Sunday, May 12, 2013

Delightful Dalian!

The end of the cruise is looming large! One last sea day between Shanghai and Dalian, then Dalian, then "poof" - off the boat! To be honest, although the ship and it's elderly passengers didn't bug me as much as I thought they would, we had had enough of queuing up for stuff and were ready to adventure into the bigger, wider world.

But before we venture forth into our next port of call, Dalian, I wanted to share with you just a little of our life on board, the most important being - The Blue Bag of Power! Everyone gets a blue bag. You can spot the Princess passengers in port, because they are still lugging their blue bags with them to collect souvenirs. Ours stayed mostly on board and it basically became my onboard handbag.

This bag had EVERYTHING in it, presumable to save me schlepping it back to the cabin every 2 seconds:

  • books
  • sunscreen
  • water bottle
  • sunglasses
  • camera
  • tablet (the Windows kind)
  • tablets (the cold and flu kind)
  • lip balm
  • the latest Princess Patter (yanno, so we didn't miss Trivia or Ping Pong)
  • tissues. Lots and lots of tissues.

Video Boy is a growing lad. Have I mentioned that he's taller than me now (or maybe you spotted that in the photos). Well, he gets all that growing from the immense amount of food he is able to put away. Here is his "lunch dessert" plate. Yanno, after eating a full buffet lunch:

We enjoyed A LOT of movies on the ship! Either in our cave cabin, or up on deck, Movies Under the Stars style (free popcorn!). Panda Girl and I enjoyed Mama Mia in the afternoon sun and later, Twilight: Breaking Dawn Pt 2 (squee!). We were all keen to watch Life of Pi, but earlier on, when it was nice and warm, there was not a spare sunlounger to be had. They replayed it, on the night before Dalian. The day temperature has started out OK - about 15C. By late afternoon, the temperature had dropped significantly and by 7:30pm, when the movie was due to play, I reckon it was hovering around  freezing! Not many people brave enough to venture onto deck that night (us included - it'll be a DVD special).

The day dawned, not surprisingly, rather chilly (2C) upon our arrival in Dalian, China. It is a large port city, in the northeast of China. It has a history of Russian and Japanese influences, and this was reflected in the architecture, culture and shopping.

Port of Dalian - not quite the "Hong Kong of China"!

I read one report of Dalian on Cruise Critic, after we got home, saying it was a complete waste of time, with no redeeming features. Mmm. Wonder what they did?

I definitely could have spent more time there, watching ballet and going to art exhibits!

There was intricate jade carvings for sale - billions of Yuan and millions of kilos heavy - perhaps too much for us to take home?

The Russian influence was obvious:

and I have to say the traffic was CRAZY!!! We managed not to get run over, but as a pedestrian in Dalian, we were happy to find the mall:

I was so excited to see steam coming from a vent (you never see that in Australia),
I totally ignored the camoflage, ammo -ready dude in front of the shop!
Russian subtitles - that helps. Not.
I think I might move to Dalian and set up a ballet school in this abandoned building. Or not.

Russian doll shop. All. The. Dolls!
The Russian influence also means if you are cold and want to buy a furry hat, you are in the right place!

You know, it didn't actually occur to me until after I bought my furry hat that it actually might be real fur. I assumed like most other purchases, it would be fake. But it's my Russian/Chinese hat that I will rarely have the opportunity cold enough to wear and I love it.
More photos of Panda Girl!!!
Practising our non-existent Mandarin, trying to see if the Samsung phones were unlocked!

Nearly every city had some form of western fast-food. But here, they kind of Chingleshed it:

Mao Fried Chicken?
It was quite cold, so we got Video Boy a hat too :-)
Looking for a new watch

Loved all the little street dogs - they were quite cute!

And yet MORE unbelievable street food! Often, as fellow-passengers walked past, they would ask us if we were really eating the street food. Um YES! It was great and I think if you pick the freshly cooked stuff you are pretty safe, stomach-wise. None of us got gastro.

Maybe because we didn't eat sea urchin...

Perusing the many options...

These look nice! Dough balls, rolled in sesame seeds, flattened out and cooked...

And it had the yummiest seasoned beef (I hope) mince inside!!!

All smiles for steamed pork buns!

Umm, pass on the stir-fried snails...
A Prada knock-off, dya reckon?

I loved the signs! The little pictures and the English that loses a little bit of sense in the translation:

The shuttle bus stop was right in front of the Friendship Store. 8 floors of anything you could imagine. We nearly brought home a massage chair:

The crowds on and off the buses were wearing a bit thin! But this was our last day in port, so not much longer to put up with it.

Now, from those pictures, you'd never guess it was Easter Sunday, would you? Not an egg in sight in these non-Christian countries. Can't say I missed that, but it was OK. Kids Club had a fun afternoon of Easter activities that Panda Girl insisted we join in on. So we got to colour-in:

And celebrate with Easter Bunny!

And decorate eggs

Can you make out Panda Girl's rabbit?

And dancing with the Bunny!

Who handed out eggs to every kids, but you had to have your photo taken.

The things we will do for chocolate!

All of us!
 The rest of the ship was also highly decorated for Easter. We actually lugged eggs with us all the way from home (they were only a bit squashed), but you could also buy them on board.

We enjoyed our last dinner on board the Diamond Princess. We had to pack our bags and leave them out before dinner as we were due to get off the ship nice and early at 7am.

Triple choc treat for Easter. 
And so we say goodbye to the Diamond Princess and our cruise! But stay tuned for an action packed 3 days in China's capital, Beijing!!!

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