Slow Boat to China

Trip Start May 28, 2006
Trip End May 17, 2007

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Flag of Korea Rep.  ,
Friday, November 17, 2006

It's true we are probably becoming quite obsessed with this whole overlanding lark - I mean why else would you choose to take a 26 hour ferry journey from Incheon in South Korea to Tianjin in China? Certainly not for the accommodation we'd be promised - a bedroll each in a giant tatami mat room with up to 80 other travellers. Not exactly the glamorous slow boat to China we'd been envisaging.

We'd left booking the ferry until we knew we'd get a visa and were told all the cabins were booked up - we were lucky to even get our passage - so we took what we could get and crossed our fingers we wouldn't be bedding down next to too many chain smoking spitting Chinese people. Our fears weren't exactly allayed when we got to the port and found that most of the other passengers seemed to have been there for hours.

Looking around the departure hall we didn't spot another backpacker and quickly noticed we were a) possibly the only independent travellers b) definitely the only Westerners and c) that we were at least 30 years younger than 99.9% of our fellow passengers. It turns out we'd somehow managed to book a boat with 600 South Korean OAPs on a package trip to Beijing! You couldn't make it up.

Once we realised that scrum tactics were called for in boarding - they have very sharp elbows it turns out these Korean OAPs - we found the Gods had smiled on us and put us in some bunk beds in an open cabin with a decent sprinkling of pensioners. We thought we'd done remarkably well. We said hello to our fellow passengers and accepted generous offers of fruit.

Once the pleasantries were over the group disappeared en masse to get some food. We thought we'd follow suit and were just wandering through the lobby when a pursor came up to us and asked to see our boarding passes. We duly produced them and then taking us to one side he handed us a key marked "Royal Cabin". Well we felt like Charlie finding the golden ticket to Willy Wonka's factory!

We hurried back to get our bags and retreat to our own private cabin. I admit we did feel a little guilty abandoning the OAPs, but any trace of indecision disappeared when we discovered we had our own toilet, shower, TV and porthole.

Unfortunately this is where our luck ended as although we traveled in style and comfort we had to live on a diet of instant noodles because we couldn't change money on the boat and we'd nearly bankrupted ourselves buying beers to toast our good fortune! O'h well they say it's the journey that counts...
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andy on

hi there, how much actually you pay for the ferry?? is it same from beijing to korea also?

sianandjim on

Hi Andy,

I'm afraid it's so long ago we can't remember! We booked it through a travel agent in Seoul who presented us with a whole load of options though.

Thanks Sian

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