made a stop at a silk factory, the The Bund waterfront area (see first pic) and East/West Nanjing Road, the famous shopping road where there’s something for everybody (Good place to go shopping, although west is more expensive stuff). I should have started at the east because my folks were not wanting to stay out late!

All in All Shanghai reminded me of a Chinese New York, almost. The hotel we stayed at was a Holiday Inn near the downtown area and although it’s standard quality in western tastes, the rooms and beds are small. English was spoken by a few attendants but you’re gonna need patience. I will tell you that breakfast was good, but you’re going to get the same thing over and over. For the understanding traveler it works out great, but if you’re picky, have a big family, or just want a lot of space, you might wanna look elsewhere.

Stay tuned for my review of the Yangtze River Cruise (Yichang to Chongqing)…