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Around the World in 80 Days

Day 51: 14 November

Michael Palin - Around the World in 80 DaysIn this harbour full of Leviathans it's good to see the occasional grimy freighter, like the Asian Rose of Panama, the Chunji of 'Busan', bringing scrap metal from Korea, and one whose name can only just be made out beneath the stains and scuffed paint - Venus, Manila.

The tug Yokohama Maru gives a prolonged blast on the horn to warn off about six other vessels which seem to be heading for our spot on the jetty and begins to heave us round and into position. The Chinese students who have come to study in Japan lean expectantly over the rails. The Japanese students who are coming home lean out even further. The Walking Acupuncturist shoulders an enormous pack, the back of which is adorned with the names of his twin causes: 'Enfants Réfugiés du Monde' and 'Université Européenne de Médecin Chinoise'.

Dockers in uniform yellow windcheaters stand by to catch the ropes. Customs men in immaculate navy blue uniforms ease on white gloves in preparation for boarding. A volley of poppers and streamers crackle out from a welcoming party for the students. Next to me are a Japanese family who had taken a bus across China for a holiday in Pakistan, only to be turned back at the Pakistan border because of a cholera scare. They seem to have taken it awfully well.
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PALIN'S GUIDES

  • Series: Around the World in 80 Days
  • Day: 51
  • Date: 14 November
  • Country/sea: Japan
  • Place: Yokohama
  • Book page no: 173

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