Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Shanghaied

Shanghaided: to be put aboard a ship by force often with the help of liquor or a drug

We are currently at sea. Most people went to the Great Wall and will meet the ship in Shanghai. There are only 175 faculty/staff/students on board and it has been quiet and peaceful.

I was certainly not forced to stay on board as we sailed away from the grandeur of Hong Kong, though the title of my blog may imply so. But there has been some liquor passed. My friends and I had a party on the balcony in one of the cabins, as we watched the skyline fade into the distance as we sipped our drinks. And as for the drugs- I am still taking the Malaria pills, some Meclazine for the choppy seas, and some Vicodin to go hand-in-hand with the liquor aforementioned. (Just kidding on that last one).

Seriously, it has been wonderful. There are 40 new crew members on board. My cabin steward, Edwin parted ways with us and my new steward is Rey. He seems sweet, but he doesn't fold my clothes and arrange my toiletries the same way Edwin did. My favorite waiter, Ponciano also left, but Ishmael replaced him and he had my black coffee waiting for me.

I just re-read that paragraph....geez! What am I going to do in May when I don't have these folks catering to my every whim? I am ever so grateful for these luxuries and their kind warm-hearted care.

Tonight we had what the crew calls a "special dinner". We were seated and served. (Normally it's buffet style in the dining rooms.) I had steak. I love when there are so few people on the ship! I'll get this again when we sail between Kobe and Yokohama, as most people are off the ship then too.

Hong Kong was breathtaking, but we were only there for two quick days. We were docked in Kowloon, which is like "Jersey City" to Manhattan. Not Jersey City by character, rather Jersey City by space and the view across the river. I had a beautiful view out my cabin window of the skyline and I felt right at home, as it reminded me of my beloved New York. Except much bigger. Much brighter. And with Victoria Peak serving as the backdrop. It is also very easy to navigate. Here are Dougie and I navigating:

I am such a city person. I feel comfort among the tall buildings and harried pace. I feel a soothing calm with the sounds of traffic and the bright lights. Don't get me wrong- I loved my rural trips too (like in South Africa and Vietnam and India), but I feel a a certain zen with the background noise and the harmony of car horns.
We pulled into the Kowloon port, which is directly connected to a huge shopping mall. And the weather was pleasantly cool and comforting. After sweating in the past four ports, it was a refreshing break to be in 60 and 70 degree weather! We took a Hong Kong City Orientation on the first day. Then I had dim sum, which was really yummy! Here are Lisa, Kate, Andrea, Shirl, me, and Janetta after our ride on the Victoria Peak Tram:

The second day I had a workshop called "Healthy Living Hong Kong style", where we did some Qi Gong and then they served us all this "tonic food" like chicken broth with ginseng and Jellyfish. I pretty much hated it. When we had free time, I ducked into a McDonalds and ate a Big Mac value meal. (I know, I know. But I did have the dim sum and I loved that, so leave me alone here.) The funny part is that I was hiding behind a Buddha statue, sitting on a bench, shoveling it in and one of the students came up and said "Umm, Laurie?!??? What time do we have to be back at the bus?" Poor girl was frightened by my rapid food shoveling.

On a more sad note, last Fall when the voyage was in Hong Kong a student was intoxicated and ran out into some traffic and died. It was an emotional day for some of the staff and crew who were on that voyage. It amazed me however that on THIS very voyage, in Hong Kong, many students came back completely drunk and another student was found face-down in the mall outside of the port at 5 AM by himself, passed out drunk. Then he finally woke up and started shouting profanities at the Security Guards and staff who were at his side helping him. The Semester at Sea "powers that be" made it *very* clear that students should always travel in groups late at night and never leave drunk students alone. What did these kids not get about that message? And about the incident from Fall Semester? It saddens me a bit that students can be so irrespponsible and then so cruel to those who are at their side saving their lives.

Good thing we have some excellent crew and staff to save their lives and shanghai these kids all the way to Shanghai. Speaking of which, I'll be there the day after tomorrow. Stay tuned...

3 comments:

Dara said...

I wish I could have explored Hong Kong when I landed at the airport to transfer to Bangkok. But, I think that would have required a visa or something, which is just too much effort on my part. I am willing to fly to the other side of the earth, but not willing to do any paper work or standing on lines for it!
Haha.

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