It's A Small World - A Never-ending Pre-trip Report

dolphingirl47

In Search of the Tag Fairy
Joined
Dec 25, 2007
Wow! Your love of the Asian mystique is definitely in play!
Absolutely. I think we may have a bit of a break from this part of the world after this trip and may not get to get back until fall of 2020 and this idea does not fill me with joy. Then again, we have no firm plans for fall 2019...

Sounds like a lovely trip!
I can't wait.

Your plans sound amazing!
Thanks. I am super excited about this.

Corinna
 

dolphingirl47

In Search of the Tag Fairy
Joined
Dec 25, 2007
My Disneyland Paris trip has been and gone. Today we tied up most of the loose ends for our upcoming trip. Early on in the planning process, we were considering traveling between Hong Kong and Shanghai by train. However, the train does not run on the right day and also takes up rather a lot of time. So we have now booked a flight.

We will have one night in Shanghai before our cruise and this was probably the hotel I agonized about the most. At various stages, I explored staying near the airport, staying in the same hotel that we are staying at after the cruise or at least in the same area and staying near the port. In the end, I found a hotel near the port that I totally fell in love with and ended up booking this. The hotel is called Delta Hotels by Marriott Shanghai Baoshan and it is stunning.

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The hotel has the added advantage that it is just over a mile from the port. In theory, we could walk, but I suspect we will hop in a taxi.

The second part of this three part trip is a 5 night cruise on Quantum of the Seas. We really enjoyed the cruise that we did on Quantum last year and decided to go back. This is going to be different. We have been on this class of ship three times now and have yet to experience one of the virtual balcony rooms as it always worked out cheaper to upgrade. This time round, it looks like we actually will have a virtual balcony cabin. However, it looks like we still get to experience the suite life. We have now reached Diamond status in Royal Caribbean. This in general comes with some perks like a happy hour with drinks and canapes every day. Most ships have a diamond lounge where the happy hour takes place and that also features a fancy coffee machine. However, as Quantum is exclusively sailing out of China and there are not many high status Crown and Anchor Society members in China, the ship has no diamond lounge. Instead, Diamond members are allowed to use the suite lounge. As a side effect, we will get the same privileges that people in suites have like access to the solarium and potentially even Coastal Kitchen. That would be very sweet indeed.

In terms of ports, we will revisit Nagasaki and I am pretty excited about this. Nagasaki really made an impression on me last year. We are kind of pondering checking out the Atomic Bomb Museum this time. We visited the Peace Garden and the Hypocentre last year. We are a little concerned that this will be a bit depressing, but it would be a shame to visit Nagasaki for the second time and not at least check this out.

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What really pulls me this time so is Temple Street. There is a neighbourhood in Nagasaki that is full to the brim with temples and shrines. I absolutely love the traditional Japanese architecture and can't wait to see this.

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Our second port will be Okinawa. This is a bit of a subtropical paradise, but we only arrive mid afternoon and the beaches are quite far from the port. However, Okinawa has a monorail and by the looks of things most sights are easily accessible via this. This is also a very cheap way to get around. An absolute must to for me is Shurijo Castle.

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Again, I am drawn to the architecture of this. Right next to this is the Tamaudun Mausoleum, which was built around the beginning of the 16th century as the mausoleum for the royal family of the Ryukyu Kingdom. This is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and looks fascinating.

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If the weather is decent, I really want to visit Naminoue-gu Shrine. This requires a bit of a walk, but not only is this absolutely beautiful, but the views from the cliff on which this is built are also likely to be stunning.

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The cruise will be rounded off by a couple of sea days and it will be nice to just chill out.
 

jedijill

Chiefs fan living in Bronco country
Joined
Jan 17, 2005
Again, your plans sound fabulous! That Marriott in Shanghai is amazing!

Jill in CO
 
  • franandaj

    I'm so happy, I could BOUNCE!
    Joined
    Nov 15, 2009
    I'm so amazed at your plans, sound like you will have a fabulous trip!
     

    dolphingirl47

    In Search of the Tag Fairy
    Joined
    Dec 25, 2007
    The third and final part of the trip is what I am the most excited about. It is not that I am not excited about the others, but I am just super excited about this part. What a difference a year makes! We are heading back to Shanghai. When we planned last year's trip, Shanghai was what inspired me the least. Essentially there were two reasons to go to Shanghai: Shanghai Disneyland and the fact that a ship I really wanted to sail on is home-ported there. Both of those things will feature in this trip as well. However, in what little time we spent in Shanghai itself and despite less than ideal weather, we realised that Shanghai is worth some more time and we are going to spend 5 nights and 6 days there this time.

    Whereas we stayed in Pudong near Shanghai Disneyland last time, we are staying right in the centre near People Square this time round. The hotel is not quite as glamourous as the others we are staying at, it is still a 5* and very nice. We got an amazing deal on this through one of the suppliers we use at work. The hotel is called the Guxiang Hotel.

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    I have won a voucher for chauffeur driven services on a work conference I went to on May and we will use this to get from the port in Shanghai. We did a really amazing food tour in Hong Kong, which will feature towards the end of the trip report. We have decided that we want to do something similar in Shanghai. I am still at the research stage for this, but the favourite at the moment is a walking tour where you get 6 different tastings including the famous Shanghai soup dumplings and then finish off the night with a one hour river cruise.

    The next day is probably the day of this trip I am the most excited about. We are taking to the bullet trains and are heading to Suzhou, one of the famous water towns. Suzhou is known as the Venice of the East and like Venice, it has a Grand Canal. I am sure a boat tour on the Grand Canal will feature in our day.

    The main pull however are the classical gardens. Suzhou has over 70 gardens, 9 of which are UNESCO world heritage sites. I have picked out the four main ones that I really want to see: Lingering Garden, Lion Grove Garden, Humble Adminstrator Garden and Master of the Nets Garden. I have reached out to an English-speaking tour guide and she suggested two gardens are enough, but we have 8 hours to play with and most of the gardens are really close together so I really want to do all four.

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  • dolphingirl47

    In Search of the Tag Fairy
    Joined
    Dec 25, 2007
    During the weekend, we will stay in Shanghai. There are bunch of things I want to see. I definitely want to go back to the Yuyuan Bazaar and visit the adjacent Yuyuan Gardens.

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    Another thing that is on the must do list this time is the Jade Buddha Temple.

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    Essentially we have three full days to explore Shanghai and I am sure we will come across many treasures just wandering about. One thing I also really want to see this time round is the former French Concession with its mix of colonial and traditional Chinese architecture and winding alleys. The plan there is to visit late afternoon and into the evening so that I can see this both in daylight and at night. I am sure we will find a nice place for dinner.

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    dolphingirl47

    In Search of the Tag Fairy
    Joined
    Dec 25, 2007
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    Of course, no visit to Shanghai would be complete without a trip to Shanghai Disneyland. I can't wait to do Buzz Lightyear, Pirates and Tron again as well as checking out some things we missed last year. High on the list for the this is Ignite the Dream, which is their evening show and acted as inspiration for Illuminations at Disneyland Paris, which I absolutely adore.

    Out trip will be rounded off by another bucket list item - a ride on the Maglev back to the airport.
     

    Pinkocto

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jul 22, 2011
    I am sorry, it seems like forever since I’ve been on here.

    Sounds like you’ve had several amazing trips and have several more in the pipeline. How fun Graham will be enjoying some park time with you as well.

    Those water gardens are gorgeous!
     

    dolphingirl47

    In Search of the Tag Fairy
    Joined
    Dec 25, 2007
    I am sorry, it seems like forever since I’ve been on here.
    No reason to be sorry. I know everybody is really busy at the moment. I know that most days I never get as far as switching the computer on at the moment.

    How fun Graham will be enjoying some park time with you as well.
    It will be nice to have company.

    Those water gardens are gorgeous!
    I can't wait to see them.

    Corinna
     
  • franandaj

    I'm so happy, I could BOUNCE!
    Joined
    Nov 15, 2009
    it has been forever since I was on here!

    First I got busy, then I got sick. Your Shanghai plans sound great. PiO went to Suzhou and her pictures were quite stunning. I would definitely like to stay longer in the city if we ever get to Shanghai, I have many of the same places as you're planning on my list as well.
     

    dolphingirl47

    In Search of the Tag Fairy
    Joined
    Dec 25, 2007
    it has been forever since I was on here!
    It feels like forever since I have been here and this is my thread.

    First I got busy, then I got sick.
    I am sorry that you were sick.

    Your Shanghai plans sound great.
    Thanks. I am very excited about this part of the trip.

    I would definitely like to stay longer in the city if we ever get to Shanghai, I have many of the same places as you're planning on my list as well.
    Shanghai and the surround area had lots going for it. Hopefully we manage to see most of the highlights on this trip.

    Corinna
     

    dolphingirl47

    In Search of the Tag Fairy
    Joined
    Dec 25, 2007
    It is absolute ages again since I last updated this and as I am now officially well into single digit territory and Graham will be in Hong Kong already by this time next week, I thought it was high time for an update. The good thing is that I am 90% ready for this holiday. Even though I have been quiet on here, I have been planning at the speed of knots.

    Two weeks ago, we had a bit of a planning fest to tie up loose ends. One of the most pressing matters was getting the train tickets sorted out. This is all sorted and we splurged a little. We got business class seats on the way out and VIP class seats for the way back. This is a little overkill for a 30 minute journey, but the price was not much more and this gives us the option to experience the different classes.

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    The tickets were now issued. They will be sent to the hotel where we will stay near the port in Shanghai before the cruise.

    The other big job was deciding on tours in Hong Kong and Shanghai. In Shanghai it was relatively straightforward as we wanted to do a street food tour. We did something similar in Hong Kong and loved it. When we were in Shanghai last year, I really wanted to try the famous soup dumplings, but was not brave enough to order any without knowing what I was getting especially as some of them are filled with crabmeat and I don’t eat seafood. The obvious solution to this problem is to find a local guide who speaks English. It was just a question of finding the right tour. We looked at both day time and evening tours, but in the end decided on a private evening tour that combined tasting a range of street foods, a walking tour through Old Shanghai and a one hour river cruise to see the evening lights. I have emailed a few times with the guide and she seems very nice. We will get to try Shanghai soup dumplings, pan-friend dumplings, traditional Shanghai noodles, freshly baked "Xinjiang " Style Nang (the Chinese take on Naan bread), lamb skewers and roast duck. I don’t eat lamb and I am not a big fan of duck, but I am sure that this can be substituted with something else. Even if not I am sure there is enough food there so that I don’t go hungry.

    In Hong Kong, things were a little more complex. We had a shortlist of 3 excursions and we are planning to do just one. The first one we discarded pretty much straightaway as this was limiting us to much. This was a dolphin watch cruise to see the pink dolphins. This only operates on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. I will not arrive in Hong Kong until 21:30 on Sunday night and by the time I have cleared all the formalities, got my luggage and we are at the hotel, it probably won’t be a lot short of midnight. I really don’t fancy having to be at a meeting point at the crack of dawn the next morning. Friday is not an option either as we have a lunch time flight to Shanghai. Recently out track record with dolphin or whale watch tours has not been wonderful either with us not having any sightings on our last three attempts.

    The second option we looked at was a Lantau highlights tour taking in Ngong Ping cable car and village, Po Lin Monastery and the Big Buddha as well as the Tai O fishing village. We went to most of these places in June, but we were exhausted after an overnight flight and it was way too hot to climb up to the Buddha. We also really want to see Tai O Fishing Village. The price for this however seemed a bit steep. We still have to make our own to and from Tung Chung MTR station. I did some research and essentially we can do pretty much everything that is part of the tour using public transport and paying for the cable car and a boat trip a Tai O locally for about a quarter of the cost. The only thing that is included in the tour that I have not factored in is a meal at the Tai O Heritage Hotel. However, this consists of a rather strange set menu that did not appeal to either of us. I am sure we can get a meal a la carte if we feel that way inclined either there or somewhere else.

    So that left the third option, which is a little bit off the beaten track and not something we would normally do. This is a treasure hunt in Lei Yue Mun Fisherman Village. Lei Yue Mun Fisherman Village is on a peninsula between Hong Kong Island and Kowloon. Our tour will start at an MTR station on Hong Kong island where we will meet our guide Matteo. We did a tour with him in June and loved it. He actually lives at Lei Yue Mun Fisherman Village. We will take the ferry over to the village. Some of the stops included are a typhoon shelter, a maze, a lighthouse and a temple. We are doing this on my first full day in Hong Kong. We don’t have to meet Matteo until 14:30 so I can have a lie in if I need it and we will be at the village for sunset, which is meant to be pretty spectacular. I am really looking forward to this.

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    This was the biggest job. Other jobs that were taken care off was getting the documents printed. They have now arrived and I just have to put them in order. This is a job for tomorrow. I also tried my hand at making my own graphics for magnets. They have been printed and cut to size. I just need to laminate them now and add the magnetic tape, which is another job for tomorrow. Once this is done, it is just a question of packing, getting my nails done and doing online check in for my flights.
     

    franandaj

    I'm so happy, I could BOUNCE!
    Joined
    Nov 15, 2009
    I was glad that Magadalene reported on one of your threads that you were OK and just crazy busy because I had started to worry. At least you are posting some on FB so we know you're alive and kicking! :)
     

    dolphingirl47

    In Search of the Tag Fairy
    Joined
    Dec 25, 2007
    Just quickly checking in to say "hi". Things have been crazy busy in preparation for this happening:

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    Essentially over the last few months I have been doing my old job and most of my new job so there was not much time for much else. I am heading for a sneaky trip to Disneyland Paris on Wednesday and then I intend to return and get my old trip report finished and also start on what the rest of the year has in store for me, which is all pretty exciting.

    Corinna
     

    dolphingirl47

    In Search of the Tag Fairy
    Joined
    Dec 25, 2007
    I was glad that Magadalene reported on one of your threads that you were OK and just crazy busy because I had started to worry. At least you are posting some on FB so we know you're alive and kicking! :)
    Yes, definitely alive and kicking. I have to venture over there and thank Magdalene.

    Corinna
     

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