Lonely planet writes “Only twice in my extensive travels have I found myself, face pressed against a rolling floor, stinking of my own vomit, begging for the sweet release of death. The first time was on the boat to Green Island while researching the chapter you’re currently reading. The second was on the way back.” (Taiwan 2007). And so it was with a little trepidation that I headed for the ferry in Taitung. With my excellent miming skills, I managed to buy what I prayed were seasickness tablets at a small chemist in Khaosiung (there was no English on the bottle, so I was putting all my faith in the salesgirl!). I’m not prone to seasickness (hell, on one of the ferry trips between china and Japan I went through the tail end of a typhoon with no ill effects) but given the blurb in LP, I decided to skip my morning milk bubble tea.
I arrived at the train station and was whisked away by a taxi driver holding a sign with my name on it – the trip to the pier takes 25 mins, the ferry leaves in 30 mins and I still needed a ticket! Needless to say his driving was excellent but not exactly law-abiding. In slang Taiwanese he also managed to convey how beautiful Green Island is, and what a shame you had to get through hell to get there (referring to the ferry ride) :/
We made it in time and I jumped on the ferry and found a seat to leave my suitcase. Every single seat had a number of empty sick bags on it, with plenty more spares hanging from the railings. I raced upstairs to be out on the deck as we left land. The sun was shining, there was a light breeze and there were a couple of groups of 20 year old hanging around chatting and laughing. Within minutes the waves were reaching the deck and the sun was gone.
I ended up hanging around up out on the deck for the entire trip – I was already soaked, and everyone was having a ball (it was kinda like a wet roller coaster, with that real fear of death). Luckily I was surrounded by a group of well-built local guys, the few times I lost my footing and went sliding for the rails they would grab me and haul me back to where I belonged. I should point out here that although there was railing around the deck, there wasn’t a gate on the stairs down to the bottom level – I can’t imagine being thrown down them would be fun! One of my travel partners headed inside early on and returned wearing goggles – we all laughed, but in the end the laugh was on us!
A combination of my strong stomach, the miracle drugs from the chemist and being outdoors meant I didn’t feel ill at all. Not so for pretty much the rest of the entire boat – most of the sick bags had been used and there was a putrid smell in the air when I returned to grab my suitcase.