Here to there and a bit of everywhere

Well, I`m back in Japan… Hiroshima of all places, to be exact. We arrived yesterday afternoon after a relatively flat passage from Shanghai. Which, is probably where I need to start because, well, its been awhile. I pretty much avoided Internet in China because of censorship (yay for not being able to get to my favourite news sites or anyone`s blog) and because net cafes there are smokier than a European bar if you know what I mean.

So… we left Okinawa on Valentines Day and, strangely enough, I was cooking. We arrived into Shanghai 4 days later after having everything go wrong (stove didn`t work one day, broke the thing holding one of the forestays up another which could have cost us a mast or two if the weather had been rougher, and broke the hydraulic line the night before arriving in Shanghai meaning our wonderful trainees and crew were up all night winching the anchor up by hand. I woke up and turned on the stove and made hot chocolate. Katie slept through the whole thing: she`s a good sleeper.) and sailed up the Yangtze River. It was grey, and dirty, and cold…

Ilya, Chris, Kara, Rachael, Sarah, and Elske cuddle to keep warm… we all look so spiffy in our crew uniforms which we have to wear arriving in any port. Now all we need are crew issue parkas, toques, and mittens for the next time we have such cold legs on Offshore!

Our poor pilot was freezing… I think he`s used to bigger boats with heated bridges.

Speaking of bridges, we passed under a cool bridge…

And suddenly, there was the skyline we had heard all about and were waiting to see…

The requisite Chinese men were there to stare at us as we came in. Apparently we look strange or something. You`d have thought they had never seen a tall ship crewed by white people before. Oh wait… we are a bit of a novelty everywhere we go. One gets used to a cool boat when it is your home!

And the local newspaper was there to take pictures (the photo is by Mr. Lu)

Then, we discovered that we had a sweet view from where we were docked.

By day…

…and by night… (yes, I was standing on deck when I took this one!)

I spent the day wandering around the area near the boat, saw narrow roads that reminded me more of China than the towering skyline of Pudong we could see from the boat.

I found the requisite markets, complete with animals, alive or dead. Unfortunately the alive ones (chickens, roosters, and ducks in this case) were crammed into ridiculously small cages)
And I also found a small Buddhist temple really close to the boat. I was the only white person, the only `tourist` there really. It was two days before lantern festival, the last day of spring festival or Chinese New Year, so the place was all decked out still and there were lots of people working their way around praying to all the various Buddhas. The smell of incense was, at times, overpowering, and its smoke filled the entire courtyard.
That night, I left to Beijing, the adventures of which the first 36hours or so were recounted for the log and posted here last.
So, the photos must follow…

The Train…
Picture 1: From the top bunk looking down, waaaay down. (Susan`s hand on top of Jose`s face, Antony and Sarah Luty bottom bunk left, Sarah Brizan in the green bandana…)
Picture 2: The corridor

Beijing… ICE!The Forbidden CityTienanmen Square
The amazingness of the night market…!

And, the Peking Opera!

Then it was off to the Great Wall for us! The four of us took a day package through our hostel that drove us up to Jingshanling section of the wall where we hiked roughly 10km along the wall to the Simatai section. Can I just say amazing! Probably the best wall I`ve done yet (and I`ve now been to 4 sections of the wall). About a third of the way in, the restored section ended and all of a sudden we found ourselves walking along a wall with no side walls and half the steps missing. It was a bit sketchy at times, but so dramatic. The wall is literally perched on mountain tops all along and in some places, the drop is almost straight down at least a couple hundred feet. Some of the classic shots you see of the Great Wall I am convinced come from here: we could see it snaking along the hills for miles.

(no kidding, eh? Some what was being cheeky!)

Then it was back home that night, Lantern Festival (after a quick stop at the night market once again!) for Sarah B and I. This time we were in the pure luxury of the soft sleeper compartment!

The post Beijing exploring of Shanghai will have to come at a later date. I`ve spent two hours on this already!

I do need to send out some big thank yous for mail: Thanks Jen, Lynne, and Nancy for the card in Shanghai, also Dad and Colleen for the package and Nancy for the letter. The newspaper clipping are being cycled through being posted on the crew head door as our sitting reading material. Now that its cooler, we don`t mind spending time in the head, its a little cooler now! Thanks to Bev for the card and to Jen for the letter and clippings as well. In Hiroshima, thanks to Nancy and Remi for letters and cards and clippings so far! The bodyless feet article is currently in the head…! Jen, Kelsey, and Adam, holy cow that was an amazing package and to whom do I owe the thanks for the stunning (and oh so becoming) yellow pants?!? Tav, the chocolate and mangos in the package to the crew were inspired genius.


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