Friday, December 19, 2014

A Tale of Two Travelers

The world is full of opposites: early birds and night owls, introverts and extroverts, beach lovers and those who prefer to pitch a tent in the forest.  I like to plan trips; my husband doesn’t.

By “plan trips,” I mean schedule trains, planes, shuttles, and the like. I don’t schedule specific activities for each day of a vacation because I like to discover places in real time. It’s the framework of the trip--getting from Point A to Point B and on to Point C--that consumes me for weeks (or months) ahead of time. What can I tell you? I like to read train schedules.

Our recent trip to South Korea to visit our daughter provided the too-good-to-pass-up chance to spend time with my husband’s brother and his wife, who live in Kyushu, southern Japan.

From South Korea, we could, of course, have flown to southern Japan, but I like to mix up my modes of transportation.  The high-speed Beetle hydrofoil ferry from Busan, Korea to Fukuoka, Japan proved irresistible: its price compared favorably to airfare fares, the voyage took three hours, and hydrofoils represented a new-to-me means of transportation. What's more, the Internet offered up several YouTube videos of travelers’ experiences with the ferry. I booked round-trip tickets. 

Even though I have control issues enjoy planning trips, I made my husband watch at least one of those YouTube videos and thought he was on board, literally and figuratively, with my decision.

Turns out the world is full of planners and those who second-guess planners. Within a week of booking the tickets, my husband had amassed a collection of stories from people who’d had bad experiences on ferries. (The tragic sinking in April of a Korean ferry carrying high schoolers and others to Jeju Island had never left my mind, but I’d booked a different type of ferry, owned by a different company, on a different route.) Even my brother-in-law in Japan dissed ferries, and the Beetle’s Japanese.

When the day came to board, my husband, like a man resigned to his fate, quit bringing up the horror stories he’d heard. At departure, I, the person who'd booked the voyage, met with the desk clerk. When she asked whether I preferred seats on the ferry's top or bottom deck, I said “Top deck” without a second thought. I’m all about the view.

We boarded the vessel, and my husband voiced his approval of the layout, the seats, and the view. All was well for half a minute, and then the ferry, still at the dock, swayed.

“We’ll experience more sway here on the top deck,” he said.

What fresh hell is this? “You’d rather be on the bottom deck?”

“It’s more stable.”

Shoot me now. “Let’s wait until we’re underway. If the swaying bothers you then, we'll ask about moving.” Heck, if we sway like a live oak in hurricane-force winds, I’ll beg to move.

In fact, the voyage went off without a hitch or sway, and, once in Japan, my husband was the first to assure his brother the ferry had been a good choice.

On this particular trip, Mother Nature, bless her, made me look like a genius because the Mt. Aso volcano on Kyushu erupted and caused the cancellation of all flights to my brother-in-law’s city of Kumamoto.  I did, not, however, gloat. As trip-planners know, Mother Nature could have whipped up the sea and turned me and the ferry into losers.

What about you? Are you a trip planner, second-guesser, or someone who’s happy to go along for the ride?


Jennette Marie Powell said...

That hydrofoil ride sounds wonderful! Like you, I want to know when and how I'll get to places, but like to leave room in between for spontaneous side trips.

Lark Howard said...

Sounds like a fun ride, Pat!

I'm a lot like you--I want to know where I'm going and how I'm getting there. I've had enough dreadful experiences not reserving a place to stay (and finding myself in unpleasant accommodations that cost much more than they should) that I insist on knowing where I'm going to sleep. Ditto flights to and from my destination. Trains I can play by ear, car rentals must be reserved--also due to high cost of renting on the spot.

While we're at our destinations, however, I don't want structure. If we see the local sights, fine; if we end up having a picnic in the Tuilleries and reading all afternoon, that's fine too. I once traveled with acquaintances who planned museum visits or sightseeing for every hour of the day. After one morning of running around London from place to place we went our separate ways--me to a pub for lunch and them to an obscure steam engine museum. Haven't seen them since. :-)

Happy Hols!

Karen McFarland said...

Wow Pat, what a cool trip! And here I thought it was all about the Kimchee! I can't say whether I'd like the ferry or the flight. Although you make the ferry sound adventurous and delightful. So I have to lean towards the hydrofoil. Now as far as the planning and structure, I like to make the traveling plans ahead of time, but I enjoy being able to roll with the flow once I'm on the ground again. I must say it sounds like you had a terrific time. :)

Pat O'Dea Rosen said...

Hi, Jennette!
I liked the hydrofoil. Initially, I thought it was another name for Hovercraft, but it rides on a blade or under-the-craft fin and uses less fuel than a Hovercraft.

Yes to leaving room for spontaneity on trips!

Pat O'Dea Rosen said...

Hi, Lark!
Steam-train museums have their place, but I'd rather ride a steam train than visit a museum about it.

No to structure at destinations! That said, I think every individual in a group of travelers gets to dictate ONE activity, visit, or pilgrimage. I can't tell you haw many times I've enjoyed someone else's pick more than my own. I might never have visited Graceland if not for my Older Daughter's insistence that we stop there. I was charmed.

Pat O'Dea Rosen said...

Hi, Karen!
I've burned out on short-haul flights, so I wanted an alternative. To my delight, a sign on the ferry warned the craft might turn sharply to avoid "sea creatures." I hoped for a whale sighting, but no luck. Still, the possibility tantalized me.

The Busan harbor is spectacular. I'll carry the image of it for the rest of my life.

Coleen Patrick said...

I'm in the trip planner category (ie Hi, my name is Coleen, and I have control issues.) Glad the ferry ride went well! I think I would've been obsessed over that sign about "sea creatures". I don't know if it's good or bad that they weren't specific as to what kind of sea creatures?? :)