Had a four hour delay at Heathrow on the Virgin flight to Shanghai (not a good start). Everything then went smoothly:
Airport to Hotel (ok)
Hotel to Cruise ship (ok)
Cruise asround Japan and South Korea (excellent)
Entertainment on board (good)
Cruise ship to Hotel (good)
Hotel to Airport (never happened!)
A volcano in Iceland decvided to blow its top and prevent our return (not good)
Impressions of Japan are surprisingly better than I thought, it is an exceptionally neat and tidy country. We saw no litter or mess at all. The population dresses exclusively in Armani, except the peasants and they only wear Gucchi. Their manners are superb and of course they are extremely polite and helpful. The country itself is a picture box and all the plants and flowers are so photogenic it is impossible not to take a decent photo of the countyryside or even urban areas. Shopping is like walking through a clinically perfect envronment where any food stuff or article that is on display looks its best (and is probably hermetically sealed).
South Korea is nearly the same except there is a bit of rubbish lying around and the school children are rather undisciplined (unlike the Japanese). Our British pupils are relatively well behaved compared to them. I did like Korea though, they have come on leap and bounds overe the last few decades to becoame a very successful nation and they have done it through sheer enterprise and mind boggling hard work.
Shanghai is very Hitech but quite a lot polluted and verybig. The Hotel is local to the airport and it still takes a taxi 40mins to get there. The road system is very efficient.We had the Grand Prix yesterday (Brits 1 & 2) and all the Taxi drivers think they are in the race.
We were to fly today, but like Europe, we cannot. Virgin and Cruise1st (our booking agent) are notable for their reluctance to help, so we now have to rely on our own resources. We have moved our Hotel to a cheaper one ie: 1200 RMB per night (Crowne Plaza, Pudong) to 268 RMB per night (Ibis Hotel, Pudong). We still get breakfast, buta we haven’t sampled it yet. This morning (against Virgin’s advice) we went to the Airport at flight time and met the staff, we persuaded them to give us a confirmed flight on the 5th May, which gives us 16 days to kill unless we can find another route home (like the rest of 5 days of stopped flights). We have got company as a few of the other passengers have followed us into the Ibis to save money. Some have flights and some don’t. The current news is still bad but as long as the aircraft fly before May we will be coming home. Charlotte has been a brick, covering at home and texting us with info etc. We shall have to make the best of things and see the sights of Shanghai, unfortunately Chinese food is not my favourite and there is no alternative. As ther Captain of an Emirates flight, who I met last night said, "What a better place to be trapped in than Shanghai?" I replied, "How about the Maldives?"
I would like to go home now and seem my family and plant my tomato seeds.