As we did last year, my family decided to spend our 2018 annual family holiday on a cruise. As I mentioned in my previous post, cruises aren’t really my idea of a great holiday, but my parents rather enjoyed the experience (I can see why from their perspective) and wanted to give it another shot.
The plan for this year’s cruise was to leave from Shanghai, sailing towards Japan and doing a round-trip back to Shanghai. There would be two stops in Japan, firstly in Kobe, and then Nagoya. All in all, we’d be spending 6 nights on the ship.
Travelling from London to Shanghai on Friday night took about 11 hours from Heathrow. Arriving in Shanghai around 3pm on Saturday, we had about a day to do a quick explore of the city centre before needing to board the cruise ship. Our hotel accommodation was well located on the Bund, allowing us to easily check out the main tourist attractions of Shanghai.
After dinner at a fusion Chinese / Burmese restaurant nearby, we took advantage of our jetlag to explore the Old Town by night.
We made it in the nick of time just as the gates were closing at 9pm. Because of this, most of the stores were already closing for the day, but on the plus side, also meant there weren’t a lot of other sightseers around.
After a quick walk round, we made our way back towards The Bund to get a good look at the iconic skyline. Unsurprisingly, the walkway was packed with people who had a similar idea. Most looked like tourists, but there were also locals just milling about, jogging or walking by the water.
Starting to feel the effect of our long flight by 10.30pm, we decided to head back to the hotel, when I took this shot which was just one example of the excess number of share-scheme bikes around China. Mental.
After breakfast the next morning, we decided to spend the morning at the Yu Garden. Luckily for us, we were within walking distance, needing to pass by the Old Town to get there.
The Yu Garden (Yuyuan) is a large, extensive garden built during the Ming Dynasty, covering around 5 acres. The garden is split into 6 areas, 5 of which contains either a hall or chamber. Each area is separated by dragon walls (see below). There are numerous ponds throughout the garden, some with bridges across them, others with koi and tortoises swimming in them. There’s an entrance fee of around £5 to get in, but I’d say it is well worth it, particularly if you go during spring when the flowers are in bloom (we were just a bit too early for that).
With about 2 hours or so before needing to head towards the port, we decided to seek out one of Shanghai’s famous local dishes – sheng jian bao, or pan-fried pork dumplings. These are dumplings which are first steamed, before being pan fried so that the bottom of each dumpling is browned and a little crispy. We picked up some freshly cut mangoes for dessert along the way, because…just look at them!
After a quick bite, we rushed back to the hotel to pick up our luggage and jump into a cab headed for the port. More to come on the cruise in the next post…