Sunday, 5 September 2010

China - The first boat ride

Hello everyone!

Final day in China today. Two-and-a-half weeks of incredible adventures end here - time to go back to Korea. To do this, I was utilising a new method of transport for this trip - a boat. I restrained myself from singing 'I'm on a boat', don't worry. My 17 hour boat ride from Qingdao to Incheon was aboard a very Asian-sounding vessel - the Golden Bridge V.

It took my hungover body a wee while to find the port. I walked through Qingdao in the heat - though not as hot as the other cities on this trip - to the port. Upon arriving, I eventually discovered that I was at the wrong port. Even though the map said there was only one port. Luckily, someone finally understood my crazy gesticulating with my hands and pointed me in the right direction.

The boat was pretty cool. I'm not going to say luxurious, but it was very nice, and had some intriguing amenities - a PC bang and a noraebang, for example. It was big - my room had fifty people in it - but didn't seem cramped. Was a bit hot, though. I met two other Westeners, a French couple, on the boat, and talked to them for a bit, but the journey was pretty uneventful. I did score a free dinner though, just by walking in minutes before they were closing the restaurant. First kimchi in almost three weeks, and it didn't disappoint.

I arrived back at around 11am, then trekked back to Siheung. The volume of travelling allowed me to take stock of my trip. China is a fascinating country. It might possibly be the longest I've spent travelling in one country without having a job, yet I feel I have only scratched the surface. At times it can be difficult - the language in particular is a pain - but it has a rugged charm to it. Apart from the obvious places, it's not geared towards tourists, and the travellers we met on the way all had a similar mindset to us. The vast majority of locals were nice, albeit have some rather disgusting habits - spitting, squatting, obsessive horn honking.

I don't think I could live there, but I loved it. Korea seems more polished and a little bit superficial in comparison, but I'm sure I will come to love Korea again very soon. Highlights? Beijing was my favourite city, but all of the cities we spent time in had a unique charm that really appealed to me. The food was very good, but I think Korea trumps it on that front. But the Great Wall has to be number one - it was special, and you know how special it is when you are there.

The trip made me realise how much I missed travelling. It was in China that I made one of the hardest decisions of my life - I'm not staying a second year in Korea. I need to be moving, and ultimately I am too young to spend two contracts of my formative years in the same place. Incredibly difficult decision, though. Where next? Who knows, but I won't be settling down anytime soon.

Back to normality, now. Or not, as my parents are turning up next week.

Love you all


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