The Mysterious Case Of The Satsumas At The Security Checkpoint

dolphingirl47

In Search of the Tag Fairy
Joined
Dec 25, 2007
Prologue

I had an obsession with everything China from my mid to late teens. I was fascinated by the history, architecture and culture. I was reading endless books about China or that were set in China. I collected as many Chinese things as I could. For me China was this mythical fairytale land just like Agrabah or Atlantica and I had about as much chance to ever set foot into China that I had visiting Agrabah. This was in the aftermath of the Tiananmen Square protests with China being virtually closed to Western tourists. As few years later, family friends went on a tour to China using a tour operator that was sponsored by the Chinese government. They came back absolutely glowing about their experience, but also with plenty of tales about endless red tape and how difficult the whole process was. It was definitely unlikely that I would ever get to visit this amazing country, especially considering that I did not even own a passport and nobody in my extended family had one and therefore had ever left Europe.

Japan was a different matter entirely. I was raised with Hello Kitty and Japanese cartoons and as such, Japan seemed a lot less exotic to me. However, Japan also seemed a lot more accessible. After watching and reading Memoirs of a Geisha, I started to take more of an interest in the culture and history of Japan and started to feel that this was a place that I would love to visit at some stage. By that time, I was married to Graham and he was not quite so keen. There were so many other places I wanted to see in the world, so I never did more than half-heartedly look at this.

For years, the closest I would come the China and Japan was eating the food from these countries and visiting their respective pavilions at the World Showcase at Epcot. Incidentally, those two pavilions have always been my favourites and I have happily walked around them for hours. It was my love for Disney that made me look at those countries again. In 2006, I started to work for Emirates and in those early days, we had leaflets on our staff notice board with an opening offer for Hong Kong Disneyland. I was still on probation for the duration of the offer and therefore could not make use of it, but I always said that I would take up the opportunity if it ever presented itself again. In 2008, I got the Disney bug good and proper. Disney had been some part of my life for as long as I can remember, but it was only then that anything Disney became an all-consuming passion. With this the dream to see every Disney park in the world was born.

I did not think all that often about this until our Panama Canal Cruise. More or less by accident, we ended up in a lecture by George Scribner, who is an animator, director and imagineer for the Walt Disney Company. I attended a number of his lectures during the cruise and he was talking in the most general terms about working on Shanghai Disneyland. At that stage, little more than the fact that there would be a Disneyland in Shanghai had been announced and as such, he was not able to go into any detail. However, with the little he was able to share, he was able to convey just how special this would be. We also had the pleasure to chat with him for a while at the Outlook Cafe and this only reinforced that Shanghai Disneyland would be somewhere that I just had to visit. For this I was even willing to make an exception to my rule that I would not visit any country where I would need a visa for.

About a year later, news started to come out about Shanghai Disneyland and this only made me more convinced that I had to see this for myself. The next piece in the puzzle was the fact that we jumped ship from Disney Cruise Line to Royal Caribbean and this opened up a whole new world for us. We then booked a cruise on a brand-new ship that was ultimately heading to China so that was a good enough excuse to finally make a trip to China happen. We got as far as planning out the trip down the trains we would take. The plan was to visit Beijing, Xian and Shanghai before getting on the ship in Hong Kong and ending up in Singapore.

Things quite often happen differently than originally planned. While we were on the same ship that we had planned to do the Far East cruise on, we booked a Transpacific cruise for spring 2017 instead and we did not feel that we could do two such big trips so close together. So, the China trip was indefinitely postponed. We had been thinking about a trip for autumn 2017 for a while and nothing really inspired us. The decision was finally made while we were on the Transpacific cruise that we would head to China and take a short cruise to Japan from there.

Did I mention that things often work out different as planned? The plan this time was to fly to Hong Kong, spend a few days there before flying to Beijing, then take the train or a plane to Shanghai where we would then get on the ship. The day my leave was approved I texted Graham the good news and he texted back “Beijing Tokyo Shanghai”. I did not need to be asked twice. I texted back “Yes Please”. This is how it ultimately happened.

I have to say, I had some misgivings. I did at one point wonder if we were trying to do too much, but Graham pointed out that we were essentially doing a cruise by air. This made perfect sense. Nearer the time, I was very excited, but I was also worried how big the culture shock would be and how much the language barrier would affect us. Well it was certainly an adventure in many respects, but an amazing experience. Somehow, we had ended with another holiday of a lifetime. When I was asked after the trip on how it had been, my reply was that I had a wallet full of Yuan, a pocket full of Yen, a camera full of photos and a heart full of affection, memories and longing for China. This about sums it up.

 

jedijill

Chiefs fan living in Bronco country
Joined
Jan 17, 2005
I'm here and marking my spot!

This is going to be an amazing trip! Can't wait to hear all about it!

Jill in CO
 
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  • bex7583

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Feb 29, 2012
    nooo where is the rest ! i am so excited to read this, please post the next installment soon.
     

    dolphingirl47

    In Search of the Tag Fairy
    Joined
    Dec 25, 2007
    I'm here and marking my spot!
    Welcome on board.

    This is going to be an amazing trip! Can't wait to hear all about it!
    It truly was an absolutely amazing. It was none of the things I was concerned about, everything I hoped for and then some.

    So excited to read about your China experiences!
    Of course, you will recognize many familiar places.

    Always love your adventures!
    I am glad you enjoy them.

    Looking forward to the next chapters.
    Starting on Sunday, I will aim to update on Sundays and Thursdays.

    nooo where is the rest ! i am so excited to read this, please post the next installment soon.
    Patience, grasshopper. Things are a little crazy right now. I should have finished work at 17:30 and was finally done at 21:30 today. I still have one memory card to download, but fortunately I don't need that one until day 3 and I have the first 4 days typed up with day 5 in progress.

    Corinna
     
  • bex7583

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Feb 29, 2012
    Oh no that was a late finish then! I can't even imagine how long it takes you to do the report they are so wonderfully detailed with so many fab pics. I have just finished your 28 day one so just loitering here now waiting for the next installment.
     

    dolphingirl47

    In Search of the Tag Fairy
    Joined
    Dec 25, 2007
    Oh no that was a late finish then!
    Yes, it was. The good thing is if you are lucky enough to do something you feel passionate about and truly love, then it does not feel like work.

    I can't even imagine how long it takes you to do the report they are so wonderfully detailed with so many fab pics.
    It does take a fair while, but it is something I really enjoy doing. However, as it does take a while to write, I try to always have at least a couple of instalments in hand. I am just putting the finishing touches on day 5 and hopefully will get started on day 6 before the day is out. At the moment, it takes me three to four days to type up a day.

    I have just finished your 28 day one so just loitering here now waiting for the next installment.
    I will have dinner and then I will post the next instalment.

    Corinna
     

    dolphingirl47

    In Search of the Tag Fairy
    Joined
    Dec 25, 2007
    Day 1

    I still had to work this day, but was allowed to finish at 17:00. Graham was already on leave. We had arranged that I would call him when I leave the office and we would then meet at the station. This plan was good in theory, but both his mobile and our home phone were switched off. It turned out that his mobile was flat and he had already turned off the router that our phone is connected to. I was wondering what to do. I was considering for a minute to go home, but then I figured that he knew roughly when I would be leaving the office and he probably would be at the station already. So I walked to the station. By the time I got there, rush hour was in full swing. The station is quite big, too. This added another complication as we had not arranged a meeting spot. I circled a few times and periodically tried to call Graham again. I was just considering my options when I spotted him. He had left home at 17:15 when he had not heard from me.

    I stayed with the luggage while Graham got the tickets. Then we went to the platform. There were a lot of delays and cancellations and it was chaos as earlier on a train had broken down near the station. There was a last minute platform change, but our train pretty much left on time. From this point, things went pretty smoothly. There was only a short line at check in and soon we were on the way to security. That was pretty quiet, too and then we were in the departure lounge.

    I had packed my small point and shoot camera just before I left home in the morning. I had not used this in ages, but though that this would be useful. Unfortunately I had picked up the wrong charging cable. I noticed this when I tried to charge it at work. So I wanted to see if I could get a replacement cable at the airport. I did not have any luck at the first shop, but they have a second and bigger shop on the other side of the duty free shop and thought they may have something suitable there. When I turned around, Graham had gone. I figured he may have pushed on to the main part of the departure lounge. So I headed in this direction, too. On the way, I came across the bigger electrical shop and they did not have a charging lead either. They wanted to sell me a universal battery charger. This was more than I wanted to pay. It was also rather big and I was not entirely sure if it would actually work with my camera battery. So I passed. I pushed on. There was no sign of Graham so I backtracked.

    I eventually found Graham at Starbucks. He had got a coffee and a bacon sandwich. I was not hungry, but I sat down with Graham. I used my phone to try to find out what charging cable is compatible with my camera. I thought I had found one and to my delight, one of the shops did have this. So I went to buy it. Unfortunately it turned out the it was not compatible after all. Graham was wondering if there was a way to get Vicks Vaporub through security in Dubai. I went to the chemist to see if they sold Ziploc bags. Unfortunately they did not, but suggested that I backtracked to security as they would have some there. There were some lying there as soon as I got there. I then went back to get the Vicks. Then I went back to Graham. He had finished is food and drink by then. We both used the bathroom and then we headed towards our departure gate.

    The gate area was not open yet when we got there so we found somewhere nearby to sit. Once we saw that there was movement at the gate, we moved over there. The setup of the gate area had changed since our last Emirates flight. They now have separate seating areas for different boarding zones. We had a bit of wait as the plane had arrived late, but eventually it was time to board. There was another hold up getting on the plane, but eventually we were on the plane. A while later, the captain made an announcement that we were waiting for the aircraft to be de-iced. In the end we took off about two hours later than we were supposed to. I was pretty relieved that we had a 3.5 hour layover in Dubai. I knew we would make up some time, but it was nice to have this buffer.

    Once we were at cruising altitude, dinner was served. The appetizer was potato salad with chives, I had chicken with creamy mushroom sauce served with gnocchi, green beans and carrots. This was absolutely delicious. Graham had braised beef with horseradish served with mashed potatoes, sautéed spinach and carrots. He was not quite so impressed. He had some red wine with dinner and I had some white wine. Dessert was fruit of the forest crumble with custard mousse. I was quite surprised that this was a cold dessert, but it was nice.

    \

    After dinner, I put on Frozen. I did not even get as far as the coronation scene before I fell asleep. Frozen does seem to have this effect on me. I woke up briefly when it finished and put on the soundtrack for Les Miserables. This is my favourite musical, but it also seems to have the ability to send me to sleep. Sure enough, I fell asleep again.
     

    tiggrbaby

    <font color=deeppink><marquee>We must work harder
    Joined
    Jun 26, 2004
    Great start! Looking forward to reading about your adventures!
     

    jedijill

    Chiefs fan living in Bronco country
    Joined
    Jan 17, 2005
    Great start minus the bumps with Graham's phone and the charging cable.

    Jill in CO
     

    franandaj

    I'm so happy, I could BOUNCE!
    Joined
    Nov 15, 2009
    I can't imagine how you two lose each other in the airport and don't totally freak out. I would go crazy, i mean Fran and i split up to get goodies, but we rarely are gone for 5 minutes.

    Nice you enjoyed your in flught meal.
     

    dolphingirl47

    In Search of the Tag Fairy
    Joined
    Dec 25, 2007
    I can't imagine how you two lose each other in the airport and don't totally freak out. I would go crazy, i mean Fran and i split up to get goodies, but we rarely are gone for 5 minutes.
    As long as I have known Graham, he has always had the habit of wandering off. So I am kind of used to it. That is not to say that it does not irritate me though. It would not kill him to say “ I am heading to ...” or “let’s meet at ... in half an hour”. At least at the airport, I know that if I don’t meet up again with him before, I will see him at the gate.

    Nice you enjoyed your in flught meal.
    That is something that Emirates does really well.

    Corinna
     

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