Across the East China Sea: from Shanghai to Osaka

Earlier this week I had to get from China to Japan. Since flying is a crap way of travelling, I took a ship from Shanghai to Osaka. Two days it takes, across the East China Sea.

The ship was the Suzhou Hao:

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Simple and with none of the silly additions, like shops and multiple restaurants. We had one dining hall, where everyone ate the same food:

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My cabin was exceedingly simple:


We made our way out the the busiest port in the world, at the mouth of the Chang Jiang (Yangze):



Only to join a flotilla of ships leaving and entering the port:


Meanwhile, I made sure not to take the slipper on deck and keep my fingers attached to my body:

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Night at sea is one of my favourite experiences, so I make sure I am on deck when everyone has gone to bed:

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Or perhaps sunrise at sea is the best:

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Later that morning I became entranced by the passing water:

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Although I took to heart the warning not to become too entranced:


Especially in light of a curious pair of shoes on deck:

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Or did he have the same strange desire to take a ride in one of these?

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Then we had our first sighting of Japan – always a thrill in a new place:

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The Japanese even sent out a fleet of welcoming vessels … or were they a warning, especially since Chinese people are not allowed to travel in Japan on their own?


Up between the southern islands we went, with another day of sailing:

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Then it was all hands for the arrival in Osaka:

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Arriving in a new land by sea is like a wary kiss – after a patient approach – and then a slow embrace:



Publications: Gottwald in Monthly Review; the greasy palms of harbour pilots

Some shameless self-promotion, but two new and somewhat different publications:

1. A piece on Norman Gottwald, a pioneering Marxist biblical scholar, in that great lefty journal, Monthly Review.

2. And something on harbour pilots, cigarette cartons and container ships – called ‘Greasing Palms’ – at Aussie Travel Advice.