We had left the rather drab Kobe and our cot shaped bunkbeds on Friday morning for a boring two days on a ferry. It turned out to be a fairly interesting experience. There were three other westerners on the boat, everyone else was Chinese.
Here’s quote from breakfast:
John to Adrian the Canadian- ‘Have you ever seen an egg with a green yolk before?’
Breakfast also had lovely lentil porridge (my favourite, nice and salty). It was grim. The bright side was that we had a long sleep on the second morning as breakfast wasn’t worth getting up for.
In the evening we listened to Chinese Karaoke. Very entertaining. What wasn’t entertaining was the music piped all through the ship’s corridors. It sounded like a demented Japanese version of a bad eurovision entry. It was blasting out of the speakers whenever the restaurant was open and at 7.30 in the morning to get you up. No earplugs can defend anyone against such a din.
The other main feature of the ferry was sharing a room with a guy that sounded like he had some chronic phlegm related illness. The illness was a very good timekeeper and clocked in for work at 6am every morning. Impressive!
On Sunday morning we were really looking forward to dry land. It was going to be a challenging day……
Welcome to China
We made it, and at no time had to evacuate the ship. We counted our blessings and sailed through immigration. One of our new friends did have a little trouble as the border guard had never heard of Finland. He somehow convinced him that it was a valid country and rejoined the rest of us. We decided that safety in numbers was a good option so a gang containing two of Sheffield’s finest ;), two Canadians and a Finn were at large in North East China.
My first impression of China was overwhelming. The port air was incredibly polluted and the area looked like a war zone. Old collapsing buildings were covered in dust and soot. On our bus ride to the train station the canals were filled with rubbish and an oily sheen gleamed in what little sun made it through the smog. A great opportunity for John to take photos you might think. Believe it or not he didn’t, he was in emergency calm mode again. The first bit of China we saw was truly surreal. We made it to the train station thanks to a few kind Chinese people helping us. One even paid us on the bus as we didn’t have any change yet.
I don’t know how we made it to the train station but when we did we were persistently hassled by a woman that can only be described as a ‘taxi driver pimp’. She wanted all five of us, each with a huge backpack to travel in a single saloon car. We shook her off eventually but it involved running away Monty Python style.
After gaining our train tickets, again with help from a willing member of the Chinese public, it was time for our first outing to a Chinese public toilet. Lydia (canadian gang member) and I decided we’d let the boys go first. While they were away we attracted a huge crowd of onlookers, all we were doing was standing chatting. John came back with tales of a scrum at the urinals. Lovely.
A description of the ladies loos is not suitable for this blog. It’s safe to say that emergency calm mode was engaged once more. If anyone is curious enough please email me separately and I’ll tell you!
After creating another impressive crowd of onlookers while attempting to order food, we caught the train and made it to our youth hostel room.
A toast to China with 16p bottles of beer! All’s well that ends well.