Anticipation and Organization pt. 2

[Continuation of my previous blog entry Anticipation and Organization pt. 1.]

Here’s what still needs to be done before I’m cleared to embark on this crazy journey.


My second (last) round of shots is this coming Tuesday. I have yet to develop any icky symptoms from my first round (Yellow Fever and Twinrix for Hepatitis), which is nice. I am however, feeling a bit flu-ish the last day or so, but ever so slightly. It might just be the drastic drop in temperature, and the cold that everyone seems to be catching around me. The clinic told me my sickest ‘window’ would be exactly when I’m due for the second appointment. They said if that should happen, I would need to postpone the second round until I felt better. Hopefully I’ll be fine, and can get these shots over and done with!


I procrastinated too long on getting admitted to the Low Vision Clinic (about 2 years), and knew there’s no time like the present. However, when I called to make an appointment I was told that since they are a university clinic and the school session just started, I’d need to wait until October to be able to book an appointment. And then, they would only give me a date starting in late December-early January. WHAT?! Are there that many vision impaired people, or are there that few doctors and student doctors in my city? Isn’t there a different clinic I can go to? Apparently not, unless the Internet has failed me again.

I will try to use one of the walk-in optometry places to have my eyes checked. They don’t need to be rocket scientists to know I have low vision. It’s just that at a low vision clinic, the doctors are specialized in that area. All I need is to make sure nothing has drastically worsened, and then find out who can write me a note proving I have this disability.  If they cannot write me this type of note, surely they would where to refer me.

Why do I want this? Once in Japan, it will be much harder to explain the issue, or have them believe me if I should want to purchase special tickets for tours, shows, events, that bring me closer to the action. I realize not all organized groups (such as tour groups) and venues (such as convention centres) have accessible seating, even less so for sensory disabilities. But I know they exist here and there, and if I can access them then why not be prepared to whip out my doctor’s note.

I would also prefer to have enough time to get it properly translated into Japanese, which I’m told would require a notary.


I need to speak to the health bureau about restrictions on medication and cosmetics. I wouldn’t be bringing much. An Advil here, a Gravol there. Contact lens fluid and hand cream/moisturizer, and the preventative goodies the travel health clinic prescribed for me ‘in case’ I should meet a nasty case of diarrhea or respiratory issues. Japan has different regulations and restricts the quantities, but from what I’ve read, I’m well within the limitations and will simply need to allow immigration to eyeball the contents of my toiletry bag.


This is the one giving me grief. In order to apply, I need proof of my boat reservation and departure date. The Chinese consulate seems unaccustomed to people traveling by anything other than plane. I had to repeat 3 or 4 times that I could not provide airline info. The clerk kept forgetting! I explained my crazy itinerary several times until she understood. Because the boat doesn’t have an exact date of arrival to all its ports of call, I could not provide her with that. I think they will let it slide since I’m only planning to be in China as a transit city. Though I have the option to apply for a transit type visa, she recommended getting the general 1-month tourism visa, which requires more concrete info.

That’s all okay, I guess. What’s not is that I worry I won’t have enough time for them to approve me for the visa. If ever anything goes wrong and I need to reapply, I’ll be a bit f–ked. How fast do these consulates work to grant travellers their visas?


I booked an appointment with my family doctor in case the eye exams don’t go smoothly. I thought maybe my doctor could also write the low vision document for me, or refer me to someone who can. That appointment is Nov. 3rd. If I’m lucky and clear to travel as of the 3rd, I will have to RUN to pack my bags, do last minute errands, and then continue running to the Greyhound depot. I will have to leave no later than Nov. 5th to arrive stress-free in Vancouver to await my ship. In my head, Nov. 10th could be Nov. 9th. The reason is that freight ship arrivals and departures do fluctuate, and the agency cannot guarantee an exact departure/arrival schedule like a standard cruise ship would adhere to.

Since I’ve worked Vancouver into my tourist activities, I’d like to actually SEE some of Van City before needing to rush to the port. Thus, I dare not board the Greyhound later than Nov. 5th. It will be winter, and environment and traffic could play a part in making me very late along the way. I have to plan for driving and transfer delays, expecting the worst but hoping for the best.


From Canada I’ll need to book at least a chunk of my accommodations, and a foreigner discounted JP Rail pass. The rail fare is extremely high for locals, and to get the discount I can only buy the pass online before arriving in Japan.

Ferry bookings. Bus tickets.

Request a stronger drug than Gravol on Nov. 3rd.

Weather-proof luggage and winter footwear, as I hear I may have to deal with a lot of rain instead of snow this winter. Arriving in Sapporo sopping wet with drenched belongings will NOT be a good start.

So Sapporo huh?

I initially planned to take a ferry from Busan, Korea to one of the more Southern or central parts of Japan, and work my way up to the northern area of Sapporo. It looks like I may need to flip that around. But starting way up North may even be a good thing. It might bring order to my city-hopping in a more organized way, following Japan’s natural curve down into the central, and then Southern regions. From there I can catch another ferry to Shanghai, where I’ll meet my second freight ship heading to BC.

For those of you I haven’t bored to sleep yet with my long post, here is a recap of my tentative itinerary as it stands right now:

Nov. 5th: Board Greyhound, Vancouver-bound.

Nov. 7th-8th: Arrive in Van City. Try to take a breather. Sleep in a proper bed for a night or two before embarking on what might be 2 1/2 weeks of spotty sleep.

Nov. 10th: Embark aboard the Hanjin Geneva (I believe I’m still traveling on this particular ship, but may return on the Hanjin Copenhagen)

Nov. 28th-29th (30th?): Disembark in Busan, Korea. Cling to dry land and perhaps find some strong soju to knock me out in a comfy bed after celebrating DRY LAND.

Nov. 30th-Dec 1st (ish?): Arrive in Fukuoka via ferry.


January 2016: Exact date undetermined. This would require ferry from central/Southern Japan to Shanghai, China. One rest/tourist day, or more if my boat is off schedule. Hop onto the Copenhagen for 15-16 more days of seasickness which will hopefully be less awful than the first sail now that I’m a pro 😉 Arrive in Prince Rupert. Sightsee. Freeze my butt off in the damp Canadian cold (out West it’s warmer, but I don’t do well in humid coastal weather. Gimme an icy, dry day in Quebec or Ontario any time!). Board a Greyhound heading through BC. The trip will take me straight across Canada and get me home safe and sound (?) within 3 days.



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