Week before leaving -- (Jan 11-20)
Week 1 -- (Jan 23-Feb 1 Puerto Rico)
Week 2 -- (Feb 3-9 Salvador, Brazil)
Week 3 -- (Feb 10-16 On the way to South Africa)
Week 4 -- (Feb 19-24 Cape Town and African Safari)
Week 5,6 -- (Feb 25-March 8 Mauritius)
Week 7 -- (March 9-15 Chennai, India)

Week 8 -- (March 16-22 Penang, Malaysia and Singapore)
Week 9 -- (March 23-31 Ho Chi Minh City, VietNam)
Week 10 -- (April 1-6 Hong Kong, Guilin Shanghai, China)
Week 11 -- (April 7-13 Kobe, Japan)
Week 12 -- (April 14-20 On the way to Hawaii)
Week 13 -- (April 21-27 Honolulu, Hawaii)
Week 14 -- (April 28-May 8 Puntarenas, Costa Rica)

 

Week Twelve -- Journeywoman's Semester At Sea...

 

Your emails...

 

 

 

 

 

April 14 -- Farewell to Japan

There were several planned SAS visits for this final morning in Japan. Some students had signed on to visit a YMCA-sponsored kindergarten and nursery school. Those that chose this trip were really looking forward to interacting with the five and six year olds and having lunch with them. I heard later that they got down to the kids' level by sitting on the same little kindergarten chairs that the youngsters sat on. Another trip was a bus visit to Himiji Castle that was about an hour away from where the MV Explorer was docked.

I took it easy in the morning and then met Karyn, an American lawyer teaching law to students in Japan. I contacted Karyn via HERmail.net (our Journeywoman service which has provided me with a friend in just about every port we've visited) who offered to escort me to Himiji Castle. What fun! I took the short Portliner train ride into Kobe where we met up in the Sannomiya JR Station. If you're impressed with how I got around, you should know that my success was due mainly to Karyn's great directions. If I had messed up after her email I'd consider myself a complete travel idiot. Karyn wrote:

'The portliner terminates in the JR Sannomiya Station. After you exit the portliner ticket wickets, you should turn right and then go down the stairs or escalator on your right. Then if memory serves correctly, you turn left and go straight a little way to get to the Terminal Hotel restaurant/coffee shop on your left. (You can look into its windows.) Alternatively, if you prefer I can meet you in front of the portliner ticket wickets. I will check my e-mail again at 10:30 to see if you'd like to meet there. If I do not see another e-mail from you, I will be in the Terminal Hotel restaurant/coffee shop in the non-smoking section at 12:30'.

At the best of times I'm not great with travel directions so it was a real bonus to have Karyn (who speaks Japanese) along. There are so many different trains and different lines (with ongoing announcements in Japanese) that if I had been alone I'd have bought my ticket and just prayed that I was on the right train to the right town. I'm indebted to Karyn for being a great guide and for allowing me to choose where I wanted to go and when. We could easily have spent more time at the castle but, (as usual) I was paranoid about not missing the ship so we had to cut our visit short.

The castle visit was an absolute delight. There it stood high on a hill surrounded by glorious cherry blossoms. Here's a short description I found in the SAS trip booklet (hopefully my photos will say it better). 'the finest example of a feudal castle in Japan and a true national treasure. Known as the White Egret Castle it was made famous to moviegoers in the James Bond film, 'You Only Live Twice' and the 'Last Samurai' with Tom Cruise.

On the way back to the ship Karyn bought me a box of Japanese sweets to share with my shipmates. They were cherry blossom flavored but unlike any sweets I had ever tasted. These were jelly like and ... almost stretchable. I passed them around in the dining hall and got reactions like, 'different', 'cool' 'ewww' and, oh, can I have another?'

We departed almost on time but not without lots of problems. Two students had lost their passports and had to be left behind to replace their documents in Japan. One woman was ill and was taken by ambulance to the hospital. One of our medical staff would have gone with her but, luckily her parents were in Japan so they went to the hospital to meet and care for her. All three students will have to fly from Kobe to meet us in Hawaii on April 27th. I'm not even trying to figure out how many thousand dollars it will cost to make that transfer.

P.S. A tidbit of information from Karyn. The Japanese and Japanese trains are known for their extreme punctuality. On those rare occasions when trains are delayed, conductors hand out late slips for employees to give to their bosses.


My first glimpse of Himiji Castle


Closer to the castle grounds


This castle is huge


Japanese landscapes


View from the top of the castle


Cherry blossoms in bloom on the grounds


Karyn was a great guide


Looking up, up, up to the castle

 

April 15 -- We gain a day!

One of the things I love about this journey is that we don't suffer from jetlag. It's such a treat to arrive in India, China or Japan and be on their local time. How have we managed that? While we're sailing we're told when to push our clock forward one hour. This might happen every second day for a week and (at the time) it isn't fun losing those hours of precious 'shut eye.' Everybody complains about feeling draggy but truthfully I'd happily trade that draggy feeling for this 'no jetlag' gift. Normally when I come home from Asia it takes weeks to settle in. This time I will be on normal time almost immediately.

Yesterday we crossed the International Date Line and we gained a full day (to make up for all the times we lost an hour in Asia). That means we have two April 15ths this week. For purposes of announcements, etc. these days are being referred to as April 15, Version 1 and April 15, Version 2. Anybody who had a birthday gets to celebrate twice and they get their names in the daily notices (Dean's Memo) twice.

My roommate Ariane has a cold. She slept a lot yesterday and again today but since she was up for at least half of each day she theoretically did not miss any time at all. She doesn't know I took this picture of her. Maybe after she sees it she won't want to be my roommate any more.

P.S. The ship has really been rocking and rolling. Dishes are flying, chairs are toppling, drawers are opening and closing as we hit each wave. Yesterday someone fell right out of their chair in the dining room but no one was hurt. Just a lot of laughing. Whenever I start to feel a bit weird I get into bed for a bit and I'm OK. I'm trying to stay away from meds because any meds (no matter how weak) put me into a drunken stupor. I was warned that crossing the Pacific can be hard so I expected these rough seas. Last night, everything on our night tables went flying -- books, glasses, wristwatch, alarm clock. Neither Ariane nor I spoke. We just sat up, collected the things off the floor and went back to sleep. We put everything into our drawers. I'm not used to such a neat night table.


Dean's Memo April 15 Version 1 & 2


Ariane sleeps, sleeps, sleeps


We're sailing in the Pacific Ocean


Such a neat nighttable

 

April 17 -- The long awaited auction

One of the first things I heard about when I got on to the ship was the fabulous auction that is held each semester and the wild bidding that goes on for choice items. This wild bidding is an excellent thing because all proceeds from the auction go directly to charities chosen by the students. This year the beneficiaries of our fundraising are: (1) kiva.org (2) Adopt -A-Landmine (3) Habitat for Humanity (4) Invisible Children (5) Simon Estes Choral Group in Cape Town, South Africa.

For weeks before the auction the hype began. Do we have an item or a service to donate? I thought back to the many compliments that my colorful coffee mug had received in the dining room and decided to donate that.

In the description of the item I wrote: 'This is the coffee cup that inspired me to keep writing my blog. If you have writers block drinking from this mug will work wonders. Money back guarantee if you don't get an 'A' on your next paper'.

Others donated their personal artwork, colorful clothing they purchased in India, and boxes of exotic teas. The Traditional Chinese Medicine professor offered an acupuncture session, the Director of Student Life put a five-night stay in his apartment in Belgium on the auction block. I knew we were in for an exciting time.

The smaller items were part of a silent auction held in the afternoon. My coffee cup originally bought for $5.00 was purchased in a bidding war by my roommate Ariane for $52.00. She explained that she wanted to make a charitable donation anyway so this was a fun way to do it. Now the cup is on her night table instead of mine and she teases me about it.

The big ticket items were offered in the evening. Students had to sign for bidding paddles (made of paper) and the auction began amidst great hooting and hollering. Truly, the bidding (to the delight of the student organizers) became outrageous and loads of money was raised. Here are just a few of the items and the winning bids...

Two dozen homemade cookies mailed to your home once a month for three months -- $55.00
The original navigational chart that showed our route around the world -- $650
Four nights in Wyoming -- $350
12 bottles of wine from a law teacher's family winery -- $320
An acupuncture session -- $200
A Captains hat autographed by the captain -- $180.
The captain's personal baseball cap (signed) -- $510
A one hour bar tending lesson -- $230
A painting of China -- $150
The privilege of raising the ship's flag as we sailed into Miami -- $1,000

My secret confession -- There was also a raffle for some of the smaller items that were donated to the auction. I 'anonymously' donated my 'sea-going flamingo' because everybody teased me about this nerdy statue on my night table. I forgot about it until my number was called as the winner of one of the raffle items. What did I win? My little pink flamingo had come home to roost. I guess what goes around comes around. I re-donated it and a student bought it ($5.00) for her grandmother so I know it went to a good home.

How exciting to report that the auction earned a grand total of over $21,000. Magnificent!
Kudos to everybody who took part and especially KP who led the way.


Publicity for the auction begins early


My coffee cup is up for bids


Students, staff and faculty peruse the offerings


Will we reach our fundraising goal?


Each participant gets a number


Crew donates a pair of signed overalls


Beautiful artwork is offered


My pink flamingo comes home to roost

 

April 20 -- Another Day in Paradise

Slept in today (because I fell asleep at 5:00 AM last night). In order to make up the time differences between Kobe, Japan and our next stop Honolulu, Hawaii we've had to advance our clocks forward every night for the past five nights. True, we won't have jetlag when we get to Miami (as one does have flying home from Asia) but we're certainly suffering from 'ship lag' right now. Missed breakfast but no problem. I was still full after last night's seder (dinner).

I chose a tuna fish sandwich for light lunch and ate it on deck six with John, the ship's photographer. He and his wife Sue are wise beyond their years and are committed to making this world a better place. I inevitably enjoy any time spent with them. Early afternoon was devoted to writing and shopping for my return flight from Miami. At 3:30 I watched a veggie carving demonstration -- cute and informative but can't take too much of that stuff especially when they sliced salami pieces for the egg's hat (ahhhh....).

Excused myself and went up to the seventh floor deck where all the action is -- kids and staff sunbathing, working, reading, playing scrabble, and cards. It's also the bar where you can buy goodies (and just put it on your tab) -- smoothies, burgers, pizza and frozen yoghurts. That's the one place on the ship that feels like you're on a cruise ship or at a resort. I seldom come up here because it's always quite noisy -- music playing, young people interacting -- definitely not quiet enough for blog writing. Today I treated myself to a Vitalizer Smoothie and sat in the sun (and wind) for a while. It's been cold and the seas have been rough since we left Japan so breathing fresh air was a treat.

At 4:30 one of the LLLs (Life Long Learners) will be showing her photos from Italy and at 6:00 I'm invited to a Farewell Party for one of the students in our Deck 5 Hall (Shasti Conrad). Shasti's devoted to the Obama Presidential Campaign and has been offered an immediate position to work with him. I can understand her decision to leave the ship now. If she waits until the end of the SAS voyage that job will no longer be available. She's a lovely young woman and it's been my pleasure to meet her. Good luck, Shasti!

I was just going back to my cabin when one of the LLLs came by and said, 'We're learning how to wear the saris we bought in India in classroom 8.' I grabbed my camera and went upstairs to take some photos. Everybody looked so good and they were practicing now for the dress-up Ambassador's Ball. Oh, oh -- I don't have a sari and I don't have anything dressy to wear. In fact, I might be like Cinderella with only 'rags' to wear. Tune into my Hawaii blog next week to see if I manage to find something appropriate to wear there. On principal, it can't be too expensive or too fancy because I have so many things at home that I could have brought with me (if I knew I was staying for the full time). Fairy Godmother, where are you when I need you?


Veggie carving demonstration


Card games on Deck Seven


Working on papers amidst the action


Board games


Serving smoothies with a smile


Mandy my favorite barman


Shasti (left) says farewell to SAS friends


Trying on saris for the Ball

 

End of Week Twelve

 

Week before leaving -- (Jan 11-20)
Week 1 -- (Jan 23-Feb 1 Puerto Rico)
Week 2 -- (Feb 3-9 Salvador, Brazil)
Week 3 -- (Feb 10-16 On the way to South Africa)
Week 4 -- (Feb 19-24 Cape Town and African Safari)
Week 5,6 -- (Feb 25-March 8 Mauritius)
Week 7 -- (March 9-15 Chennai, India)

Week 8 -- (March 16-22 Penang, Malaysia and Singapore)
Week 9 -- (March 23-31 Ho Chi Minh City, VietNam)
Week 10 -- (April 1-6 Hong Kong, Guilin Shanghai, China)
Week 11 -- (April 7-13 Kobe, Japan)
Week 12 -- (April 14-20 On the way to Hawaii)
Week 13 -- (April 21-27 Honolulu, Hawaii)
Week 14 -- (April 28-May 8 Puntarenas, Costa Rica)

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