Tuesday, 29 September 2015

Cruise Day 23 - Sydney

We were due to dock in Sydney at 7am, but we got up at 4:45 to watch us sailing in the heads. 

Our disembarkation time was 10:30, and we collected our luggage then got a mini-bus to the airport. I got an SMS and email that there might be flight delays from Brisbane due to storms, so we were put on an earlier flight. The one to Rockhampton was the same, so we had a bit of a wait at Brisbane airport before arriving around 6:35pm.

What we learned about China:
  • There are a LOT of people in China
  • Do not travel in their Summer Holidays (especially if you don't like pushy queues)
  • The people are really friendly, saying 'hello' or 'welcome to China'
  • They love taking selfies in all sorts of poses, mainly with 2 fingers
  • They want to have their children have their photo taken with you
  • Hot water is supposed to be good for you (actually it is just that tap water is bad, as in unchlorinated)
  • Chopsticks get much easier to use after a couple of week's solid practice
  • The squat toilets were no-where near as bad as I had worried about
  • Take your own toilet paper everywhere with you (where they 'do' supply toilet paper – in the Hotels – it is like sandpaper) – we were told it is because the people always steal it
  • Chinese like HARD beds
  • Driving is crazy, but somehow it works, if you see the rules as suggestions it will be alright
  • The people seem to really like Buddhism, but do not necessarily practice it
  • I am really bad at bargaining...as soon as someone says the price I completely forget I am supposed to bargain, and just pay what they ask
  • The people believe that their countryside is covered in fog, right through the day, and visibility through their 'fog' is down to 500m at times, except they 'do' accept that there is pollution in Beijing, but no-where else
  • A lot of scenic spots are on their bank-notes
  • Most of the movies on TV seem to be about the war with the Japanese (although it could be because it was currently the 70th anniversary of this)
  • Housing construction is quite interesting with concrete poured walls and floors, supported by temporary bamboo or wooden posts. The last window on each floor seems to be completed once most of the house is finished (presumably makes it easier to lift up fittings and furniture)
  • Concrete seems to be everywhere on roads, houses, rail transport (lots of lime and sand but not much oil?)
  • We seemed to know more about what was happening by watching overseas news than the locals
  • Health care, pre and post primary education, and special subjects such as English are paid for by the parents
  • The government owns the land and apartments can be pulled down after 70 years (another reason they like to buy overseas)
  • English names of places are shown on the newer motorways
  • All the motorways seem to have tolls
  • Soft sleepers are like our old Sunlander between Cairns and Brisbane (slow and always late but you never know who you may be sharing the room with) and are being replaced with Bullet trains capable of speeds over 300 km/hr
  • Despite the First Emperor standardising the symbols, different dialects remain
  • The Han make up 92% of the population and the remainder call themselves minority groups (about 55)
Things we learned about Japan:
  • The place is very clean although we found it really hard to find rubbish bins
  • Even public toilets have bidets (and lots of toilet paper)
  • People are very polite and helpful
  • Many commuters have trained themselves to sleep while traveling on trains (standing and seated)
  • First lot of commuters take the seats, second layer face towards those seated but none acknowledges one another
  • Younger commuters readily give up their seats for the elderly
  • We would like to return

Monday, 28 September 2015

Cruise Day 22 At sea

We got up at 6:45 to find that we had passed Brisbane in the night, and were off the coast from Mt Warning, which was clearly visible. It was also possible to see the tower blocks of the Gold Coast. We saw a couple more whales, then I had some Jackfruit & Mangosteen at the morning tea, before attending a lecture on memory by Dr Christian Heim, followed by “Navigation at Sea” presented by the Second Officer Richard Boydon, and “Technical @ Sea”, by the Third Engineer Richard Lloyd. I saw part of the Sandman show by Marcus Winter. It became much harder to spot whales in the afternoon as there white-tips everywhere. 
We didn't go to the restaurant at night, but went up to the Horizons buffet to have dinner, and I had lobster and caviar, and we opened our bottle of champagne. We caught up with Peter and Sue and went to the show, “Born to be Wild”, which was excellent. Darryl had a fairly ordinary day with his sporting events, and unfortunately it was the finals of most things.

Sunday, 27 September 2015

Cruise Day 21 - At sea

We woke up to find that we were sailing through Stanage Bay, and could see some of the islands, around 9-10am I had 11 different sightings of whales, a few were just spouting, but the third was just swimming at the surface, the fourth did a dive so we saw it's tail, then a pod of dolphins, as we were going past Keppel Bay. I also spotted a hammer-head shark just near the ship, and a red drum floating along. Darryl went to a Lecture on Gen Y, table-tennis, shuffleboard, Bean bag throw, Golf Chipping, Ryder Cup & Mini Olympics, and Carpet Bowls.

After dinner we went to the production Show “I got the Music”, followed by a show with Sandy Starkey called “Tribute”, she was an excellent, powerful Maori singer, who sand the music of Etta James, Donna Summer, Whitney Houston, & Tina Turner.

Saturday, 26 September 2015

Cruise Day 20 - At sea

It was lovely sailing down the coast of Queensland. At first it was sunny and then there were a few showers. I went to the Culinary Show, where the Chef Nilo Palma cooked a few dishes onstage. The smell of garlic was fantastic and the amount of cream in the blackforest cake was unreal.

Most of what I had planned to do for the day was put off because of the wonderful scenery down the Qld coast. I saw Walsh's Pyramid, but Bartle Frere was veiled in a heavy cloak of cloud. Hinchinbrook and Palm Islands were looking lovely, but we seemed to veer out further to sea when passing Townsville, so could only barely see Magnetic Island. This allowed me to go to the lecture about the Barrier Reef Navigation by the Pilot, Captain Conlin Warwick. 

Darryl competed in Table Tennis, Shuffleboard, Mini Olympics, Carpet Bowls, Bean Bag Toss, and Ryder Cup Challenge. 

In the evening it was a formal dinner, and we enjoyed the meal, then went to the Captain's Cocktail Party, followed by the show with Jane Cho, Elecktra, which I thoroughly enjoyed, with music from Led Zeppelin, Queen, The Beatles, and Kate Bush. We also went to listen to The Walker Black Duo in the Wheelhouse Bar, Music up in the Skywalker's Nightclub, and the tribute to the 50th Anniversary of Princess with Gold Balloon Drop Party with Evolution Party Band.