Saturday, November 28, 2009

CHINA: Forty-Hour Ferry Ride

SEA OF JAPAN (Between Japan and China)

My friends and I took a forty-hour ferry ride from Osaka, Japan to Shanghai, China. Since we had time to spare, we took the cheapest option available which was to cross the Sea of Japan by boat. Our group was composed of nine people - two Moroccans, three Americans, one Brazilian,  one Filipino-American, one Ecuadorian and one Filipino. The ship, named CHINJIF, is actually a cargo ship that links Osaka-Shanghai, its only route. There were only about four private rooms and a common sleeping area for the passengers. I guess the shipbuilders realized they had extra space so they made cabins for low-budget passengers like us. We traveled during the peak of winter with temperatures dropping to as low as  five degrees on a sunny day.

China group

Hanging out at the ship lounge

Jose from Ecuador outperforming the Chinese karaoke master

The food they served on-board was crappy. The spring roll was too oily, the dumplings were cold, the vegetables looked rotten and the porridge was thin and tasteless. I almost finished half of the soy sauce into my bowl. Well, we got what we paid for! But at least there was coffee.

With the boat constantly rocking from side to side, seasickness started to settle in our stomachs. A few hours into the trip, I felt my legs turn into jelly. I couldn't stand straight and my vision started to spin. Almost everyone had it save for Jose from Ecuador who apparently runs a fishing business back home. We felt our stomach constantly turning and vomit trying to break free from our throats. I spent the next 30 hours just lying down on the bed lest I make a regurgitated mess. A group of Chinese ladies suffered the same fate. Some couldn't keep it and just let go in the hallway. The corridor smelled sour.

Dying from seasickness

Cabin talk

How was the beef? It was OK.

Ship food. Not good.

It was chilly outside and the wind was so strong that it was it took all my strength to pry open the door to the main deck. After I let go, the thick metal door instantly slammed shut and banged the door frame. It was like a dynamite explosion that shook the whole boat. The night was terrifying to say the least, like a scene taken straight from Aravind Adiga's The White Tiger. In our room, there was a small window from where we saw the bluish sky which glowed with moonlight and starlight. Midnight struck and the gleam of the sky suddenly whithered into complete darkness. The ferry entered a thunder storm that roused the peaceful ocean into an angry mob of waves. Rain and sea water splashed on our cabin window. Every now and then, a flash of lightning would illuminate the sky. From the window, I saw the horizon wobble from one side to the other with each flash of light. I heard the metal cargo containers slide and hit the walls as the ferry danced with the storm and winds. I grabbed on to the bedpost, closed me eyes and forced myself to sleep. Thirteen hours left before Shanghai.

The following day. Is that land I see?

Heaven's Gates are opening

Shanghai Bay

The Space Needle

We made it!

It had been a grueling forty-hour ride but the sight of Shanghai Bay and the Oriental Pearl Tower made it all worth it. From afar, we saw the thick gray smog that covered Shanghai. Smoke-belching cars and a million motorcycles greeted us as we stepped foot on China. Almost everyone had sea legs -- this makes you feel like your feet aren't actually touching a flat floor but a rounded surface. Just when we thought we've had enough of ferries, the hostel we ended up in was ship-themed! With bunk beds, sailors' uniforms and lifesavers as decorations to match!

Ah, China, at last! And the journey is just about to begin!


Due to popular demand, I will start to include a more "practical" section to each entry. In this new section, I'll include the cost of living in each place and the route I took. More details will be posted as soon as I find them!

For the China trip, the route was:
1. Ferry from Osaka Port to Shanghai (40 hours)
2. Shanghai (two days) then train to Beijing
3. Beijing for (four days) then train to Xian
4. Xian (three days) then train back to Shanghai
5. Shanghai (one day) then ferry back to Osaka


  1. Unforgettable ship journey I suppose haha:)
    Look forward to your Chinese stories~

  2. hey its nice.. free vacation in asia.. please cek on