Day M212: The Jolly Jellies of Palau

Thu 26.04.12: WOW. No, seriously, WOW. Talk about saving the best for last. PALAU YOU ROCK MY WORLD!! Straight into my top five countries, methinks. My number one pick in the ‘Tropical Island Paradise’ category. And I should know, I’ve been to a truck load of ’em. I don’t know, you wait ages to visit a Pacific Island nation, and then two come along in as many days. We arrived in the port on the island of Malakal (a short distance from the main island of Koror) at around 10am. The first bit of good news was that the ship would be staying overnight, not leaving at 4pm as originally intended. This meant there was an outside chance of me seeing Jellyfish Lake while I’m here. Jellyfish Lake in the Rock Islands of Palau is a true natural wonder of the world – a lake teeming…

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Days M90-M91: The Fijian Chief

26.12.11-27.12.11: Boxing Day was a long, lazy day, but one in which I learnt an important life lesson: if you’re in a small swimming pool and you get everybody in it to run in a circle, you can create a whirlpool. True story. My ticket out of here, the Southern Lily 2, doesn’t leave until after New Year, so I’ve got a week or so to spend mooching about, causing trouble and generally being a crimson-headed nuisance. The day after Boxing Day, a new chief would be installed as head of Sandy’s mum’s clan. I was invited along to the ceremony which would be held in the small village of Buca Levu, a couple of hours drive out of Suva on the eastern side of the main Fijian island of Viti Levu. I’d be a fool to turn an opportunity like this down, and as I…

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Days M27-M32: Beyond The Coral Sea

24.10.11-29.10.11: And so I found myself becoming something of a fixture on board the good ship Papuan Chief. Breakfast (which I invariably missed) was served at 8am-9am, Lunch at noon and dinner at 6.30pm. If I wasn’t beavering away at the bar working on a video or a script or a rant, I’d be up on the bridge studying the shipping charts, learning how to use a sextant or just generally getting in the way of things. This week has been all about the drill. We’ve had drills for fire, terrorism, oil spills... the ship’s six month inspection is due in Melbourne and Captain Santos wants all things to be ship-shape and Bristol-fashion. Literally. Seven short blasts followed by a long one means get your arse up to the bridge, Graham. A short, long, short, long, short and long means get to the Emergency Life Rafts…

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Days 985-987: Saddle Up, People!

12.09.11-14.09.11: The time for procrastination is over. Much of this year has been spent – some might say wasted - holding out hope for a yachtie to invite me onboard his vessel and whisk me away into the wild blue yonder for nothing more than the price of a few beers and a barrel of diesel. After being held on tenterhooks for 8 months (repeatedly being told that the yacht in question would be ready to go ‘in a few days’) I gave up that pipedream. I guess the old adage is a good today as it’s always been: if something sounds too good to be true… So I cast my net out wider, appearing on TV here in Australia and on countless radio shows, always throwing in the ‘anyone up for an adventure?’ line (while trying not to sound too desperate, of course). I got…

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What’s In Your Bag, Graham?

I often get asked what's in my bag.  I’ve already done a blog on what (not) to take backpacking, but I didn’t really get into the technical stuff, so here goes: CAMERA: I use an old 2006 Sony HVR-A1(E) HDV camera. It takes mini-DV tapes, which are surprisingly easy to get anywhere on the road. The hand-held successors in this product line were mostly hard-drive cameras, which are fantastic, but in environments where things can go missing, humidity can affect drive heads and stuff is likely to suffer from knocks, tapes are a better idea than hard drives. When I first started I used the top-mounted XLR mic plugged into the hot-shoe on the A1, but after a couple of weeks I ditched it – at arm’s length the A1’s inbuilt mic was just as good and in stereo. I use a cheap Chinese-made 37mm wide-angle lens so…

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Day 722: He Got Made, He Got Wewak’d

23.12.10: Up early as Jan wanted to get to the border the moment it opened. Mike and Harald had left in the wee small hours, so I checked out on their behalf (thank god there was no minibar!!) and hit the road in a shared taxi. The drive to the border was surprisingly slick, I was expecting worse and we arrived in good time.  The was the usual formalities, but nothing went wrong and nobody asked us to pay an imaginary ‘fee’, so that was good. I’m now in the 184th country of The Odyssey Expedition: Papua New Guinea.  One of FOUR Guineas spread out all over the world (the others being Guinea, Guinea-Bissau and Equatorial Guinea: and all of them utter basketcases, sadly enough).  Even though West Papua is culturally very similar to PNG, you are left in no doubt whatsoever that you’ve crossed a…

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Days 549-577: Delayed in Dubai

03.07.10–01.08.10: So I wound up stuck in Dubai for four weeks. Tons of stuff happened, but not much of it relevant to the ongoing quest that is The Odyssey.  I’ll divulge the whole sordid affair once I have more battery power on my laptop. Here’s what you need to know: It took two weeks to get a visa for India and then shipping myself off to the Sub-Continent proved amazingly difficult. I was helped (immensely) by the following people: Mr. Kashi Samadder, Damien (Damo!!), Fajer, Ben, Dan, Alena, Pamela, Sarah, Martin, Youhan and Barry from CMA-CGM. Mandy, my beloved, came up with the goods in the end, securing me passage onboard a ship bound for Bombay via Karachi.  Hurrah for the Mandster!! Whilst in Dubai, I sailed around The World, won at Laser Quest, watched the World Cup final in the Barasti Soccer Dome, learned to…

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