Day M229: The New Arrival

Sun 13.05.12: Over the last three and a half years I’ve missed a shed load of my friend’s life events that photos on Facebook just can’t compensate for. The weddings of Si and Lol, Michelle and Daniel, Brian and Laura, Lucy and Tim, Scott and Louise, Stan and Helen (for which I was supposed to be Best Man)*. I’m currently racing home to Liverpool so I don’t miss three more weddings – Dino and Ruth, Hugh and Gemma and Danny and Penny – which are due to take place at the end of August/beginning of September. I’ve also missed a load of births and also (on a sadder note) a number of funerals. That being the case, it was several shades of awesome today to be the first of Chris and Debbie’s mates from Liverpool to meet baby Talia, the Scouse Clan’s newest arrival. I even…

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Days M227-228: Holy Macau!

Fri 11.05.12 – Sat 12.05.12: This would be my last full day in Fragrant Harbour, or as you know it, Hong Kong. It started late (as last night had ended), but before long I was up an’ at ’em, collecting my Chinese visa and heading over to the Queen Vic for a bite to eat. I won a free meal at the Queen Victoria for coming second at the quiz on Monday, and if there’s something I’ve learnt in life it’s that you should never pass up the opportunity for a free lunch. Therefore I dropped by, and although Stuart wasn’t there, helped myself to a generous steak. See kids? Being a smart-arse sometimes pays dividends. I don’t see you getting a free lunch for being good at football, fellow schoolmates of mine quite possibly picked before me ARE YOU READING THIS? The rest of the…

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Day M226: Now, Visa

Thu 10.05.12: I chuckle now to think when I got my Vietnamese visa back in September 2010 that I honestly thought it would be my last. But no. East Timor changed its rules and then Indonesia wanted me to get a visa in Dili in order to return to West Timor. Papua New Guinea then (hilariously in hindsight) made me jump through a series of hoops to gain entry. Even we-have-the-Queen-on-our-money island continent of Australia was in on it, forcing me to shell out $29 for a visa that I really should not need (they’ve now made it free, I like to think because of me). Then the US leads an assault that could only be termed as ‘friendly fire’ and orders me to pay $100 for a visa ‘waver’ before I would be allowed to sully the doorsteps of either Saipan or Guam. And now,…

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Days M224-225: Open Mic

Tue 08.05.12 – Wed 09.05.12: I never let a late night get in the way of an early start, and Tuesday in HK would be no different. Up with the lark and bounding over to the offices of Wah Kwong Shipping In order to meet with Tim Huxley, the man who could help me get to Sri Lanka before the month is out. He had no ships of his own leaving HK any time soon, but he kindly gave me contacts of people who might be able to help. I raced back to Michael’s and made some phone calls and shot out some emails. There were two ships leaving at the end of the week that could conceivably get me to Sri Lanka. They looked like a good bet (even though this was mondo short notice), so again I held off getting my visa for China.…

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Day M223: You’re A Dick!

Mon 07.05.12: Up early for a meeting with Chris at Wallem Shipping, a friend of Stuart Jackets from the Queen Victoria pub in Wan Chai. We sat down and had a good natter about all things ship-shaped and were joined by Elizabeth Vella, the Group Media Manager. If anyone could help me get to country 198, Sri Lanka, it was these guys. However, the news was not good. They had nothing going south this week, everything was going north – to Shanghai, to Korea, to Japan or to Taiwan. Nothing even just down to Singapore, I’m afraid. Oh well, time for plan B: overland it down to Singapore and take a ship from there. But before I could put in my Chinese visa application (it standing between Hong Kong and my dreams of Singapore), I was due on the radio – another media op arranged by…

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Day M222: My Fellow Liverpudlians

Sun 06.05.12: After the lunacy of last night, it was time to get back on track. Myself, Dino and Mandy have written to numerous shipping companies with a view to getting me to Sri Lanka before the end of the month, but all have either rejected the proposition outright or said that there isn’t enough time to organise something. This leaves me in a bit of a bind. The best option for me would be to head down to Singapore overland. There are plenty of ships leaving from Singapore for Sri Lanka, and since it’s a much shorter trip, the odds of me getting on a ship will be greatly improved. However, to get to Singapore means travelling through China. A Chinese visa costs a wodge and if I put in for the ‘standard’ visa, I won’t have my passport back for three days – if…

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I WANT YOU… To Help COMPLETE THE ODYSSEY EXPEDITION!!!

As Thom Yorke once mumbled, I can’t do this alone. The three final frontiers are all either in the HIGH RISK piracy zone or at war with its neighbours. They are: • THE MALDIVES • THE SEYCHELLES • SOUTH SUDAN Do YOU have any friends/relatives/contacts that might be able to help me get to any of these three countries without flying? Or might know someone who knows someone? If so, GET IN TOUCH! Either leave a comment below or contact me direct (I don't bite!). SRI LANKA to THE MALDIVES (AND BACK) – LATE MAY 2012 I am looking for a CARGO SHIP, CRUISE SHIP, YACHT, SPEEDBOAT or VEDI that could get me from COLOMBO in SRI LANKA to MALE’ in THE MALDIVES… AND BACK. This is not a big commercial area and I seriously doubt any major cargo companies would be willing to take me…

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Day M221: Ping Pong King Kong Hong Kong

Sat 05.05.12: It took a few days, but on the evening of Friday 4th May you could see the bright lights of Hong Kong from the bridge of the good ship MV Mell Sembawang. Congestion in the port meant we wouldn’t be coming alongside until the wee small hours of the following morning, but it did mean we would be treated to the most epic thunderstorm I have ever seen which was silently taking place over the city. Where the Mell Sembawang was circling like a plane waiting to land there was no rain, no wind and the sea was eerily still – something that seems to happen quite a lot in The Pacific, hence its name I guess. And when I say this thunderstorm was epic, don’t think I’m exaggerating – this was a storm that could send ecliptics into a fit – strobe-like flashes…

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Day M216: General Santos

Mon 30.04.12: After arriving in the port of General Santos I met with Vincent, the local agent for Mariana Express, who took me to see Manny Pacquiao’s mum’s house. It’s a pastel-coloured concrete mansion off a dirt track – the dirt track on which the octuple world boxing champion himself grew up. The other houses in the area were typical concrete hovels, overflowing with people, with kids, with hustle and bustle. I don’t get it – Filipinos are some of the sweetest and most hard-working people I’ve ever met. Why do they have so little to show for it? The other night, Third Mate Michael and I were chatting about the world and he said he wished the British had colonised The Philippines rather than the Spanish. I thought this was a bit of an odd thing to say – I mean, who wants to be…

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Day M215: A Big Fat Croc

Sun 29.04.12: On our way to Hong Kong now, but we still have a couple of pitstops along the way. First up, Davao on the Philippine island of Mindanao. Now Mindanao gets quite a bad press on account of those murderous muslim militants, who, amusingly enough, call themselves the MILF (I guess they didn’t get the memo). But the city of Davao is remarkably safe. Why? Because if you’re naughty, the mayor will have you killed. Seriously. Like Boris Johnson. Third Mate Michael is getting off the ship today, his tour is over so he’s flying home for a few weeks. I’ll miss sitting up on the bridge with him drinking tea and making fun of the MILF. Since we would be in port all day, Second Mate Kenny offered to take Chief Engineer Arkadiusz and I to the nearby Crocodile Farm. The crocs looked happy…

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