Asia 2015- Last day in Beijing and Trip to Dalian

This morning we arrive at the ship, Nautica,but not before one more round of the Waldorf’s breakfast restaurant attended by food inspiration and waiter, Peter. Dim Shum is on the menu. Eagerly he leads me through the kitchen with its pots of hard boiled eggs simmering in tea, bamboo boxes stacked four high with savory dumplings in several flavors. Chinese sweet rolls, a type of dumpling, rolled in sesame seeds and filled with a fig fruit filling then steamed is also available. There were four types of noodle bowls and a beef stew offered as well ( all for breakfast). We take a sampling of several items. The dumplings were the best along with the noodle bowl with grass noodles.
It’s a sad time to leave this beautiful and peaceful hotel, but new adventures await. James and I make a quick walk to the Apple Store for a photo to send to James Jr. and stop to watch the line dancing/ Taichi exercise class across the street. The freezing wind keeps us from dallying overlong. Raymond, our guide, and Mr. Gee, our driver, greet us and wisk us away for a two hour drive to Tainjin, where our ship is tied up in port.
On our way out of Beijing we pass the very exclusive Billionaires Club, for newly rich Chinese business men and women. We travel along the Grand Canal. This waterway is centuries old and was built to transport rice and silk from southern China to Beijing and the more arid areas to the north and west. Today, it is not used and has silted over, but does provide neighborhood parks along its banks. In all this concrete, any park is a welcome repite. Along our way the traffic lightens up and becomes mostly semi- trailers. Occasionally we are passed at a high rate of speed by a Porsche or other high end sports car. We see the bullet train go by on elevated tracks. It makes this same trip in 30 minutes. We noticed as we are traveling south east out of Beijing that the row on row of high rise apartment buildings goes on and on much further than when we were traveling north out of town the previous day to visit the Great Wall. These high rise apartment buildings are all very much the same architectual design with no balconies. Only the Communist Party T.V. building with its modern curved design breaks up the monotony of the skyline.
Gradually the Cityscape gives way to the bleak brown and gray of the countryside silent waiting for Spring. No farm animals are evident, just land. Frequently we pass an entire town of empty highrise buildings. Some are completed and some only partially constructed. No work is being done to complete them. It is almost like a science fiction movie. Just as we are approaching Tianjin, we pass many ponds devoted to fish farming.
As we enter the port area, we encounter a massive area of stacked shipping containers stacked very high all along the highway awaiting their turn to be sent to sea. Our traffic comes to a dead stop. We are held up so sections of an Airbus airliner can be transported up the highway with an official escourt.After 20 minutes we are allowed to proceed the last few miles to the port. Here we come into contact with the Chinese immigration officals again who want to throughly study our paperwork before letting us continue on board the Nautica and, most importantly, we escape the freezing wind. Mori, our Polish cabin steward, welcomes us on board and briefs us on everything. We quickly unpack and settle in to our new warm home.
A new day arrives and we are scheduled to go on shore to visit downtown Tianjin but we decline. We saw enough of it on our way here from Beijing. This is a good day to catch up on writing, emails, and work. We enjoy watching the bustling harbor at work with the cargo ships heading into port with empty containers stacked high on deck and full containers leaving for the USA and Europe. The car carrier ships are arriving loaded with cars for the newly prosperous Chinese. The smog has followed us from Beijing and the cold wind along with it. We are glad we decided to stay on board. Late in the evening we set sail.
We sail all night to Dailin a Chinses city of 8 million souls. When you consider that China has 1,300,000,000 people, it is not surprising that we have never heard of this city before today. Dailin has a long history of conflict between the great powers over its strategic position on the China coast. In 1905 the Russians fought the Japanese here and lost badly. This area is coveted for its deep harbor and its geographic location on the small Bo Hai Sea half way between Shanghai and Beijing. We arrive at dawn to more smog and empty high rise buildings in various stages of completion. There is a small area fo several blocks surrounded on three sides by highrises that is built to look like Paris. We pass a large turtle shaped building that turns out to be a new soccer stadium. Today, James is going to visit a famous prision known for its brutality in Lushun on the very tip of Dailin.This prison was designed by the Russians and later expanded by the Japanese. Prisoners were literally worked to death. Any trouble makers were hung in a special building and dropped to their death into wooden barrels. The horror of the place demonstrates the lack of value placed on human life by the Japanese.The city of Dailin has a park in its center even larger than Tieniamen Square in Beijing. I had hoped to go there and see the kite flying but the weather is even colder and it makes it too tempting to stay on board. James returns several hours later and says his tour group was very quiet on the bus as they made their way back to the ship from the prison.
This evening is the Captain’s cocktail party and we have been invited to join his table for dinner. We are seated with Linda next to the Captain and on his other side were Melony and Richard Gozmart woners of the Columbia and U le Leis restaurants in Tampa Florida. James is seated next to the owner of a Swiss technology company and they discuss everything from Swiss private banking to Apple computer company. We enjoy a lovely evening full of wine and conversation.