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Travel Diaries – Blogs, tips, clips n Slips

From the Saddle or Travel – the reality!  by  Capt’n Cork n Cruisin’ Cate

25 May 2009  Ahoy! Nay a pirate in sight

Almost anti-climactic. Especially after we had pirate attack drill. That was heralded by 5 hoots and a command to return to your cabin, draw the curtain and hide under the bed. No hero medals likely from that quarter..

The crew rigged up fire hoses as water cannons and (for sure) there are/were swat squads at the ready. There’s no way the ‘swats’ we not disguised as passengers — most of this mob are decrepit, shaking with Parkinson’s, poor of eyesight and amnesic — hardly a Bruce Willis amongst us.

Since my last ‘call from the bridge’, we have been to the Maldives — no palpable sense of rising waters here!! No one wearing platform shoes, flippers or floaties. The new President has placated his fellow ‘Mals’ by promising them the purchase of, otherwise unoccupied lands, i.e. Nth west Oz and move them over—now there’s a potential ‘boat people’ dilemma for an incumbent government.

The place is 100% Sunni Moslem. At noon, the world’s most nasal imam calls for prayers and ‘clunk bang’ is the sound of the retail strip locking-up –”Closed for Prayers” signage on every door (all except for souvenir shops—special Allah exemption). 10 mins later, all done and back to normal. “Whullo—you come in my shop!!”–Ahmed spotted me alright—he was a ship chandler. Pity, I didn’t need an anchor, they were on special. The fish markets were bizarre—I saw a bloke dragging, (by the tails), to the market 2 superb 30+kg Yellow Fin Tuna, their noses scraping on the road — such fish in Sydney would deserve at least a stretched limo, each.

One of my shipboard pals, scuba dived at a remote site. He’s still got half a bar on —he’s that excited— Manta rays, reef shark, Moray eels, the lot.

Next port on our westward passage was The Seychelles—an archipelago that boasts being close to nowhere. It was truly “Terra Nullius” till 1770 when a ‘Frog’ plus 26 mates and one woman settled there. I don’t think the woman did too much settling.

By 1814 the population was 3500 (I trust the Pope was impressed!). Because Napoleon came 2nd to England, the Seychelles were handed over to English ownership. Fortunately, they didn’t change the name to Clapham or  Clump. In fact they hardly did anything and you wouldn’t know except the cars are right hand drive. The community displays a potpourri of global races (excepting Eskimos) and they all seem happily co-existing.

I had a magic moment— I happened upon a model boat craftsman (looked remarkably like Jacques Cousteau) and a real artisan. He noticed my drooling and behold, he showed me stunning photos of his best work— a scale model of Admiral Zheng Hu’s mother ship (refer  “1421 — The Year China Discovered the World”–Gavin Menzies). . It’s a bloody miracle that he had illustrations, plans and text — sufficient to craft this masterpiece. Chairman Mao, in his history purge, ordered the destruction of all of this information. Lost to the world forever.

The President of The Seychelles (now a republic) gifted this model to the President of China and he wept in gratitude. He like my scuba pal, is probably still half barred up.
The Seychelles is a must visit (during one of those years when nothing else is on). It is spectacular, clean, friendly and easy to do. A fish-love palate is needed. We are by-passing Madagascar for security reasons—these rebel bastards do reek economic havoc—this ship would provide serious big revenue apart from it’s port docking fees. The fuel consumption is 1 liter/ 0.75m, —we topped up in the Seychelles at the local bowser, the bill was US$147,000. I’m expecting a whip-around, lest we start hoisting sails.  Alternatively, they could hook up to all those gym cycles—which is where I’m heading now!!

Cheers and beers

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