My Home for the Next 3 Days
Taking a boat trip, especially when there’s only a few dozen passengers on board, is like going on a meditation retreat. You have so much time to yourself but if you want company it’s there.
I don’t have all the statistics about the Xinjianzhen, it’s a ferry boat operated by the China-Japan International Ferry Co Ltd. All I know is that I’m in Special Class on the top deck, I have my own cabin with a shower and toilet. When I saw my living quarters I was so very happy and in this space I’ve finished writing my blogs and brought my journal up to date, almost full now. Thanks Lyn Clarke for your special gift.
Leaving Osaka was sad, Lyle took me to the ferry terminal before flying off on holiday with Sumire to Okinawa, the Japanese version of Hawaii, only better I’m sure! 😉
We waved vigorously, I cried a bit, we smiled and blew kisses as the ship sailed out of the harbour. For the next few hours I contemplated my situation enroute to China, I shed lots of tears too because Steve and I were supposed to take this ferry together. I remember he told me about all the tiny islands around Japan and I was blown away by the beauty of the views that were all around me..
It was warm, no hot it was hot with a beautiful breeze, the inland waters were calm, the sun set was breath-taking. It just wasn’t possible to feel sorry for myself for long surrounded by all this beauty.
And then I met Nobuhisa who only happens to be a Baptist lay preacher. He’s Japanese and was heading to China for an 8 day trip to Harpin. He’d lost his wife to cancer 2 years ago and although he didn’t speak a huge amount of English, we shared a similar path. We spent many hours just sitting, watching the waves, trying to spot flying fish ( I saw 2) looking up at the shooting stars, while he quietly sang Japanese songs to me. So sweet.
During the day it was too hot to spend long periods on deck but sitting in the sun being bathed by the hot wind whilst watching other boats go by is very therapeutic, and of course there’s regular calls for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The first lunch I sat alone and struggled to order from the menu but after that I shared a table with Nobuhisa and a few beers too. He was proud to say he enjoyed a bottle of Kirin, the 5% Japanese beer and wasn’t keen on the weaker Chinese beer, only 3%
On the second day we’d left the inland Japanese sea with all its islands and impressive bridges and we were now truly at sea, the East China sea and it got a bit choppy. I never felt really sick and if the rocking got too strong, I just imagined I was swinging in my hammock in the garden and that helped.
The people you meet on board ship, a young Australian couple who live in China but had to travel to Japan to get their visas renewed
They live in the heart of the Chinese countryside where they’re learning Kung Fu, I have an invite to go visit them and then there’s Shenrong and her 4 year old daughter, a special gift because she didn’t think she’d be able to have any children. On the first day, she could see I was upset, I told her about my husband and she hugged me, we’d hardly spoken but she showed so much kindness and compassion.  As I’ve been travelling, I’ve held onto the idea from Jane Murray’s Peacebeams, when you look at people say “Just Like Me”, it’s all you need to do.
So what do a people do for entertainment onboard a ferry? They sing Karaoke at the bar. On the first night, I aksed for Hey Jude and belted out the song without embarrassement. The next night my 2 new friends joined me. Shenrong told me that Chinese people believe that singing is good for the health and even the TV screens tell you how many calories you’ve burnt with each song. We laughed and enjoyed each others company. I wish I could speak more languages, crazy having to rely on people to speak English.
I only have a few hours now before arriving in Shanghai, I plan to pack and go on deck as we draw closer to the city. I’m sure China is going to be completely mind-blowing experience but I’m ready. The crossing has been cathartic.