Around the World in 80 Days
Day 12: 6 October
A Chinese boat, the Cha-Hwa of Keelung, is pulling into the harbour as we make our way through the white and grey marbled gatehouses and out of the port. The sign to the city centre is spelt in the American way 'center'. Sony, Sharp and Panasonic signs abound. But perhaps the greatest shock is the Red Sea Palace Hotel. Not only is there hot and cold running water, there are valets in little hats and sachets of 'Foaming Bath Cream' and music seeping out of the ceiling. Nothing in the previous twelve days has prepared me for this, and I quite forget for a while that we have no idea how we're going to leave this place. Consult Dan Bannerman, a shipping agent and a Liverpudlian, born a football pitch's distance from Anfield. He confirms there is no alternative to the slow boat to Dubai, and indeed it's even slower than we thought, stopping to unload on the way.
The only way to make up time is for me to drive overland to the Gulf, a distance of about 1800 kilometres. It will be very tricky to obtain permission for such a journey but Achmed agrees to try.
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