Trapped in the Huangpu River
10.01.2008 - 11.01.2008
The mood is questionable onboard SS Oceanic II today. We were supposed to arrive in Shanghai yesterday but the fog I mentioned in an early post has not lifted, and we are moored as well as bored. All ships await the word of the Port Authority as to when we can move in.
Heavy fog cloaks Shanghai, plays havoc with transport
SHANGHAI, Jan. 8 (Xinhua) -- A heavy fog that blanketed Shanghai since late Monday has forced the cancellation of flights, highway closures and the suspension of ferry services. Shanghai Meteorological Center issued the first fog warning at 9:46 p.m. Monday and upgraded it to a color-coded "red" warning, the highest level at 1:41 a.m. Tuesday.
The fog reduced visibility in the city's Pudong and Hongqiao airports to 100 meters and 900 meters respectively. At Pudong, the worst hit area, more than 100 domestic and international flights were delayed and a few had been canceled since Monday night.
China Civil Aviation Administration's regulations stipulated that an airport's standard visibility for plane's taking off and landing was 550 meters and 800 meters respectively. All flights returned to normal at 9 a.m. on Tuesday at Pudong airport as the fog dispersed.
As of 6 p.m. Tuesday, more than 100 foreign vessels were still awaiting border entry at the mouth of the Yangtze River in Shanghai. Vessels which had planned to sail out were also stranded at the piers.
In addition, expressways linking with neighboring cities of Hangzhou and Nanjing, which were temporarily closed, were now open but a speed limit on vehicles was imposed.
The heavy fog appeared after a warm air mass from the sea encountered cold air in Shanghai. The fog was expected to dissipate in the afternoon, according to the meteorological station.
Very disappointing to say the least, but most of us have been able to grin and bear it. I think that despite the disappointment, it was a relief to have a genuine day of relaxation. It's nonstop here - we don't even break for weekends. This was the first day with close to zero obligations since Dec. 27. Having gone to bed at 4am - because it took me four hours on this slow connection to put together a resource for the faculty members - I was happy to go about the day at a leisurely pace. I showered, choked down the breakfast, strolled to the library where G. was doing some work, so I helped for about 20 minutes, went to lunch, played Scrabble (my new past-time!), went back to the library for the open hours, went to dinner, planned to read and listen to music but instead answered a knock at the door that turned out to be a student who lives near my old cabin. She is a real character. We hung out for a couple of hours before I got a call from reception - N., the IRC who invited me out w/ her friends on New Years Eve - was looking for my new cabin. She came and joined us and the three of us talked and laughed for another couple hours. We all agreed that the relaxed day was fantastic, but we all want the ship to move!
Many of us, myself included, had arranged shore excursions for today, that will obviously be missed. For me, it is okay because I will be reimbursed, having bought my three-hour package through TSS's port programs. But many of the students decided to forgo the Port Program's $US420 offering to Beijing and travel there independently. Some of those students will lose their airfare, trainfare, or what have you. Our time table is always tight, and though we're in Shanghai until the 16th, the first Academic Field Program begins on the 13th, so those students going to Beijing really only had three days to get there and back. Many sad faces (accompanied by good attitudes - at least so far). For the crew it is rough as well because they don't get any time off until we get to shore and many have worked nonstop since August.
I'm also worried because my friend Eric is already in route from Beijing, expecting to stay on board with me. How terrible it would be if don't make it to Shanghai!
During our afternoon briefing with the ship's captain, we were told that we may be able to move in the evening. There are countless cargo and container ships waiting for clearance, but we're the only passenger ship and will probably get first priority when that moment comes. Unfortunately, I am writing this at about half past midnight, and we're in the same spot we've been in for since yesterday morning: 31 degrees 04.77' N, 122 degrees 32.22' E. Spin a globe and you'll find us : ) It's possible that the fog could remain for another day or two, so there is some talk that we might simply move on to Thailand. I, for one, will be vastly disappointed so keep your fingers crossed for us, or whatever it is that you do. We can only hope that when we awake in the morning, we are either moving or in our berth.
Meanwhile, I think I should try to get a full night's sleep. I suspect that regardless of whether we move or not, we'll all be put to task again. Cest la vie.