March 18th
Shanghai, China

I was up before the alarm went off at 7:15.  I showered & was out the door by 8; so I decided to have breakfast in the main dining room.  A very sweet young man named Jacques waited on me; & his deadpan humor so early in the morning had me in stitches.  He certainly kept me entertained while I waited for my western omelet.  Capt. Glenn’s thought for today….”Real generosity is doing something nice for somebody; & they never find out.” 

That's Debbie seeing us off.

It was raining & chilly when we made the long trek through their beautiful & ultramodern cruise terminal.  Despite the rain, we got a festive welcome from the local people (as we have become accustomed to in most ports on this world cruise itinerary).

I chose the 5 hour Panoramic Tour of Shanghai (SHG-AW).  I was on bus #10; my guide’s name was Jason Wu; driver was Mr. Zhu; escorted by (special interest lecturer) Dr. Robert Freedman.  Jim Brochu, Steve, Che, Celeste & Bill were also on this same bus.

                                                                      Steve, Becky, Jim, Celeste & Bill


Jason was so animated this morning; talking about great Chinese food recipes & comparing Chinese ships to whatever impression he had of Crystal cruises.  Going on & on about how wonderful we have it on Crystal.  I wasn’t sure if he was being funny or if we should be insulted (gave him the benefit of the doubt & went with funny).  He taught us to say a few Chinese phrases; & then ‘tested’ us a few times to ward off Alzheimer’s (his words).

He told some pretty interesting stories about the “1 baby policy”.  At one time, they were so strict about it that there were ‘baby police’ that would watch a woman’s waistline for any sign of pregnancy.  If the woman already had a child & they suspected her of being pregnant, they would report her.  I think most of us remember the times when little Chinese girls were being put up for adoption so that the parents could keep trying for that ‘one (BOY) child’.  If you lived out in the countryside, they would let the 1 baby rule slide a bit.  If you had a girl first, you could try again; but no more.  With (what used to be an out of control) population of 23+ million, I certainly understand the need for population control; but this seems almost barbaric.

The drive between the port (which is the busiest container shipping port in the world) & downtown took about 45 minutes.  As depressing as it was to have to see another huge vibrant city under dreary, foggy conditions; the contrasts of architectural styles & brightly lit ‘jumbotron’ screens everywhere you looked made it fascinating, to me at least.  This being a Sunday, the streets were deserted at this time of morning, which made it seem a little more eerie. 

Our first stop was in an area known as the Bund (pronounced boond), a wide boulevard that runs along the west side of the Huangpu River bank in downtown.  On the Bund side of the river (”Old Town”), the architecture is decidedly colonial.  This area used to be referred to as their “Wall Street”; but has not been so carefully maintained, as it represents the success & power once wielded by foreign investors.

While across the river on the (east) Pudong side…… that’s where things are ‘happening’ now.  Tall, futuristic monstrosities make up the skyline.  The more outrageous, the architecture, the better.  The Lujiazui Financial District did not exist prior to 1993; & it now claims to be the new “Wall Street” of China.

Our next stop was in the old French Concession (Quarter) where we proceeded on foot down Xin Tian Di Pedestrian Street.  The buildings in this area retain the antique walls & décor of old Shanghai, yet the interiors have been refurbished into ultra-modern art galleries, restaurants & boutiques.  And for good measure….Harry Winston, Rolex, Tiffany’s, Louis Vuitton, Cartier & Starbucks.  For obvious reasons, this is where the ‘yuppie’ generation now choses to live & play.

Close to the end of our walk we passed a red brick building that housed the 1st National Congress of the Communist Party.

Back on the bus, we backtracked a bit; drove under the river tunnel; back to the Pudong side to gawk at the futuristic buildings that make up the Lujiazui Financial District.  This area is home to the (you’re either going to love it or hate it) Oriental Pearl Radio & TV Tower.  Considered ‘vulgur’ by many old-timers, the 1,535 ft. tower (3rd highest in the world); & was commissioned to be defiantly & symbolically 21st century.

This area is also home to the tallest building in China (1,614 ft.), the Shanghai World Financial center, completed in 2008.

Close by is the 2nd tallest building in China (1,116 ft.), the Jin Mao Building, completed in 2001.  This silver, steel building’s architecture is unique as it has floors that taper outward at certain intervals.  Starting out at about the 15th floor, 2 floors jut out.  Then up 12 floors, it juts out.  Up 9 more floors, it juts out.  And so on.

This was the last stop on our tour, where we went up to the 88th floor observation deck.  There are 2 elevators that make the high speed run up to the 88th floor in 45 seconds (that’s almost 30 ft. per second).  What’s so amazing about this elevator ride, is that you couldn’t even feel it move; your ears pop; & it seemed like a very short 45 seconds!

Had it been a clear day, the view would have been spectacular no doubt.  The fog did lessen a tiny bit during our visit.  And Photoshop does help with the contrast somewhat. 

The whole 88th floor is circular & wraps around a hollow core for the 2 elevator shafts & the atrium of the Grand Hyatt Hotel (which you can clearly see 32 floors below).  Jin Mao Building also claims to have the highest post office in China.

After approximately 45 mins. of viewing the city & souvenir shopping, we were whisked back down the elevator at supersonic speed.  Returning to the bus we started our 1 hour journey back to port (traffic had picked up by midday).

Celeste, Bill & I went straight to the Lido for lunch since the D.R. had already stopped serving.  Since I didn’t get enough sleep, I was already getting sleepy & cranky.  I knew I had to get a good nap or else I wouldn’t make it to tonight’s world cruise event.  I had an outstanding lunch of jumbo prawns; roasted pork belly stuffed with dried fruit & garlic gravy; honey sesame shrimp with stir fried veggies & sweet chili sauce; roasted vegetables; chicken crepe with wild rice, mushrooms & asparagus with a light cream sauce; hearts of palm; vegetable caponata with fresh herbs; & roasted garlic soup with parsley croutons.

I was able to get a nap; but I had to literally FORCE myself to get dressed for the evening activities.  We were to meet on the pier at 5:15.  I timed it right to get on the ‘good bus’ with Keith & Anne Marie, Celeste & Bill, Peggy, Elaine, Chuck (my stone carving friend) & Kay (who I refer to as Mrs. Chuck).

This was to be the last world cruise event held shore side; & of course, my first official WC event.  The theme for the evening was ‘Travel Time-Past & Future Shanghai’.  It was held at the Shanghai Science & Technology Museum.  Actually, I didn’t know what to expect other than dinner.  But tonight’s entertainment was outstanding!

We were greeted at the front door by the Crystal Ensemble & the local performers in gorgeous Chinese costumes.  A huge banquet hall was draped in white with colored lights reflecting off the ceiling; slowly changing hues.  The backdrop to the stage was a gigantic projection screen that showed a series of scenes of China.

Being the first bus to leave the pier, we were lucky to get a table right in front of the stage.  On either side of the stage were young men in silver body paint & silver costumes.  The one right beside our table was sweating profusely under all that paint & from being illuminated by a huge spotlight.  He was wobbly; & we were afraid he was going to pass out.  We tried to ask him if he was okay; but he seemed to be in a daze.  We mentioned it to one of the waiters; who went up to check on this young man; but the man waived him away.  Maybe it’s a pride thing; but he was gonna go ‘down’ had the spotlights not dimmed when the show started.

The meal consisted of hot & cold canapés that were brought out on large platters, served family style on a lazy susan in the center of the huge table.  Everything was beautifully plated; there were only a few things that did not suit my palate.  Unfortunately, so much of it was shellfish, which Celeste could not eat.  A lovely young woman played soft zither music while we dined.

The evening’s entertainment started with a sort of dance performance by a group of men simulating an ancient sword fight (playing upon the ‘past’ in the evening’s theme).

This was followed by a short greeting by both Rick Spath (Cruise Director) & Capt. Glenn dressed in elaborate robes & headdress.

Next a troupe of lovely young ladies performed an acrobatic routine using several props, including spinning plates.  They performed nearly flawlessly; and wowed everyone in the audience.


Next on the program was a calligraphy dance.  Not sure I got the true meaning; but the movements were very much like Tai Chi; & in the background someone was writing on a large banner in calligraphy.  They later translated it as a welcome to the Crystal World Cruisers.

The ‘wow’ for the night was a spectacular display of laser light emanating from a dancer wearing a ‘costume’ resembling that of a Star Wars storm trooper.  A high energy, new wave-techno musical finish to a wonderful evening.

Rick came out again to bid us adieu as dessert ‘bites’ & fruit were served.  This was followed by a short dance encore by a group of beautiful Asian women clad in colorful, midriff-bearing costumes.

As we filed out of the banquet hall, the performers were there so we could chat and/or pose with them for photos.

On the bus ride back to the ship we were able to see some of the beautiful lights of the Shanghai skyline.  And just as he did on the way to the event, the ‘guide’ continued to babble & repeat historical & current statistics that we had all heard 2-3 times already today.  A few people managed to fall asleep to the chatter; I was ready to strangle the guy. 

By the time we returned to the ship, I HAD to have some peace & quiet.  They had set up a lovely late night buffet for us in the Crystal Cove.  I put a few things on a plate; & raced to the serenity of my cabin.

 Tomorrow, there is a full day tour…..IF I regain my sanity by morning.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...


An exceptional post. Thanks.