Oct 21 2019

The Ghost Town

¥290 ($41) to see a newly built old temple on the Yangzi River.

The original ghost temple is under the river now after …

Oct 21 2019


Raffles City 8 Jiesheng St.,
ChongQing, China

The supermarket is pretty up scale on Chaotianmen Docks. I bought green cheese and frozen durian (300g ¥60). The wines, although on the expensive side but look genuine.

Oct 21 2019

世纪荣耀 Century Glory

3 star out of 5. Grossly over priced.

It claims to be 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 will NOT be this shitty boat.

  • Cost for 3 night: the 3rd level double with a balcony is ¥3500 pp, foreign passport adds ¥500 外宾费. 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 (a soft sell) which we all knew when we booked. He took our IDs and came back with our room assignment and keys. We could up grade to 4th floor for ¥300 each but 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. The fake flowers are big turn off. It seems all things pointed to a 3 star venue.
  • Foods: nothing to write home about. On day two they served steak. The line was long. I took one look and walked away: just a piece of small meat and they have the audacity to call it steak. My roommate took a piece – steak, are not their everyday food. She cut a small piece and offered it to me: not good at all. Adding ¥398 ($57) to upgrade to higher level dinning room for pretty much the same food, and without table wine and beer.
  • some services they provide

Some unreal experience:

  1. Their arrogance. They’re the best when in fact they’re a luxury wanna be. Maximum a 3-star operation.
  2. Sound pollution: every morning since 7, the PA begins to blast out announcements and instructions. It’s a torture. Like we’re back to Cultural Revolution. 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, for every single excursion. 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 after the tour, they return you to the tourist center in town. You’ll reunite with your luggage if you choose not to take them with you.
    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 9 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 on that nice day. The reason the cruise gave is, the water level is too high. “We’ve no control of it” so we 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 asked, “how do you define luxury?” He didn’t hear but 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 of info session, 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, he chuckled. … That wasn’t it. He went on to say (it was also shown on the ppt 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 arrogantly, then his side kick said, “… because the captain has to sail our boat so he has to go back to work …” with that, the skipper left. All in less than two minutes of time.

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. Small napkins were always on short supply.

Fellow boaters are fine, except undies and bras hanging out for all to see. People brought their own drinks: beers, wines and mostly the strong clear liquor baijiu to dine with – our agent said “…no, it’s not allowed” when I asked specifically.

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 16 2019

How they drive and park

There is plenty space ahead but she parks with the tail on the single lane road

On this trip, I get to know a few more friends and relatives and even travelled with a few of them. Two of them drove the rental car – later I found out that this was new to them. By no mean to put anyone down but the way they drive and park are less than ideal, once was downright dangerous: parking on the middle of a highway, looking for which way to go. For reason I didn’t quite understand that the GPS wasn’t working and my Google map was useless in China. “Please just take the exit and we can figure it out once we’re off the road.”

I don’t think they’re meant or rude people, just have less common sense or courtesy to others. This is how they park. The drivers are about 60 years old and were educated by the top universities in China.

This video shows an old man with a big bag on a busy 4 lanes street (two on each side) trying to stop a car. After a prolonged moment, a black sedan stopped. First the passenger came out then the driver. Both are women. She opened the truck for the big bag. (After putting in the bag, the man gets into the truck too … ). The video is praising the driver for helping. But I see more: she puts herself and many fellow motorist in danger by stopping, and parts rather far from the curb, which means her car is very close to the dotted line.

Common sense and courtesy … is that too difficult to have?!?