The Mysterious Case Of The Satsumas At The Security Checkpoint

dolphingirl47

In Search of the Tag Fairy
Joined
Dec 25, 2007
The first priority was getting photos of the artwork in the lifts. On Quantum they have rather quirky artwork of animals in the lifts. I rather liked them. They made me smile. Graham found them disturbing. We managed to get photos of all the artwork in the forward lifts with one exception. It turned out that this lift was broken, and we never got to take a photo of this. We then went up to the solarium. I took a few photos there and then we made our way down taken photos of the artwork in the stairwells that we liked. Some of it was weird and wonderful. Some of it was just weird, but a lot of it was actually quite understated by Royal Caribbean’s standards and there were quite a few that I could imagine having hanging on my walls at home.









































 

dolphingirl47

In Search of the Tag Fairy
Joined
Dec 25, 2007






























We got to stairwell between decks 5 and 4 when a stampede was coming the other way. The crew was doing some kind of drill and there was a seemingly endless line of crew going upstairs. We got out of the way and waited until it was over. Quite a few members of crew waved at us and called out greetings when they saw us. This was absolutely fascinating to watch. Shortly afterwards, the drill was over, and the stampede was coming the other way. One of the members of crew came over to us to apologise. There was no need. We had nowhere to be and had actually quite enjoyed watching the process. It turned out that he was the guest services manager. He was also a member of the launch team on Ovation. We had a lovely chat. Apparently, the crew involved in the drill was only about half the crew on the ship. The scale of the operation on this class of ship is truly mind blowing. He was quite guarded at first asking how we were enjoying the cruise. Once we told him that we were absolutely loving it, he opened up. Apparently, they have a lot of trouble with international passengers that do not understand that the cruises from China are very different and are utterly miserable when faced with all the cultural differences. We explained that for us being immersed in a different culture actually added something to the experience. We chatted a bit about Ovation. It was really nice talking to him.

 

dolphingirl47

In Search of the Tag Fairy
Joined
Dec 25, 2007
Once we had said goodbye to him, we finished taking photos of the artwork in the forward stairwells and then we decided to stop at Cafe Promenade for a coffee. I had forgotten how truly horrible Royal Caribbean Blend is. When we finished our coffees, we went aft and repeated our photo tour. We started on deck 15 as I really wanted to get a close up look of Felicia. Each of the Quantum class ships has an animal or animals outside the Seaplex. The crew of the ship gets to name them. On Quantum, the Seaplex animal is a magenta polar bear called Felicia. Not only do polar bears not normally come in magenta, but she is very abstract. The next ship in this class has a giraffe called Gigi. Gigi looks a lot more like a giraffe, but like a cartoon version. Ovation has a mother and baby panda and they look pretty lifelike. I can’t wait to see what animal the next ship in this class will have.





























When we came back inside, my mischievous side got the better of me. Just outside the Seaplex is the access to the suite sun deck. This is only meant for people staying in the larger suites, but I decided to check if our key would open the door. It did. We had a quick look, and this is a beautiful space with comfortable loungers. It was of course far too cold to enjoy this, but it was nice to see nevertheless. We then took photos of some of the artwork on the aft of the ship and then we went to get some lunch.





























We went to the Windjammer. Considering how empty the ship was, the Windjammer was actually pretty busy. Still, we had no issues finding a table. I started with some chilli cheese fries and a steak. Graham had some salad and some roast lamb. I gave the soup noodles another try, but this time with beef and this was a lot nicer. Graham sampled various stir fry dishes. I indulged in some mini cakes, but they were nothing to write home about. At one stage, one of the supervisors came over and we had a really nice chat. About 50% of the crew are Chinese, but the rest come from all over the world and I got the distinct feeling that they really appreciate the chance to speak English.



 
  • dolphingirl47

    In Search of the Tag Fairy
    Joined
    Dec 25, 2007
    After lunch, we took our cameras back to the cabin. We picked up our swim stuff and I got my iPad and then we headed to the thermal suite. We spent a couple of hours relaxing and I finished the book I was reading. Then we got showered and changed. We dropped off our stuff in the cabin and then headed for the Schooner Bar. I had spotted a scavenger hunt on the Daily Compass and this sounded like fun to me. We got there a little early and had a non-alcoholic cocktail each. I had the strawberry lemonade and Graham had a virgin Pina Colada. This turned out to be another photo scavenger. Fortunately, I still had my iPad with me. This was actually a lot of fun. Everybody taking part was given two pages with photos with different amounts of points attached to them. You then had to find where this photo was taken and take a photo of this yourself. A lot of the places I instantly recognized. Some were quite tricky and some I never found. I am pretty sure a couple were actually from Ovation rather than Quantum as they seemed familiar, but I had not seen them on this cruise. Anyway, I did manage to win and got a fridge magnet.



































    Graham had stayed behind to mind the drinks, while I was running around the ship. He got talking to one of the couples who were trying to find out how loyalty status is transferring between the different Royal Caribbean International brands and that they were really struggling to get answers. He mentioned to them that I am a travel agent specializing in cruises and could probably help them. When I came back, he told me about this and I went over and explained it to them.

    Once we had finished our drinks, Graham went up to the solarium. I had something I wanted to do first or at least I thought so. I had spotted a Mojito making class on the Daily Compass, which was supposed to take place at the Schooner Bar at 16:00. There was no indication of this happening, so I asked the bar tender about this. He did not know anything about this. I started to wonder if I had remembered the venue incorrectly, so I went down to Guest Services to check the venue on one of the copies there. It definitely said Schooner Bar. It was not listed on the activities page, but it was in the main part of the Daily Compass. I went back to the Schooner Bar and the bar tended checked with his supervisor who did not know anything about this either. Looks like the various departments involved in something like this did not talk to each other. The bartended offered to show me how to make a Mojito, but I declined. I went up to going Graham in the solarium instead.

    I initially settled down in a round lounger with my book, but then I joined Graham, who was sitting on a sofa near the windows. We both had another non-alcoholic cocktail. Graham had a virgin Pina Colada and I had a virgin Peach Daiquiri. I also spotted that they had a mix of hot and cold appetizers out near the bar. I had some sliced Italian sausage wrapped around a soft cheese, a spring roll, chicken satay and the Chinese take on empanada. I also discovered a new favourite fruit. They are called Longan and are a little similar to lychees. They are smaller and have smooth greenish-yellow skin that is quite hard. Like lychees, they have whit flesh that surrounds a dark pip. They are not quite as sweet as lychees, but more fragrant. I have tried to find them over here, but so far, I had no luck. We were treated to another nice sunset. Once the sun had gone down, we got ready for dinner.







    We pretty much had the same as the day before. For my starter, I went with the smoked tomato soup again. Graham had the cured salmon with pumpernickel, horseradish crème fraiche and caviar. He also enjoyed this. For our main course, we both had the grilled filet mignon with truffle potato purée, asparagus and bordelaise sauce. Neither of us had room for dessert so we passed on this. After dinner, we went back to the room. We read for a bit and the got an early night.
     

    Pinkocto

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jul 22, 2011
    Sounds like a perfect day to stay on the ship and I’m glad you didn’t regret the decision. Some of the artwork is definitely funky but a great idea to take it all in. I think the hummingbird one was my favorite. How sad they had so many complaints about the cruise.
     

    dolphingirl47

    In Search of the Tag Fairy
    Joined
    Dec 25, 2007
    Some of the artwork is definitely funky but a great idea to take it all in. I think the hummingbird one was my favorite.
    I love how diverse the art work is on the ships. That is one tiny regret I have about this upcoming cruise. As we have been on Ovation before, there is no need to do the self-guided art tour this time.

    How sad they had so many complaints about the cruise.
    I think this was not a problem just specific to this cruise and it may even have been better on our cruise as there was a higher proportion of international guests. On the average cruise out of China, there are 10 to 30 international guests. We had 600 although this did include people from Hong Kong. People book this without bothering to do any research and then are upset about the completely different feel of these cruises. I still can't get over the fact that people complained on our cruise that the ship was full of Chinese people. This is kind of like complaining that a ship is full of Americans when you sail out of a US port.

    Corinna
     

    dolphingirl47

    In Search of the Tag Fairy
    Joined
    Dec 25, 2007
    Day 15

    And just like this, not only the last full day of the cruise, but also of the holiday had arrived. We were in no particular rush that morning as we had brunch booked for later. We started the packing process. This was not too much trouble as we moved around so much on this trip that we only ever unpacked what we needed for any given leg of the trip. So the packing did not take long. We had left out what we needed for the rest of the day. We then quickly went to get some coffee from the Royal Esplanade and then we went to Schooner Bar for the morning trivia. This was listed as Christmas trivia. We were given a laminated sheet with photos from various Christmas movies and we had to guess the corresponding movie. Let’s just say we absolutely tanked. I have not watched a great deal of Christmas movies and Graham is not the biggest Christmas fan in the world. Still, it was fun.

    Next up was a basic Mandarin class. I would have loved to stay for this, but we had reservations for the galley brunch and had to leave just as this was about to start. The member of the cruise director’s staff who hosted this gave us the hand out and explained a few things and what I learned on the hop that morning actually proved quite helpful when I started to learn Mandarin properly. We then went down to The Grande, where the brunch would take place. We checked in at the podium and where advised that the first group had already headed for their galley tour, but that we were on the next one. We were then escorted to our table and where advised that we had been seated next to other international guests, who also spoke English. They were in the first group for the galley tour so they were not at the table we arrived. We were handed the menu. This did not fill me with joy as this seemed to be very seafood heavy and I do not eat seafood with the exception of shrimp. Shortly after we had been seated, we got our first glass of champagne and this was served with an amuse-bouche, which was a pastry filled with shrimp in a cream sauce and some Italian sausage filled with cream cheese. Next up was the soup, which smelled absolutely delicious. I could not see any seafood so I decided to give this a try. I did not taste any seafood either and I really enjoyed this.











    We had eaten a couple of spoonfuls of our soup when we were called for out galley tour. I thought this was a little strange. Surely they had a rough idea when we would be needed for this and they could have timed this better. The galley tour was very interesting. We had done a galley tour previously on one of the smaller Royale Caribbean ships, but the setup here was very different. They had also started to build the gingerbread houses for the ship and this was fascinating to see.







    After the tour, we returned to our table. They had put a lid on our soups and they were actually the perfect temperature when we returned. Maybe we had adapted to the Chinese culture more than we had thought as food in China tends to be served warm rather than hot. Once we had finished our soup, our appetizer was served. This was a Salad Nicoise. Again, I had not been too sure about this, but it did look very good so I gave my tuna to Graham and had the rest. The flavours and mix of textures in this were absolutely amazing.



    For our main course we had the choice between 3 Western and 3 Chinese dishes. Graham had one of the Chinese dishes, which was Mongolian baby lamb with Chinese pancakes. He really enjoyed this. I would have loved to try one of the Chinese dishes as well, but they were all lamb or seafood. So I went with the Pork Normandine with glazed apple sauce and Lyonnaise potatoes. This was absolutely delicious. We were encouraged to try another dish or have seconds, but we both declined as we were pretty full at this stage. We did however have some more of the rather free-flowing champagne.





    When the family at the table next do us came back, they did not look or sound like international guests. I did however notice that the language they spoke sounded a lot softer than Mandarin and wondered if they were speaking Cantonese. While we were enjoying our main courses, the father started a conversation with us. My gut feeling was right that they were speaking Cantonese. They are originally from Hong Kong, but live in Germany. It turned out that they live quite close to where I grew up and the daughter lives in my favourite city in Germany, where she goes to university. It just goes to show that it really is a small world. We had really nice chat with them.

    Lunch was completed with Royal Chocolate Cake and vanilla ice cream. This was so good. The cake was very moist and rich and the I think the ice cream may have been home-made. Graham could not have the cake, but he still got the ice cream. All the food was absolutely delicious and we were glad that we had decided to book this. I kind of lost count how many glasses of champagne I had, but there were a few.



    Even though we definitely had not rushed lunch, we were finished in plenty of time for a character meet and greet that I was hoping to catch. Toothless from How To Train Your Dragon was out near the theatre and I had never met him before. Unfortunately the lighting in the area where the meet and greet took place was not wonderful and therefore the photos did not come out very well. It was still nice to meet him.



    When I had said goodbye to Toothless, we quickly went to the cabin to get our swim stuff and then we headed to the thermal suite for the last time. It had been quite a few years since we last had a pass for a thermal suite, but we thoroughly enjoyed it on this cruise and we definitely got our money’s worth on this trip.







    There was one activity that afternoon that had caught my eye. It was listed on the Daily Compass as Officers and Crew Scavenger Hunt. So I decided to check this out. We were given a sheet with various kinds of officers and crew that we were supposed to find and take photos with. Graham came with me this time. Unfortunately the timing for this activity was spectacularly bad. We were given 20 minutes, which even under ideal circumstances would have been very short. However, there was some kind of dance party going on on the Royal Esplanade at the same time and it was an absolute zoo. I soon managed to lose Graham. I retraced my steps and could not find him. I got a couple of photos on the way and then I headed back to the Schooner Bar toes if he had returned to there. I then went to pick up my passport and quickly checked the cabin if Graham was there. I took photos of our door magnets and then went up to the solarium, where I did meet up with Graham eventually. We spent some time there relaxing.



    Just before dinner, we went to the photo gallery to choose some photos. I wanted the embarkation photo and also a couple of the character photos. I was told that the USB drive would be ready for collection at 22:00. On every ship I have ever been on, you could also pick up the photos on the morning of debarkation. I asked about this, but apparently they do not do this on Quantum. I did however figure out that I could sent the photos I had chosen to my smart device so I sent them to my phone. I was no longer worried about the USB drive.

    We then headed up to Coastal Kitchen. I took a few photos of the artwork in this hallway. We pretty much had the same as the evening before, but we also shared a fig and prosciutto, which was absolutely delicious. We were invited by the restaurant manager to have breakfast in Coastal Kitchen the next morning.









    We then headed back down to deck 5. Po from Kung Fu Panda was out that evening and I really wanted to meet him. On the way, I took some photos of the murals in this area. It was great to see Po near his home land. We then back to the cabin, packed what we no longer needed and then Graham went to bed. I read for a while. Just after 10:00 the phone rang to let me know that my photos were ready. As I was still awake, I went down to collect them. I also stopped by one of the shops to buy a Quantum Christmas ornament and a keychain. Then I went back to the cabin and settled down for the night, too.







     
  • dolphingirl47

    In Search of the Tag Fairy
    Joined
    Dec 25, 2007
    I had hoped to finish this trip report off before I set off on my next adventure, but I ran out of steam and time. It is nearly 22:00 here and we have to leave for the airport at 5:30 tomorrow to embark on our next adventure. I will have plenty of time on the flight tomorrow to finish typing up the last installment and then I will post this as soon as we get back from this trip.

    Corinna
     

    Pinkocto

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jul 22, 2011
    What a lovely last day of the cruise. The galley your is something still on my list to do. It always looks fascinating. I agree the timing with your food was odd. The heated tike loungers look heavenly.

    How fun to meet Toothless, he is one of my favorites!

    I totally agree, one should expect fellow cruisers of the country they are sailing out of... how totally bizarre people are.

    I hope you have a magnificent trip! I can’t wait to hear all about it :)
     
  • franandaj

    I'm so happy, I could BOUNCE!
    Joined
    Nov 15, 2009
    Your day in Nagasaki sounded very nice, I'm glad you got to do everything you set out to accomplish, but oh no about being chilled to the bone on your walk back. Good thing you could warm up in the thermal room and the heated tile loungers!
     

    franandaj

    I'm so happy, I could BOUNCE!
    Joined
    Nov 15, 2009
    You got some very nice pictures of the empty ship and the artwork. Sounds like you made a good choice not to go ashore and just enjoy the ship as it was nice and calm that day.
     

    petals

    Irish Princess because Cinderella said so!
    Joined
    May 18, 2010
    Joining in. The pictures from Disney look fab, esp the night parade. I love the characters on the ship as well
     

    dolphingirl47

    In Search of the Tag Fairy
    Joined
    Dec 25, 2007
    Great updates and pics!
    Thanks.

    Enjoy your next adventure!
    I did.

    The galley your is something still on my list to do.
    I was lucky enough to get some pixie dust sprinkled on me to be able to do one on the Wonder and I have also done a galley tour on two very different Royal Caribbean ships. One was on one of their smallest ship and one on the second largest class of ship they have.

    How fun to meet Toothless, he is one of my favorites!
    I was very thrilled about this. I am hoping that I get to see Toothless again in December. It was kind of strange that they did not have Tigress from King Fu Panda on a ship that sails from China.

    how totally bizarre people are.
    You can say that again.

    I hope you have a magnificent trip!
    I did. It was nothing short of amazing.

    I can’t wait to hear all about it :)
    We are now going into peak season at work so it will be probably a month to 6 weeks until I get this started.

    Great update.
    Thanks.

    Have a wonderful trip!
    I did.

    Your day in Nagasaki sounded very nice
    We both really loved Nagasaki.

    I'm glad you got to do everything you set out to accomplish, but oh no about being chilled to the bone on your walk back.
    All going well, we are heading back to Nagasaki in December. This time round, we are planning to see the Atomic Bomb Museum and there are a lot of beautiful temples there that need to be explored. We will definitely come prepared for the weather this time.

    You got some very nice pictures of the empty ship and the artwork. Sounds like you made a good choice not to go ashore and just enjoy the ship as it was nice and calm that day.
    We loved our day. This was one thing I missed on Ovation on our most recent trip. We had done the full art tour in 2016 so we did not need to do it again, but I revisited some of my favourite pieces. The next two big cruises are going to be on ships we have been on before as well so no art tour then either.

    Joining in.
    Welcome.

    The pictures from Disney look fab, esp the night parade.
    I loved how visually stunning Tokyo Disney Sea and Shanghai Disneyland are. There will be photos to come from my final Disney park (Hong Kong Disneyland) in the not too distant future.

    I love the characters on the ship as well
    I was absolutely thrilled that there are ships on another cruise line that have characters. I was even more thrilled when I got to meet Puss in Boots for the first time. He is one of my favourite characters.

    I really enjoyed your trip report and look forward to the next.
    I am glad that you have been enjoying it. I really need to finish this off, which I hope will happen by the end of the weekend. I just want to update my pre-trip report first.

    Corinna
     

    petals

    Irish Princess because Cinderella said so!
    Joined
    May 18, 2010
    I was absolutely thrilled that there are ships on another cruise line that have characters. I was even more thrilled when I got to meet Puss in Boots for the first time. He is one of my favourite characters.
    Corinna
    Yeah he looks cool. Universal need a puss in boots meet and greet. What website are you using to share your photos from. Photobucket isn't working for me now :(
     

    Pinkocto

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jul 22, 2011
    Welcome back :) So glad you had a fabulous trip. Can’t wait to hear all about it when things aren’t so busy at work.
     

    dolphingirl47

    In Search of the Tag Fairy
    Joined
    Dec 25, 2007
    Day 16

    With the ship arriving so late, we got something very rare that morning, a lie in on departure morning. We got up at 8:15 and put the last odds and ends into our luggage. Graham had the idea of taking a group photo of all our towel animals. We had limited success with this. We then left our cabin for the last time and headed up to Coastal Kitchen. Half the ship seemed to go in the same general direction. Still, it all worked out. The breakfast menu was the same as it had been in Chic. Service was a little slow that morning, but we were still at sea so I was not overly concerned. Graham had some fresh fruit followed by a full cooked breakfast. I had sausage, eggs and hash browns. We both had coffee and juice. Once we finished, we said goodbye to our server Amelia and to the restaurant manager and then we went down to the shore excursion desk on deck 5. Just as we were leaving Coastal Kitchen, we approached the dock.



    Our meeting point was the shore excursion desk, which was a strange choice. Basically half of the ship was between us and the exit, which made getting off first a bit of a challenge. For the time being, there was no suggestion of getting off. We were welcomed by two member so crew who checked our tickets and gave us stickers to wear. They then tried to organize us into two lines. At this stage, the ship had not been cleared yet. We waited for a good 45 minutes until we were told that we were about to get off. We were told to stay close together and follow one of the shore excursion staff, while the other brought up the rear. I don’t know how they managed it, but somehow they cleared a path for us to the closest exit. Our SeaPass cards were scanned one final time and then we were off the ship. We managed to lose a few people on the gangway so we had to wait. We then headed to immigration. This went all smoothly enough. Where it all went a little wrong was that despite the fact we had received instructions to keep our luggage with us, some people had left it out to be collected the previous evening and we now had to wait until they found and reclaimed their luggage. Once the group was together again, we went through customs and then left the terminal building. At that stage, we realized just how unusual the setup is at this port. We walked through a huge tent that is used as check in for the tour groups. They check in for their groups first before checking in for the cruise in the terminal. The buses were waiting on the other side of this.

    As we approached the bus area, we were met by our guide. He checked our tickets and directed us to a bus. Once everybody was on board, he introduced himself. He told us a bit about China and about the Shanghai region. He also told us what we would see during the day. Shortly after we left the port area, the heavens opened and it was absolutely pouring it down. I started to be very glad that our day had not gone as planned as our original plans would not have worked out in this weather. It ended up being miserable enough as it was. Our first stop was the Jin Mao Tower in Pudong. This is a multi-purpose building. The bottom few floors are taken up by a shopping centre. Then there are office and most of the top floors are taken up by a hotel. The 88th floor is an observation deck and this is where we were going. Essentially the building is built around a circular courtyard and you can look down from the observation deck. You also have 360 degree views over Shanghai. The views were a little bit impacted by the weather, but this was still pretty stunning. What really amazed and terrified me in equal amounts was the fact that there was a skywalk, which was a fairly narrow semi-circular ledge that you can pay extra to walk along. It was closed that day due to the weather, but I wondered what kind of daredevils would do this.























    We had about 30 minutes to walk around and enjoy the views and then we met up in the foyer on street level. We were amused by some of the signage in this area. Once everybody had arrived, we went back to the bus and crossed the river. Our next stop was the Bund, where we were supposed to have another 30 minutes. It was still raining heavily and essentially everybody was just huddling around being utterly miserable. Our guide tried to convince us to go exploring a little and take some photos, but nobody was interested. So in the end he gave up and we moved on.



     

    dolphingirl47

    In Search of the Tag Fairy
    Joined
    Dec 25, 2007
    We then stopped a souvenir shop, which was essentially a hole in the wall. I am sure that the owner was in some way related to the guide. Some people bought some souvenirs and umbrellas were in hot demand. Graham, I and a few others went for shelter under a nearby overhanging roof. Once the group was together again, we pushed on to the final stop. Our guide had mentioned that this was a shopping and dining area that was predominantly used by tourists. On the way, we walked past a park and some really beautiful buildings.







    Once we approached our destination, I suddenly knew where we were. This was the Yuyuan Market that I had hoped to visit. I had seen photos of this on some trip reports and really loved the look of the architecture. There were quite a few covered walkways in front of the shops, which was a bonus in this weather. We were not really in the market for any shopping, but I knew that the Yuyuan Gardens were adjacent and this was something else I really wanted to see. We looked at a map, but this was kind of confusing and we initially went the wrong way. We were just about to give up when I spotted some signage pointing us in the right direction. Graham offered that I could go in and he would wait for me, but we did not have that much time left before we had to meet up again and it was still raining heavily. So I decided to leave this for next time.





















    I had a wander round the food market and was hoping for some more steamed pork buns, but all the signage was in Chinese so I gave up on this. Once everybody had met up again, we walked back to a bus and this time round, we cut through a park, which was pleasant walk even though it was still wet. We dropped off people who were going to various hotels first and then we made our way to the airport. We had a very late flight so had all the time in the world, but there were people with 17:30 flights and by the time we finally arrived at the airport, it was just gone 16:30 and we were 90 minutes later than we should have been. I am sure some people ended up missing their flights.

    Pudong International is not the prettiest of airports or at least the land-side is not. There is also very little there. The terminal that we were flying from had the check in for all the international departures on one side of the terminal and for all the domestic departures on the opposite end. There was nowhere to sit on the international end so we headed over to the domestic area. Graham found somewhere to sit and I left our luggage with him while I went exploring. There was not a great deal there, but I found a Costa Coffee and I got some coffee for both of us. They had an English Trifle Latte as part of their Christmas menu. We had seen this on the menu at the airport in Beijing, but they did not have it in stock. I got lucky here and picked one up for both of us. It was kind of unusual mixing strawberry flavours with coffee, but it was quite pleasant.

    We then decided to get something to eat. I had hoped that there would be a food court, but I was out of luck. I did however find a range of restaurants on the mezzanine floor. So we decided to get some dinner there. We ended up at a bar that offered various set meals. Graham had a burger with fries. I had egg drop soup, Nasi Goreng with chicken, fried egg, prawn crackers and a fruit cup. It was not exactly gourmet food, but it filled a hole. In terms of airport food, it was not bad at all.



    When we came back downstairs , we checked if check in was open. It was not, but there were already plenty of people in line. We found some seats nearby and once we saw that the line started to move, we headed over. Check in was very quick and security and immigration did not take long either. Airside at Pudong airport is actually quite nice. They were also adding some more facilities. I am sure the next time we pass through there, this will all be open. The Chinese don’t tend to hang around once they start on something. We browsed in some of the shops and at this point, there was potential for the holiday to be memorable for all the wrong reasons.

    We both had a cough for weeks on end. I started to shake it off once we left Beijing, but Graham was still struggling. We had brought some over the counter medicine, but this had been used up by this point. So Graham wanted to see if he could find something in one of the shops. He got lucky in the first shop we got to. He was handed a packet and was advised to take this 3 to 4 times a day. No instructions as to dosage was given and all the writing was in Chinese. The packet contained six tiny ceramic bottles in blister packs. We were not sure what the little bottles contained, but I assumed it would be a liquid of some sort. The bottle was actually filled with tiny little pearls. Graham took all the pearls that were in the bottle. It was only when I did some research after the event that I found out that the correct dosage is 6 to 8 of the little beads and Graham probably had 4 times as many. The medicine turned out to be herbal and works by raising the body temperature, which explains what happened in the not too distant future.

    At that time, things seemed normal. Graham was a little grumpy and tired, but otherwise all seemed to be well. Graham is not exactly a fan of airports and his had been a long day so this was nothing alarming. I got some water for Graham and then I went exploring. They actually have a tea shop at the airport. I was OK for tea, but I spotted something that they call a lazy tea cup in China. It is a mug that comes with a tea strainer and a lid. I thought this was a neat idea. They had a really beautiful royal blue one with a gold dragon design. I really loved this, but the price was more than I was willing to pay. I decided to have a look around the other shops. I found another lazy tea cup that I liked. It was blue and white with a dragon motif and the design was inspired by the vases of the Ming dynasty. I did not like it as much as the first one, but I still really liked it. It was also a fraction of the price of the first one. So I bought it. Unfortunately the idea behind this is great, but the execution is somewhat lacking. The holes in the strainer are too big and when I tried it out, I ended up with tea leaves in my tea. I still use the mug, but in conjunction with a tea pot and a proper strainer.

    When I came back, I checked my emails, caught up with Facebook and then read for a while. Soon it was time for boarding. We had not been on the plane long when I got the first idea that all is not well. Graham was complaining that the plane was way too hot. Now, he does not feel the cold as much as I do, but normally the discrepancy is not as big as this. I was a little cold and was actually considering getting my blanket out. I am used to Graham feeling comfortable when I feel cold, but we never had an issue that he was feeling too hot while I was feeling cold. He fell asleep soon afterwards and I did not think much about this.

    Dinner was served. I had noodle salad that I did not really rate, but the chicken and rice was very nice. I had some white wine and water. Graham woke up while I was having dinner and I offered him my rice pudding, which he ate. He then went back to sleep. I played a game for a bit. I had planned on watching a film, but there was nothing that caught my eye. It was not long after dinner, that I got quite worried. Graham’s breathing had become quite shallow and he seemed to be burning up. I checked the map where we were and we were still over China. I suddenly had visions of us making an unscheduled stop. However, I had a gut feeling that as long as I could bring the temperature down, we would be OK. So I pressed the cabin crew call button and asked for a cold cloth. She came back shortly afterwards with two ice cold flannels. I put one of them around Graham’s neck. The breathing returned back to normal shortly afterwards. The temperature took a little longer. At some stage he woke up and wondered why there was something wet around his neck. It seemed to have done the trick. He went back to sleep shortly afterwards and after a while, I put on some music and went to sleep, too.

    When I next woke up, they were serving breakfast. Most food that Emirates serves is above average for airline food. However, sadly this does not apply to breakfast. So I passed and just had some coffee. Not long after everything had been cleared, we started our decent into Dubai. This time round, we landed on Concourse A and our onward flight was from Concourse B so we had to take the train. First of all, we had to clear security though and the line for this was quite long. It did move steadily though and soon we were on our way again. This is where it all became a bit strange. I am pretty familiar with Dubai airport and have switched from Concourse A to Concourse B and vice versa a number of times. It used to be ever so easy: you came down the escalator and the train was right there. They had changed the flow of traffic and by the chaos in the area and the contradictory signage, I assume that this had just happened. They directed us down a long corridor and then we approached the train from the back. Fortunately once we were in the right place, a train pulled in. When we got to our gate, they had started boarding. Graham quickly went to the bathroom and then we went to the gate. We still had some time until our boarding group was called.

    The whole process was pretty smooth and soon after we were on board, the doors were closed. The flight was nowhere near full and we had a down of 4 between the two of us. This time round I was brave and had some breakfast. It was an Arabic breakfast with bread, humous, vegetables and fruit and pretty nice. Graham had cooked breakfast consisting of some kind of egg dish, tomatoes and chicken sausage. He was not quite as pleased with his choice. We both had coffee and orange juice.

    I spent the flight alternating between watching films, playing games and reading. I watched two films and very much enjoyed both of them. The first one was Home Again with Reese Witherspoon and the second one was called The Circle. I was not sure about this, but as it had Emma Watson and Tom Hanks in it, I thought it was worth a try. I definitely enjoyed this and have watched it on Netflix a few times since. At some stage, lunch was served. I had Emirates’ take on Christmas dinner, which was roast chicken with all the trimmings. Graham had a beef stew and was not too impressed by this.

    Time seemed to fly on this flight and soon we were descending into Manchester. I had my usual fun and games with the eGates. I really don’t understand why they make me join the line for those as inevitably, I have to go to a normal counter anyway. I have used gates successfully in a number of countries, but they never work for me in Manchester. Sure enough, the gate would not open for me and I was directed to a different line. Graham managed to get through. By the time we were reunited in the baggage hall, the luggage had started to come out. We did not have to wait long for our luggage and we ended up with the same amount of luggage that we had checked in in Shanghai. That is always a bonus.

    We took the train back into the city centre and did not have to wait too long. When we got to the Metrolink platform, a tram pulled in. Despite the issue with the eGates, it had taken us just over an hour from landing to getting home. This must be a new record. We put our luggage in the living room, turned on the heating and then we caught up on some much needed sleep.
     


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