March 21, 2008
We've been on the road a lot in the past month and a
half. Checkout a few photos here:
RTW Trip Gallery
February 10, 2008
Yesterday we sent our exit
After a good, long rest in
Singapore, the end is nigh for the monkeys. As many of you may know, after a
long season in the sun last year we've decided to call it a day.
In the past month we've been
wrapping up shop here and have been busy sending many boxes back to the States
by sea – we're very proud of them for sailing both ways! We also decided to try
our hand at selling the boat ourselves and like many things in life it was a
mixed bag. In the end we did find our dream buyer and those of you still in SE
Asia may be seeing more of Mico sans us in the near term.
Around the time of the
holidays we also starting planning out in earnest the next phase of our lives.
For Steph it meant applying to schools for an MBA and for Woj it was time to
get back to the office. Steph studied hard in December and made a great score on
the GMAT so the world's her oyster. Woj fired up the contacts list and
started hitting the digital pavement for a job.
We've always dreamed about
being expats in a far-away land and putting some roots down before returning to
life back in the U.S. Last month, Woj was invited to interview for a week in
Beijing with Microsoft. There was also some very brief sightseeing but most of
the time was on the firing range. Things went quite well considering he'd not
had an interview for nearly eight years. After a week of negotiations we've
accepted MSFT's offer, and will be relocating to Beijing full-time in early
April. All we need to do now is find a place to live.
In the meantime – we are so
outta here. This week, determined to get all the way around the world by any
means necessary, we booked RTW tickets online. Starting next week we'll fly to
Bangkok and then we're on to Cairo – Madrid – Dublin – NYC – Seattle and Santa
Barbara before heading west again to China.
For all the sailors out there
– we consider ourselves extremely privileged to have shared some of the most
beautiful places on Earth with all of you. It's because of all of you that we
made it as far as we did. I KNOW there is a ton of truth to this paragraph since
while Steph was proof-reading it she burst into tears. :)
February 9, 2008
(Wojo) I've always found the
Canadian backpacker practice of putting a huge maple leaf on a pack lame
and quite sad. I've even met Americans recently who display, albeit more
diminutive, the Maple Leaf on their packs -- which is even worse. As my wife would say "... be the first
American who someone doesn't think is a jerk!"
I recently found a great blog entry from a Canadian
author from "World
Hum" on the subject, included below. It really struck a chord with
me because this past season, more than all those put together, there was so much
idiotic nationalism every time there were more than five boats in an anchorage
in Indonesia. Why? I don't have an exact answer (will try to have Carrot add
her comments soon too) but I think it stemmed mostly from frustration people
felt from having so many boats competing for resources in small areas. Also -- I
know I will get some flame mails about this -- I blame mostly the New Zealand
and Aussie boats for starting up most of the nationalist ickyness.
I say this because 99% of the time when someone came
over to introduce themselves, only then to tell me how much they hate US foreign
policy or "what the problem with Americans is," they were either from NZ or
Aussie. Where this chip on their shoulders came from I honestly don't know. In
my opinion, most of this was just stress in the case of the Aussies -- while
some boats had made extensive blue water trips in the past, others were very far
from home on their first real cruising season. We saw a lot of this separation
anxiety in our first season in Mexico as well. For us, it seemed like season
two, in that we'd already come 1300 miles by the time we reached sunny Mexico.
(Steph) This was, indeed, the first time in almost four
years of cruising that we encountered yachts traveling almost exclusively with
other yachts from the same countries. It might have had something to do with the
sheer numbers of boats involved with the Sail Indonesia rally -- over 120. When
it's impossible to meet everyone at the party, you just hang out in the corner
with those you already know.
I'm not sure if any particular group caused the
nationalist trend, but I did notice quite a lot of animosity directed towards us
from Australians. And we weren't the only Americans who noticed. I don't know --
maybe when our European friends first left Europe they liked to give American
cruisers an earful, until they finally realized we're not so bad and actually
made friends with some of them. We didn't meet any Europeans until the
Marquesas, at which point they'd sailed 30,000+ miles and didn't seem to care
where we came from. Maybe Australians like to push the envelope and see how far
they can go in potentially insulting a person. One notable thing is that almost
everyone who confronted us were older than us, probably in their early 60s.
Younger Australians we met usually didn't give a hoot where we were from, as
long as we liked to have fun.
Anyway, regarding the flag on the backpack -- this is
probably grossly over-simplifying the reason why Canadians do it, but I was
always under the impression it was because they didn't want to be mistaken as
Americans. I don't know if it's because they genuinely want every person who
sees them to immediately be able to identify their country, or if it's because
they think some harm will come to them if they are mistaken for American. I can
tell you this, though -- in any country English is not the first language,
people don't automatically assume you're American because they can't recognize
accents. I've been mistaken for Australian or English several times.
(Wojo) Actually people from the more northern parts of
the UK always think Carrot is Irish because, as they say "... she has the map
of Ireland on her chin.'' :)
"About That Canadian Flag on my Backpack"
have a confession to make: There is a Canadian flag on
my backpack. It’s not one of those postage stamp or
business card-sized ones, either. As you can see in the
photo, it’s closer to a large index card, or even a
compact paperback. I super-glued it into place on my new
pack when I was 20 years old, for no greater reason than
that everyone else was doing it, and until recently I’ve
never thought twice about it. Now, though, the times—and
travel trends—are a-changing.
With Samuel Johnson’s famous definition of
patriotism as “the last refuge of a scoundrel” ringing
in my ears, I shame-facedly lean my pack face-first
against walls in train stations. I pull the drawstrings
down tight so the flag is obscured. I nod and smile in
hostel common rooms while my bunkmates agree, less
eloquently than Johnson, that patriotic gestures—and
flags on backpacks, in particular—are totally lame.
In retrospect, in fact, it may never have been
cool to put a maple leaf on your backpack. Rocker Gord
Downie, lead singer of
The Tragically Hip and arbiter of all things both
Canadian and cool, was calling flags on backpacks
“nationalism gone astray” as early as 1993. He recently
gained an ally in
Jason Wilson, the series editor of the Best American
Travel Writing anthologies. In this year’s foreword,
Wilson calls the practice “sad.”
In my case, the most embarrassing thing about the
situation is my own embarrassment. I don’t have any
particular attachment to the flags-on-backpacks school
of thought, so I don’t defend the practice. But on the
other hand, I don’t have anything against it either, so
I’m not going to risk defacing my pack trying to get the
patch off. Meanwhile, my backpack has a lifetime
warranty and isn’t showing any sign of slowing down
after six years of steady use. I suppose this is one
travel trend I’ll just have to try and ride out.
Posted by Eva Holland • 12.12.07"
January 21-25, 2008
(Steph) We spent a few days in China last week, the first time for both of
us. We had heard good things (friendly people, great food) and bad things (bad
hygiene, pollution), but were excited to see a new place after three months in
safe, sterile Singapore. We arrived on Monday afternoon, checked into our hotel,
and ventured out on the streets to find a restaurant for dinner. We walked
amongst a bunch of people on the streets who were all bundled up in knee-length
and hooded quilted coats. We looked on in envy; despite trying to prepare for
the cold, we didn't come close. The highest the temperature ever reached was -2
degrees Celsius (about 28 degrees Fahrenheit), and it was windy!
Woj and Steph at the Great Wall of China.
We were on the look out for a hotpot restaurant. We'd both only had hotpot
once, at our friend Denise's home in Seattle. We thought it would be fun to do
the authentic thing. We found a restaurant within a 10-minute walk of our hotel.
We piled into the hot, steaming restaurant and somehow managed to communicate
that we'd like a table. The hostess managed to communicate to us that we were on
the waiting list. We settled into the waiting area and watched how the locals do
it. Hotpot consists of a big, boiling vat of broth that is set in the middle of
the table. You order a number of items that come raw to the table, and you drop
items into the broth as you would like to eat them. After a little time, you
fish out your items with chopsticks and then eat them hot and steaming,
accompanied by a number of condiments and sauces.
Republic of Singapore
January 6, 2008
Our faithful three readers recently asked us about the
two and a half month lapse in updates and the sale of the boat. I can't believe
how fast the time has gone by since we've been in Singapore ...
The last week of October we motored up the Johor
straight on a very squally day and nearly anchored before turning the corner for
the marina. The staff was very helpful getting us sorted, except for the radio
operator who informed us that we needed to back into our slip (which happily was
not true). Raffles marina is a nice place to spend a month just taking it [very]
easy and getting fired up to move on again.
The marina eight docks (A-H) in a "reasonably"
protected spot behind a breakwall. There's nearly always a little roll in the
marina I believe more from the passing super tankers in the straits than the
weather. Contrary to popular opinion the marina never reached full capacity even
during the height of the Indonesia Rally invasion. Cruisers were getting really
stressed out about getting turned away (no one did in the end AFAIK) and were
relaying booking confirmations back and forth across the equator for the two
weeks before arrival. Some people claimed they were ignored by the marina staff
when emails were not sent. The staff countered, during the final "gala" dinner
at Raffles that the mails had been filtered out as Spam. Personally I don't
think anyone would ever be completely turned away here. At the very least you
could get a spot on one of the three massive linear docks used by the
December 20, 2007
Note for anyone looking for our Indonesia logs --
they're now in the Journals.
From the archives of the 2007 cruising year: just found
this video we shot while crossing the
Gulf of Carpenteria of False Killer Whales.
November 27, 2007
We are fortunate to have the best friends in the world.
Not only did they forsake their own families to visit during Thanksgiving (and
brave the wilds of air travel) but they came nearly half way around the world.
For a full recap of our voyage through Indonesia in 2007
please see our Journals pages.