Daily Archives: 2009-10-12

Dream Day Dream – East China Sea Day

I slept in for the first time in a long time which surprised me. I suppose my dreams are becoming more active which wakes me less rested. I ate then worked out before meeting up with some friends for lunch. We reviewed some health facts and figures then enjoyed the elaborate dessert buffet. I found my old card playing friends who invited me for a few rounds. I didn’t win but I didn’t lose.

I went through the Japanese Immigration process once again before making an appointment with the fitness dude. We talked a lot about different strategies I could use to balance out my system. I admit I sure did feel a lot better on leaving that meeting. I realized after seeing the stats from the electronic health scan that I am not in as bad of shape as I thought. Infact, most of the facts and knowledge that he shared, I had already learned. It’s just a matter of putting it into practice. Besides all that, its nice to have encouragement even when you are on the right track.

After eating dinner, I made my way to the main attraction for the night. Martin, my favorite entertainer of late, was making his debut in the Princess Theatre so I went to support. I nestled in front and center between Megan and Marshan. We all clapped loudly in appreciation as Martin tickled the ivories with his tribute to Elton John. Not a huge EJ fan but I still quite enjoyed the show, especially when he played his rendition of “Your Song”.

I tumbled into bed with music in my head. It was a good day.

Grateful for authenticity.

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Made in China – Shanghai, China

I started off the day with room service noshing on my usual. I was pretty excited to get off the ship and explore Shanghai. We docked in the container port as we have been for most of the ports so far. I have never really looked at a huge operation like this before and was fascinated. Humongous cranes hauling around lunky metal rectangles, the kind you see trains pulling around. Its really quite a sight to behold and I couldn’t help but wonder out loud what the heck are in all those hundreds of metal boxes. A man nearby chimed in “Anything and Everything under the moon…heck, maybe even the moon!” Made in China, baby!

Marshan and I wandered through the streets happening upon Peoples Square which was ripe with photo opportunities. I was quite taken with the unique architecture adorning the city skyline. From jagged to circular to geometrical in shape, and spanning all eras from historical to modern to futuristic.

We finally found the main shopping street which was teeming with people even at 9am. It was pretty intense for me as I am not used to such crowds. I just kind of stared up at all the advertisements and the hoards of shoppers with an awestruck look on my face.

We found a place that would give us a 90 minute massage for 85 juan (about 10 dollars) so we happily obliged. The experience was unique but one I probably wouldn’t repeat anytime soon. The young lady twisted and punched at me but not in a way that felt very therapeutic. I suppose I am used to a more gentle predictable technique so though it was nice to have the human touch, I would prefer something more fluid. In the end, she finished with throwing a heated bean bag all over my body. It was strange indeed. Perhaps here is a case of you get what you pay for.

We meandered down the main shopping street and I reflected that the Chinese economy was thriving in Shanghai. People were buying up everything and there were even lines in some stores. Hundreds of touts were grabbing our arms, getting right in front of us with their promises of shoes, watches, designer bags, clothes, silk, wallets, everything, anything you want at a very good price. We were able to resist them for a few hours but near the end we crumbled and got taken into one of these elusive “everything” stores.

Hole in the wall shops which turn into rabbit holes filled with goods. You go through a door in the back of what looks like a tiny booth which reveal a long hallway ending in a bunch of backrooms with a bunch of stores inter joined. It was bizarre and very high pressure sales. If I were into designer knockoffs, I would have likely been in heaven. They even sold iPods which could be had for $20. We muscled out way out and almost got away…then I found the cheap Asian dress.

It was shiny electric blue silk with sexy slits up the sides. I was sure the lady was mistaken when she told me I could have it for 100 juan. I tried on a couple sizes and was pretty shocked when I learned that in Asia, I am no petite. Infact, it’s a good thing I don’t subscribe to labels, or I would be very disturbed that I am in actuality, an extra large according to Chinese sizing standards. A little apprehensive to buy it (knowing I won’t be xxl once I get off the ship) which the saleslady noticed so I actually got it for 82 juan which translates into just over 10 dollars. A Steal!

We bargained for some chopsticks (there are entire stores dedicated to this) and silk scarves then hightailed it through the parks back to the shuttle bus. It began to get to be a little much what with all of the chaos that is downtown Shanghai. They even have an amusement park smack dab in the middle of the city.

Once back onboard we got prime seats for the folkloric show which showcased Chinese Acrobats. We all stared in awe as the uber flexible and balanced children twisted and contorted themselves into pretzels. They flipped and twirled around the stage wowing the packed house. Ofcourse it wouldn’t be complete without plate spinning and juggling but I spent more time studying the beauty of the different children’s faces rather than the mechanics of their act. I suppose I wasn’t overly impressed because I have friends at home who hoop, juggle and perform sideshow acts with the best of them. Anyway, this was no cirque de soliel but I could see them trying with their limited resources and for that, kudos.

I made my way to the gym then met my friend Megan and the first senior officer for dinner. We chatted about all the extreme cases he had encountered while aboard ships and some of his stories were shocking. It was fascinating to hear from the perspective of a higher up what ship life is like. I can say that I am starting to understand what it must be like to live on a floating vessel since I am now coming up on a month.

Before bed I took a quick stroll through the promenade deck to see if there was anything worth staying up for. I happened upon a quirky comedian/juggler whose humor was clearly lost on this antique crowd. His juggling was actually quite impressive and he wasn’t bad to look at either. I stayed for most of it then made my way to bed. It was a great day and I felt full.

Grateful for entertainment.

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Lazy Days in the Ocean – China Sea

This morning room service woke me from my very light sleep to bring me some fruit and coffee. I nibbled the oranges and sipped up some coffee before bounding up the stairs to the gym. I checked my energy levels and noted they were considerably high so I thought I should take advantage. Once I was good and sweaty, I took a breakfast break adding some hard boiled eggs to my usual menu. I have been pumping some serious iron and need to feed those muscles.

After completing some ab work and stretching, I watched Bolt on the TV while cardioing it up. I also found some extra tunes I didn’t know I had hidden on my iPod. That alone fed me with some extra bounce which I channeled into my routine.

I took a light lunch then wandered down to the Art Auction which was pretty much more of the same. It was slightly more active but once the Art director began showing the same pieces I have already learned about, I slipped out the back.

I found myself at the coffee bar once again and sipped on several pots of tea while I wrote. I was joined by an tall dewy faced blond called Megan who had sat with me yesterday as well. Today we struck up a conversation and found out that we had an awful lot in common. Our chat went on for hours as we shared our thoughts and philosophies about life.

We laughed at our follies and shared secrets in hushed voices. We bonded quite quickly recognizing the eerie similarities in our paths. She left reluctantly to her standing dinner date but not before inviting me to dine with her table tomorrow. She is here visiting one of the head officers so I suppose I will get to meet him as well.

One of my favorite parts of traveling is the meeting people part. Each person is a gift to opened and I’m keen to discovering what lesson they have to teach me. Sometimes they are cryptic riddles and some messages take some time to sink in. But its all part of the adventure for sure.

Well now formal night has started and I am still sitting here in my writing corner, tucked tight behind the coffee bar. I have been here for five hours now engrossed in conversation or plucking away at my laptop keys. A few curious passengers have asked me what I am writing. I never really know what to say. A book? Maybe. A story? For some. An interpretation of the world through my eyes, ears, heart, and soul? Yup. That’s it.

Grateful for independence.

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