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Published: March 8th 2013
We cruised into Huang Pu one smoggy morning. This is the port city for Canton which is now called Guangzhou. It is a huge industrial port and Huang Pu is all business. The Academy Awards were going to be broadcast on the ship that morning so we decided to stay on board to watch them instead of taking a tour into Canton. As it turned out the signal wasn’t very good…maybe we were being jammed by a certain government. So we went ashore for a walk about and to grab a bite to eat. Most of the restaurants were already closed for the afternoon but we found one Chinese restaurant which was located in a parking garage, of all places! The food wasn’t bad and we were the only gringos in the joint.
The local officials have a very strict immigration system with face to face inspection, passport scanning and photographing each passenger. It felt sort of like a scene from “Argo” when the U.S. Embassy staffers were trying to get out of Iran. This led to rather lengthy lines getting on and off the ship. But the ship’s staff had a nice little party pier-side with refreshments and music
to ease the wait for the guests. Even the Chinese officials were swaying to the music.
The next morning we arrived in Kowloon and got the premier docking space overlooking Hong Kong and the famous harbor. We didn’t have much free time for sightseeing since our computer had crashed several days prior to our arrival. We spent most of our time shopping for a new computer and then trying to rebuild all of our files, pictures and programs. It is always a bit dicey to buy electronic equipment overseas, if for no other reason than different electrical plugs and questionable international warranty, etc. We found it amazing that computers are cheaper in the U.S. than in China, where most of them are assembled! Alex, the ship’s computer manager, was a miracle worker in what he was able to salvage from our hard drive. We have an offsite backup system but we need about 12 hours on shore with a stable internet connection to download everything from our old computer again.
We were able to get to the Jade Market, visit some of the street markets, drop into our favorite foot massage spa, see the night time laser light
Internet Manager and Computer Genius
show and have a welcome aboard, dim sum, sunset party for our new Cruise Specialists guests. Oh, and we changed cabins in the middle of all this frenetic activity. Fortunately we will be back in Hong Kong in mid-March and then we’ll see more of this fascinating place.
We met Paul Stone the featured artist on board from Great Britain. We had several delightful dinners with him. Paul has a beautiful voice and wonderful stage presence. He sings classic swing, jazz and can bring the house down with big show stopper tunes. He is one of the best performers we have seen on the high seas. Paul joined us for dinner with Ray, the Cruise Director and guests Betty and Mary. Between Ray’s cruise stories and Paul’s career tales, it was a very enjoyable evening. And Mary and Betty are great tablemates and travelers.
Since we have been to Taiwan several times and visited the capital city of Taipei, we had signed up for a tour to the Yangmingshan National park and then a visit the volcanic hot springs. Unfortunately, the tour cancelled at the last minute so we went out to Yeliu Park instead. This is an
astonishing array of sandstone and rock formations caused by waves, wind and rain erosion and earth movements. The guide told us that on average there are 26 earthquakes a day in Taiwan. These nature sculptures are called various names like bean curd rocks, mushroom rocks, candlestick rocks and the most famous is the Queen’s Head Rock. The whole park stretches about a mile into the sea. Our timing was perfect. Just as we were heading back to the bus a giant black cloud filled the sky and the wind came up. It rained for the rest of our time in Taiwan. Captain Mario said that this was his first trip to the port of Keelung when it wasn’t raining all the time. No earthquakes, typhoons or tsunami and a little bit of sunshine…what more could a traveler ask for?
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