26th March 2016 – Saturday – Nagasaki

Takes less time to get from Busan in Korea to Nagasaki in Japan than to get from Nagasaki in Japan to Osaka, which is also in Japan.

Woke at 7 by our arrival. It got so still, it was obvious we had stopped moving.

Breakfast is getting worse by the day. Now, in addition to the washing up sponge toast, which caused me to switch to bread rolls, today the rolls have been replaced with something that most closely represented uncooked dough. I actually spat it out, it was so foul. Luckily, mum and dad had grabbed some proper GF rolls when they went to breakfast, so I didn’t starve.

Then ashore for a bizarrely complicated fingerprinting immigration. The scanner in our line blatantly did not work – you could hear it beeping with an error noise – but she made us all do it, anyway. A very odd and utterly pointless waste of our time.

Then out. Found a taxi rank, but dad had no cash, so we sat in the sun while he went to find some. When he finally got back, we approached the only bit of dipped kerb in the area – the rest of the pavement was edged with kerb about three inches proud of the pavement (might be decorative but not very disabled-friendly). There was another taxi already there – another couple had already got it. Fair enough. So we waited for a couple of minutes, while they told him where they wanted to go. I assumed there was a language barrier. I was probably right.

But there were several people in wheelchairs waiting, and this was the only bit of dipped kerb, so I signalled to the driver to roll forward a little, so that others could also get on with their day, by getting into other taxis. He ignored me, but the huge Australian woman in the back went BERSERK. She lowered her window and started screaming at me. I don’t remember most of it, but I do remember “I have one leg!”. So? Why does that mean you get to screw up the day of every other disabled passenger? I said I was only asking him to move forward, but the screaming continued, with much lowering and raising of windows. She even screamed at me when I started talking to the people behind us in the queue (showing them that there was a dipped kerb available, just not yet), who were also with a wheelchair user. She called me all sorts, and even told me to “Take my attitude back to England”. No, really. I was utterly astonished at her – utterly vile – tirade. I’m sure I will see her around the ship in the next few days, and I will make sure to make it entirely clear to her that if she ever speaks to ANYONE like that again, let alone me, I will take serious action. She may have one leg, but she is not better than others as a result, and she is not the only person on this ship that has mobility issues and needs the use of a dropped kerb. Selfish bitch. I’m still absolutely seething – eleven hours later!

Anyway, (eventually) taxi to the Peace Park. It is basically a sculpture park, on the hill above the hypocentre (where the bomb actually dropped) with some of the ugliest sculptures I have ever seen. Many countries have contributed something they were clearly willing to get rid of. There was also a fountain in the shape of a crane – a symbol of immortality – which was very pretty. But you could not really stop for reflection, quiet or solemnity, because there were SWARMS of tourists – entire coachloads, all with a shouty guide waving a stick in the air. The noise and bustle was ridiculous, and we were not attired for the heat, either. And don’t even get me started on the selfies. So we retreated to the public loos (clean, with toilet paper and water – but no soap or hand towels), and the shop, which was playing entirely inappropriate music through its outside speakers – My Sharona?! In a Peace Park/War memorial?! Then we got another taxi to the ANA Crowne Plaza hotel (no, I have no idea what the ANA bit is about) for lunch in their French restaurant, before beginning our shopping expedition. Mum and dad had smoked salmon. I had Nagasaki Chicken and rice – which was essentially lemon and herb chicken with a very slight aftertaste kick of chilli – just enough to merit a second drink. As regards the shopping, we again walked miles, but we did quite well, this time – clothing and flash drives and puzzle books for dad. We went to a mall near the ship called Youme Town, which was very pleasant indeed, and had a 10% off throughout the store sale for one day only – which was handy. Then back home for dinner.

Everyone here is very helpful and obliging and kind. The taxi drivers have spotless vehicles (in fact, the whole city is pristine), and are more than willing to put a wheelchair in the boot, even if the lid won’t shut. In fact, they carry ropes and bungee cords especially to hold the lid shut on oversized loads. Even complete strangers want to know if you are okay, where you are from, are you enjoying their city. It’s utterly lovely, and feels very gentle after the both mental and physical aggression of China.

BBC World is running a series called What Do Artists Do All Day? It’s fascinating, and very enjoyable. If you get a chance to watch any of it, I thoroughly recommend it. I have now seen two episodes – they are not on very often – but I am absolutely hooked.

I may have forgotten to mention that, when we were sat in the terminal in Tianjin for two hours, we had to listen to the instrumental muzak, that was on a 45 minute loop. The tune that we heard first, and several times thereafter, that really made us smile was ‘My grandfather’s clock’. I haven’t heard that song in over 30 years! But I still remember all the words.

My grandfather’s clock was too large for the shelf

So it stood ninety years on the floor

It was taller by half than the old man himself

Though it weighed not a pennyweight more.

It was bought on the morn of the day that he was born

And was always his treasure and pride

But it stopped, short, never to go again

When the old man died.

Ninety years without stumbling, tick tock tick tock

His life’s seconds numbering, tick tock tick tock

It stopped, short, never to go again

When the old man died.

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