So….. we went to Disneyland

Dad I know Disney was not on your bucketlist, or any kind of list for that matter, but I had to go. 
I couldn’t be this close to a Disneyland, a brand new one for that matter and not go. Mum took a fair amount of convincing, but actually we had nothing planned for our final day, and I think we were all ‘tour guided’ out. A day where we had some control was a welcome change. 

Oh did I mention this Shanghai Disney has a ‘Treasure Cove’ land? It is basically a whole land dedicated to pirates!! The main ride; the Pirates of the Caribbean was simply awesome! It is the best theme park ride I have ever been on. Even mum agreed, so it is not just me being biased. 
Getting to Disney was an experience in itself. Apparently the driver could not read the road signs, despite the fact the Mickley mouse head emblem was on all of them! It took him half an our to find the entrance. We had to become back seat drivers and point in what we thought was the right direction.  In the end he have up and chucked us and the tour guide at the side of the road. The tour guide was then adamant we needed to walk over this bridge, in completely the wrong direction to the hundreds of people walking to Disney. Even i know thats not right! By this time I was frazzled and decided to give up on the tour guide and follow the crowd. Mum followed me, so the tour guide followed her. We were standing at the main entrance and she was still trying to turn us around! She finally agreed we were in the right place, which was not difficult; the entrance to Disney is pretty huge and got us through the gates. 

So I acted like a child all day and ran around Disney with mum following. We met Stitch, and I got a wave and a kiss blown to me by Jack Sparrow. Shame it wasn’t the real one really. 
We got picked up and driven to the airport. We had learnt the day before we were departing from separate terminals, which would mean no proper goodbye at departures. Instead it would be a quick hug at the side of the road. It was a bit like university all over again….. 
I am now sitting in departures, but I am not completely alone, I have a new friend to keep me company. 
Not going to lie I am mildly terrified, but in a good way!
Next stop, Vietnam! 

A day in Shanghai

Talk about cramming everything in dad!

Our day started at the Jade Budda Temple. It was this little Temple nestled into the city. Hard to believe it was there with the infastructure surrounding it. 

We were then off to the Shanghai Museum. It was pretty cool, and filled with bronze, jade and furniture.

The silk factory initially I had high hopes for, we were shown where silk is from and how it is harvested. But low and behold as we turned the corner it became a tourist trap. We were basically standing in a silk supermarket and everything we had been shown was for show only. They also seemed disappointed when we were not interested in purchasing a duvet! They even showed us how they can flat pack it. We left pretty quickly, after of course being walked through the bedding and rugs and clothing and accessories. 

We were off to the ‘Yu Yuan Gardens’ but we had to walk through a market. The market was actually called ‘tourist market’ with shops built up around the gardens. They had tried to make the façade seem authentic, but let’s face it, a McDonalds sign will ruin the whole aesthetic regardless of how old you are trying to make the building look. The market was also packed! There were so many people it was hard to walk in the direction you wanted to go. Too many people for my liking.

Then there was lunch…..

We were taken into this weird restaurant, which you had to access through a dodgy lift in an even dodgier looking building. We sat down to look at the menu. Dad maybe I will let you make your mind up… Which dish would you order? Remember to read the description!

After trying to not laugh/vomit at the table, we decided to make a run for it. Our guide tried to encourage us to stay, “I’ll ask for them to take the head off first” was the response….. No thanks, I’m good! 

We legged it pretty sharpish. After being told there were no other “good restaurants” close by, we played it safe……. And went to Starbucks! Followed by a ‘blizzard’ at Dairy Queen. – really authentic cuisine hey!?

After lunch came the Shanghai World Financial Centre, where we assended to the 97th floor. It was the best bit of the day. It is hard to explain how huge Shanghai is, but there are skyscrapers for as far as the eye can see. The city just continues in every direction, with no end in sight! Parts of the floor were also transparent, so you could see back down to ground level. It didn’t really phase mum, which I was surprised about, and she was able to walk over it. 

Straight down from the tower and across the water to the Bund, where we walked along the waterfront. It was strange to walk along, with one side of the water being modern architecture, and the other side having a traditional western architecture. No Chinese architecture in sight. 

As it got dark we then took a boat ride down the Bund. The Shanghai buildings along the waters edge illuminate at night, making the buldings look even more spectacular.

Yet another day where we are exhausted, and to top it off, we need to pack again. Mum is flying home tomorrow and I am off to my next destination, Vietnam (well for two days anyway).
We were going to go out for a nice meal, but packing took forever. We also saw this was offered in the restaurant in the hotel…….

PASS!! 

Through fear of looking through another menu, we ordered room service, raided the mini bar and ate it in our pyjamas!

Of course as ever there is a catch. The WiFi does not reach to our room, so we need to go to the lobby. This post is being sent from the lobby of our hotel, with both of us sitting here in our pyjamas and walking boots (everything else is packed). 

I think we are now geting strange looks for an entirely different reason. 

Until tomorrow dad x

Pandas! 

Hey Dad, 

So the pandas were awesome. We walked around the base for hours just watching the pandas eat, sleep and play. We also walked around the museum in the base and learnt about the history of pandas and what the base is doing to improve the number of pandas in the wild. 


Off then to the airport. We get there to find our flight is delayed by an hour and a half, Joy. Well it didn’t get any better. Safe to say it was the worst flight I have had to endure! First the seats were so crammed together even my knees were on the back of the chair in front. The tray table when down rested practically on my belly. Seriously dad, I will never complain about leg room on our cheap flights ever again! Then i got stuck sitting next to a guy who filled the seat and a bit of mine (not difficult really). He also found it necessary to clear his throat and nose every few minutes by literally ‘hocking it back’. Within 20 mins on the plane I felt ill just listening to it. Then the food game, I didn’t even bother opening mine after looking at mums. Even mum only had one bite. Then came the turbulence for the last half an hour of the journey! A two hour flight which I hope will never have to be repeated. 

We then had to walk over a mile to baggage claim, the airport is insanely big. It even had warnings telling you the distance to baggage claim! 

We met our guide, which this time was very straight forward. The only issue we had was determining the gender of our guide…. well after 45 minutes in the car we are still unsure. What we do know is Yao speaks English faster then I can, and is filled with figures and statistics. The whole car ride was throwing numbers and figures about Shanghai and China at us. Things like they have 1379 bus routes services by 17o00 busses, the longitude and latitudinal coordinates of shanghai, the distance from one end to the other…. etc etc etc. They are the ones I can remember anyway.

Well we made it to our very nice, very comfortable hotel. First hotel we do not feel claustrophobic in, which is refreshing after being on the awful plane! 

Shanghai looks really cool, and we have a busy day tomorrow trying to fit it all in! 

Night dad x

A rude awakening

Hey Dad, 

Well we got woken up this morning by the tannoy playing ‘Amazing Grace’ with pan pipes. Not going to lie, it is perhaps the strangest way I have been woken up. I could have coped with it, but it continued for over an hour; on repeat. What’s worse is our tannoy was turned off, but everyone surrounding had it on, so we could hear it clearly. 

We wanted to have a nice leisurely breakfast to say our goodbyes to all the people we met, only to be told as we sat down our tour guide was down stairs and we needed to leave. Immediately. Unimpressed I of course dug my heels in and refused to move until I had eaten breakfast and said goodbye. The tour guide said 8am at the latest, I got there about 8:15……
We arrived at the train station at 9:15 for a 10:30 train. Safe to say we could have had breakfast at our pace and still had time to sit in a train station the size of an airport for over an hour. Oh well. 

We arrived in Chengdu, and followed the crowd off the train. Every other time we were instantly greeted at the door by our guide. This time no guide! We stood around for a while, still go guide. We decided to leave mum standing with all the bags while I walked around. I quickly discovered this huge train station had 4 exits, so leaving the station would be suicide. We found an information desk. Using our best Chinese we tried to explain the situation. Eventually we showed them the number of a tour company contact. After waiting around for what seemed like hours our tour guide eventually found us. Not sure what happened, but it was not the smoothest transition. 

We arrived at the hotel and were exhausted. It was another late night in the bar with the cocktails flowing, that and with the early morning wake up call, sleep the night before had been in short supply.

We crashed out in the hotel room all afternoon! The bathroom wall is glass, weird!

Grabbed a bite to eat in the hotel. £12.50 for what turned out to be a pretty good steak! We then people watched from the window. Highlight has to be the dog wearing shoes! Who does that?! 

Good nights sleep tonight ready for the pandas tomorrow!
Night dad x

Bad weather, great company!

So today we could not see a hand in front of our face! Seriously it was so foggy/smoggy the view was non existent. 

We docked in Shibaozhai and went to the Red Pagoda. It was cool, we climbed up the pagoda which was nine steep floors. It was like climbing a ladder. We were told you become a year younger for every floor, and the stairs are the stairway to heaven. Someone in the group of course reference Led Zeppelin, which made me smile. 

We got to the top and shockingly enough we felt the exact same age. 

The afternoon was spent talking to Paul and Lucy, the group of Americans, or ‘Gate 21’ as they are known; and David, who is American but not with ‘Gate 21’. They really have made the trip and our time on the ship great. Some of them have even opened up their homes to me around the USA when I am driving though to show me the ‘real USA’ hopefully including baseball games and the Hersheys factory! We couldn’t have asked for better people to spend time with. They have also not heard of the ‘cereal box game’ 

We bought a box from a little store on shore. Our Chinese is non existent so explaining to a woman who spoke no English we wanted to purchase an empty box was an interesting one. In the end we emptied a box and pointed. She laughed and said ‘ok’. As we walked back up the street the woman was shouting what had happened to the street vendors who all laughed at us the whole way back up the hill. 

Anyway, Dessert was literally a whipped cream cake with a small amount of sponge, with whipped cream pandas on it. The cream was more like cool whip. Weird. 

We spent the evening in the bar playing the cereal box game. ‘Gate 21’ thought I was crazy until we started playing and were in Stitches watching people struggle. We got the about half an inch off the ground with two of us left in. We gave the championship to the USA, on moral grounds. Ashley was a worthy competitor, the rest were hilarious! That and the Chinese bar staff, who had also clearly never heard of the game watched in confusion, trying really hard not to laugh at us. 

Watch out America, the ‘cereal box game’ is heading your way! 

Last night on the ship, and once again we are the only ones in the bar. Another cocktail…… go on then! 

It is true what they say, it’s not just what you see, but the people you meet along the way that makes a trip memorable. 

Night dad x

A day at sea

Hey Dad,

So again early start. Our first excursion was on a ferry around Shennongxi. It was pretty spectacular. It was overcast again though which was a little disappointing. We sailed through a massive Gorge reaching heights of hundreds of meters. 

Back on the ship we sailed through the Wu Gorge and through Qutang, which is the Gorge on their 10yuan note. The views while sailing though, even overcast were stunning. There are massive caves 5 miles deep. Our new American friend David has a state room with a huge balcony on the front of the ship so he invited us to join him. Safe to say he had the best view on the ship! 

As we docked for the afternoon, this small ship pulled up next to ours. They were selling oranges! They had thousands of oranges and people on the ship were waving bank notes over their balconies. The oranges were put in a fishing next on a long bamboo pole, lifted to the balcony and the money would be placed in the fishing next in place of the oranges. We found it very entertaining, so mum decided to buy some. The pole didn’t reach to the 4th floor though, so the nice Chinese man on the 3rd floor paid for us and we exchanged oranges for money in the hallway. Best oranges we have ever eaten! 

We also watched a man paint the inside of a snuff bottle, not your thing I know, but the craft and concentration behind it had to be appreciated.  

Now for cocktail hour. Well, cocktail hour starts when the cabaret finishes. Again, pass! 

By the way, today I learnt the word ‘jeans’ in Chinese is ‘cowboy pants’ and Turkey is ‘fire chicken’ 

See ya x

We are sailing…. just

Well Dad, I got a rude wake up call this morning over a tannoy speaker in our room. Made me jump out of my skin.

Our itinerary said we would set sail at 6am. Imagine our surprise when we were still in port when we woke up this morning. Very confussed we went for breakfast only to be told we were not sailing until 6pm this evening. First day on a cruise and we have gone nowhere!

Our fist day trip was to the Three Gorges Dam, which was massive! We didn’t get to go in it though, just walk around it. You would have been impressed with the locks to move the ships, they were huge and could fit multiple cargo ships in them. We got to watch one ship go through the top lock. This morning it was very overcast, so the view from the viewing platform was disappointing. I bet on a clear day it is amazing. 

Back to the boat for lunch, and then off on our next adventure, to Three Gorges Tribe.

It was pretty cool, but definitely set up for tourists. Very little of it seemed authentic, but you could not fault the Gorge, or the clear waters. You started by walking through all these market stalls selling fried whole fish and sweet potatos. At least the scenery could not be engineered. The fisherman that was strategically staged was clearly not fishing, for a start I could see to the bottom of the stream and I could not see any fish. There was also some bloke playing the flute to a girl standing on a little bridge, very odd.

We were told the little bridge was very old ‘around 1997’ – really that’s very old!? Chinese history goes back thousands of years, I think the tour guide may need to re-evaluate what is considered very old. 

The funniest part however was this little monkey. He jumped out of a tree and walked towards someone on our trip. He took a sweet potato from his hand (well sort of; the guy panicked and dropped it) then ran off back in to the tree. His little monkey friends cottoned on and came looking for more food. 

Weirdest part of the day was travelling back to the ship. As we got on the coach, there was a bucket by the drivers seat. Inside the bucket was a live fish. Yes a fish. We spent the ride back debating whether this fish would be a pet…. or dinner. No one could really decide. 

We have met some of the American tour too. It is quite nice to have some different conversation and hear different stories. Some of them live on the route I am driving through the USA and have been given me tips on where to go and what to see. 

Well good news is we are finally sailing up the Yangtze. Entertainment tonight is a Chinese history fashion show….. Pass! It is however in the same room as the WiFi, so I am sat in the corner at the back as a very bizarre show goes on around me. Mum has gone to watch it, told her to carry on! 

Well that’s all for now. 

Until tomorrow dad x