Sunday, June 30, 2013

Bangkok part 1

The view from the Banyon Tree Hotel facing north

Wat Pho

One of the floating markets

The Reclining Buddha at Wat Pho

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Cruise part 9

I’ve been typing about the cruise like crazy. I think it might be good therapy for my hand. When I force myself to move it around a lot, it just doesn’t feel right. While typing about the cruise, I’m not forcing anything. I’m trying to keep up. I just can’t type fast enough to say everything I want to say. Not because of my hand, but because I’m not a good enough typist. My hand should be pretty strong by the time I’m finished.

The doctors wanted me to squeeze a ball, but I think typing is better therapy.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Cruise part 8

This cruise book is turning out longer than I expected. I thought it would be a short little book like Hailey’s Bali Diary – buy your copy today. That’s about 90 pages – more or less. Page numbers are relative.

I’m probably at about page 50 – more or less – and it’s not even close to finished. We’ll just have to wait and see what happens.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Cruise part 7

Someone told me that taking a cruise is really the worst way to travel. I don’t know about that. It’s not a great way to experience a different city. You only spend about 8 or 10 hours in each city, so you’re never going to learn very much about the people and their culture. Most passengers on cruises just go to the main tourist sites and do a lot of shopping. I agree that’s not any kind of meaningful travel.

Our cruise started in Shanghai, stopped in Xiamen, Hong Kong, Ho Chi Minh and ended in Bangkok. I went straight from Shanghai Airport to the ship, so I didn’t see any of Shanghai. We were in Xiamen for 9 hours, so obviously I didn’t learn everything there is to know about Xiamen. In fact, I still don’t really know anything about it. I know it’s crowded & dirty and it gets pretty hot in June. We were in Hong Kong for 10 hours, but I live there, so that wasn’t the highlight of the trip for me. We were in Ho Chi Minh for 8 hours, but I didn’t get off the ship, so I learned almost nothing about it.

We spent the most time in Bangkok because that’s where the cruise ended. After the cruise, we stayed there for another 2 days. That’s not a long time, but it’s better than 8 hours. So I know a lot more about Bangkok than any of the other cities, but obviously I’m no expert.

If you want to know everything there is to know about wherever you’re going, don’t take a cruise. Then again, a 2 week vacation in a western hotel isn’t going to tell you everything there is to know about the place either. I’ve met a lot of people who went somewhere for a week or 2 and think they’re experts. I’ve lived in Hong Kong for over 2 years and I’m not even close to being an expert.

Seeing other places isn’t the main point of a cruise. When you fly somewhere, the destination is the journey. When you take a cruise, the journey is the destination. Or something like that. The main point of a cruise is what you see & do on the ship. The stops in exotic cities are a bonus.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Cruise part 6

I came home from the cruise Monday night. It was amazing. There’s nothing else to say.

Actually, there’s a lot more to say about it. I’ve already started to write about the trip. I think I might end up with another short book like I did with Bali – or maybe not. It’s too soon to say how it will turn out.

I highly recommend taking a cruise if you ever get the chance. It’s not the best way to see places, but it’s a great way to have a relaxing vacation. It’s like being in a really nice hotel that always has great views and all the food you can eat. The people who work on cruise ships are a lot more attentive than people who work in hotels. People who go on cruises want to be pampered and cruise crews do a pretty good job.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Cruise part 5

I’m going to Shanghai tomorrow. I already looked up information about Bangkok back when we were thinking about going there a few months ago. I won’t be in Shanghai very long since that’s where the cruise leaves from. I could go there early, but Ryan won’t be there until the ship docks a few hours before it leaves. I’d rather spend more time in Bangkok with him than more time in Shanghai by myself.

I don’t know anything about Xiamen. I should probably look up something.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Cruise part 4

Ryan should be in Xiamen by now. Maybe he can tell me something about it before I go there on Tuesday.

As it turns out, you can get Vietnam visas online. You fill out the forms online and then when you get there they either stamp your passport and let you in or they don’t. That works out for me since I need my passport. This way, I’ll always have it – but I won’t know if I can go into Vietnam until we get there. I don’t even know if I want to since Ryan won’t have a visa.

Somehow I found a nice hotel in Bangkok at the last minute. Now we just need our plane tickets from Bangkok to Hong Kong.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Cruise part 3

Ryan is now on the cruise ship. He flew into Hong Kong today, but I was at work so I couldn’t pick him up at the airport and take him to the ship. While he’s cruising to Xiamen and Shanghai, I’ll be booking our flights back home and trying to find a hotel in Bangkok at the last minute. It’s June, so that won’t be easy.

The Vietnam part of the cruise is turning out to be an issue. We already have visas for China and Americans don’t need any for Thailand, but there isn’t enough time to get any for Vietnam. Even if there might be enough time, I wouldn’t be comfortable giving the embassy my passport since I’ll need it to go on the cruise. Ryan’s already on the ship, so it’s too late for him no matter what. Even if I could get a visa, there’s no way he can. We’ll just have to stay on the ship while it’s there.

Getting to everywhere isn’t easy either. You’d think going on a cruise would take care of transportation since you’re on a ship that goes everywhere, but we need plane tickets to get there & back. Ryan already flew from Fuzhou to Hong Kong. We’re both flying back to Hong Kong after the cruise and he’s flying back to Fuzhou. I’m flying from Hong Kong to Shanghai and getting on the ship. Then back to Hong Kong with Ryan after. Getting us both on all the same flights isn’t easy.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Cruise part 2

Ryan & I have been talking about nothing but this cruise non-stop. Most people take months to book a cruise. We’re doing it in a week. We don’t have any advance notice because Ryan’s filling in for a friend, so he’ll get paid to be on the ship. I won’t. I’ll be a regular paying passenger.

Ryan was going to come to Hong Kong a few days before the cruise so we could spend some time together, but now he’s not. He’s already taking a lot of days off work – 10 days for the cruise and we’re spending an extra 2 days in Bangkok at the end of the cruise. Now he’s just going to fly into Hong Kong right before he has to go to the ship. That means we won’t see each other at all since I’m working a lot right now since I’m also taking time off work to go on the cruise. I also took a lot of time off after the accident.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Cruise part 1

It’s been a full 3 months since our last vacation, so Ryan & I are going on a cruise. A friend of his works on a cruise ship and needs to take some time off for personal reasons. Ryan’s going to sub for him and I’m going along for the ride. It’s a cruise, why not?

The cruise goes from Shanghai – Xiamen – Hong Kong – Ho Chi Minh – Bangkok. None of those places would be my first choice – especially Hong Kong – but we almost went to Bangkok when we went to Bali, so I guess Bangkok’s getting another chance.

I’ll be on a regular 7 day cruise. Ryan will be on the ship for 10 days since he’s starting in the middle of the previous cruise. So I’ll get on the ship in Shanghai and he’ll get on in Hong Kong. That part is convenient since he can fly to Hong Kong early and we can spend some time together before the cruise. We haven’t seen each other since Bali, so it will be nice to get naked on dry land before we go on a giant boat.

We have about a million things to do and about a week to do them all.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Back to Work

I went back to work for the first time since the accident. Everyone was happy to see me and they even gave me a welcome back cake. It was very sweet. The gesture, not the cake. Chinese cakes aren’t all that sweet.

Someone – not at work – asked me why I had to take any time off at all. You can dance with a broken hand, right? Well, no. Not really. Your feet support all your weight, of course, but your hands are very important in dancing – unless you’re doing one of those Irish step dances.

They also have this funny rule that maybe Snow White shouldn’t be wandering around with a cast on.