Lots of things have happened, and lots of emotions in the last few days.
I’ll try to summarize, as I’m tight on time – catching my bus outta town in about 5 hours! Yes, the time has finally come!
The week has been filled with anger, sadness, disappointment and now, the excitement is starting to kick in (I react slowly).
The Chinese consulate was a nightmare, but I imagine it could have been worse, considering I got my VISA! The clerk practically threw it at me, but it’s mine muahaha! Because the services are so shoddy, I made a friend who was also waiting to print things out but couldn’t find the money machine as they refer to it. We’re supposed to insert our coinage before printing, but they don’t tell us where the slot is. I had to ask the unfriendly and unhelpful staff behind the glass at least 3 times before they sluggishly sent out a technician to fix the printer, which was also not printing anybody’s paperwork. One of the lucky few was freshly returned to town after a trip to China. He had only yuan in his pocket, so I offered him a quarter to make his one measly copy (yes, 25 cents a copy, and they force you to print out your entire visa application on site, even though they previously told me I could definitely print it at home). My new friend joked as he handed me what he claimed was equivalent to about 20 cents – “Here’s your first Chinese money!”
One would think I’d be relieved after obtaining that coveted visa. And I was. Until the following day when I learned of a new monkey-wrench being thrown into my plans. A new regulation has appeared at the port of Shanghai (and possibly elsewhere in China). My agent warned me that there might be a 125$ USD fee to transport me from port to hotel, whether I want it or not. I booked a hotel in walking distance. There’s a chance they will not enforce this since it’s still a new ‘law’ (not sure how legal it really is).
Worse than that, was my face when I noticed there is probably no possible route to Japan on December 1st – the day the ship is scheduled to arrive in Shanghai, if the captain cannot let me out early directly in Japan. The ferries don’t run every day. I may have to wait until December 5th, but then on short notice, there may not be a ticket left for me. Then I’d have to wait til the 8th for the next available escape route. That would mean, crossing Sapporo off my to-do list for good, as well as most of Tokyo, and the most heartrending of all…
As I joked to a friend, it’s as if China is angry at me for using them as a mere transit destination, and they have been PISSING on my entire plan from the start. Now that they granted me a visa, are they trying to punish me by ruining what short time I still have available in Japan? It’s really cruel if someone’s making me their pawn in some sick game.
The same ferry issue exists upon departure from Japan. I now need to leave on January 15th instead of the 19th, because if I don’t, the next ferry is on the 22nd. It’s cutting it too close to be in Shanghai in time for unexpected early embarkation for my ship home. I’m scheduled to get on that boat on the 26th, but I’ve been asked by the agency to give breathing room of +/- 2 days. That puts it in the ballpark of my arrival by ferry if I choose the later date, and that can’t work. I’ll miss my ride home to Canada.
So, my makeshift Sapporo trip won’t be able to fit into January’s schedule. I planned to be in Korea in early January, and even have to shorten my stay to just 5-6 days.
Essentially, if the vessel captain can’t let me out early in Japan, I might only be seeing Japan for 1 month, tops. Consider that travel between cities is long, even if I use a Shinkansen. I’ll be spending plenty of my trip in transit. They don’t call this slow travel for nuttin’.
On another note, Halloween was a last goodbye get-together with my BFF. I was amused that the theme of the outdoor event we attended had boats and pirates everywhere. I took this (pretty if I do say so myself) shot of a large ship that was ‘docked’ right on the lawn of a local park.
And here I am using the last few hours to update you all. I may get one more chance to update the blog before embarking on November 10th (+/- 2 days), but no promises, as I’ll need a full-blown computer. The first hotel I’ll be seeing is on November 5th – or is it the 6th? I have so many dates stored in my brain, that I’m not even sure anymore. But in any case, I may be able to use a computer in the lobby if I’m not pressed for time.
If not, wish me luck, and I’ll see you between November 24th and December 10th, once I disembark and find free wifi 🙂
Thanks to all of you who’ve been sending me well wishes, emails and encouragement. I will definitely update you all as soon as I can!