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The Last of Beijing and onto the Ship

Beijing Travel Blog

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Tiannammen Square

I woke up feeling like I got hit by a truck! So much walking yesterday did a number on my aches and pains. I just don’t travel as well as I used to! But no time to waste! I was up at around 7:00 and headed out to see the Forbidden City in the little time I had before I had to head to the train. I was there by 7:45 and found that it hadn’t yet opened. So I waited with five hundred of my closest Chinese friends until 8. Even at that hour the crowds were out. I met a man from another part of China who spoke English and started a conversation with me. So we chatted for a little while until they opened the gates. Then the whole concept of personal space went out the window. I was herded along with the rest until it thinned out once inside. I took leave of my new friend and went to buy my ticket.

The entrance to the Forbidden City

The Forbidden City was the center of rule for many centuries. It is completely walled in and surrounded by a moat. Everything is very elaborate with bright colors, intricate detail and gold trim. Once you get high enough up the various stairs, you can look out over a sea of roofs, all built with much the same architecture and décor.

After my whirlwind tour, I walked back to the hotel, packed up and had the doorman hail a taxi for me. He didn’t seem to be having much more luck than I did so I don’t feel quite so inept! I went to the train station where I bought my ticket for the bullet train with a little help from some friendly Chinese man who spoke a bit of English. He saw only blank stares on the agent’s face and a look of hopelessness on mine as I tried to ask for one ticket, first class on train C2275 to Tanguu.

Walls of the Forbidden City
I waited for a while in the station since I had arrived early just in case of delays. It was every bit as big as many US airports. But all went smoothly and I met up with some folks that I had conversed with online before the cruise. They were easy to pick out since I had their descriptions and again the Caucasian faces were extremely limited in the crowd. The train took 40 minutes to go 120 km, including one stop. I believe we reached 330 kph. We passed several other trains going the opposite direction in less than 2 seconds each. Blink and you missed it! The train was incredibly comfortable and incredibly cheap ��" about $10!

I arrived at the port very early for boarding the ship and found that it was delayed. There had been an outbreak of Norovirus on the previous sailing so they were disinfecting the whole ship.

The train station
Finally we were allowed to board and I found my cabin at the very aft of the ship (that’s the back for you landlubbers!)For the first time ever I have a balcony. It looks over the wake of the ship and I have been looking forward to it since it was assigned. It has a large balcony since the hull of the ship slopes down from the top. The luggage takes hours to arrive in the room but it arrives so I am happy. The ship is the Azamara Quest, a shootoff of Celebrity Cruises that is supposed to be a step up. It holds only 700 passengers so it is a relatively small cruise ship these days.

I wander the ship, stopping for some wine, looking at the spa (where I sign up for the thallasotherapy pool ��" a hot tub with sea water, extra bubbles and a limited number of visitors), find the internet café, and chat with a few people.

The Bullet Train
I have not yet met an American ��" well, one but he is travelling in a group of 22 Greeks!  I have met Germans, Belgians, Canadians, Brits, and my dinner companions, the Greeks. Dinner was a fantastic beef dish and if it was any indication on the things to come, the food will be among the best I’ve had ever! I called it a day after dinner about 10:30, went back to the cabin with my bottle of wine and unpacked.

I was slightly worried that the position of my cabin would exaggerate the movement of the ship but so far it has not. The seas were calm all night and I slept well. I had also heard that there is some engine noise and vibration in that location and there was a little. The noise was more like a ship sized white noise maker.

My aft cabin
There was vibration and then there was a movement like someone was jiggling the bed with their foot. It didn’t seem to bother me.

So I woke in the morning fairly refreshed about 6 am, turned on the TV to the channel that shows the sea off the bow of the ship, ordered room service for breakfast and ate while watching the ocean out the balcony doors. I would have eaten on the balcony but I think the temperature is somewhat less then freezing! We are scheduled to arrive in Dalian, China in an hour and I see land out ahead of the ship. The captain has just announced that he is pulling in the stabilizers and we will be rocking and rolling a bit for the rest of the trip into the harbor.

 

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Tiannammen Square
Tiannammen Square
The entrance to the Forbidden City
The entrance to the Forbidden City
Walls of the Forbidden City
Walls of the Forbidden City
The train station
The train station
The Bullet Train
The Bullet Train
My aft cabin
My aft cabin
My huge balcony
My huge balcony
Beijing
photo by: Deats