April 7, 2019
Here is our arrival into the port of Tianjin which is the port you go to for Beijing. It is a huge container port.
Our morning started with a compulsory immigration face to face inspection. Because we will be leaving the ship in Shanghai, the purser’s office instructed us to be in the reception area at 7 AM so they could escort us off the ship to go through immigration. There were 6 of us in the same situation and we all walked out ahead of all of the other passengers, including those going on the 3 day overland in China. That part worked OK, but when we got to the immigration officials, they were very confused and didn’t speak English and there was a big hold up. Finally I got through, but Norm was delayed. Without going into too much detail, it turned out that the passport copies the ship provided to us to be stamped at immigration were from our old passport which we had to bring along because it has our India visa in it. They also did not give us arrival cards to complete. Well, finally the immigration officials made a copy of the correct passport and we got through. We had to go back into the ship to get our things for our tour, and that caused another Chinese conundrum when we came back out as the official could not believe we already went through even though we showed him the stamp!
So now we were ready for the tour. But we waited for 45 minutes on the bus because the guide said they were waiting for 2 more people. No one ever showed so we were on our way to Tianjin, our tour destination for the day.
Our guide today was Liu and his English was actually very good. He repeated everything and was concerned that we would understand him. He taught us some Chinese words and even gave us his cell phone number in case of any emergency. He said just to stop any Chinese person and ask him/her to call him!
The seaport where we are docked is only about 6 years old, so it wasn’t here when we did our China trip in spring of 2012. It is all built on reclaimed land and is quite massive.
Our trip to Tianjin (we chose not to go to Beijing since we spent quite a bit of time there in 2012 and saw the Great Wall and all of the important sights in Beijing) took about an hour. Along the way, it was impressive to see literally many thousands of trees of all sizes, some recently planted. Lots of peach trees that were blossoming were spotted. Liu explained that March 12 is tree planting day in China. They are very committed to planting many trees as a wind break and way to prevent devastating dust storms.
There were also many very tall apartment buildings as well as commercial buildings.
China has 34 provinces and 1.4 billion people in 9.6 million square kilometers making it the 4th largest nation in area behind Russia, Canada and the US. But it is the largest in population.There are 56 minority nationalities in China and so there are many language variations. Liu said that all children in Chinese schools, starting in pre-school, learn both Mandarin which is the official language, and English.
The word Tianjin – Tian means heaven and jin means ferry boat.
We passed the rail for the bullet train which travels between 350 and 500 km/hour! 350 is about 217 mph. This has made travel in China very fast and accessible.
We saw a lot of fish ponds along the way – mostly for carp. Liu said that many Buddhists stock the ponds as offerings, and then other people catch the fish. He thinks this is kind of peculiar.
When we reached the city, here are some of the sights we saw along the route to our first stop, the Confucius Temple. There are many buildings that used to be concessions of other countries and there is a distinct European flavor to many of them. The silver clock is at the top of the huge railway station. The ferris wheel is the only one in the world build on a bridge! And yes, they have Budweiser here along with McDonalds.
The Confucius Temple is the third largest temple in the country, where Confucius has been adored for centuries. It was founded during the Ming Dynasty and is considered the greatest ancient architectural site in the city. Within the temple grounds are the Dacheng Palace Hall, Shrine of the Great Wise Men and the Lingsing Gate. The archways are quite decorative but sadly in disrepair. There is a lot about Confucius and his writings and teachings but only a small amount is in English.
As you can see, photos were allowed here.
After our visit to the temple, we went to the Ancient Culture street. Since it was Sunday, this area was very crowded with Chinese families enjoying the day. We noted that this city was not nearly as polluted as we found when we visited in 2012.
There is a temple to the goddess Lin who died at the age of 27. She was a good swimmer and saved lots of people but unfortunately died at a young age trying to save someone. The people dedicated a temple to her.
There are many shops selling mostly beautiful crafts and foods of all types. Nearly all the buildings along the street are constructed with blue bricks and feature colorful pictures of historical figures, flowers and birds painted on their doors and windows. There was even a Lego store!
What Norm is eating looks a lot like pineapple but it is a type of lightly sweetened rice.
Here are some of the other street foods we saw. I ate some of the nougat squares they were selling.
We went into a shop that had the most amazing selection of tiny tea pots and we saw the craftsman making them. They had a cute resident dog.
Tianjin has the Haihe river running through the city and the Ancient Culture Street is on the west bank of the river. We didn’t have time for a river boat.
Some of the adorable children we saw.