Tag Archives: boat

Voyage home: boat-hitching to Oz

All journeys eventually end in the same place, home.”
– Chris Geiger

Fletcher ship

The bank balance was telling us what neither of us wanted to believe: the journey was coming to an end. Time to think about heading home…

It had been an expensive few months: purchasing visas, long distance travel, a parcel home, new DJ equipment and a visit to Angkor Wat. 50 and 100 baht notes coursing through our fingers, flowing out like folded paper boats on an outgoing tide. And not just baht: riel, US dollars, Lao kip and renminbi: tiny slips of colored paper with embossed kings’ heads and national monuments – bound for other places, other peoples’ pockets. It was as it should be. Flowing out, flowing in.

Despite the recent bout of spending we were still proudly more or less on budget: roughly 140 pounds (AUD$200) p/week for the two of us – gas, food and lodgings. In this way, we’d managed 14 months of travel in 15 countries: by our standards, it was a triumph!

With less than one thousand pounds remaining we decided to turn all our energy toward what really matters: completing the journey overland from England to Australia without flying, at the least cost, maximum fun and adventure.

Problem = solution!

The answer was simple: boat hitch-hiking.

A friend of Richie’s had made the reverse journey a few years ago, travelling from Hobart to Bangkok, via New Caledonia, Vanuatu and the Soloman Islands: looking after children, scrubbing decks, cooking and keeping lookout. It was possible. It had been for her, and it would be for us.

We put out our feelers. Phuket and Langkawi sounded like the most probable destinations from which to hitch a ride. Our friend Bonnie, a seasoned sailor, recommended a number of crew-seeking websites, and Dad forwarded links to cargo ships plying the route from Singapore to Sydney. We ruled nothing out, piracy and people-smuggling included!

Today you can find us shacked up in old town Phuket, waiting for the tides to turn: haunting marinas, liaising with salty-dog sailers, eavesdropping on itinerant surfers, and taking advice from yacht-club veterans who have seen more than their fair share of vagrants and hopefuls board ship, bunker down, and sail home.

It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end.”
– Ernest Hemingway

CREWAD 

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Letter from Phnom Penh

morning coffee and newspaper, Phnom Penh

morning coffee and newspaper, Phnom Penh

My dear friend,

The heat in Phnom Penh hasn’t eased up, shows no sign of easing up. It’s only going to get hotter from here on in. Surprisingly I’m managing pretty well. The white hanky that you left behind with me is an absolute godsend. It has mopped up litres of sweat in the last few days. Invaluable. I’m going to give it a good rinse tonight. It’s already stained and dusty…

Also finding that coconut juice is the way forward for rehydration. Green coconuts are available everywhere, and some street vendors refrigerate them too, for a lovely sweet mineral-rich burst of goodness.

Everything we’ve eaten here is good. You can get a proper feed for $1.50 and a good coffee for about 60 cents. I’m keen to try one of the bizarre bean/jelly/sticky rice/sweetened condensed milk/shaved ice beverages that you see around the place from time to time. Icy cold drinks are everywhere: iced coffee, iced tea, iced sugarcane juice, iced coconut, iced beer…

fruits, jellies and crushed beans at an iced dessert stall

fruits, jellies and crushed beans at an iced dessert stall

Every tuk tuk driver and man with a motorbike wants to solicit your custom, but they’re pretty good natured and tend to accept refusals well when accompanied by a smile and a firm ‘no’. Definitely shades of India here in Phnom Penh – the smiles, the stench, the meeting of east and west, the aspiration and the liveliness. The traffic too! Mumbai mixed with Pondicherry might be the best way to describe the vibe.

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Island Vibes

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Welcome to Si Phan Don (Four Thousand Islands), Mekong archipelago, Laos, land of the Lotus Eaters.

A place to mellow your days away, blissing out in hammocks, supping on fresh fish, straying no father than heat dictates. For amusement: a spot of ‘tubing’; an attempt at fishing; a leisurely bike ride.

The only thing you need tax your mind about is which side of the island to stay on – sunrise or sunset?

exodus, joining the hordes for the boat ride to Don Det

exodus, joining the hordes for the boat ride to Don Det

find a bamboo shack (or tepee) and settle in

find a bamboo shack (or tepee) and settle in

location, location, location (howz the serenity?)

location, location, location (howz the serenity?)

a delicious meal of 'laap', the nation dish of Laos

a delicious meal of ‘laap’, the national dish

Richie goes local

Richie goes local

remarkable mango tree, awaiting the rain to bud some fruit

remarkable mango tree, awaiting the rain to bud some fruit

cold noodle breakfast

cold noodle breakfast (Paul got the runs shortly after this one… me and Rich fared better)

bamboo fishing rigs designed  to ensnare a rainy season catch

bamboo fishing rig designed to ensnare a rainy season catch

cooling down with a watermelon shake. Easy on the sweetened condensed milk!

cooling down with a watermelon shake. Easy on the sweetened condensed milk!

Don Khon wat

Don Khon wat

Mekong rapids, Li Phi falls, Don Khon

Mekong rapids, Li Phi falls, Don Khon

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