Day M367: Throw Yourself At The Tide

Fri 28.10.12: Shaking off the inevitable hangover, much like a dog shaking itself dry after a paddle in the stream, I headed back over to the visa department of the Indian High Commission. Got all my forms filled out, new photos taken (I lost the ones I got in London somehow – since they require oversized 2” x 2” pics and they cost me £1.75 EACH, this annoyed me no end). Then I headed over to Carl’s place of work to meet Nilan Jayawardana, the General Manager of McLarens Shipping Ltd. After a chat and a cup of tea, we resolved to find a clever way of getting me to India without me having to swim. Only, as always, it’s not up to Nilan, it’s up to the parent company in Taiwan who don’t know me from Adam. But hope springs eternal. There’s ship that leaves…

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Day M369: Amelia’s Final Farewell

Sun 30.09.12: "Raggedy Man: Goodbye." So there’s me, on the beach in Unawatuna, watching Doctor Who on my laptop and sobbing LIKE A LITTLE GIRL. It's over. She’s gone, the Doctor’s assistant, Amy Pond, the girl of my dreams. When this expedition is over, I’m going to have a Pond of my own. We will raise a ginger army, travel through time and space AND TAKE OVER THE WORLD. You’ve been warned. So then, a relaxing weekend in Unawatuna, THE beach destination of Sri Lanka. Sat in the shade of the trees outside Happy Banana, yammering away to all and sundry on the internets and trying not to worry too much about the impending DOOM that awaits my attempts to get to India on a ship. But then on Saturday night I get a call from my man Dino in the UK. You want a ship…

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Day 1,371: Icarus, Not Daedalus

Tue 02.10.12 My incredible plan for Sunday night was stay up all night drinking and partying at Chili’s Bar in Unawatuna. Then I was to take first express bus back to Colombo at 6am AS I HAD WORK TO DO!! I had to take my passport, photos, application form, cruise tickets, air-tickets, bank statements, itinerary, inside trouser measurement and father’s maiden name to the Madagascan Consulate in order to get my Madagascan visa (third time lucky!). Then I had to go to the Indian High Commission and ask them (very nicely) if they would be so kind as to give me my visa a little bit quicker. All went surprisingly swimmingly. I got the Madagascan visa there and then. The lady at the Indian High Commission told me to come back in the afternoon. I headed over to the shopping mall’s foodcourt and hooked myself up…

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Day 1,374: The Last Roll of the Die

Fri 05.10.12: Steam shooting out my ears, I spent the remainder of the afternoon writing passive (aggressive) emails to every shipping company operating out of Sri Lanka pleading (demanding) to be put on the next ship outta Dodge. I’ve never typed so furiously or passionately in my life. I don’t care what I have to do, what I have to pay, just somebody – somewhere – pleeeeeease put me on a ship!! Last weekend in Unawatuna, I met a lovely British couple, Shaun and Debs, who recognised me off the telly and told me that if I was ever in Colombo I was welcome to stay at their gaff. Rather not looking forward to the cramped 2 hour bus journey up to Negombo with all my bags after a day like today, I called to take them up on the offer. Be warned, Graham Hughes: terrible…

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Day 1,379: No Surprises, Please

Thu 11.10.12: With confirmation from the owners, charterers, agents, customs, immigration, the international war-crimes tribunal in The Hague and the ghost of Jimmy Stewart, the stage was set for what would be the final leg of The Odyssey Expedition. Sri Lanka to South Sudan, over land and over sea, without flying. However, after last week’s emotional roller-coaster I tried my best to put it out of my head as far as was possible: I didn’t want to get crazy excited that I was set up to finish this adventure JUST IN CASE my hopes and dreams were once again crushed by a Vogon sitting behind a desk who doesn’t like the look of me. But first… Unawatuna beach!! Lovely place, gorgeous clean sand, turquoise waters, great tunes, cheap beer and, most importantly, TURTLES!! This weekend I decided to be a bona fide beach bum. Last weekend in Una…

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Days 1,380-3: The Beginning of the End

Fri 12.10.12 - Mon 15.10.12: I said thank you and goodbye to Shaun and was at the RCL offices for noon. After more photos with the staff and Sajith, I was put in the company minibus and sent off towards the port. In the Sri Lankan immigration office I tried to act as cool as cucumber, when really I was freaking out inside. The moment the guy stamped my passport out I felt like punching the air and going WOOOOOOOO!!!, but I didn’t think it would go down so well. The immigration guy might think I’m really happy to be leaving Sri Lanka, when in reality I’m just REALLY HAPPY TO BE LEAVING SRI LANKA!! I have to be honest, I didn’t breathe easily until I was not just onboard the Vira Bhum but we were exiting Colombo seaport, following the setting sun west towards my…

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Day 1,384: Ned Ryerson!!

Wed 16.10.12: I’ve been here before. I’ve done this exact same thing before. Travelling down from Bombay to Cochin on the train. Madness, I know. Do you know how many countries I have left and returned to in the course of this adventure? I added it up once and it came to over over 100. And we’re not just talking obvious places like Britain, France or Australia here, I’ve double-dipped into Mauritius, Tuvalu and Kiribati. Before this adventure is done, I’ll be able to add Mozambique and Uganda to that list. So much for a nice continuous sine wave across the planet! I was up until 4am last night updating my blog, organising my Mozambique visa, replying to emails, thanking those who deserved thanks. I woke up at 7.23am, 7 minutes before my alarm was due to go off. This happens to me a lot and…

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Day 1,385: The Big Ship Sails On The Ally-Ally-O

Thu 17.10.12: After firing off my blog on Wednesday evening I met with Niall Doherty, a fellow overlander who has been suck in Cochin for the past few weeks trying to get to… you guessed it! Colombo on a cargo ship. Two adventurers cut from the same mould, it was all very predictable that we would get on like a house on fire. We went to the pub, which is pretty much the only pub in Fort Cochin. There we were met by the indomitable Vipin Es, the coolest Indian on the planet, who I met at this very waterhole two years ago when I was trying to do the exact same thing that Niall is trying to do now… get to Colombo on a ship! Vipin brought with him a few mates: Alex, Nate and Isla, and after one two many Kingfishers I was magnificently…

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Day 1,387: The Maldeviants

Sat 20.10.12: Friday was spent at sea, familiarising myself with the ship. Good news: the bars are open until 2am. Bad news: I don’t have enough money to drink. I’ve got about £400 left to get me from here to Liverpool, through at least 15 countries. Can it be done? Probably not, but that why God invented credit-cards eh? The ship is lovely, the food is tasty and plentiful (although I’m not eating much these days) and the staff are brilliant. Of course there’s a certain amount of loneliness that comes of being the only person on the ship on my own, but I’m quite an outgoing going chap, so not to worry. In any case, gives me some more time to work on my scripts (and that taster, Mike ;-)). So Saturday I woke with the lark to find a city floating past my porthole.…

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Day 1,390: The Costa Living

Tue 23.10.12: The two days at sea passed like some velvet morning (when I’m straight). For the last few weeks, I’ve been trying to be less of a fat bastard using a novel invention I like to call ‘the beer diet’. It’s nice and simple: you just drink beer and don’t eat anything. Honestly, it works! Magic!! However, on a cruise upon which I can’t afford to drink and the food is UNLIMITED and FREE, my great diet plan has been turned on its head. Now all I have to stop me stuffing my face with cheese and prosciutto is my own willpower. ARRRRRRRRRRGH!!! On the Tuesday we crossed 0° latitude, that magic invisible line of red that seamlessly circumnavigates the planet. Why is it 0°? Because that’s the angle of Polaris, the North Star, in the sky relative to the horizon at this exact point…

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