Two days late arriving – that is probably the two days off I would have had!  But as I had only just arrived, let’s look on the bright side and not make assumptions.

After taking us to have a few drinks and nibbles, we had to get back to the boat to take the main sail down ready to be taken away for repairs.  As the Intercontinental (where I am staying) was virtually on the way back to the boat, I decided to go and check in on the way.  Not only did I check in, I managed to get a man with a luggage trolley to come all the way down to the boat to collect my luggage.  There may not be that much (for travelling eleven months that is), but it is very awkward to carry.  Foulies, boots, a sleeping bag, a bag and lots of dry bags that probably could all fit in my bag with a good deal of pushing and shoving.  Much better to have a man and a trolley.  All those who looked onwards with open mouths possibly were wondering why they hadn’t thought of it too.

It was early evening once I had a shower (bliss), and made my way to the Executive Lounge.  No Campari, but enough food for a four course meal and very good wines to go with it.  I think I am going to like it here!  An early night, in a beautiful king size bed that didn’t rock and roll.  Small things that I used to take for granted, but certainly appreciate a lot more now.

After a good night’s sleep, the mandatory 9.30am meeting on the boat for all crew was held.  I did the final bit of inventory, then made my way back to the hotel to put together an initial shopping list for the “pantry” items and cleaning products.  We had been issued with a liaison, Sophia, who was going to accompany us to a supermarket for an initial recce and to buy the goods that could be packed away without going into day bags.  She is a twenty year old student, who speaks passable English.  Sophia, after several text messages and “What’s App” messages arrived an hour late.  Great start!  The usual way we contact all the crew in port is through the Facebook Messenger, but this is not easy to get in China.  It seems that I can get it on my phone when I am picking up the internet on a phone signal, but not on any of the wifi signals.  Most people only have data sim cards that they buy in each country as they get there, so no good.  I had to download the What’s App app – which took a bit of jiggery pokery as the wifi wouldn’t let me do that either.  No idea how I eventually got it, but it appeared on my phone so all was good.

Eventually Sophia arrived and together with Val we headed out in a taxi to a “Metro” cash and carry – same brand as in Vietnam.  It was about twenty minutes in a taxi – and cost just over £2.  Not bad value!  It seems they also deliver the goods, so another little problem solved.  We managed to get most of what we needed, it was boxed and labelled and put on a truck to go to the boat.  Easy peasy!  It seems several of the other boats were also buying goods – and the shelves were becoming emptier and emptier of the things that most of us would need.  Need to get that shopping list done asap!

It was gone 6pm when we arrived back – the first day done and dusted!  Up to the Executive Lounge for dinner then!  And lo and behold – a bottle of Campari especially for me ready and waiting.  Now that is what I call service!

The next day was supermarket visiting as well.  We went to a slightly closer one – Carrefour.  It was in a huge shopping mall, had lots of things, but didn’t deliver.  What they did have was J –cloths – surprisingly, these are almost non existent in this country and in Vietnam.  Means we are getting very close to having none.  They only seem to do the old fashioned dish cloths, which is not a lot of good cleaning the toilets and then throwing it away.  There were only three in a pack rather than a hundred on a roll, but are better than nothing.  We made a note of what else was there, and then made our way back.  When we got back we had some bad news.  Steve had decided not to carry on and do the next leg.  He had issues with his shoulder and back, and decided enough was enough.  We will miss him – we are very short of males on this next leg.  Not only that, he was a lovely and very competent person.  And he was on my watch.   A real shame.

My next job was washing my foulies.  I feel they did let a little damp in, so wanted to re proof them again just to make sure.  The bath I have in my room is huge – a great big round one that could fit at least six people.  Ideal for washing foulies.  Only I couldn’t reach to give them a swish round, so had to get in with them.  They got the foot treatment – I am sure that stamping on them is just as good as putting them in a washing machine.  After a couple of rinses, I did the reproofing.  I did note on the pot that it said that heat dry was the best way to finish the reproofing.  Rather difficult when you don’t have a tumble dryer – or is it?  I had a contraption that is probably for hanging up a suit jacket and trousers that I could hang the foulie jacket over.  That was moved to the bathroom, and the foulie trousers were hung up on the dressing gown hook.  I then hung a towel over the magnifying mirror on the wall, over the jacket and up to the hook to make a tent like cover.  Then I switched the hair dryer on underneath – just like a tumble dryer.  I left it going for an hour or so – and they were virtually dry after that.  Perfect!  Just need the Pacific to test the waterproofness.

We had to be back on the boat for 4pm to welcome the Vietnamese Ambassador to China and his party for a boat tour.  Just as I arrived a few others were leaving – the Vietnamese party apparently were going to be an hour late.  I had things to put on the boat, so carried on.  Ten minutes after that the Vietnamese party arrived – with only a couple of crew and Wendo on board.  Oh dear!  We gave them a tour, and they presented us with a big box of coffee, and a beautiful photography book each.  All the Vietnamese seem to be taking the boat sponsorship very seriously.  Pete very kindly offered to take my book home with him so that it didn’t get wet and spoilt going across the Pacific.

We then had the prize giving ceremony that evening.  Buses took us to the Seaview Garden Hotel, a ten minute trip away.  There was Chinese entertainment – which was excellent by all accounts.  As we were all standing, and the stage was not very high, the only part I managed to see was when there was a boy standing on the shoulders of a man who was standing on the shoulders of another man.  I only saw the boy tuck his foot behind his ear, but that was pretty clever.
Heard the music of all the rest, but no visuals!  We had to have our photos taken with the Vietnamese Ambassador again, and very strangely a wooden soldier.  Not quite sure how that fits in at all!  I escaped very early with skipper Darren in a taxi.  None of the taxi drivers speak English, so good job I had a card with the Intercontinental address on in Chinese.  We went up to the Executive Lounge, where he promptly fell asleep.  I must be riveting company!!

Tuesday was a day of trying to get the menus sorted.  “We” had decided on a twelve day rotation of food for the next leg, which meant sorting out an extra five days lunches and dinners.  Finding all the menus, dissecting the ingredients, putting them all in the spreadsheets and coming up with an ultimate shopping list.  Sounds a lot easier than it was.  It took all day and more.  We were having a crew dinner in the evening to celebrate Wendo’s birthday during the last leg, and to say goodbye to those that were leaving the race in Qingdao.  Tony had sorted out an excellent Japanese restaurant – Tairyo Teppanyaki.  We had a huge table with two cooking stations in the middle, where the chefs were constantly cooking more food.  Bowl after bowl kept coming – meat, fish, vegetables, and then all again but slightly different.  It was really good food.  Everyone enjoyed it.

Wednesday was the big food shop day.  We were a little late leaving, as I hadn’t finished the list.  I would have missed the dinner the night before if I finished it, so I decided to get up earlier and finish it  that  morning.  Craig and Marc had been billeted to help.  The boat had a new water maker fitted late the previous afternoon (the yellow sea silt had completely buggered our last one – the technical term used, I believe) and Craig needed to “pickle” it.  Not sure what that means, but he was happy to leave a bit later.  Shopping or pickling.  Hmm.  Think I would choose pickling too!

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Stay tuned for Part II tomorrow.
Editing and the choice of images on this blog is entirely by Paul Keevil!
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