When Fog Rolls In

Once upon a time, we had travel plans. The plans took us to Shanghai, a must-see place on any journey, or so everyone says. But me, Marsha, I could do without a Shanghai. I’d just had quite a bit of wondrous travel. I was getting suspicious, because glorious, breath-taking travel is also tough and unpredictable. I figured that Shanghai – smoggy, muggy, with too-tall buildings and many fake markets – was going to be that place that would break my traveler’s good luck cycle.

That’s when the fog rolled in. We were on the ocean, so fog shouldn’t have surprised me. But this fog – yellowish even at night, warm and sticking to my skin, as unrefreshing as a hot shower on a steamy day – brought with it a torpid unease. We lolled on the open ocean, like the occasional stray barrel that floated alongside, waiting for the Chinese authorities to open the port for traffic. Twice during this 18-hour delay, the overcast lifted for just a moment and I could count dozens of other vessels waiting for clearance into this busy city. It didn’t look promising, and I hoped for an about-face and a fast run to Okinawa, our next stop. Like us, though, the fog hung around, relentless, delivering the message that the city did not want us there.

I had long come to the conclusion that we would be leaving soon, getting back on schedule, visiting those places that offered fog-free welcome. But the captain of the ship had other plans. With passengers to let off and others waiting to come aboard, we charged into Shanghai as soon as there was clearance. All I had to do was bide my time in the steam room of the ship spa, read a bit more, grab another ice cream cone. These other travelers had to change plans, re-do reservations, fret and wait around for other people to make decisions. Still, I wanted to leave them behind and get on with things.

Where are the tall buildings?
Where are the tall buildings?

We did get off the ship and into Shanghai for a shortened visit. The fog had lifted enough to allow us to dock, but not enough to uncover the famously high buildings. The smoky incense from all the temples – usually something that adds to the flavor of any place – mixed with the fog and the smog and the diesel. My eyes burned and blurred. I coughed throughout our visit.

Old City
Old City

Sometimes when we travel, our experiences in the best places in the world are not good. Shanghai certainly isn’t all about me. I enjoyed seeing people shop, walking in their streets, visiting their temples. But my visit there will be my only one, and I had wanted a different experience. Sometimes, when the fog of life rolls in and plans change, even really fabulous places just lose their appeal. As for me, Marsha, I’m looking forward to Okinawa.*

 

*oh-oh-oh-Okinawa, next. No fog. No luck.

 

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22 thoughts on “When Fog Rolls In

  1. Maybe we should have had that same fog when we were in Shanghai to do some clear thinking. We visited a Suzhou-style garden in Portland the other day and only now wish we’d cut our trip to Shanghai short and escaped for a few days to Suzhou.

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  2. Sorry you had such a bad experience there. We were lucky I guess as each day was clear and bright and the sites were awesome. It was my second favorite city behind Tsing Tao in the north. The bundt and its architecture suggested the strong historical influence of Germany centuries back.

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  3. There is something so evocative about the name Shanghai. We visited a few years ago and had a better experience than you – no fog and time to enjoy the Bund, especially the view across the river from Pudong. However, I still felt slightly let down and shan’t be rushing back.

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    1. Anabel – Glad you got to visit Shanghai. It’s funny how some places speak to us, some don’t. This was a whirlwind travel cruise, and I might have had a different experience if we’d taken more time. But for the smog alone, like you, I won’t be rushing back either.

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  4. Oh…that kind of smog I could be without too, and I understand your desire to just get on with the journey. Waiting – when you want to go somewhere – is so frustrating. But luckily there was the steam room and other conveniences onboard. Okinawa sounds interesting!

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    1. RestlessJo – (laughingly) You’re not wrong! I answer to both names here on the blog. I was a volunteer English teacher living in Ukraine a while back, and needed to write anonymously online – my agency restricted us from unedited comment – and afterward, I found it delicious to write as Marsha. I’m trying to merge the two, but ‘Susan’ can be such a bore!! She probably would have written a polite version of the trip to Shanghai. 8)

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  5. Are you on a world tour? Every time I check back in you seem to be on another continent or hemisphere. I can’t keep up. *grin*

    Maybe I’m envious as we are now back home. Dealing with maritime fog. *purses lips and sighs* And temps that are so far below normal I need to buy a new thermometer because this one just CAN’T BE WORKING!!!

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    1. I was so surprised to be underwhelmed with Shanghai. Even knowing my preference for smaller cities and towns, I thought Shanghai would be something more than just another huge Asian metropolis. Yawn. But wait – Hong Kong is fast approaching.

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