You win some, you lose some. Most of my trips and adventures on this contract have all been wins. My day to Beijing: big fat LOSER. We are in Tianjin for 3 days, the first day we didn't arrive until 11am and we weren't allowed off the ship until after 1pm. The second day was embarkation and well had to work all day. the third day is a crew tour to the Great Wall. So that first day was my ONLY time to try and see Beijing. I know by car it takes about three hours to get there but I read online there is a bullet train that gets you there in 33 minutes. So I took the shuttle bus into the mall and caught a cab there. She took us to a tram and we rode it to the end of the line. Then we took another cab to Tianjin Railway Station. That's where we took the high-speed train to Beijing (which actually ended up being one of the best parts of the day.) The train went almost 300 km/h, I mean we were flying up there. We left the ship a little before 2pm and when we got to Beijing it was just about 7pm. At this point we were sure everything was closed but we had come so far and we wanted to see something so we took two subway trains to Tiananmen Square. We got there but couldn't go in so we stood out front and took some pictures. As we were standing there, these giggly Chinese girls came up to us and started talking to us. This probably should've been our first clue because NOBODY in China speaks English. But these girls looked younger than me and they were dressed like cute little teeny boppers. They asked us where were from and what we did. They told us they were English teachers and visiting a friend in the big city. Then they asked us if we wanted to go have tea with them. At this point we were all so tired from traveling that the idea of sitting down to have something warm just sounded too good so we went to a tiny little tea house and had some tea. They ordered for us and got four little pots of tea (there were eight of us there) and they brought out some little snacks like dried fruit and little
cinnamon sticks. They helped us figure out the train schedule so we wouldn't miss the last train home and we decided we'd better get back so we'd make it in time. Then the bill came. I reached out for it because they had been so sweet and helpful, I thought I would pay for tea, I mean how much could it be, it was tea. When I opened the check I just kind of stared at it for a while wondering where they meant to place the decimal point that they surely left out. 1900 yuan, the equivalent to about THREE HUNDRED DOLLARS!!!! I was like, this can't be right, it was just tea! It's just tea! I just kept saying this over and over again. It's just tea! They said no, no it's special tea, he makes it here and this tea house is special, you can stay here all night and drink tea. Neither of these things made any sense but at the time it was such and awkward and confusing moment that I really couldn't think straight. One of the girls said, let's just split it so it will be cheaper. Rather than shouting at them to split it themselves because they scammed us and how dare they and I'm not paying for this, we split it. I paid $40 for a cup of tea. I'm still in shock over it and I keep replaying it in my mind thinking, why didn't I just say NO WAY!! I guess you live and you learn. From there we got back on the subway having seen nothing but the dark Tiananmen Square and this tea house with hustling Justin Beiber fans, and went back to the train station to go home. Once in Tianjin none of our original forms of transportation were still running so we had to take a cab back to the ship. Finding someone to understand where we needed to go took us another half an hour and the cab ride itself took about an hour and a half. We arrived in the port about 12:30am. Needless to say, China has not been my favorite country so far. I still have the Great Wall ahead of me, but it's going to have to be pretty spectacular to make me forget my horrible trip to Beijing.
We are now coming to the end of any new ports. A few days ago I was in
Shanghai. We were docked right in the middle of the city. I woke up and looked out my porthole and saw the entire skyline of Shanghai. The whole city looks very futuristic. It's almost like the Jetsons without the flying cars, although I'm sure they're working on that. I had the entire day off so we decided to walk around rather than paying to take a cab or tour. It was very accessible and even though I was very tired and cold by the end, I'm glad we decided to walk because we saw so much of the city. We walked down to the Bund, and walked along the river. That's when we found there was an underground pedestrian tunnel that lead from one side of the river to the other. When we got down it was a tiny subway car that drove you through and there was music and a crazy light show the whole way. On the other side we saw the Pearl Tower and the Convention Center, but realized that most of the historical attractions were on the side we had just come from. So, we took our little subway car back and started exploring. We decided to walk to the Yu Yuan Gardens. This was in the "old city." The architecture there is what I thought all of China would look like. Inside the garden walls were very peaceful. I kept expecting to see a monk or someone studying karate or something. I'm glad we get another chance to go back to Shanghai because there was so much more to see around the city that I couldn't fit into one day.
Sassy ginger from NH off traveling the world.