How the Cookie Crumbles

Life and scribbles on the far side of SIXTY-FIVE


On the Yangtze, Day 16, Part 6 (Shibaczhai Pagoda)

We woke at 6:25, dressed without showering and headed for early breakfast. After the cancelled excursions the past two days, I noticed passengers appeared antsy to go on the Shibaozhai trip, scheduled for 7:45 a.m., weather permitting. No cancellation was announced at breakfast. By the time we arrived in our rooms, a reminder blared over the PA to anyone leaving the ship to pick up a ship’s pass. The tour was on.


Shibaozhai Pagoda Images

Sue proceeded to take a shower after breakfast as I plopped into the chair at the desk. The outing hadn’t interested me because of the damp drizzle with or without an umbrella.

My heart stopped. I glanced out the balcony doors and gulped. A ship coasted towards us and I knew we were going to crash. I leaped to my feet. I don’t know why. Not unlike a pillar of cement, I froze poker straight expecting the inevitable crash. We were going to die and there was nothing to do about it.

© 2015 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

© 2015 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

The drifting stopped mere inches away. How did they do that? Everything trickled rain: the balcony floor, the railings and chairs. I read the name on the side: President Cruise. It was smaller than ours, old and rusty. Curtains hung haphazardly missing hooks on rods. Clothes lines strung with laundry crisscrossed inside the rooms so close I could have reached across and pulled them off—maybe not quite—but too close for comfort. The Chinese passengers who came out on the back deck (the poop deck, I think) to see what was happening didn’t appear well-off.

© 2015 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

© 2015 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

A third ship moved alongside the second one, bigger than both of us: the Century Emerald. It drew closer and closer. The curtains pulled back, windows on the main deck revealed a fancy dining-room featuring round tables draped with milk-white cloths and bright yellow chair covers featuring bows on the back. The third ship floated towards the one between us. I waited for the crunch. It didn’t come. I watched a female cleaner (maid?) wipe down the railings on one of the balconies. What a hard worker, but why bother with this useless task?

© 2015 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

© 2015 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

The fumes were suffocating and the engines noisy even through the closed door.

The Chinese boat moved away in the opposite direction. Once again I held my breath as the Century Emerald inched towards us so close I could almost touch their balcony railings if I stepped out and leaned forward. A few curious international passengers on the Emerald watched us for a while. I wondered which of us were watchers watching the watchers. Soon, they returned to their rooms and closed the curtains. Maybe we weren’t that interesting.

The temperature in our room reached a high of 24, the highest since we boarded. I opened our curtains and doors again for fresh air, but not for long. The noisy engines were deafening. Why run them? Weren’t we anchored? The ships remained side-by side like strangers on a first date.

Sue lay on the bed reading with her swollen feet up on the headboard (actually the mirror above it). She’d suspected the moveable bubble above her toes might be blood. If she’d had a needle, she’d have drawn out the liquid. I suggested she see the ship’s doctor, but she refused.

Twice in ten minutes, Housekeeping came to make up our room. We offered to do it ourselves, but that wasn’t allowed. I noticed I’d become lazy since we boarded. What’s wrong with some down time after all the running around we did the first eight or nine days after our arrival in China?

A Captain’s Bridge Tour was announced over the PA, but I felt too lazy to move. Maybe I was still feeling the effects of our near crash. A different language presentation was scheduled every quarter hour from 10:00 to 11:15 in French, English, Chinese, Spanish and German—not specifically in that order. The interruptions soon became a nuisance.

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Next on January 23rd: On the Yangtze Day 16, Part 7 (Ghost City and Stairway to Hell) + More

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© 2015 All Right Reserved Tess @ How the Cookie


On the Yangtze River: Day 13, Part 1

(Sorry, no photos for this post)

I awoke at 5:50. Outside, the weather looked dull and overcast and / or foggy—not smog, I hoped.   I called it misty because we were on the water after all. The previous night, we’d set sail around 10:00 p.m., but were stationary when Sue and I went to breakfast.

Sue had played with the alarm clock the night before, not sure if it would work. It buzzed at 6:20 a.m., exactly as she’d set it, but we were already up.

The shower tiny, but efficient, had a rounded, two-door closure, one shoved toward the other till they met in the center. If I hadn’t been forced in front of this seam blocking water like a shield, the floor would have been drenched. I’m pleased to report the water was hot.



We went to the Early Bird breakfast (7:00 – 7:30 a.m.) for the free coffee and arrived at 6:55. It was pleasant to linger over three coffees and sweet rolls.

I didn’t take inventory at breakfast 8:30 – 9:00 a.m.), but I had a hard-boiled egg, buns covered in sunflower seeds, strawberry jam, yogurt (plain and watery, but sweet—maybe too sweet), white cheese slices. No need to rush to Early Bird the next day as the coffee was free at the regular breakfast as well. What was Ivy, our presenter the previous night, thinking when she advised it was only free at 7:00 a.m.? Maybe it was the way she said it that we’d misunderstood. I had the feeling she was quite proud of her English and I confess it was quite good and 1000 percent better than my Chinese. Maybe she meant coffee was available for early risers?

I chose to pass on the morning excursion to the Red Cliffs (9:00 – 11:00), not because I had a need to be alone, but because I wanted some free time, and to wash out a few things and relax. Sue, however, looked forward to this tour.

Images of Red Cliffs Ruins in Chibi,+images+of+ruins&rlz=1C1EODB_enCA562CA564&espv=2&biw=1093&bih=514&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&ei=z3eLVJXOJJegyASA0IHoCQ&ved=0CCoQsAQ

While I enjoyed some lazy time sitting on the balcony, the maid came in to make up the room. I told her she didn’t need to, we would. No. She had to do it. After making the beds, she’d gone into the bathroom and came right out again. “One towel and one face cloth missing.” Eyes wide, her hands and voice trembled. I almost laughed aloud.

“I washed some tee shirts and wrapped one in the towel to draw out the water faster.”

“You can give to Laundry.” She pulled herself together and reached for the pricing brochure on the desk.

“Maybe next time,” I said even as I had no intention on following through with my lie. I unrolled my Tees and handed over the towel and face cloth.

The Yangtze is a true yellow, and dirty, harboring floating junk here and there. All the junk was small and a few branches, not large chunks of anything. I couldn’t help picturing someone emptying a bucketful of cigarette butts as I saw those as well. In spots I noticed large and small ripples as if there were a sandbar underneath—I hoped not. I knew the ripples weren’t from the ship stirring the water because we weren’t moving, but waited for the excursion group to return.

Lots of rusting barges and tugboats transported coal, sand, and gravel. I couldn’t imagine anyone fishing in this river. Would they? A blue ship with three white decks passed by. Automobiles took up every square inch of deck space. I can’t recall what make the cars were, though.

After Sue left, an alarm went off. An announcement over the PA advised this was a fire drill, but to stay in our cabins. The drill was cancelled a while later, and I decided to go to Reception to use the Internet.

The second floor was chock full of crew members wearing life-jackets over gorgeous blue uniforms. It appeared a health and safety meeting was in progress. A handsome, thirty-something man in a navy uniform (the only one with gold braiding on the cuffs and outfitted with a life-jacket as well), stood aside to allow me past. Face hot, I plodded through the other end of the same group again as I burned my way to Reception.


Next on December 19, On the Yangtze River, Day 13, Part 2 (

For more related posts, click on China tab at the top of the page

© 2014 All Right Reserved TAK


Shanghai: Day 12, Part 1 – Flight to Wuhan

We had a leisurely breakfast with nothing on the schedule for the morning. Although a five-star, our hotel was situated too far from the Bund and the waterfront attractions for wandering around on our own.

Sue walked around the neighborhood and bought a pair of shoes. RJ and his wife went out and explored as well. Lots of real life to discover behind the scenes after all. I stayed behind, caught up on e-mail and repacked my suitcase, which had become heavier.

The poor live on one side of the street and the better off on the other:

As we traveled by bus to our lunch destination, I caught sight of a duo hanging off a skyscraper washing windows. You read that correctly: no scaffolding only a rope to secure them from falling as they swung in the wind. What kind of Health and Safety rules are there for workers I wondered?

Chinese saying:

Red lights are a suggestion; crosswalks are just a decoration.

Crosswalks and lights are ignored and no-one is ticketed for not stopping for pedestrians. Jaywalkers cross in the middle of traffic or at crosswalks, proceeding no matter what the suggestion or decoration. Two hundred people are killed a day in China due to traffic accidents.

Quick Facts:

  • Population in China: 1.3 billion
  • Beijing: 20 million (capital)
  • Shanghai: 23 million

We arrived too early for lunch at a moored ship—Sea Palace Floating Restaurant—and were the only patrons. The waitress might have put on a less stern face. She led us to a table where we waited longer than usual for our meal. Until this occurrence, once seated the food arrived within minutes. I looked around, we chatted and took advantage of the Happy House.

All tables had seating for ten. Down the length of the ship, I counted 10 tables in each row, times four rows across. As we finished eating, I noticed the restaurant had begun to fill up in earnest.


  • Baby bok choy
  • Breaded white fish
  • Chicken with green and red peppers
  • Onions and pineapple
  • Mystery soup
  • Scrambled eggs
  • Beef with red and green peppers and onions
  • Sweet and sour chicken with red and green peppers
  • Curried chicken and potatoes with red and green peppers White rice
  • Watermelon slices

When  food is left over, we wondered more than once what’s done with the remains. Were they thrown out like in North America? I’d always been under the impression that the Chinese wasted nothing.

After lunch we drove to Shanghai Pudong International Airport to catch China Southern, a domestic flight at 15:55. According to our trip schedule, this was supposed to have been a morning flight. Check-in was smooth this time. None in our group were pulled over for additional security check(s).

WiFi and a charging station stared at me at our boarding area. I tried to logon to the internet but couldn’t switch from Chinese to English, the only language greyed out in the list. I wanted to check if my daughter had answered the morning’s e-mail. This ticked me off a bit: handy but untouchable with 55 minutes to kill before boarding for a two-hour flight.

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A Special Treat:

 RJ continues to share photos. His wife Bonnie sent me this link. Prepare to be mesmerized. Make sure you have your heart medicine handy. Grab a drink and put your feet up.

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Next on November 28, Wuhan, Day 12, Part 2 – Cruise Ship

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© 2014 All Right Reserved TAK