• Tasty Tsingtao and the slow boat to Korea

    Ok, so Seoul might still technically be on the Eurasian mainland, but having finally left China behind, 5 and a half months after I first arrived into Kashgar in early September, it definitely feels like another chapter in my journey has ended, which brings both feelings of melancholy and excitement for what is now to come.

    harbour in darkness, tug boat in foreground, cranes in background

    The mist and darkness as I left Qingdao harbour, and China, behind

    My final rushed journey from Hanoi to Qingdao to catch my ferry to Korea was, frankly exhausting. A 10 hour bus ride to Nanning from Hanoi, the next day a night train to Guangzhou (or Canton if you are old school), a night there, then a 12 hour high-speed train to Qingdao for one night before catching my ferry the next afternoon. No wonder I feel I have spent most of my first few days in Seoul sleeping…

    Not unsurprisingly, I felt on leaving each of these cities that I could have done with longer there to explore them at a more leisurely pace (well maybe not Nanning, I spent a number of days there when I waited for my original Vietnamese Visa and itis not exactly¬†exciting…) That said I managed to see the highlights, in particular, the home of Tsingtao, the Tsingtao brewery and museum in Qingdao. Housed in some original buildings and also spanning viewing galleries of the modern brewery (which looks very much like a set out of Goldeneye.)

    German church in Qingdao

    German church in Qingdao

    Chinese destroyer in distane

    Qingdao also has a navel museum with some ships, but I didn’t have time to visit ūüôĀ

    Founded in 1903 when Qingdao was under German control by the Anglo German Brewing Company, (which sounds awesome) the museum is really pretty interesting, with some suprisingly high tech and modern looking exhibits, although several rooms praising the current board and showing off their corporate slogans and mission statements are best walked through very rapidly…Included in the price is a chance to taste some unfiltered brew, as well as the finished article at the end of the tour. You can also enter the “drunk house” which really does make you feel like you are just about to stagger into a wall and vomit and which I hoped was not a foreboding of what was to come on my ferry to Korea…

    Tsingtao beer bottle water feature

    Nice water feature…

    Buy beer!

    Buy beer!

    Hologram man testing beer

    Slightly creepy hologram…

    Brewing equipment

    I’m sure General Ourumov is around here somewhere…

    The pier that is the Tsingtao logo

    The Tsingtao logo

    And it wasn’t. The boat journey to Korea was, almost disappointingly, uneventful. I was the only non Korean/Chinese person on the ship and all the conversations I had with anyone relied largely on sign language and mobile phone translation apps… Still everyone was, as everyone has generally been for almost a year now, very nice. Travelling in economy meant a bunk not unlike that found in night trains, except it was a bit more spacious and a bit more enclosed, even coming with a curtain for privacy. The boat was largely empty, there can’t have been more than 100 passengers, although plenty of freight was loaded which is problem the reason d’etre¬†for the service. Apparently when its much busier some economy passengers find themselves sleeping on mattresses in a conference room that looks rather like those disaster relief facilities you see on the news after earthquakes and the like…

    staircase in ship

    Not quite the grand staircase…

    modern art

    This might be in theory¬†modern art but to me it looks like a ship sinking…not appropriate…

    Cargo trucks being loaded

    I think this is where the money lies…

    Many mattresses inside room

    If the ship is busy, economy class probably starts to resemble a refugee camp…

    There was a shop and a restaurant and even a karaoke bar, but after the rush to get there I found myself sleeping through most of the trip. We arrived very late, 2.30 in the afternoon rather than the advertised 11am, and werent through customs and into Inchon on the outskirts of Seoul untill about half 3 where free wifi was very useful in finding out where my hostel actually was… Still it was a fun way to travel, and whilst it never got particularly rough, I was still rather pleased to get through another proper boat journey without succumbing to sea-sickness. I now feel like tempting fate and suggesting my problems on the ferry to Ko Tao were more due to tiredness and the fact it was a tiny little boat…

    Hopefully I won’t have to eat my words, or at the very least see them come tumbling back out of my mouth into a bucket…

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2 Responsesso far.

  1. Andy Holt says:

    Dan, glad to see you have made it to Korea. Is it the cross Pacific transit next after some time in South Korea? Holty

    • noflytri says:

      Some time in Japan to come first, should be leaving for the ocean on 15th March, although at the moment I’m trying to persuade a Korean doctor to sign a form saying I’m healthy at not pregnant. Which required a chest X-Ray apparently…fingers crossed I should pick the form up on Monday – then I can worry about stocking up on sea-sickness pills!

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