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Japan – Kobe to Tianjin Day One 5th November

So the day has arrived to leave Japan and it’s time to live a cheaper life in China. We got up early and packed our bags. The boat was scheduled to leave Kobe at around 11am but we needed to check in before 10am. We ate breakfast in the Hostel 64 room and then headed off to the subway to catch a train to Kobe port. This involved a change onto a kind of monorail which took us to the port destination. We proceeded to head for check-in which involved a laser light shone onto your forehead, checking for any high fever symptoms. We passed with flying colours, paid for our one way ticket which cost 30,000 Yen, £300 (inc fuel surcharge) each for a twin room (special 1st class!) as we wanted to keep the gear with us as safe as possible and then we spotted a couple of Western faces.

We got chatting to Rick and Beth traveling from the UK and who are writing their own travel blog and then we boarded the Yanjing ferry to Tianjin together. The room was damn good and very spacious compared to some of the other rooms we have stayed in. En-suite with a shower and toilet which was ok, put it this way it was better to have this than the shared facilities, which were not that pleasant. You can stay cheaper in a mixed dorm of 12 or 16 people if you want to. We headed for an explore of our new home for the next few days. It takes just over two and a half days to reach China so we headed off around the ship with cameras in hand.

The highlight was a room in the depth of the boat with two table tennis tables. The gymnasium sign made us laugh, a storage room for carpets and knackered video game machines would have been more accurate. There appeared to be plenty of photography opportunities around the boat, the views on top promised to be very good and the other passengers just loved having there photos taken on deck, it felt like something out of a Carry On film. With blue sky and calm seas we headed off and as we left Kobe the sun shone brightly and the sea was very calm, it was a pretty cool experience.

We bought some food bits and bobs from the 7/11 for the trip and had some Japanese Yen, this is the only currency that they accept on board, however we quickly realised that we didn’t really have that much food, so a trip to the on board restaurant would have to be undertaken at some point. We found out from the literature that the breakfast was included in the price of the ticket so at least that was something. Pot Noodle style food from Japan is surprisingly good so this was our lunch on the first day.

We were called on deck for a drill in emergency evacuation, there we all stood in life jackets whilst the wind blasted our faces. The Brits had our own instruction which lasted half the time of the Chinese instructions, not sure what we missed there!? We were 2 of 96 passengers in total on board and found out there are 46 staff, it’s a funny staff to passenger ratio and made us giggle. There is the capacity to have 396 passengers in total on board and we couldn’t work out where they would all be if this was the case as the boat was feeling pretty full at this capacity.

On board we caught up with Rick and Beth and played cards into the evening and as the sun was starting to set we went up onto the top deck for superb views across the sea. We’re not entirely sure of our exact location at this point but it was the south Japanese coastline, the sunset was breathtaking and mesmerizing, the sea was extremely calm and we met our other western traveler JP from France. There was some evening entertainment planned, we were told it would start at 9pm but something that we eventually learned on this trip was that most things started half an hour before they let us know. We heard the singing, cheers and various performances downstairs whilst playing cards, so eventually we made our way down to join in the fun. It was a karaoke event with interludes of the ferry staff performing with musical instruments or singing. The audience cheered loudly and got behind their friends in the karaoke, it was a pretty raucous event for ferry entertainment. We we baffled by it all and carried on with a few more card games before heading to bed.

We decided to listen to some Adam and Joe podcasts that we’ve got with us on our travels before getting off to sleep. Anyone who knows us well will appreciate our love for Adam and Joe, and it kept us feeling all at home in our little cabin up in special first class…ha ha…we did feel a little too privileged.

(Leica M9, Summicron-M 50mm f2.0 & Olympus PEN, 17mm f2.8 & 100mm f2.8, processed in Lightroom 3)

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