Well, you could just read the blog post about taking the ferry to Osaka backwards, and you would get the idea.. It was actually really nice going back. I knew just how to get to the harbour from the center of Osaka, I just took the subway with one change to Cosmo Square station and walked from there. I was quite early, the e-mail I got with my confirmation said to be there before 10:30 am for departure at noon, but I was there around 10 am.
I was checked in smoothly, and asked to wait in a waiting area. There I met the only other Westerner onboard, a Swiss girl, who I would usually take my meals with. It was lovely to have company again. By good fortune the ship was practically empty, with only about a dozen passengers in all. And as they had cleaned the tatami rooms which were now off limits, I was upgraded to a 4-person cabin which I ended up having all to myself. Score! I had four beds to choose from, a small sitting area under a window with a view over the side deck to the sea beyond. What I didn’t have was a private bathroom, but the toilets and showers were on the corridor nearby so that was no big deal.
The sea was quite calm this time, with hardly any waves. The first evening saw some rain, but there was a glorious sunset the second night. Absolutely stunning! The temperature was quite odd, however. It was warm when we left harbour in Osaka, but the temps dropped by over 10 °C in a couple of hours and it was very chilly that afternoon. It only warmed up again when we were approaching Shanghai.
We left Osaka about half an hour early, so about 11:30 am. And we arrived in Shanghai bang on the buck at 11 am. I spent most of the last few hours on deck, watching us approach Shanghai. What had been sparkling blue ocean turned into a murky muck with debris floating on it, and the narrow channel of the Yangtze river was chock full of low riding barges. Air quality was a matching smog, and I longed for the wide open oceans again.
Well before arrival, the crew collected all our passports and the arrival cards. I had completely forgotten we had gotten these, and hastily filled mine in. We waited a while in the harbor until the doors were opened and we could carry out luggage down a narrow movable staircase and boarded a shuttle bus to take us to the arrival building. I’m always uneasy when my passport is out of my sight, so I didn’t relax until we got it back from immigration officer when we got to the immigration desk. He handed over our passports, and then walked ahead to a desk and motioned us to file past him so he could compare faces to the passports. It all took only a few minutes as we were so few people onboard.
It was hot and murky, but my hostel was just off the Bund, a 20 minute walk from the terminal. My new friend and her cousin even walked with me part of the way to make sure I found my way. What sweethearts! It was lovely to be back in Shanghai, and it felt instantly familiar. I walked past the Bank of China and went to withdraw some local currency. I had tried to get some in Osaka but the currency exchange shop I tried a few times was closed both times. I knew I could exchange cash on the ferry, and as I would be walking to my hostel past the bank, I wouldn’t need any local cash until then.
It was bliss having a room to myself for few nights, especially as I was going to be in a dorm for the following five nights in Shanghai. I had spent most of the journey in my cabin, reading and watching movies on my laptop, but I was on the deck quite a few times as well.
It was odd, at times I forgot I was on a ferry and thought I was already on the container ship home. That feeling and views of the ocean made me really long for boarding my ship. Well, it wouldn’t be that long until I would!