Slow Boat to China
Trip Start May 28, 2006
162Trip End May 17, 2007
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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 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!
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...