Monday, October 27, 2008

Days 60-62: The Rus' Ferry

Okay, if anyone was wondering the same thing I was ("why aren't there 'any' Japanese on this ferry?!"), I realized the answer the moment I got on board.

A typical Russian lady (tall, blonde, and brusque) barely looked up when talking to me. Then, after several minutes, she became nicer and allowed me to check in several hours early. I looked around and saw dozens of Russian men loading the ship with cars and other items. By the time I went to sleep and woke up, I had realized that the only normal guy on the ship, generally speaking, was the one sharing a room with me by the name of Anton. He was a computer programmer and not a car buyer like the others--and only drank a bit of beer. At night there were many liters of beer and tons of vodka being consumed amongst the other men, a fight or two broke out, etc. And the weather outside was harsh, so it rocked the boat quite a bit. And there were the typical Russian woman protege-cum-??? on board, too, albeit only about 20 of them. All in all, it was about 120 people: 20 staff, 80 men, and 20 women.

Indeed, even before this ferry took off, I felt as if I had already arrived in Russia, even though it was docked at the Fushiki Port outside Toyama city. Japan felt like a completely different world: politeness, hospitality, etc. While Russians are hospitable in a completely different way, and while the ship served Russian food, which I had missed so much and was thankful for, I realized that I miss Japan and do not want to go to Russia. In fact, the only reasons I was taking this ferry to Vladivostok was because 1.) I wanted to experience the Trans-Siberian Railway, 2.) I wanted to see Moscow and St. Petersburg, and 3.) it was the cheapest option to do all three. Apparently, since only an oligopoly of 2 airlines, JAL and Vladivostok Avia, operate the route, there is barely any competition, which results in high prices. This means whereas a round-trip ticket from Tokyo to Moscow, which includes some 24 hours of flying total, costs about $1,000, a one-way ticket from Tokyo to Vladivostok, taking about 2 hours, costs $900. I didn't have much of a choice here. :)

The Japanese people would feel out of place on a ferry like this, much like I had. At least I speak Russian and liked the food, but for the Japanese this would be like entering a different world. Unsurprisingly, the one Japanese man there was on board had his own VIP room.

Finally we had arrived in Vladivostok, one of Russia's premiere port cities some 40 hours later. And this is where the Wild, Wild West begins. ...

1 comment:

Vitaly said...

man, this shit should be crazy.