I know myself too well.
As soon as I say to myself, “You have to do this before you die,” I will instantly start screaming, “And who do you think you are? You’re not the boss of me!” And I will no longer want to do it. Just like when I tell myself, “You have to go to the gym” or “You have to eat less cake.”
Plus, I hate the word “bucket.”
But, one thing that I’ve really wanted to do ever since I heard about it from some friends in Japan was to take the two-day ferry from Osaka to Shanghai.
You know, so I could say I’d taken the slow boat to China.
I’d do pretty much anything if it involves living out an idiom. I’ve already gotten too big for my britches thanks to my eating every single dumpling that has crossed my path since moving to China a year ago. Besides taking a slow boat, there isn’t much else I could do. All the other idioms, like killing birds with stones or counting chickens, require hand-eye coordination or math skills — neither of which I have much of.The other reason I wanted to take the ferry was because I was pretty sure it was going to be torture.
After all, I was going to be stuck on a boat for two days. With people I didn’t know. While having to share a room. And a bathroom. Which meant I’d probably have to say good morning to people when it was actually morning-time.
Like I said, torture.
And if there’s anything that my last few years of blogging have taught me, it’s that torture makes for one fine blog post.
In fact, it kind of reminded me of that time I wanted to take a sixteen-hour train ride from Xi’an to Shanghai – the one where we could only get tickets for a hard seat. Remember that? And remember how I was like, “Let’s do this thing. You know, for the blog”? But then my friend talked the crazy out of me, and we took the plane instead.
Well, this time I didn’t have anyone to talk me out of it.
Except for myself.
And, as I mentioned before, I don’t do a very good job of listening to myself.To ensure that the ride would be especially torturous and, therefore, even more blog-worthy, I booked the cheapest fare possible – a space in Second Class B.
Notice I did not say I booked a bed in Second Class B. That’s because there are no beds in Second Class B. There are only spaces. On the floor.
Mind you, I would not be alone on that floor.
I’d have to share the floor with fifteen other women. Kind of like a slumber party. Or a refugee camp, really.
Of course, there were plenty of accommodation options on the ferry that included a bed and not having to shiv someone for a little extra personal space.
But, as you may recall, 2012 is the year I’m totally going to challenge myself. Where was the challenge in sleeping in a bed?
Besides, who wants to read a blog post about me sleeping in a bed? That would be like reading a blog post about me sitting on my couch.
It would totally not be like that at all. After all, everyone loves a good blog post about me sitting on my couch.
Right, guys? Right?Prior to leaving on my voyage, I felt it was best to come prepared for the worst case scenario — like a shipwreck or pirate attack or lack of an onboard Starbucks.
So during my last day in Japan, I ran around Kyoto snapping up items for my self-made survival kit, including:
Motion sickness pills. (I’d never gotten seasick before, but I’d also never been on a two-day boat ride before either. Plus, the packaging made motion sickness look like such good clean family fun!)
A flashlight from the 100 yen store. (I can’t read all the Japanese on the packaging but I’m pretty sure it says “100% shipwreck-proof. And converts to light saber in case of pirate attack.”)
Vitamin C. (For the scurvy.)
A travel mug and a collection of tea and other caffeinated beverages. (So I could at least try to be a civil human being before noon.)
And a whole bunch of food. (Because, apparently, I didn’t think they’d be serving food on board. Plus, I reasoned, I might be able to barter some Pretz for an extra pillow or something.)
Sure, sleeping on a floor with fifteen other women for two nights would be a big challenge for me.
And, yes, 2012 has been deemed The Year to Totally Challenge Myself.
But 2012 has also been deemed The Year to Totally Stay Out of Prison. I was pretty sure if I had to sleep on the floor for two nights with more than a dozen strangers, I would kill someone. And I would most likely get caught. You see, I don’t have a lot of upper body strength, so it would be really hard for me to throw the dead body overboard.
When I asked the man at the check-in desk if I could upgrade my reservation, he looked at me and said, “Oh, you want to sleep on a bed?”
When he phrased it like that, it seemed like a ridiculous question to ask someone. Like asking someone, “Oh, you want to breathe air?” or “Oh, you want alcohol in that margarita?”
Umm, yes, please. (Duh.)With my new ticket for Second Class A and the promise of a mattress to call my own for the next two days, I headed to the waiting lounge to size up my fellow passengers.
They were a hodge-podge bunch, really.
There were a couple families, including a Japanese family with three small children. There was a twenty-something guy who never looked up from his laptop the entire time we were on board. There were a handful of other foreign travelers. There were about a half dozen older Chinese men and women. There was a young couple holding hands; the woman wore a red, hooded sweatshirt that said, “I love pray” on it in sequined letters. (I made a mental note to take her side if there was a mutiny on board. You know, just in case my flashlight didn’t convert into a light saber, it would probably help to have God on my side.)
No one really looked like the hardy, seafaring type. There were no eye patches or peg legs. I didn’t hear anyone using words like, “Arggh” or “Matey.” Nobody was wearing one of those hats like Cap’n Crunch wears. And I didn’t see a single parrot.
They didn’t really look like the type who was ready to weather two days of onboard hardship.And what hardship would that be?
Sporadic gift shop hours.
A choice of only two brands of beer in the vending machine.
Elevator music which was piped through the PA system at seven thirty in the morning to gently rouse us from our sleep and usher us to the café for our free breakfast.
And a machine that dispensed drinking water and tea… but absolutely no fancy expresso beverages.
So, yeah, my trip was not exactly the forty-eight hours of constant suffering that I had imagined.In fact, it was rather pleasant.
My room in Second Class A ended up being pretty darn nice. And I only had to share it with two other women – both of whom were Americans teaching English in China.
I had a good time chatting and hanging out with the other English speakers on board. It turns out that I can be quite pleasant with people when stuck in a confined space with them for two days. This was pretty much news to me. (And will be news to anyone who has ever gone on a road trip with me.)
I ate some tasty sweet and sour pork in the restaurant.
I spent a lot of time reading and writing and taking of pictures of all the English signs.
And I napped. A lot.
After a rather busy two weeks in Japan, it was really nice to get two full days of downtime.
It almost felt like a cruise.
Except a really cheap one where you have to give yourself a facial.Don’t get me wrong.
I was pretty darn happy when Shanghai loomed on the horizon on Sunday morning, and we were all able to get off the boat.
If only so I could be reunited with some expresso beverages.
But I was also pretty happy that this big huge scary thing hadn’t turned out to be that scary for me in the end.
Maybe I’ll manage to survive the upcoming year of challenges, after all.
Or, at least, I’m pretty confident I won’t end up in prison.
(I hope.)Have you ever done a big, huge challengey thing that you thought was totally going to kill you or land you in jail but then it didn’t turn out to be so much of a challenge after all? Tell me about it.