Tuesday 23rd June 1970.
8 Japanese1 Bulgarian = 35 people and 13 Nationalities on board the M.S. Baikal heading for Tokyo.
As we stood on deck about to depart the U.S.S.R. very loud and stirring music was playing from loud speakers,it was deafening, we think it must have been the U.S.S.R. National Anthem, the Russians were very proudly singing at the top of their voices.
'Fun' at the Supper Dance, bit dull really though. The Purser* tries to organize everyone but they don't like it, the Band was terrible but made a noise at least.
From my Notes:
Wednesday 24th June 1970 - At Sea.
Breakfast of Crab Salad this time and Pancakes. Lunch very good up on deck watching as we sailed into Yokohama Bay.**
Arrive Yokohama 4pm.
Catch Taxi the 200 yards to the Youth Hostel which is on board an old ship. Have to be in by 9pm so we have an early dinner in Jimmy's Buffet. As we sat down we are given iced water and hot towels to have a bit of a wash. The Service is great and all for free, no tips or charge. Food*** great compared to Russia. Met lots of girls going to Russia on our ship tomorrow.
* The Purser told us that we could have anything we liked to eat, just ask the Chef to cook it for us, we chose from the already good Menu but I remember the Hungarian fellow asked for mushrooms stuffed with Caviar! And he got it!
I think this was the officials last chance to impress us with their wonderful entertainment, wonderful food and wonderful Music. Pity because although we were looking forward to being back in a free country we did really love our whole three weeks in the U.S.S.R. Especially the beauty and the people.
It was all a bit sad really, the ship held 250 passengers but there were only 35 of us. We did try to book 3rd Class on this ship as well but were told it was all full... once again. No one was in 3rd Class we were all, 35 of us in First!
** Yokohama was the dirtiest Harbour we'd ever seen and even though we have since this trip been to many many Harbours it still ranks as the dirtiest ever... even dirtier than China, I hope this has now changed. (I just had a look on Google Maps and it looks lovely and clean now.
*** I remember our first Breakfast in Japan, it was on board the Youth Hostel Hikawa Maru, we were served a totally Japanese Breakfast which was foreign to all of us, I shudder to think of it and can't quite remember what we were offered but I do know a raw egg and raw fish were involved and I also remember the two chefs in the kitchen peering around the door of the kitchen watching us with great amusement! This must have been a regular ritual for them :-) Now that I have matured and absolutely love Japanese food I know could eat raw fish but the raw egg!
Hikawa Maru Youth Hostel. Click for more information.
This Ship had been a Hospital Ship during WW2.
Soon a new role was found for this fine ship, for in 1961 Hikawa Maru was refitted to become a floating youth hostel and a maritime museum. Sadly parts of her engine spaces and lower sections of accommodation decks were gutted to facilitate dormitories. At first she was an attraction and was quite popular, however, as years passed visitors to the hostel rapidly declined and it was closed in 1973.