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Edinburgh – Tokyo

The Sakaiminato Mustard Smuggler

It’s snowing on and off as we arrive in Sakaiminato which surprises me after experiencing a Spring like South Korea. After a rough night in my “cruel cabin” the crew are friendly and calm my mood somewhat. The Purser, who is Phillipino and speaks good English, helped me as much as he could last night. This included the slightly surreal experience of a ship engineer working on the ceiling vent in the total darkness of my cabin whilst people toss and turn in their fruitless attempts to sleep. I suspect that the crew get quite a lot of stick from […]

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Rising Sun

I have managed to escape the madness of Jeongdongjin and made it safely back to the port of Donghae. I spent the day with Taegeun exploring the intricacies of Korean food before resuming my journey to Japan. It’s no surprise that dried fish in all its forms is prevalent in much Korean cooking. Other than fish, pork seems to be the main source of meat. In case you are wondering, there is dog here to be eaten, but it does not seem to be a featured ingredient in every day restaurants. I did actually see a man selling dogs, kept […]

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Law & Order

I know what you might be thinking, but I promise that I have not been charged with any offences from my big night out in Jeongdongjin. Instead just a short post to reflect on South Korean law enforcement. Last night Taegeun and I were a little lost and looking for the right kind of bar. He asks a local policemen for some directions. I’m thinking about this. In England what would the response be? Maybe something like “down the road, turn left, drink responsibly and keep the noise down when you leave, sonny”..? Well here I listened and politely paid […]

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Shipwrecked

My stay in South Korea is planned to be for just 24 hours. The Eastern Dream is breaking with its usual schedule and stoping here overnight. I’m guessing this is to let the crew have a night off for New Year. I have booked to stay in a hotel that is an hour away from the port. It’s famous in Korea for its view of the sunrise each day, and I’m staying here for the biggest sunrise of the year – bringing in the New Year. Oh, and yes it’s also a ship, built on a cliff. The problem with my plan […]

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Kings of the Wild Frontier

The Eastern Dream is a Japanese built ship run by a South Korean company. It’s a small ship carrying mixed freight and passengers, I would guess 200 or so of us. That is probably 150 Koreans, 49 Russians and one Englishman. It’s not an uncomfortable boat to be a passenger on, but the accommodation is rather spartan and hugely expensive. My bunk is in a room shared with seven other Russians (they seem to segregate nationalities) at a cost of $350 USD. Most people are in dormitory rooms of 30 or so, some in bunks, some sleeping on mats on […]

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Vladivostok

I have had far too short a stay in Vladivostok. Thanks to some faultless organisation by my local agent, I was off the train, cleaned up and having dinner in my Korean hotel “nightclub” within an hour of arriving at the city’s historic station. The Rouble exchange rate allowed me to have a blow out meal with much beer for £25. But the perils of wifi meant I was up for several hours, and despite staying in a very comfy bed I only managed about three hours sleep. Priority number one the following morning (after a reasonable breakfast) was to […]

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Khabarovsk

Slightly cruelly for my sleep, the longest stop of this journey – some 43 minutes – was at 07.43 this morning at the city of Khabarovsk. This marks the eastern most point of the journey, as we now travel mainly south and two degrees west towards Vladivostok. It’s at this moment that I get the map out and realise the progress of my journey. From Moscow to here is 9289 km. I then add the 3962 km from Edinburgh to Moscow, so 13250 km so far. In longitude this is 135 degrees round the world, taking me to GMT +10. […]

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Amazar

I finished up last night visiting Taeguan in the plaskart wagon after dinner. It’s another world – a hot, hot place where people speak in hushed tones, drink vodka and live together with very little personal space. It looked clean and tidy though. Eating in the restaurant remains a little unpredictable. There can be random shortages of key foods, so you need to work out how best to play it. No great drama with my chicken dinner, other than a small fire that set off the alarm when Chef tries to make me some fried potatoes (which turn out like […]

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Khilok

I managed to haul myself out of bed and complete my ablutions before we arrived into Khilok this morning. Outside it is bright and sunny, but of course a tad chilly. The platform is perilously narrow and heavily loaded train rumbles by inches from your feet. There seems to be a lot less banging of the underside of the train today. My guess is that the problem comes from loose snow forming into compacted ice. There is probably less snow around now, as it is too cold and dry. I have noticed though that the carriage brakes have started to snatch a bit, […]

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Ice Cold in Irkutsk

It’s been a great end to the day, but tinged with sadness as we say goodbye to Alex here, who is getting off to spend a couple of days exploring Lake Baikal before travelling on to Vladivostok. He has been a welcome member of our 002 Trainspotting Club. It’s properly cold now. As you breathe the air you feel it drying out your windpipe and chilling any unwrapped extremities pretty fast. I haven’t seen a thermometer this evening, but will keep an eye out. Last year I encountered – 38 C here, but it’s nothing like that tonight, maybe – […]

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