Greetings from China!
Day 13 - 17/10/09 - Ferry (Japan-China)
Today was much the same as yesterday afternoon, and involved relaxing, playing cards, and sleeping most of the day. The meals were not great today, and not being able to eat much left our stomachs not very happy. The weather was very cold and windy, not like the weather we had been used to in Japan. This made for rough seas and a great deal of swaying for 24hrs.
Day 14 - 18/10/09 - Ferry (Japan-China) & Beijing (China)
We were happy to wake up to calm waters today. The morning was spent playing cards (the Canaster score is currently 3 games all - Erica is not too happy that we are getting quite good!) and more relaxing.
We were due to get into the port at 2pm China time, however 2pm came and went and we were still moving... it was about 3pm by the time we actually berthed at the port, and then another 30mins or so before we could disembark. Customs was quite easy to get through, which was a suprise and Jess was glad to get through without them even checking her medication.
Once we got out of customs and past all the pushy cab drivers, we finally found the bus we had to catch to the nearest train station. This proved to be the first real culture shock of the trip, with everyone on the road driving wherever they wanted, whenever they wanted, and just tooting at everything. The bus would be on the wrong side of the road with oncoming traffic, nobody indicates, and pedistrians just walk anywhere.
It took 3 bus trips to get off at the right station (the first 2 buses never asked us to pay). Finally at the Tanggu train station (at about 5:30pm) we had to wait until 8pm for our fast train to Beijing South. Dinner consisted of whatever biscuits and snacks we could find at the train station. We noticed some familiar faces at the train station, with an older Seatlle couple, 2 young American guys and a Scottish guy who were all heading to Beijing on the same train.
Once at Beijing South, we needed to catch the subway to Beijing Railway Station (which cost about 35c a ticket!). Our group of English speaking companions were also heading in this direction - but staying in different hotels/hostels. Our only problem was that we had no idea where our hotel was, we only had the name of it. By 11:00 with no idea of where to go, we finally had our tour operator on the phone to a taxi driver to advise of our destination.
Somehow the 4 of us and our backpacks managed to squish into the taxi and arrive safely at our hotel at 11:30. We were glad to see that our hotel rooms are a great standard and rather large!
Tomorrow begins our China tour!
Take care - Jess & Scotty