From China to South Korea by ferry (reaching country no 177)
Day 1,996 since October 10th 2013: 177 countries out of 203. No flight, no return home and min 24 hrs in each country
(The opinions expressed on this site are my own, and do not reflect the position or policies of the Danish Red Cross).
You don’t “just do it”. You earn it.
Nike might have a catchy slogan. But there’s a lot more to life than “just doing it”. Everyone dreams about something. The next step is to plan for it. After that you need to get started and if it all goes well then you might find yourself “just doing it”.
Saying hello and farewell all the time is a rotten part of this project. My uncle and aunt used to say they didn’t want to meet anyone’s boyfriend or girlfriend until after the relationship had lasted three months. I get that now. Most people are nice and likable. Chances are that you well get along well with most people you meet. If not then you might be the problem. So my uncle and aunt were just protecting themselves from losing people they would potentially like. I stayed a few nights with Dana and Valentin in Shanghai. Really nice people!! Good friends. They took good care of me. And then one morning I had to get up early and catch the train to Qingdao. Another train, another metro, another bus, another ferry, another bed, another... It has gone on for five years and five months. Uninterrupted. It just keeps on keeping on. It doesn’t need too. The next taxi could be to the airport. It’s a choice. I flat out don’t understand why I haven’t given up and gone home yet? Maybe I’m too dumb to know when to stop?
Qingdao train station. A small part of it.
Qingdao has had its fair share of visitors over the years. The city is regarded by some Chinese as one of the most beautiful and clean cities in China. It has a population of around 3.5 million people (8 million regional) and is the largest city in the Shandong Province. The name Qingdao means “The Blue/Green Island”. In 2012 Qingdao was named China's most liveable city. It’s certainly the cleanest air my lungs have had for a while! I truly can’t believe what we are doing to this planet? With few exceptions I have lately gone from country to country where it’s recommended to wear masks within the cities!! As humans we are pretty reliant on being able to breathe!! We have literally poisoned the air we depend on to live. That’s just insane? I’ve been to a few countries where the water has been poisoned too?!? Come on!! The tap water some places contains heavy metals so you can’t even boil the water and feel safe? So I’ve heard that water is fairly important for us too? Maybe that’s just a trend or something? No man!!! We need air and we need water!! It’s not slowly happening. It has already happened. It is reality now. What is wrong with us?!?
The view towards the sea from Signal Hill, Qingdao.
Well, at least the air is still good in Qingdao (on most days). The Germans have had their influence on Qingdao. They were negotiating to have some of the coastline when they suddenly got impatient and found an excuse to invade in 1897. Then WWI ran from 1914-18 and that didn’t go too well for the Germans. So they lost the colony and it went to the Japanese instead. The Japanese have a lot of history in relation to growing their empire across Chinese and Korean lands. However that came to an end after WWII ended (1939-1945) as that war didn’t go to well for them. Then the USA thought it best to take over the south of Korea and build a base in Qingdao. Well, the history of the region certainly doesn’t end there but you probably get the idea already. Everyone wanted Qingdao. Today the Chinese are proud of their “German heritage” and continue to renovate German architecture and serve bratwurst. Qingdao is also famous for their beer which began its production during the German occupation.
St. Michael's Cathedral, Qingdao.
It’s a pretty nice city. I enjoyed walking the streets and eating at various places. I’ve had my fair share of noodles and I could keep going at it! It’s hard to believe I didn’t like the food the first time I came to China? It’s unlikely that Chinese food has changed since my first visit in 2012. So it must be me. I’ve changed. That’s an understatement. Anyone who expects to get me back home as the person I was before I left is in for a surprise. I’ve been living life fast for the past more than five years. People back home have probably changed as well. Who will they be when I get back home? Qingdao was good for me. I needed to slow down a bit. Sleep in. Eat well. Take it easy. I also thought I had to reach Qingdao early in order to secure the ferry ticket to Incheon in South Korea. However I quickly learned that I could just have called and reserved the ferry at 0532-82803574. There’s a second number which is: 0532-8282001. My economy ticket included a bunk bed and cost $116 USD for the 18 hour journey. What can I say? It blew my budget but it beats swimming.
Zhanqiao pier in Qingdao. It was extended to its current length once the Germans landed in 1897.
It was really good for me to take it easy for a few days in Qingdao. I got my laundry done and generally just spent way more time on everything than what is normally required. Getting out of bed, eating breakfast, taking a shower, updating social media...just really slow like a turtle. I did feel more lonely than normal though The Great Firewall of China sucks by the way. There were a few sites I couldn’t get on and creating the Patreon page was a hassle! I’ll need to take a closer look at it but quite generally you can now support the Saga if you think it’s worthwhile and it you think that I’m doing a good job. It's verified by PayPal from what I hear. You can either sign up to pay a few dollars every month like in a subscription or just make a one time payment. Anyway, the option exists now and I know a lot of you have been asking about it: https://www.patreon.com/onceuponasaga
In regards to VPN’s (Virtual Private Network) to beat the firewall...I read that Nord VPN should have been the best especially for traveling in China. So I bought the service for a month ($10 USD). Well, that was a mistake. I only worked while I was in Kunming and afterwards I spent a lot of time trying all sorts of things with the Help-desk. However it was fruitless. I heard from others that ExpressVPN gets the job done but in reality I’ve been managing my social media by using a free one called Turbo VPN. However these things change a lot so do some research on your own before you travel. Turbo VPN has however been with me since mid 2018 and is still getting the job done. The free version comes with commercials and guess what? I’m now seeing advertisements from Nord VPN on it?!? Go figure! :)
A view of Yantai from the 42nd floor. You can clearly see where the old meets the new.
Ross Offshore is a well management company and a very fine one at that. They have been a partner of Once Upon A Saga since the very first day of the project and even sponsored the budget for the first 2.5 years. In return I have taken a photo with the company banner in each country and that is a very well traveled banner by now! I got an invite to meet a former colleague from Ross just a short two hour train ride from Qingdao. I immediately jumped on the train from Qingdao to Yantai so that I could meet my friend Claus who’s now working for Neptune Energy! He’s in Yantai getting the “Beacon Atlantic” ready. The “Beacon Atlantic is a massive semi submersible rig which takes up a lot of space at CIMC Raffles Shipyard!
That is Mr. Cai to the left and Claus to the right :)
On arrival Mr. Cai Yuntao from CIMC Raffles greeted me warmly and had arranged for me to come inside the shipyard where Claus works. Super cool coming onboard a huge rig like that!! I’ve always dreamed of working onboard one far into the Atlantic Ocean. Getting the chance to come onboard was just brilliant!! Even just on a guided tour.
Another Norwegian company called Odfjell Drilling have secured the drilling contract for Neptune Energy and were likewise at the yard. So I got to meet those Norse Vikings too!! They had a few questions about the Saga and I was more than happy to indulge them with a story or two.
It was so great seeing Claus again after all these years!! He's a great guy and I already look forward to the next time! :)
Once everyone gets “Beacon Atlantic” ready she will leave China, sail south of Africa and all the way up north to Norway!! What a journey!! It’s basically the Vasco da Gama route in reverse. I’d give my right arm to be onboard for the three month journey but I kind of need that arm and I’m also heading the other way right now. But what an adventure it would be sailing a rig south of Africa!
I’ve taken a photo for Ross in EVERY country (176) so far. What better place to take the “China photo” than in front of “Beacon Atlantic” together with Claus.
That was basically what I had to tell you this time. The next day I walked down to Qingdao Passenger Ferry Terminal and only stopped to have a last bowl of Chinese noodles while on route. The terminal looked new and large. Large terminals of all sorts have been the norm in China. Huge train stations, impressive metro systems, impressive everything! I’m really in awe of China’s infrastructure which I think is unparalleled across this planet. The only other country which also has a population of more than a billion people is India. And while India is a fine country within its own right they can only dream of what China has. It is truly impressive. Well done China.
Qingdao. During low tide people rush to see what they can find.
My last meal in China...for now anyway ;)
Getting onboard the ferry would also have been perfect logistics if it had been a boat full of north Europeans. However it was mostly Chinese passengers and for the most part it seemed like they though there was a prize waiting for whoever got onboard first! It was chaotic just getting onboard the port bus to the ferry where especially old people would tackle themselves ahead of me and anyone who wasn’t on guard? Do these people not know that the last to board the bus is the first to step off it? Never mind the pushing and shoving. You should have experienced the volume!! It surpassed what you’d expect from an exited kindergarten class. However there were no children. They appeared slightly confused and very excited!! I don’t know...getting onboard a ferry doesn’t excite me anymore but perhaps this was the first time for most of them? Or perhaps they just get easily excited? Actually I would think that it is a good thing. I wish I got exited a bit more. Oh well...I am a bit excited about receiving my special guest in South Korea. No it’s not my fiancée...it’s...oh well...you’ll see next week ;)
Mr. Torbjørn C. Pedersen (Thor) - There IS light at the end of the tunnel.
"A stranger is a friend you've never met before"
Once Upon A Saga