Vacation 2008 Update #2

Shanghai, China

Hello Again all:

This update mainly covers the ships 2 day stay (cruise days 4 and 5) in Shanghai, China. As I write this some of you have not yet received Update #1 due to the email problems I have been experiencing with the one account. Those of you will likely get both of these messages at the same time. Make sure you read #1 first as some of the stuff I say here assumes that you have seen the first one.

The approach to Shanghai is a 5 hour long process that started early in the morning and ended at 7:30 a.m.. There are several components to this but the most difficult is the last part of about 20 Nautical Miles up the Huangpu River to what will soon be Shanghai’s new cruise ship terminal. Right now it is just a concrete pier but construction is underway as you will see below.

New Shanghai (otherwise known as Pudong) as the ship approaches the pier.

Probably the best known symbol of Shanghai the Pearl TV tower. Wait until you see how it lights up at night!

Buses lined up along the pier for the shore excursions.

As you can see the ship is not quite docked yet.
Buildings in the background are part of the Cruise Ship Terminal Development.
The actual terminal is further down and not completed yet.

My shore excursion for today was called the Best of Shanghai. It started out at what is called a Children’s Palace. Basically it is an after school place where children of all ages can get training in various arts type things such as dancing or playing a musical instrument. It is also available on weekends (since today is a Saturday). Here are some pictures.

This is the entrance to it.

I forget the name of this instrument but it is basically a two string violin.

Aspiring ballet dancers hard at work. The people around the outside are the tour group and some parents of the children.

It is housed in an old British (Victorian, I think) house in what was the British part of Shanghai. It is very old and not in the best of shape.

After this, the tour continued to the old city. There is an old private garden here that was reconstructed back to the way it was many years ago. Shanghai has 19,000,000 residents. I think they were all in the old city. Have a look.

Just a few people here. Apparently the locals frequent the old city as well as the tourists.

There are stalls selling all types of food on either side of this narrow corridor which we were trying to get through (and did, eventually).

The main square are is just at the next corner on the right. MacDonald’s and KFC are well represented. The store facing the walkway on the left corner is a Dairy Queen.

Once through all the people, here is the entrance to the Yu Yuan gardens. Sorry, I do not know what the rock says.

The top of the garden wall is a dragon. Watch Out!!!

A view overlooking the central part of the garden.

The group had to fight back through all the people to get back to the bus.

The next stop was lunch at a very high end hotel and conference centre along with the other five buses that were doing the same tour. Apparently a very import treaty was signed here a number of years ago.

Next stop was the Shanghai Museum. It is world renowned for is collection of Chinese artifacts. Here are some pictures of this.

The lobby of the museum. The other side is the same except that the stairs are escalators.

I do not know who this mean looking character is but he comes from sometime Before Christ.

The outside of the museum.

The last place that the tour visited was the Shanghai Friendship Store. This is just an upscale Sears or Macys type department store. There was nothing interesting about it. Many people wondered why we even bothered to go to it.

After that, the tour ended up back at the ship. The departure was approximately 9:00 a.m. with the return between 5:00 and 5:30 p.m...

One of the places that tourists are not taken by these tours is the famous waterfront area called the Bund. Apparently there is a major problem with pick pockets and other types of unsavory people there. A tourist goes there at their own risk. On Tuesdays and Saturdays there is a light show (no sound as far as I know). Lucky for us it just happens to be Saturday. Things start happening as it starts to get dark. Here are some pictures of this.

The Pearl TV tower at night. The coloured lights on the orbs are constantly changing patterns and colours.

There are many dinner or party boats. They all seem to be brightly lit in all kinds of colour combinations.

Here is one of the gaudier of the boats. It has dragon heads at the front and tails at the rear.

The blue strip of lights along the shore line in the distance is the Bund. The large rectangular bright object in the front is a stadium sized video screen mounted on a boat. There were two of these.

At 9:45 sharp everything went dark. On to Sunday……

Sunday morning’s shore excursion was to take a ride on the world’s only Maglev train in commercial use. The only other one is in Germany and is used by the military for testing. Maglev stands for Magnetic Levitation. The train has no wheels and is lifted up and propelled by magnetism. Magnets in the track interact with magnets on the train to move the train up to 430 Kilometers per hour. That is around 250 miles per hour. It does the just over 20 km journey from New Shanghai (Pudong) to the international airport (also called Pudong) in 7 minutes.  It is the world’s fastest train. The ride was a return trip to the airport and back. Here are some pictures.

The train as it arrives at the station.

Seven minutes later at the new international airport terminal just opened two weeks ago.

An inside view of the train.

It takes 3.5 minutes to reach 431 km/h.

A view out the window. In the foreground is the track for the second train. One goes each way. The trains pass each other at about 300 km/h with a foomp sound and you barely see it. You hear it more than see it.

Another view. You can see the angled tracks so it can take the curves quickly. This is fairly close to the station so it is slowing down. It is smooth riding and you only notice the speed when it stops accelerating and starts to slow down.

Here is a better view of the train as it leaves the station.

Here is a view of the futuristic looking station at the Shanghai (Pudong) end.

After this the tour went to the Jinmao Observatory. This is the 88th floor observation deck of the Jinmao building. It was quite hazy so not too much can be seen. Here is what could be seen.

Along the Huangpu River.

More river and Pearl TV tower.

MS Statendam is behind the second building in from the lower right of the image.

Looking up the river in the direction we came from and had to go out along later today.

This gives you some idea how far I am from you.

Jinmao Building on left at 88 stories. The one on the right is approximately 135 stories. There will be an observation deck in it too.

I thought about asking you to guess what this might be. I doubt that you would have even the slightest chance of being successful unless you have been here. The Jinmao buildings top 33 floors are owned by the Shanghai Grand Hyatt hotel. What you are seeing here is the hotel portion of the building looking down from the top. The observation deck has a glassed in circular window that looks down on this. The bottom is the lobby of the hotel which is on the 54th floor with the 87th floor being the top of the hotel. The 88th floor observation deck is not part of the hotel.

After coming down from the heights, the tour returned to the ship around noon and the afternoon was free.

I did not do very much in the afternoon.

The Huangpu River is usually a very busy place. There are many boats going both directions. Several people noticed that there had not been too much activity during the afternoon. All of a sudden there were dozens of boats heading up the river. There had been some indication that the river may have been blocked downstream from where we were. Here are some examples:

Dozens and dozens of boats heading up the river. It went on like this for several hours.

They were 3 and sometimes 4 wide. The nearest boat is carrying coal. There were many of these.

I have no idea what this cargo is, but it looks interesting.

So for the conclusion of the Shanghai visit the ship had to sail back up the river the way it came. This happened at 9:00 p.m. and took another five hours. The ship had to backup about a mile with the help of 2 tug boats and turn 180 degrees to sail back up the river. There was not enough room to turn it where it was docked. Here are the final Shanghai pictures.

The Pearl tower is lit up differently on the nights that the light show is not on. The party boats are still there.

Here, the ship has now turned around and is sailing away, is the final picture of Shanghai.

Some additional notes:

The weather has cooled down and is more what we thought it might be. There has been a fair amount of haze, smog, and clouds but so far no rain. It has come close a couple of times but not happened yet.

Seas have been fine, except for a bit of activity on the first day out of Hong Kong.

Health is fine. I am eating too much. I did 2.5 miles around the decks today. I think more is needed.

The ship arrives in Beijing early on Wednesday, my time. I will be off the ship on a 36 hour intensive shore excursion staying in a 5 Star hotel in Beijing for one night (along with 250 or so other passengers).  I will be back here late on Thursday my time, that is early Thursday your time.

I have used slightly higher quality images for this update. The previous ones looked a bit grainy to me.

It is almost midnight Monday here, noon Monday your time. I will do the final edit on this tomorrow morning and then try to send it along with the first one to the few people have not yet received it.

To the guys at Fairview Photo Lab: The EN-EL4a battery for the D300 is still going on the first charge. According to the battery info it is down to 22% and has taken 668 pictures. I will be recharging it before going to Beijing tomorrow. The first 4GB Extreme IV card has 634 images on it (it was blank when the trip started) and the camera says there is room for 83 more. It is saving more images on the card than the camera predicts. I will probably change the card before leaving tomorrow.

That’s all for now! The next installment will likely be in several days. Now I will try to send this to you all……

Les A.