(Flag of the People's Republic of China)


(China Map)


THURSDAY, OCTOBER 1, 2009:

I began my 37-day around the world journey at the Indianapolis International Airport.
Indianapolis Weir Cook Terminal


My first flight was on Air Canada's commuter airline, Jazz, at 9:35AM to Toronto.
Air Canada's Jazz Canadair regional jet

Five minute video of my flight from Indianpolis, Indiana to Toronto's Pearson Airport on Air Canada Jazz.

All of my images below are thumbnails and can be clicked on for a larger image.

After arriving in Toronto at 11:00AM I had a four and a half hour layover.
At 3:25PM it was a 12 plus hour nonstop flight to Beijing on an Air Canada 777-300 (flight #31).
Air Canada 777-300ER

Eleven minute video of my Air Canada flight from Toronto to Beijing, China.

MY DAILY EMAIL SENT ON OCTOBER 1, 2009
Howdy,

It was a quick flight of just over one hour to Toronto. It's kind of cloudy here.

Just killing time here. I had a four hour layover to begin with and now my flight to Beijing is delayed thirty minutes, so that's 4.5 hours to kill. At least I get to wait in the comfortable Air Canada Maple Leaf lounge. Free snacks, internet and a comfortable place to sit.

Well since I've only been gone a couple hours there's not too much to report. Hopefully I'll have better things to report on other than the Toronto Airport soon.

Tim

FRIDAY, OCTOBER 2, 2009:

Our flight path took us up over the north pole and then down over Russia and Mongolia before landing in Beijing.
We crossed the International Dateline on the way and landed at 4:00 Friday afternoon Beijing time.

Five minute video of Beijing's Capitol Airport from the window of
an Air Canada 777 as we land and taxi to the gate.

I arrived on-time but unfortunately my luggage did not. I had to report the missing bag to a person that spoke almost no English.
By the time I got out of the airport it was dark and we headed for the hotel for the night.
I stayed at the Beijing Marriott Hotel City Wall in the Dongcheng district of Beijing. It was built last year for the Olympics.
Mountains north of Beijing Beijing Marriott City Wall Hotel

MY DAILY EMAIL SENT ON OCTOBER 2, 2009
Greeting from China,

Not off to a good start. They managed to lose my luggage. I have no idea where it is. The person I talked to didn't speak much english and it was hard to communicate. It looks like I was the only one on the entire plane that didn't get their bag.

Should anyone call from Air Canada about the bag I need it delivered to the Beijing Marriott City Wall by Sunday night. The big bags are being rounded up and taken to the ship at that time. I board the Diamond Princess Monday afternoon.

Will write more when I actually do something besides fly.

Tim



SATURDAY, OCTOBER 3, 2009:

The weather on Saturday was absolutely perfect. Crystal clear skies with no smog at all.
To quote our tour guide, "weather like this only happens here once in a blue moon."
It was National Day in China just two days earlier and the holiday lasts for eight days. The People's Repubic of China was founded on October 1, 1949.
The first place we visited was Tiananmen Square. The publicly displayed portrait of Mao Zedong is at the Tian'anmen gate.
The Chinese name of the gate, Tiān'ānmén 天安門, is made up of the Chinese characters for "heaven," "peace" and "gate" respectively,
which is why the name is conventionally translated as "The Gate of Heavenly Peace".
Tiananmen Square Tiananmen Square Me and my group at Tiananmen Square

After proceeding through the Tian'anmen gate we entered the Imperial City and then after passing through a couple more gates we
entered The Forbidden City. The Forbidden City was the Chinese imperial palace from the Ming Dynasty to the end of the Qing Dynasty.
For almost five centuries, it served as the home of the Emperor and his household, as well as the ceremonial and political center
of Chinese government. Built from 1406 to 1420, the complex consists of 980 surviving buildings. The Forbidden City was declared
a World Heritage Site in 1987. Today The Forbidden City houses the Palace Museum.
The Forbidden City Me at the Forbidden City The Forbidden City

Ten minute video of Beijing's Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City.

After a traditional Chinese lunch at a local restuarant we toured an older section of Beijing.
A hutong is an old city alley or lane, and the hutongs of Beijing are one of its most distinctive features.
We took a rickshaw ride through one of these historical areas where Chinese families have lived for generations.
The courtyard houses are modest but have electricty, running water and appliances. They share a public toilet.
In the area where we took our rickshaw ride there was one of Beijing's Bell Towers.
The bell and drum towers were originally used as musical instruments in China. Afterward, however, they were used for telling time.
Me and Rick from Los Angeles in a Beijing rickshaw A Beijing hutong Beijing Bell Tower

Nine minute video of Beijing's Marriott City Wall Hotel, Bell Tower, hutong rickshaw ride and
venues of the 2008 summer Olympics including the Bird Nest Stadium.

MY DAILY EMAIL SENT ON OCTOBER 3, 2009
Hello everyone,

It is vacation time again. On Thursday morning I flew to Toronto and then after a four and a half hour layover there, it was a 12.5 hour flight to Beijing. The flight path wasn't exactly what I expected. We flew up over the North Pole and then down over Russia and Mongolia before landing in China.

We landed in Beijing at 4:00 on Friday afternoon. After clearing the Chinese health and custom checks I made my way over to baggage claim. I waited and waited until I was standing there all by myself and they turned off the belt. My bag never showing up. So I report the missing bag to a person that spoke almost no English. By the time I get done with all that it was after 6:00 and I was sure that the person meeting me would have left. Luckily he waited and I was able to join up with my group.

Today, Saturday, we had an 8 hour tour of Beijing. The weather is beautiful here. Sunny, bight blue skies and no smog. To quote our tour guide that only happens once in a blue moon here. Our first stop was Tiananmen Square. You can see the square in the picture below.

Tiananmen Square

Times Square was like a ghost town compared to this place. It was National Day here a couple days ago and the celebration continues here for 8 days. Very hard to take pictures. We continued walking into the Forbidden city next. The picture below is me in front of the Gate of Supreme Harmony in the Forbidden City.

Me at the Forbidden City

After we finished with the huge Forbidden City complex it was off to lunch. Lunch was very interesting. There were about fifteen different courses. They would bring out a dish and set it on this lazy-susan type thing in the center of the table. You'd spin it around and everyone would take a helping. Half of the things they brought out we had no idea what they were. We took turns being guinea pigs. If the guinea pig didn't choke the rest of us would then try it. I tried most of the items unless they were fish, those I passed on. Some were very good, some not and some we never could figure out what they were.

After lunch we went to the old part of the city to see how the common working man lives. We rode in rickshaws through the streets of these courtyard type houses. We also visited and walked through one of the houses. The houses have running water but they have to use public toilets. I can't imagine getting up in the middle of the night and having to walk down the street to goto the bathroom. And the toilets in China aren't more than a hole in the ground.

It was then back to the hotel for the night. I am staying at the Marriott City Wall hotel. It's a brand new five star hotel in the center of Beijing. Unfortunately there still was no news on my lost bag when I got back. The tour rep called Air Canada to check on it. They were given my itinerary and have my tour guide's cell phone number are supposed to call when they find it. All my clothes and toiletries are in that bag. I sure hope it turns up soon. The cruise leaves port Monday afternoon, and the first two days are sea days. So I wouldn't get it back until Thursday at the earliest if they don't get it to me here in Beijing.

Visiting the Great Wall tomorrow, will write more then.

Tim



SUNDAY, OCTOBER 4, 2009:

Late Saturday evening there was a knock on my hotel room door. When I answered there was a bellboy
standing there with my missing luggage, I was very relieved.
On Sunday morning we drove out to the Great Wall. It was another day of perfect weather.
It took about ninty minutes to get out there. On the way we passed by some of the venues of the 2008 summer Olympics.
We drove past the Bird Nest Stadium. I didn't get a picture so I'll borrow someone else's.


For any average traveler who visits China for the first time, the Great Wall is always an indispensable fixture on the itinerary.
Without it, a trip to China would be incomplete. The reason is simple: it is one of China’s most important cultural and
historical symbols. It is also one of the best known ancient constructions in the world.
The massive project stretches east to west a distance of over 5500 miles with all of its branches.
The Great Wall of China The Great Wall of China

The wall is a series of stone and earthen fortifications in northern China, built, rebuilt, and maintained between the 5th century BC
and the 16th century to protect the northern borders of the Chinese Empire from Xiongnu attacks during various successive dynasties.
The Great Wall of China The Great Wall of China

Eight minute video of the Great Wall of China.

After our visit to the Great Wall we headed back into Beijing stopping at a jade manufacturer for lunch.
Our final stop of the day was at the Summer Palace.
The Summer Palace is mainly dominated by Longevity Hill (200 feet high) and the Kunming Lake.
On its southern slope, Longevity Hill is adorned with an ensemble of grand buildings:
The Cloud-Dispelling Hall, the Temple of Buddhist Virtue, and the Sea of Wisdom Temple.
The Marble Boat was first erected in 1755 during the reign of the Qianlong Emperor.
A very beautiful place. We took a boat ride on the lake during our visit.
The Summer Palace in Beijing, China The Marble Boat at the Summer Palace in Beijing, China The Summer Palace in Beijing, China

Eight minute video of Beijing's Summer Palace.

MY DAILY EMAIL SENT ON OCTOBER 4, 2009
nǐ hǎo everyone,

That's how you say hello in Chinese.

It was another day of perfect weather in Beijing. Not a cloud in the sky all day and still no smog. We began the day by driving into the mountains north of the city to see the Great Wall. It was about a 90 minute drive to get out there. On the way we passed the Bird Nest stadium and other places used during the 2008 Olympics.

As was the case yesterday, there was no shortage of people out at the Great Wall either. It was a pretty steep climb up the wall. You had to push your way through the huge crowd as you walked on the wall. Then when you got to the towers along the way the crowd had to squeeze through these narrow archways. I climbed up as far as I could in the two hours we were given. The huge crowd of people moved very slowly and people were constantly stopping to have their picture taken so I only made it to the fourth tower before I had to turn around and go back. Below are some pictures from the Great Wall which is 5000 miles long.

The Great Wall of China

The Great Wall of China

The Great Wall of China

After the Wall we went to lunch/sales pitch. Lunch was at a jade manufacturer. They had some nice sculptures with some equally nice prices. The lunch was good. Similar to yesterday, they brought out about a dozen different dishes and set them in the center of the tables.

After lunch we went to the Summer Palace. The Summer Place has been a royal retreat since the Jin Dynasty (1115-1234). It was a place for the emperor to go to beat the summer heat. We took a boat ride on the lake past the palace.

The Summer Palace in Beijing, China

After the Summer Palace it was back to the hotel for the night. This will be the last night here in Beijing. Tomorrow morning we're going to go to the Temple of Heaven and then have a Peking Duck lunch here in Beijing. Then it is about a three hour drive to Xingang where I will board the Diamond Princess for a 16 day cruise.

Some of the best news came late last night when there was a knock on my door. When I answered there was a bellboy standing there with my missing luggage. I still have no idea why it was delayed. I had over four hours between flights so there was no reason for it to have missed the plane. I have to set it back outside my door in a couple of hours as they are rounding up the big bags and taking them to the ship. I hate to let it go for fear they will lose it again.

Will send more reports from the ship.

Tim


MONDAY, OCTOBER 5, 2009:

Monday was our final day in Beijing. It was another beautiful day although the smog did begin to return today.
Our first stop today was the Temple of Heaven.
The Temple of Heaven, literally the Altar of Heaven is a complex of Taoist buildings situated in the southeastern part
of central Beijing, in Xuanwu District. The complex was visited by the Emperors of the Ming and Qing dynasties
for annual ceremonies of prayer to Heaven for good harvest.
Today the locals go here to sing, dance, play games, exercise and socialize. It's a great place to people watch.
Me at the Temple of Heaven in Beijing, China The Temple of Heaven in Beijing, China Me at the Temple of Heaven in Beijing, China

Five minute video of Beijing's Temple of Heaven.

After the temple it was time for the daily sales pitch, we visited a silk manufacturer and saw how silk was made.
That was follwed by a Peking duck lunch at a downtown hotel.

46 minute video of my entire 3-day visit to Beijing, China.

After lunch it was a three hour drive to Xingang where we boarded the Diamond Princess.
The 3-day pre-cruise tour was very nice. Tom Yang, our local guide did an outstanding job.
We were supposed to sail away at 7:00PM, but it was after 11:00 before the local officials cleared us to leave.
Diamond Princess

Three minute video of my sail away from Xingang, China on the Diamond Princess.

MY DAILY EMAIL SENT ON OCTOBER 5, 2009
Hello Folks,

It was another beautiful day in China, but the smog did begin to roll in today. Didn't do a whole lot today. This morning we went to the Temple of Heaven. This is a very interesting place. All the locals go here to socialize. They play games, exercise, sing and dance. It was a fun place just to people watch. Below is a picture of the temple.

The Temple of Heaven in Beijing, China

Me at the Temple of Heaven in Beijing, China

It would have been nice to have spent some more time here. But we had to rush off to another sales pitch. This time at a silk dealer where we were given a demonstration of how silk was made. That was followed by lunch and then the three hour drive to the ship. The three day pre-cruise tour that I took here in Beijing was very well done. The tour guide for our group on bus #6, Tom Yang, was very nice and was very interesting to hear him talk about his family and his life in China. Below is a picture of my hotel.

Beijing Marriott City Wall Hotel

Got to the port about 4:00. This is the first time I have cruised since becoming a platinum member with Princess, so I didn't have to wait in any lines and got priority boarding. Was in my stateroom within five or ten minutes. I was very pleased to learn that I am sailing with my favorite captain again. He was the captain during my 28 day cruise on the Sea Princess last summer. He was great.

We were supposed to sail away at 7:00 but the Chinese officials wouldn't let us leave for some reason. When I went to bed at 11:00 we still had not left so I don't know when they finally let us leave. It is now Tuesday morning and we are sailing in the Yellow Sea between China and North Korea. Weather is still very nice. I was able to do my full hour of laps around the promenade deck this morning. Something I rarely did on my last cruise because it was too cold in Antarctica.

It is a full day at sea today and tomorrow as we make our way to Shanghai. We have a full day in Shanghai on Thursday.

More later,

Tim


TUESDAY, OCTOBER 6, 2009:

On Tuesday we sailed between North Korea and China in the Yellow Sea.
I was very pleased to learn that my favorite Captain, Dino Sagani, was is command.
I had sailed with him for 28 days last summer during my Mediterranean & Transatlantic cruise.


WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 7, 2009:

Wednesday we continued sailing around China's coast in the Yellow Sea.
This evening on the ship was the first formal night and the Captain's Welcome Reception.

Nine minute video of the Diamond Princess and the Captain's Welcome Reception.


Click on the arrow above to continue to my next adventure, SHANGHAI, CHINA.

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