Oct 21 2019

世纪荣耀 Century Glory

3 star out of 5. Grossly over priced.

It claims the best river cruise in China and the price reflects it. They say the Yangzi River cruise is to be taken again and again (18 times is the current record). If I were to retake the journey (most likely not) definitely not this boat.

  • Cost for 3 night: the 3rd level double with a balcony is ¥3500 pp, foreign passport adds ¥500. Total for me is $571.
  • Getting to the cruise: it’s easy, at Chaotianmen Pier.
  • Boarding: so so. At the first check point, the guard took photo of my passport with his own phone because there is a glitch. The glitch reminds – my gender is male. After the initially check, we were led to the dinning room, waiting to be assigned to a room. Jimmy the staff in white suits explained our options which we all knew. He took our IDs and came back with our room assignment and keys. We could up grade to 4th floor for ¥300, we declined.
  • Our room: is ok. Two beds are closer than the photos depicted – only a gap about a fist wide. Water is weak. Door to balcony is unlockable (they fixed it). The censor by the bathroom is way too sensitive and lighted up a few times during the night – a terrible problem. The room cleaning didn’t take away the dirty glasses and plates that are left in the room. The towels are really good. Two ponchos are in the closet: perfect to the rainy days. The water heater malfunctioned too: won’t stop on its own. There is NO USB port to charge your devices and without the room card inserted, there is NO uninterrupted outlet in the room. The front desk can charge for you – talking about luxury. It seems all things pointed to a 3 star venue.
  • Foods: nothing to write home about. Adding ¥398 ($57) to upgrade to higher level dinning room, still, excludes table wine and beer.

Some unreal experience:

  1. Their arrogance. They’re the best when in fact they’re an luxury wanna be. Maximum a 3-star operation.
  2. Sound pollution: every morning since 7, the PA begins to send out announcements and instructions. It’s a torture. Many instructions could be done by WeChat, like assign land tour group. Instead, a staff yells out every single group/room to a tour guide. Every time we enter our room, the tv greets us with our names – why couldn’t they use the same channel/method to assign tour guide, instead of yelling out for good ten minutes?
  3. Smell pollution: the public bathrooms by either side of the cabin rows stinks the moment we boarded.
  4. Water accidents: water gushing out when I went out after settle down, and dripping above the elevator which is dangerous.
  5. Luggage handling at the disembarkment. The cruise will NOT dock at the port that is near the tourist center, which is at the Wanda Plaza in Yichang because of the dam. Getting off the boat, you need transportation to the Tourist Center (where buses, taxis …). Our cruise arranged a visit to the Dam on the last day, which means you leave the cruise after breakfast and won’t return to the cruise again after the visit. It involves the placement of your luggage.
    1. The cruise offers porter service. For ¥25 per luggage, the porter will bring your luggage to the Tourist Center – which you will reclaim after the Dam visit. The caveat for this option is, you’ve to pack your luggage and leave it out side of your room before 11 pm the night before. I’m wondering why can’t they use the five hours window (7:30-12:30) to transport our luggage, instead imposing such inconvenience on us? Again, think, will any luxury outfitter will do such thing.
    2. You bring your own luggage to the tour which will store in the tour bus. Simple enough. From the cruise to the bus, there is a mini tram which spares you to climb the steps with your luggage in hand. Unfortunately the tram wasn’t working. The reason the cruise gave is, the water level is too high. “We’ve no control of it” so the cruisers have to climb the steps with heavy luggage. My travel companions have bad knees and is 70 years old. The cruise did nothing. If I were the manager, I definitely will send out all my able staff to help the needy. They stood their ground and did nothing. We were the last four leaving the cruise. They finally call in a porter to carry out stuff out, at ¥60. Again, think of luxury. The inefficiency and inept management is everywhere. The cruise will not end officially by noon. So it was their responsibility to see us off.
  6. The last meal: the breakfast on the last day is 6:15 to 7:45. I guess they want us out of the ship asap. Luxury? What luxury?
  7. On the third/last night, the cruise offers disambarkment info in their small theater. The manager Allan Chen began it on time (a good manner in my book). First, he asked “Has anyone taken a luxury cruise before?” Because my experience thus far, I knew exactly where he’s from or where he’s going. I wanted to ask, “how do you define luxury?” He went on to push their company and different lines. Come on, we sailed for three nights, knew your little boat well, no need to push again. At the end, he brought up tips by saying, they adhere the international standard by adopting tipping a few decades ago and it hasn’t changed, still ¥150 pp. Now everyone’s living standard has rose so much but the tip they expected is still ¥150. What a bargain. That wasn’t it. He went on to say, it was also on the ppt that shown on the stage, that he and another person do NOT share in the tipping pool. IF we want to express our gratitude personally to him, we should tip him personally. Tips: Chinese is NOT used to tipping culture but the cruise talks about it officially at least three times: at welcome session shortly we departed; a staff came with an envelop on the last night and at the disembarkment info session.
  8. Captain’s dinner: NO need to bring a suit or dress because the captain came into our dinning hall and raised his glass once aragontly, then his side kick said, “… because the captain has to sail our boat so he has to go back to work …” with that excuse, the skipper left.

Three wash machines (¥15 per wash; detergent is free) and one dryer (free) is my lift saver since I’ve been on the road for a long time.

Tables in the dinning hall are bare – uncovered and some of them are uneven – you’ve to insert napkins underneath to steady it. Tableware is, well, you’ll have to use cup saucer 茶碟 for cake tells something.

Fellow boaters are fine, except undies and bras hanging out for all to see.


This is 世纪游轮 Century River Cruises‘s newest ship the Century Glory. She made her maiden voyage on August 28 (on Sept 9 fm Shanghai per the agent). The 10.21 sail cost ¥3,699+ pp about $521 base price with buffet meals on the second deck. Upgrade to the restaurants (there are two) is an additional ¥398 ($56). I’m wondering how did NCL‘s Norwegian Joy fared so poorly?

邮轮上水都是5天4晚,下水都是4天3晚的: 上水是星期四, 下水是星期一. Down stream sail (the itinerary) is three nights and up is four, price are similar tho. Four this ship, up stream departs on Thursdays from Yichang to Chongqing.

Google 荣耀三峡 (Sept 22, 2019). The ship seems paying no attention on meals / foods serving to the people who don’t eat certain things: this is what I got from the travel agent who wrote that 餐都是自助的; 餐都是大众口味 – I’d translate to that ‘meals are catered to the popular demand’.

内舱房: 团队位,特价:3500*0.7元/人
臻选豪华间:团队位, 特价:3500*1.5倍元/间(1-2人,享受VIP餐厅用餐)
行政套房: 正价:每套3500*4倍(住1-2人)
家庭套房: 正价:每套3500*5倍(住1-3人)
总套、荣耀: 各2套(均为大床),正价:每套3500*8倍(住1-2人)


Oct 14 2019

Sichuan Archives

A pretty depressing place. The guard at the entrance demands your photo ID. Entering the archives building, the bag scanner is asleep, so is the scanner.

档案馆 11:30-2 午饭;一天只能要求提交看档案一次 (馆员说 你可以提20条呀)… 他们什么也没有. 说 看晚清 还是去北京一档.


Oct 1 2019

中国历史研究院

北京市朝阳区北辰东路15号奥林匹克公园内

 


Oct 1 2019

October 1, 2019

The 70th anniversary of founding of our nation is a huge production. It reaches every realm of lives in Beijing.

The subways and roads are constantly closed, rather randomly I think: at about 8:00 pm I got off from #14 at Yongdingmen station, which means Eternal Peace Gate Station.

There are security personnel everywhere … I had to change many times to get to my destinations, from subway (Metro) to bus then back to subway.

People are watching the celebrations in the movie theaters …

Some the jokes or facts that has been making the rounds:

  1. 念好吧!昨晚老石约饭局,其中一朋友家住长安街(父辈为高干)五居室,其中一室的窗户临长安街,最后彩排前,不仅他家人不能住那屋,还安排一警察住进那临街的屋,他家人说,不愿生人用卫生间,没用!一直得住到节后!全家人崩溃!太无法想象!家里平空住进一警察!这都是什么事啊!
  2. 这是我一个老同学昨天在群里说的~~今天早上有一个交往多年的妹妹来找我聊天,其中就聊到70年大庆上,她家住在南池子。昨晚她爱人出门遛弯,随身带上身份证已经一个多月了,等回来时有一路口把他截住检查完身份证后又让他记住一个口令”交道口”,才能通过。等他走到家门口的那条胡同,又检查了一遍身份证然后问口号,他说”交道口”才让他回家。她说完给我逗的,这不跟搞地下工作的接头暗号呢。这也不知谁想出来了高招,而且会更换。70年大庆这动靜,我的亲娘哎,这阵子哪也别去了,指不定就回不了家了。

Sep 29 2019

Cutting the lines


JFK Delta (terminal 4)

It’s my first time using the service by the curbside. People working there are very casual and happy – they joke all the time and laughing. On top of that, they actually check you in, take your baggages and issue you your boarding pass or passes, in my case. But at the end, they also ask for a tip. I was a little dumbfounded but I thanked him and gave him $5. (The cart is $6 – airport charges cart … hmmm) Once in side, I saw the line to Delta check in counter is packed. Guess I was lucky to have chose the curbside service. I asked one Delta lady, “oh, they’re legit, our contractors …” And on the tipping side, she said they’re aware of it and will do something about it. “They’re being paid very little..” If tipping is expected, either raise their salary/wages or post it visibly so travelers wouldn’t be surprised?

 


Sep 19 2019

Blue Lobster Grille 


15 Dock Square
Rockport, MA 01966

Will return.

The decoration could be better but we certainly got the best table in the restaurant. The service is good and the food is even better. The fried Haddock is excellent!

I enjoyed a glass of Sauvignon Blanc Line 39, without any trouble – alcohol wasn’t too welcome in this little dry town:

In 1856, a gang of 200 women led by Hannah Jumper swept through the town and destroyed anything containing alcohol in what is called “Rockport’s revolt against rum” and banned alcohol from the town. Except for a period in the 1930s, the town remained one of 15 Massachusetts dry towns. The town remained dry for many years until 2005, when it was voted that alcohol could be served at restaurants. Sales at stores were not allowed until March 2019, when a local market was granted a liquor license and began to sell beer and wine.

Oh may I go at the right time -:)

 


Sep 10 2019

Two rest stops

Two nice rest stops (without any vendors) are quant and quiet – super nice.

Middletown in Connecticut

A small dog

Seabrook in NH..


Aug 9 2019

Beethoven’s weekend

A musical weekend at the Tanglewood in the Berkshires, MA. On Friday, the 9th, we had his violin concerto and Sunday matinee his 6th the Pastoral. A heavenly weekend with wonderful program. This music venue is in the expansion mode: next to the Seiji Ozawa Hall, the Linde Center has just opened in this past June.

Before heading up, we stopped at Innisfree Garden. We hiked the Keystone Arch Bridges Trail on Saturday before the candle night concert, visited Lee, market in Lenox; Stockbridge (with Red Lion Inn) and West Stockbridge (Shaker cafe & bookstore) before the matinee on Sunday – the Pastoral. Shopped at Nejaime’s, market and lunched at  All was great and wonderful, except the traffic nightmare


Jun 6 2019

Summer is here

Having missed a month, I’m back. The water is dotted with boats

 


May 24 2019

Anne-Sophie Mutter @ Alte Oper


The Old Opera House
Opernplatz 1,
60313 Frankfurt am Main, Germany

The music is wonderful, so is her performance. Her demeanor is so different from when she was in Shanghai in 2016 when and where she talked to her pianist all the time. The hall looks plusher – did they get a facelift?

Her Mozart night:

  1. Violin Concerto No. 2 K.211, D major
  2. Violin Concerto No. 3 K.216, G major
  3. Symphony N. 1 K.16, E flat major
  4. Violin Concerto No. 5 K.219, A major “Turkish”

She gave two encores, one was six minutes long and one was four minutes.

 

The company that manages or sells the tickets frankfurt-ticket.de is responsive but charges €5 if you don’t print your ticket bec the barcode in the email doesn’t work. What the hick??? Why wastes paper!!!???