Wednesday, February 11, 2015

leaving port

it is funny, sort of, thinking back to my leaving taiwan last year to return to shandong in late february. i decided to try the ferry, which i had heard about from one of sara's friends. a four hour sailing to fujian province across the strait. i was so nervous on the way to taichung harbor. i had not travelled alone in quite a long time. the day seemed fine, a slight wind; on facebook i had written that it seemed a good day for sailing.

the slow movement out of port elated me: the stately ships and loading cranes sliding sedately by. the sun shone, i stood on the ferry's stern, some staff chatted with me; the worst part -- leaving sara and the kids behind and getting on the ship, alone -- was behind me. then the staff person next to me commented, 'it is going to be a rough sail.' really, i said, taken aback. 'just look over there,' he said, pointing to the long break water protecting the harbor's mouth from the north. it had just come into view.

on this side of the cement barrier, placid green water. on the other side, an angry ocean, churning grey. not ten seconds after he had said those words and ducked inside, the 700-seat ship began to rise and dip. and then to heave. a minute later, a huge wave crashed against the north side of the ship and splashed down over me. i staggered inside, dripping, holding onto seat backs.

a miserable-looking snack counter staffer handed me a packet of tissues without a word. there would be no sales at the snack counter. people hunkered down over puke sacks.

thank god, a half hour later or so the captain had mercy and slowed the ship, saving us the terrifying sensation of the vessel taking air off large waves and crashing back down, the shock shuddering loudly through the entire superstructure and nearly knocking us from our seats. but the horrible hong kong police movie didn't let up, the same arrogant, wronged tones of the villain speaking, hour after hour it felt, the same slow enunciation, the same heroic violence, depressing underworld, sadistic cruelty against hostages for their children to see, upscale bar, women threatened and saved. . .

it was getting dark by the time we finally docked next to a huge building on a desolate coast.

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