Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Settled in Seattle

We are settled in Seattle and have the boat at Elliot Bay Marina.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Back from China and uncensored.

We are back in the USA after a 12 day trip to China.

While in China I was only able to post to this blog one time before the Chinese Government implemented censorship to prevent access to this blog from China. I'd read about censorship in China, but was surprised that my blog would be censored. As it turns out many websites I tried to access in China were blocked. Good to be back to the land of mostly free speech.

China was interesting. However, I don't anticipate traveling to China again given the many other travel options in the world that are less crowded and have better air quality.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Shanghai accomadation and shopping

The last few nights we been enjoying a room at the International Youth Hostel Hiker located in the Bund area of Shanghai. Despite the association of hostels with youth, most hostels offer a range of accommodation options from bunk beds in dorm rooms and shared bathrooms to private rooms with en suite baths and cater to all traveler age groups. The hostel experience offers an opportunity to meet fellow travelers, share information and make new friends along the way. Most hostels have a communal kitchen, dining room, TV room and sometimes feature a restaurant and bar. Nine times out of ten we'd choose a hostel over a hotel simply for the social factor vs the isolation of another ubiquitous hotel room.

We lucked out finding a great base for our stay in Shanghai. Although, technically a youth hostel our accommodation is pretty deluxe, located on the top floor it's a tastefully decorated corner room, featuring a king size canopy bed, en suite bathroom, super high ceilings, A/C, ceiling fan, a large desk, couch, table, small armor, and 32”flat screen. A remarkable value for 360 yuan or about $54USD a night considering the location and the amenities.

Shanghai offers a travelers a juxtaposition of experiences. Really no surprise when you consider it's the most populous city in the world at around 14 million (4 times the size of Los Angles and with twice the population density). Ultramodern skyscrapers replete with posh restaurants and suave night clubs vs literal hole in the wall restaurants and street side vendors serving up traditional fare to fill a wayward traveler for less than a dollar. A 600ml beer at a corner market is less than fifty cents vs the same beer at a restaurant is three dollars and way up. Dinner for two at a local dumpling shop filled us up with tasty food for less than three dollars vs a city view restaurant in a high rise where you'd be lucky to escape with your wallet only one hundred dollars thinner.

Our hostel is located near the shopping meca of East Nanjing Road an extravaganza that stretches 6 kilometers and boasts over 1 million visitors every day. A pedestrian mall running from Peoples Square to the Bund offers a truly dizzying array of shopping possibilities and plenty of street hustlers offering visitors an opportunity to visit even more shops that line the adjacent streets. The street hustlers begin to sound like broken records as they offer small variation on their pitch. 'Excuse me sir what you looking for? A watch, bag or tee shirt' , 'Good shopping this way' as you continue to ignore the barrage of hustlers they continue to pace you and repeatedly ask 'what you looking for'. Within one block of the prime pedestrian mall of East Nanjing Road you might get five or more hustlers hounding you. My best advice is to absolutely ignore their existence. The smallest flinch or flash of eye contact will only prolong the unwanted interaction to the point that you would never walk more than a block in an entire afternoon. Outside of the prime tourist shopping areas all is normal and you enjoy your sightseeing and exploration of the city unperturbed.

Initially, we were expecting to make plenty of purchases during our visit to Shanghai. Since nearly everything is made in China we thought we could swoop in on some sweet deals. However, with the high pressure, mildly annoying sales atmosphere, requisite heavy negotiation and many inferior quality 'knock-off' goods we've decided we'll save our shopping for the USA. To be fair super high end, quality goods are available, but at prices for the rich and famous. One conclusion we've drawn after a fairly significant amount of world travel is that shopping in the USA generally offers superior selection, availability, and quality.

This weekend we're headed for scenic Hangzhou about 120 kilometers from Shanghai. Located on the scenic West Lake the area includes plenty of historical pagodas cultural sites to visit. Hangzhou is rated as one of the top ten most scenic cities in China. After booking a high-speed train from Shanghai to Hangzhou I was a little shocked to find that this 'must see' city we'd be visiting has a metropolitan population of over 4 million which is bigger than Los Angles. The scale of China is slightly beyond incomprehensible and with a population in excess of 1.3 billion I suppose a city of a few million can still be 'natural and scenic'.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Shanghai, China day 1

We've been in Shanghai for 24 hours. This is a big, bustling city and impressive city are we are impressed. So far we've mastered the very user friendly subway system and track down a cool hostel to stay at in lieu of a 'normal' motel. With a 13 hour time change, jet lag is a big deal with our internal clocks almost completely out of sync.

Friday, October 08, 2010

China for two weeks.

In San Francisco and Kathy and I are boarding a plane for Shanghai, China in a few minutes. Back to Seattle on the 20th. Not sure if I can blog from China or if my blogs will be blocked.

Will be attending the World Expo 2010 in Shanghai.

Monday, October 04, 2010

Vancouver to Seattle... more pictures from our 3 weeks in BC.

Brandon Davis ( Turn Point Designs) prepares his unique proto type power tri for a run to Port Townsend. He and a freind passed LightSpeed on our way toward Seattle as they whipped by doing 20 knots through 2' chop to windward. This amazing boat only weighs 250 pounds less engine and 500 with 20 horse power engine and fuel. Most of all it looks like a 1920's roadster skimming across teh water. Again, very cool.

Check out the fine entry featuring a wave piercing bow. Multi-hulls are cool!Sunrise near Port Townsend, Washington.
Kathy takes in a beuatiful sunrise as we get underway for Seattle.
Shimmering waters as we sail out of Roche Harbor and enjoy sighting some Ocra whales. A real treat to admire one of the most powerful and beautiful creatures that roam the seas.
Heading out of Port Browing on North Pender Island, Gulf Islands, British Columbia in early morning.
Great lighting for a snap of this blue hulled ketch in Port Browing. IF this is your boat contact me and I'll send you a few more great pictures.
Port Browing on North Pender Island, Gulf Islands, British Columbia
Flase Creek, Vancouver, British Columbia
False Creek
Crazy twisted looking building in Vancouver.

Finding a slip for LightSpeed

October 4, 2010
Seattle, Washington

Catamaran moorage is notorious in short supply with existing marina infrastructure modeled on traditional monohull length to width ratios. As an example, Shilshole Bay Marina, despite recent reconfiguration of dock layouts, maintains a six plus year waiting list for muti-hull sailboats (2010). We were concerned that a lack of moorage in the Seattle area would push us to the fringes of Puget Sound just to tie to a dock.

However, luck was with us when we called Elliot Bay Marina and found an available slip that could accommodate our 24' wide catamaran. Sure they charge a extra $200 dollar premium for the privilege pushing the monthly rate to $676 (2010). Not complaining as the facility is first class and the location is second only to Lake Union.  The downside is this price doesn't include liveaboard.

Well that didn't last long.  The friendly state of Washington would like a 10% bite of our boat if we stay in Washington.  It's called 'use tax' and thus we're moving LightSpeed to boater friendly Oregon.

Update November 2014:  We're back from a 4 year sail around the Pacific and now mooring LightSpeed in San Francisco Bay.  See the story here