Our arrival into Shanghai was delayed by hours. The port had been closed overnight due to high winds but finally we were allowed to sail into the port of Baoshan. We caught a shuttle bus into Shanghai and walked the famous Bund along the Huangpu River with thousands of other tourists, something we had already done on our Rotary tour in 2012 but definitely worth doing again, day and night. We also walked almost the length of Nanjing Road, famous for its designer label stores, cafes, restaurants and tourist shops, which we hadn’t seen on our previous trip. At night, the city lights up like no other and is a mecca for people from all over the world.
From the Bund
The next day we found ourselves on the island of Okinawa, infamous for its tragic war history. We decided to walk the twenty minutes into the city but hadn’t counted on 30+ degree temperatures with 100% humidity. We struggled in the heat but still managed to cover nearly 9 kilometres, including a long walk through the wonderful Makishi Public Market. Here was a variety of shops selling clothes, glassware, bags, stationery, hardware and sweets as well as a fascinating fresh food market.
Makishi Public Market
A dried pig's head
Not sure what these are. Eels perhaps?
We also travelled on the city’s monorail, an easy and inexpensive way to get around and discovered the city's very modern Prefectural Museum which contained interesting artefacts from ancient Okinawa including models of various castles and remains, as well as a good display of taxidermy animals and birds.
The entrance to the Museum
Inside the Museum - Japanese buildings are very spacious inside
Modern art outside the Museum
We are now in the port city of Keelung in Taiwan for a second day. We arrived yesterday afternoon and waited out the heat before heading into the city last night for a walk through the streets including some of the best night markets we’ve seen. Amazing seeing open shops (many of them lingerie) with hot food stalls out front selling a huge range of seafood, dumplings, noodles, sushi and lots of items we couldn’t identify. And crossing the street can be a killer, not just for the amount of people but the number of motorbikes!
We eventually picked a sit down Teppanyaki restaurant and were welcomed inside with a Taiwanese/English menu (a bit rare in these parts). We chose the item for two: beef, chicken, seafood and shitake mushrooms with mung beans and what looked like lettuce, all cooked on the hot plate in front of us with loads of onion, garlic and unidentified sauces. The food was delicious, especially the mushrooms, and beer and iced tea were included. What a lucky find!
The sign in the background says the beef is from Australia - and good beef it was!
Outside the restaurant
Today, as the temperatures soar once again, we are hibernating in one of the ship’s air-conditioned lounges for now and may wander out a bit later in the day. Tomorrow is our last sea day before arriving in Hong Kong on Saturday. Then we have one night on the ship and another on Lantau Island before flying home.
We have had many interesting experiences on this trip, but one of the more memorable is the toilets. In Japan they are incredibly clean and modern (only two squat toilets in three weeks) but a little disconcerting at times as there are so many buttons both on the toilets and on the walls beside them which include instructions on how to use them. Many also have a speaker that plays rainforest music as you sit down, and heated seats which can be a little uncomfortable in warm weather.
We’ve met some lovely people too. In particular, at our Takayama hotel, two older ladies from northern NSW who were travelling around Japan independently and with whom we shared information. On the cruise, we dined with people from the UK, Germany, Japan, New Zealand, USA and Australia. And as Penny was wearing her ‘Hawks’ lanyard, we had a few comments regarding the AFL. Part of the joy of cruising is meeting people from around the world and learning about other cultures.
The Japanese people are delightful, always polite and friendly, even though most of them don’t speak English. They are always willing to help and we managed, somehow, to communicate. I’m sure our simple use of the words Konnichiwa (hello) and Arigatoo (thank you) went a long way with most.
For now though, it’s Sayonara from the Garnsworthys!