Xingang (or Tianjin)

The first of our Chinese ports, Xingang is the gateway port for the capital, Beijing and, 4 hours drive away, a section of the Great Wall of China.  Many of our guests will overnight in the capital, while many will visit the Wall, us included.  The approach to the port is complicated and very busy with shipping traffic, however before we even reached that part of our voyage, we had to endure some storm-force 10 weather, winds over 60 knots.

As we had not gone to Jeju and having stayed in Inchon instead, the voyage to Xingang was shorter and as a consequence we were steaming slower.  Rather than hang around at a very slow speed, we berthed in Xingang late on the evening of (our) 21st.  

Radar picture in the approach VTS; ships leaving and arriving, while barges are crossing the lanes.

Overview of the port approach

The approach channel. We had boarded our pilot at the ‘3 o’clock’ position, having negotiated most of the channel ourselves.  All that ‘green’ are ship’s ID (or AIS) transponders, busy place…….

The dock at the terminal.

This actually helped our (long) Chinese Immigration process, some guests and crew being processed that evening and the remainder going through formalities in the terminal in the morning.  It was snowing when we arrived and continued to do so throughout the night, the temperatures have been extremely cold, accentuated by the wind-chill, with ice on the decks, we have been wrapped up.  

Early morning at the terminal.

Not a lot to see, the terminal is built on reclaimed land

Inside the (massive) terminal

Karen and I went off on a Crew tour, organised for crew-members only, 3 buses on our first day and there are 2 bus-loads today, (as I write).  The destination?  The Great Wall of China, 3½ hours drive away.  The ‘convoy’ of buses set off, everyone (almost everyone  🙂 ) prepared for the weather.  We weren’t sure if the shorter route to the Wall would be open, the motorways having been closed for ‘fog’ (aka ‘smog’) however we were fortunate, once we got to the junction leading to the faster road, it had just opened.  One thing that struck me was the absence of traffic, much lighter than I anticipated.  

We stopped briefly at a Service station for the necessary break

The Service station had its own frozen flower-boxes

Then, first stop, the ancient city of Jizhou and the Dule temple.  Originally built in 894 AD, it had been modified over the years.  

The entrance on the Temple road

The temple itself

Inside is a vast Buddha, over 30 feet tall. (No photography allowed, oops, I accidentally hit the shutter 🙂

A large gong

One of the ornate roof ornaments

In a side-temple, an ornate Buddha

Security, (police) near the Temple

Moi, wrapped up 🙂

Ribbons (for good luck) adorn the trees surrounding the temple

Everyone rode on these little mopeds, children piled on too. They all had the ‘wind-breaker’ to keep them warm(er)

A 30-minute stop and then back on the buses towards the Wall.  In the summer, the area would be packed, however for our visit we were the sole participants.  Not a souvenir stall to be seen, this changed rapidly, (someone must have phoned them), the sellers appeared as if by magic.  I will let the photos speak for themselves……

The large sign that greets one, by the entrance

The entrance gate

The barracks, it even had a garden and a maze, looking forlorn in the weather though.

On a distant hill, the wall continues

Ha! A souvenir-seller climbs the steps

And lo…Karen stops to look…

 I write on our 23rd, this evening we sail for Shanghai and while we do so, more President’s festivities.  I have taken some photos of the dinners and other events, I will do them in a separate post later.  Thank you for all your comments, I do read them and find them motivating!

 

 

A medley of command, travel and family

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