Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Qingdao-Seoul (24th/25th September)

We were meant to make ourselves known at the ferry terminal quite a lot of hours before the ferry departed. But first we took a short stroll (all I could manage with my cold) to look at the very European looking catholic church. We found a bizarre scene of many photographers taking photos of couples in wedding outfits. This was either some mass post wedding photo shoot or something for a magazine. We couldn't quite work it out, but I thoroughly enjoyed myself taking pictures of the bemusing scene as did a few other onlookers.

Our accommodation in the ferry was not in the cheapest option (mattresses on the floor), but bunked in a room with about twenty other people. The beds had curtains around them and were pretty cosy. Outside the ship was coated in a layer of salt and there were lots of small fish swimming in Qingdao's waters. We tried to figure out where we had walked in the previous days as the city lights faded into the horizon. Walking around we bumped into the bagpipe playing Korean who we'd already met in the hostel, and had lamented about the Korean education system (Korean children are pushed a lot and sleep very little). In the evening a spectacular ring of light (moonbow) formed around the moon and Jenny forced me out of bed to see it. No-one else seemed interested.

In the morning the Koreans were up really early watching television and making a lot of noise. Jenny was up too, looking at all the islands drifting past, while I festered in bed. We had to fill some embarkation forms in about our health, with questions such as have you had a headache, sore throat, cough, fever or been sick in the past week or 48 hours.

After much encouragement I made it to the deck to look at the islands drifting past and as we neared Incheon we had to go through a form of lock and past a cargo ship loading Kias. At some point I stopped looking, walked into the side of the ship and pretty much passed out. Shaking and queasy I lay in bed as all the passengers started disembarking. With my paracetamol in my backpack, which at the time found itself in a cargo container in the ferry’s hold, it was pretty hard to imagine how we’d get ourselves off the ferry and to the terminal, without even thinking about the health declaration form. I had now experienced almost every one of the ailments in the last few days.

Fortunately the Koreans didn't even look at our forms and they probably can't differentiate between a healthy looking white person and an extremely pale faced one. After sitting for quite a while at the port we tottered (although it was mostly me that did the tottering) around Incheon in search of a cash machine, the supermarket and then the metro station. The supermarket was very clean and decidedly more European looking than in China. Unfortunately there was no English on the labels and the food seemed pretty expensive. The metro ride to the hostel in Seoul was long, Jenny soaked in the Koreaness while I slept.

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