Thursday, March 26, 2009
Tour Diary China Part 1: THE BOAT
In the following diary you will find the incredible story of 6 unlikely travel companions infiltrating the big red monster that is China. Ducking one of the tightest governments around to have the time of their lives, eating more food than they have ever seen and playing music for people who generally have no idea what the hell they are looking at. Fucked Up in China. Yeah, we did it. Yeah, we ate that. From dirty mattrusses to planes, boats, and buses. Around the world, now I'm back again! Thaths Whaths Up!
Part One: The Old Man & The Beef At Sea
After our only show in Tokyo, we are set to embark on our first and probably only tour of China ever. 5 shows booked by some random dude we have
never met, and the only evidence we have that he actually exists is that he friends us on Facebook two weeks before our arrival. Good enough
for me. We have no visa's to play and work in China. I bid my friends back home farewell (forever) and hope to be able to correspond with them somehow from
my jail cell in Shanghai. My voicemail greeting has also been changed, "Hello, You've reached Ben. I'm attempting to tour in China, by the time you hear this I am probably in a holding cell, I swear I didn't know it was an opium den, please leave a message". Oh, also we travel to China by boat, not plane. From Osaka to Shangai by ferry (who's penny pinching idea was this? WTF. All part of the "Adventure", yeah?). 48 hours on the rough sea. We tell this to all our new Japanese friends to which they can only respond with laughter. Not very encouraging. I drop 20$ on a "SEA-BAND" bracelet which is suppose to relieve nausea/sea sickness by accupressure. More laughter.
We somehow make it to the port in Osaka, Japan by subway. The first person we meet is a very relieved english woman that reminds me very much of my Aunt back in the UK. I talk to her for a few minutes and like us she has no idea what to expect from the next 48 hours.
After an easy flick of our passports and tickets, we are greeted by a very friendly crew who show us to our cabins. The rooms immediatly feel like jail cells (in a cool way) with 2 sets of bunk beds and a small aera to sit and watch a tv that doesn't have any channels. 3 of us to a room, plus the old chinese man who is unpacking his belongings in my room. We immediatly offend him by ignorantly trampling into the tv portion of the cabin with our disgusting, travel worn, super trendy, and absoluetely free Nikes. He screams at us in Chinese, as we realise our offense (Shoes off at the door in Asia, ALAWYS!). I can't help but tell him to "Calm his ass" and "Buddy, we have to live together, we're sorry" but he's already half way down the hall screaming at the porter to change rooms or he will throw us over board. First day in Jail. Already beefing with the inmates. Not a good sign. I make a note to watch my back and the rest of my band members closely. If I am stabbed now, I will surely miss the viewing of Star Wars they are showing tonight at 22:00 (what time is that again?). For the rest of the trip, now and then, I will lock eyes with our the old man and the beef at sea, and as he walks by me I make subtle Bird(man) calls to let him know I got eyes everywhere.
Day one ends soon after we eat our first dinner in the ferry resturant. Dirt cheap authentic chinese food! Love it. I order a bean curd dish with rice and sechwan pork, while others dig into the more obvious sweet and sour pork balls from the white boy menu. I practice saying Thank You in chinese with the magical waitress until I feel beads of sweat forming on my top lip from the embarrassment of not being able to say something so simple. I dash off as adorabley as I can, and with our stomachs full we all fall asleep early.
Note: Star Wars never got shown as the ferry decided to play Pearl Harbour not once, but TWICE through out the day. Not kidding. Good-bye Japan is right! Ka-Boom!
3am, I awake in my cell to the echo's of screaming and sounds of bile and sweet and sour dishes from the white boy menu being hurled back up through out the ship. Jonah is at the window yelling "Here comes a big one!" as we crash through 30 foot(?) swells in the middle of East China Sea. My first reaction is of course to errupt with a mixture of laughter and groaning (I'm on a ferry in the sea in China, in what seems to be a hurricane with a punk band. Impossible? No. Hilarious? It must be!) and rip open my box of Sea-Band Braclets. Finally, I will show them my 20$ purchase was worth something. Jonah continues to run around like a child at Xmas back and forth from the outside deck to our cabin. It never takes long for him to remind everyone why he is a huge freak. It also doesn't take very long for me to start questioning the authenticity of my Sea-Band as I begin to press the plastic part of the bracelet into where ever the fuck the pressure point is supposed to 'relieve nausea' on my wrist. Five minutes later, I'm popping 2 gravel and hustling them out to the rest of the band like a cast member of OZ dishing out "tits" to the neighboring drug addicts in Emerald City. Oz was right. Jail is scary and you fear for your life, but it is also awesome.
We're all awake and figure the best thing to fight the sickness is to take the sea head-on. We all sit in chairs in the front room staring out at the horizon as the giant waves come at us in the thousands crashing into the huge window that is the only thing seperating us from our immpending death. I imagine all the traditional Japanese tattoo's with waves and oceans and ancient pictures of the gods blowing at the sea. I am literally living in my brother's japanese arm sleeve (minus my mums favourite flowers he incorperated into it to help convince her it was a good idea and convince himself he will never regret getting the tattoo because "they will always be mum's favourite flowers" [Love you, brother!]).
I watch Sandy half crying vomit into a blue plastic bag which I noticed were posted every 10 feet on board the ship when we arrived. It all makes sense now.
I eventually get back to my bunk after walking into walls and banisters on the way back to my room. I fight back the vomit as the graval starts to kick in, and fall asleep to some bullshit rap mixtape a friend in Japan emailed me. Uncle Murda - Sorry, youre hard and youre a murderer and you like to rap about it and all that cool stuff, but you aren't harder than the sea (sorry Jay Bill, not feeling him really). Shit is real.
I awake again at 7am to wooziness and nausea and the same type of hysteria that was going on a few hours earlier except this time you can see very clearly what is going on outside. Pretty much what I imagined, and saw in my graval induced dreams. Huge stormy waves of death, and Jonah without a hint of sea sickness bouncing around like a character from Mary Poppins. I swear he was on the verge of song and dance. The first time graval users all come back to The King for another hit. I keep the 2nd round free of charge, but promise myself I will hit them for cigerrettes and their digital cameras next time. I myself pop another Pink (I use aswell as sell, bad form) and fall back asleep as Jonah prances around the room asking if "Any of us chaps would join him for a scrumptious breakfast, free of charge!". go to hell.
12pm - Josh and Sandy are no where to be seen. I've seen Josh once since yesturday as he passed me in the hall earlier this morning with his little sideways smirk. "You puke?" "Yup". Well, thats two of us down. 4 left. Damian, Mike, Jonah and I attempt lunch in a completely empty resturant. "Very Brave" grunts the friendly waiter who is also visibly a little woozy. Feeling very weak and tired, I know I must get something in my system. Damian orders 2 bowls of rice, and after one bite throws his 500 Yen on the table and without losing his classic Damian extremely polite table and resturant ettiquette excuses himself to the waiter who has no fuckin' idea what he's saying and unloads in the toilet. Later, he will blame the vomit on the way Mike spit out his orange seeds. Regardless, all 3 members of Snoring Cabin have buckled. They will not be seen again for 6 hours. I manage to get a half bowl of Yudon noodles, one orange, and some tea into my stomach and to Jonah's steam punk steamboat captain glee follow him up top to the deck to get some air. I hold the railing, standing as still as possible staring in one direction at the waves and horizon hoping to god this is the best way to digest my food without it coming back up all over my ill as shit new parka. It is actually a very memorable part of the trip for me as the hypnotizing ocean calms my nerves and the dancing guido steam elf seems to have relaxed aswell. I take a moment to remember where I am, who I'm with, and how insane and amazing it is that I am here in the middle of the Chinese Sea. It is beautiful.
The rest of day is spent in our bunks with our books and ipods drifting in and out of conciousness wondering who the vomit will creep on next. Sandy hasn't eaten a thing all day, and I find myself snickering at the thought of the grumpy man who changed rooms when we boarded violently ill in the bathroom stall.
Should have stuck with the Graval-pusha decked out in Nike gear, you old bastard.
Dinner includes sauteed beef and rice, and some water (kept it safe, and avoided the chinese snails and jellyfish). Jonah goes for the giant portion of dumplings and steamed vegatables. These meals never cost more than the equivalent to 5 dollars, and the two days on the boat I spend no more than 20$. After a long day of listening to people throw up bile from their empty stomachs and keeping a surprising amount of control over my own system I fall asleep early along with my cell mates.
Day Two is finally over. We all agree it was extreme hell, except for Jonah who clearly loved every minute and Mike, continuing to never make any sense, "expected things to be a bit whackier". Whatever.
We rise early to a very brown but calm sea. I watch the water go by on the deck in the morning sun, and the sea actually looks like chocolate. Like one of those Nestle Quick commericals but not declicious at all and mixed with a bit of urine. Lots of smog.
We all shower and dry ourselves with our bed sheets, and feel good! All hints of nausea from Day 2 are gone, thankfully.
We can see land from both sides of the boat and coast along side huge chinese fishing boats (and the occasional tiny one) and get our complimentary breakfast which includes pork buns, sweet bean buns, a half a canned peach, tea, a muffin, and a side of Spam that I wasn't about to touch. We fill out our immagration cards which aren't complicated or detailed at all (we were told to be prepared for lots of paperwork), and await our arrival into smoggy Shanghai. I pray for no asthma attacks, keepin' my inhalers close like guns! After all, we'll be on the outside soon.
Ping Pong Games Won: 12
Total Times F.U members vomited: 6
Cute chinese toddler's we wanted to kidnap: 1
Cups of green tea consumed: 38
Hours Mike was in his Bunk but "didn't sleep at all" (yea, right): 35
Hours it took for the boat to sell out of bottled water: 3
Number of Times I Kareoke'd Celine Dions song from Titanic: 0 due to Nausea
Birdman Jailhouse Gangster Bird Calls to "Old Man & The Beef At Sea": 9
Graval/"Pinks" Hustled: 4
Gravel/"Pinks" Consumed: 4 ..........Sheeeeeee-it, I done gone ate as much as I sold. Still learnin', I'll admit it.
Note: Never opt for the cheap no name brand tooth paste from the U.K. It takes no longer than 2 minutes after I brush my teeth for it to feel like someone's shat in my mouth. Finally, those dirty U.K smiles make perfect sense to me!