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Around the World in 80 Days

Day 51: 14 November

Michael Palin - Around the World in 80 DaysWe're due in Yokohama at 8.05 this morning, but no ship I've been on yet has arrived on time. My now dog-eared copy of Around The World In Eighty Days reminds me that Passepartout came alongside the wharf at Yokohama aboard The Carnatic on 14 November 1872 - 116 years ago to the day - but without Fogg whom he'd lost in Hong Kong. Even with the run of misfortunes they were still only 44 days out of London. I could catch up on the Pacific which Fogg took 22 days to cross, if I'm able to find a vessel able to outrun his General Grant ' . . . a large side-wheel steamer of 2500 tons, well equipped and of great speed'.

I pull back the thin orange curtains and there is Japan. The rays of the rising sun, appropriately, fill the little cabin, spilling out from behind a dark outline of ragged hills. Elaborate announcements in Chinese and Japanese.

We move slowly toward the indistinct brown-grey skyline of Yokohama. (The brown are the buildings, the grey is a corona of polluted air above them.) Pass two of the largest vessels I've ever seen, both car transporters with the name Nissan in 20-foot-high letters on the side. They are incredible hulks which make container ships look graceful, but their size is evidence of the commercial power of Japan. Behind them equally enormous super-tankers are queueing to unload their oil. As fast as the oil comes in, the cars go out.
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  • 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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