10 days, 5 days

So 10 days have passed since I last posted. After a whirlwind week, I may now be saying goodbye in only 5 days.

This was not my plan. Shanghai was never supposed to be part of the package. It’s now taken up more and more real estate in my “Japan Plan”, and I don’t like it one bit. Not because I have something against China, but because it’s the only component of my trip that was there simply as a bridge to my destination. It is now becoming an exaggerated tumour in my itinerary.

To explain what happened in one blog post would either bore you all, or give you eye strain. My bitter tongue would smite everything in sight. The anger and disappointment would be tangible.

I’ve calmed down since yesterday, but things have not changed.

I was almost all set to heave-ho as soon as I signed the paperwork for boarding the cargo ship. Unfortunately, that paperwork pends on a doctor’s note saying I’m fit to sail. In Canada, good luck finding a family doctor. Good luck also finding one that doesn’t leave her patients high and dry every time she decides to get pregnant and then take maternity leave. Would be nice if she or her clinic, or our stupid government provided us with ‘replacement’ doctors. Why should I bother having a family doctor when I could just continue seeking help from regional clinics whenever the need arises? It’s walk-in, but in many cases, appointments can be made. I had a doctor at one of those clinics. She was my makeshift family doc until my current one took me on. I’ve just confirmed that as soon as the new doctor took over, my entire existence was wiped from the regional clinics. Apart from my old file, I’m no longer welcome there unless I need a Tetanus shot, apparently (no thanks, got it at the travel clinic with my useless ~200$ USD Yellow Fever shot).

 

So where was I? Yes, need to book the ship. Ship booking needs doctor’s note. Doctor can’t see me until November 2nd. I leave town the next morning at the crack of dawn. Even if that was feasible (I’d pull an all-nighter to get last minute paperwork submitted), Chinese visa needs to be obtained only once I can provide the ship confirmation. See the little annoying loop life is making? Round in circles, domino effect CRAP.

So okay….all of the above, still highly do-able, but with a lot of stress and rushing around and waiting for OTHER people to do their job around me. But then…

Yesterday I received an email from the German agency. There seems to be a problem, they say. But no worries, you can stay on the boat an extra 5 days at your own cost.

What happened there?

I already thought it was odd that embarkations and disembarkations are banned in Japan, and yet Korea only permits disembarkation. *cough* Well, now Korea has none of the above. TWO WEEKS before I need to leave town, I’m told I cannot leave the boat in Korea. I’ll have to travel an extra 5 days to Shanghai, then board a ferry for 2 days (which can cost up to 300$ USD one way), and arrive in Japan nearly 2 weeks late for activities and accommodations I’ve already planned and/or booked.

Is there an alternative? Probably. Will I make it? Probably not. I’m waiting for word from the agency, but according to my calculations, I have the choice of taking that November 10th boat as usual, paying to be sick for an extra 7 or more days (since there may be delays on top of the scheduled 22 days in the ship plus 2 days in the ferry), and changing my itinerary within Japan. Or I can embark on October 31st (yes, that’s next Sunday!). If my doctor didn’t work one day a week. If Chinese visas were made through weekends. If I didn’t only have a total of 5 days to get myself to Vancouver.

MESS.

If I could board the ship on October 31st, I would be incredibly lucky that the visa would land in my hand a minute before closing time Friday afternoon. I would only be able to apply for it if the ship could give me a preliminary confirmation in order for me to then book accommodations in Shanghai to give to the consulate. Oh, then there’s that other little loophole of needing my picture taken before I can even submit my forms to the consulate. I have 2 sets of ID pictures all ready to go, but nooooooo, neither set meet the dimension requirements because the visa needs an oddly sized photograph.

Now, if I were lucky in all aspects and I took that October 31st boat, I would arrive in Japan ahead of schedule according to my initial itinerary. I would be ecstatic because it would give me more time to get from Fukuoka in the South, to Sapporo in the North. People have asked me what’s so important or interesting that I absolutely must see Sapporo. No particular reason other than I’ve always been curious to see it. I want to judge for myself if the climate and scenery are as comparable to Canada’s eastern provinces as people have told me they are. It isn’t my biggest must-see priority, but I was looking forward to even just a couple of days there.

With my itinerary delayed nearly two weeks with the November 10th scenario, I may need to completely forego the Northern and Central areas of Japan, to stay close to the Osaka-Tokyo belt in the South of Japan.

After feeling defeated and sad last night, today I’ve been working on ways to improve a bad situation since it doesn’t look like anyone else will bother (I’m looking at you, Ship Company, Medical System and Chinese Consulate). I’ll give y’all a breather from my grammatically-challenged ranting, and post later about potential amendments to my itinerary.

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