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February 1, 2010

ePostcard from Scott & Kathy

Rita has been receiving fantastic ePostcards from a friend of hers named Kathy – Kathy was the first one to introduce a five year plan to Rita and the concepts of sabbaticals and early retirements.  Kathy and her husband are now on a 3+ month cruise on the MV Discovery and have given us permission to post their messages as one of our blogs.  We like it as an example of sabbatical-takers being creative on how to pay for 3 months off – in this case, as MV Discovery Guest Lecturers.  It also shows how to stay in touch electronically with friends and family and make them part of the sabbatical through photos along the way.

January 2, 2010

On the Sea Again: Singapore to Southern Africa

Well, friends, we’re doing it again: 3+ months on the MV Discovery as Guest Lecturers and, as we’ve recently coined ourselves: “Geeks at Sea”. For those of you that traveled with us (vicariously) last year, welcome to the latest adventure!

In brief, we fly from Arizona to Singapore, cruise Southeast Asia for about a month, then head down along the Indian subcontinent, stopping in Sri Lanka, the Maldives, Mauritius, Seychelles and a variety of other “little” spots. In mid-February we start touring Southern and Eastern Africa. The cruise ends on March 31st, but we’ll then fly to Zimbabwe and tour with some wonderful Zimbabwean friends we met on the Discovery last year. This brings us up to mid-April; we’ll fly back to Arizona for a bit, then continue our “annual migration” to British Columbia for the summer.

We’ll be chronicling the journey through our regular website (link below), and we’ll also be sending out postcards like this one along the way. Both efforts are challenging because they require good internet access – we appreciate your patience if we’re not as regular with our missives as we’d like.

Here’s our 2010 cruise website

Wishing you the best,
Scott & Kathy

January 18, 2010

On the Sea Again: Singapore to South Africa (first segment completed)

Well, the first two week segment of our 3 month trip has come to an end. No worries – there are plenty more. Here’re some highlights

1/4/10 – Arrived Singapore; transfer to ship. Jetlag and tiredness from 30+ hour trip in Coach. We do not like Coach. Began our “job” of helping passengers with their computers & internet access. The ship really hasn’t enhanced their offering much, so we’ve got plenty to do.

1/7/10 – Pandanbai, Bali, Indonesia — small sleepy town, backpacker focus; at anchor. Wandered around, Kathy looking for cheap comfy dresses. Taxi to Candidasa, lunch (nasi goreng / mi goreng / bir Bintang / krupuk) return. Nostalgic day, and we’re pleased that so little has changed in Candidasa from when we first visited in 1992. We both escorted tours around Bali — beautiful Bali Hindu temple (alas, not the mother temple Besakih, which was closed or a ceremony). Temp adjusted for humidity was 103 (39c). Lovely tour but we both had “defective” guides in one way or another — Scott’s was loud and just wouldn’t shut up, Kathy’s was just not skilled as a guide. Price was right though; as escorts we go for free in exchange for helping “keep it all together” and to make sure our fellow passengers are taken well care of.

1/9/10 – Komodo, Indonesia: There be Dragons! Eastward from Bali, this little island is the primary home of the Komodo Dragon– world’s largest lizard. Access to the island is quite controlled — groups of 50 max each escorted by a local guide. After listening to a presentation about the island and the creatures, we heard that several passengers de-booked their tours.

The dragons were shy but we did encounter 4 of them (plus a baby) at a watering spot. Like something out of Jurassic Park. Fortunately, they had already eaten that day – they can run 15 MPH if motivated.

1/11/10 — Semarang, Indonesia . Kathy stayed behind (she didn’t get her tour-of-choice); Scott boarded a bus which drove basically from the north of Java to about 2/3rds the way to the bottom, to escort a tour to one of the “wonder of the world”, Borobudur Buddhist temple, an enormous monument built over 1000 years ago, and only recently re-discovered. Scott’d been there a decade earlier with Kathy, returning with better camera and an appreciation of Buddhist philosophy. Both were big assets to the trip.

1/14/10 — Two days at sea, we both worked quite a bit as Kathy is scrambling to get her port lectures done and both of us are delivering one-on-one consultations for passenger’s camera, PCs and Macs. (At the last minute, just before we left, Kathy was asked if she could create and deliver port lectures for the four Vietnamese ports we are visiting. This has kept her busy non-stop). Next port was the untouristed port of Kuantan, Malaysia. It’s an uninteresting town with fabulous beaches… unfortunately the weather was crappy.

Joined our Lecturer friend Simon and his partner Jon for a shared taxi into Kuantan. Objective was to do some shopping (snacks, tonic water…), get some time at an internet cafe, and have a good meal. All accomplished. The meal was nasi campur (“cham-pour”) — “rice assortment”. Basically you get a huge plate of rice and you chose what you want on it — vegetables, fish, meat, spicy, not. I had a couple of meats (well, chicken & fish) and managed to rack up MR7.60 – about US$2 worth. Desert was pisang goreng — battered fried bananas that are a specialty in South Asia. We were the only Westerners in the place, and got some stares — and smiles. We managed to find some tonic to go with the gin we’d bought at Hong Kong duty free.

1/16/10 — After an uneventful day at sea, we arrived in Sihanouville, Cambodia. A sprawling beach town at the bottom of the country. Kathy escorted the Tour From Hell (but enjoyed thesites…). Scott again joined Simon & John in a quixotic search for snake for lunch. We walked into town (about 2 miles in blazing heat) — they’re leaving the ship at Bangkok on the 18th and needed a visa for Vietnam. The consulate visit was remarkably easy but after the walk we needed a break. Angkor beer & excellent satay. After that a trip to the central market (which you could smell at a distance) and a tuk-tuk drive to the “Snake Restaurant”. Trouble is, while there are lots of snakes, crocodiles, caymans and other venomous creatures at the Snake Restaurants (even snake terrariums built into the dining tables) — but no snake on the menu. We had roasted frog, eel in coconut milk, and snails with sweet & sour veggies. Close but no snake. Dining next to us was Chef Tony — the Executive Chef for our ship. They were there to try snake too…

Meanwhile, Kathy’s tour took in the local market as well, then headed off to a fishing village built on a dock over the water. It looked very poor, but every “home” (really, a single room) had a TV in it (all were turned on). Shrimp are a big catch here, and there were huge tarps of drying shrimp spread everywhere.

1/18-1/19 2010 — After Scott negotiated a fair-if-expensive taxi rate from Laem Chabang to Bangkok (B1000 (about US$33 versus the $100 other passengers were paying) we set off to The Big City, Bangkok. We’ve both been to Bangkok several times: Scott several dozen times. So we didn’t feel the need to explore new things so much as to reacquant-ourselves with old ones. We put down in our favorite (inexpensive) Majestic Suites hotel, and then hit the streets, visiting Scott’s geek-favorite IT Mall, and getting a 90 minute traditional Thai massage (think “involuntary yoga”). Rendezvous’d with shipmates Simon & Jon for Thai dinner and a wander around Bangkok’s dark underbelly.

Short but sweet, the visit was nary 1 full day — early afternoon to early afternoon. One last farewell get-together with “the boys”, and the four of us are off to our respective adventures.

Which brings us up to date. We depart Bangkok’s port tonight & continue on to several ports in Vietnam. Watch this space.

Photos are in Scott Facebook albums and to a lesser extent on Flickr (http://www.flickr.com/photos/scott-kathy/)

More coming on the website

Wishing you the best,
Scott & Kathy