October 02, 2007


Things I Have Seen Tied to a Motorbike in Vietnam
Another motor bike
A little old lady
A basket full of live chickens
An office chair
A wooden chair
About a thousand bananas
The recycling man (well, his recyclables)
A family of four
Gardening tools
Grilled corn
A beauty queen
Four hundred SAS students (and only a 2% accident rate)
and about a million other things

Vietnam was unforgettable, and I can't wait to get back to see more of Saigon/HCMC and much more of the country. I definitely want to get to Cambodia, too. Big plans. This definitely feels like the start of the trip, officially.. Eye opening and fascinating and so new.

A little bit of ship life updates. Ahh where to begin.

So I work nine hours a day (eight when we're sailing), unless it's really hectic (the downside of ACTUALLY living at the office). Day shifts are split, so you work a 8am-noon/3pm-8 or noon-5/8-midnight. Right now I'm on the second shift, which is great when we're in port because I wake up at the crack of dawn to see as much as I can. But when we're sailing it sucks because I sleep like a bum until 11:50 and feel useless all the time. I love working the other shift because I get things done, get time to sit in the sun on deck 8, work out, read, and still get to bed at a totally reasonable hour.

So yes, I have a lot of me time here on the MV Explorer. Everyone has told me that other ships put more effort into crew activities and social life, but since it's such a small crew and the entire operation is not for profit, those things kind of take a back seat. The few crew parties we've had have been really fun, tons of dancing and hilarious life stories. The people in my office are great, too.

The job itself is good - busy, high pressure, which makes me feel like I'm getting some good hands on experience that will benefit me in the future. But it is really hard at times to separate myself from the passengers and be really professional about things – it’s hard to turn down offers to meet kids for dinner, or to be sneaky about going out with the student life team, and to generally just talk with kids while I’m helping them. A lot of kids just don’t really get the idea that even small talk is frowned upon, and it’s hard for me not to sit and have a conversation with a kid who, oh you know, is Emilia’s friend from school (Min I LOVE) or help him figure out what’s going on with his friend when the Deans won’t tell him if she’s ok. So I guess it’s just hard keeping distance from, well, peers.

My bosses kind of realize this, and sympathize, I think, but it’s still not allowed and that is one of the reasons that I turned down the offer to stay on with them for a few more voyages (even though they would have taken me all of Europe, and South America, and Africa, and back to Asia ahh). I know that this trip is for me to see the world and to just take in as much as I can, but any travel I do in the future (for work or otherwise) I will need to do with much more free time and with friends or family. But I am LOVING this job and trip regardless. And even though I wish some of you guys were here with me, I think there's something unique about doing this kind of thing alone. I'm taking it all in and able to just go for the day without plans and just experience things as they happen. So far it’s been great.

Thailand is next, but we'll be about 2 hours south of Bangkok so unless Anna and I do some very serious schedule covering, I doubt I'll be able to get up there. So far the only plans I have are a spa day, because 120 days of work without a single day off means I can totally be a brat and get a $10 two hour massage, and a night in Pattaya to go to this Muay Thai fight.

Seven stops down, six to go.


Anonymous said...


I don't know where to start. I can see you on a motorbike, smiling bright, slightly scared, but enjoying it nonetheless. It's exciting to think my sister is half way around the world, or more, experiencing other worlds and cultures.
These are experiences you will take with you through life, as our Zaida said, and allow you to have other perspectives on life outside of the U.S.

Enjoy every moment and I can't wait to see photos!!!
All my love

Barb sends her love too

Anonymous said...

Hey Melissy

The one thing you forgot to include on your list of things you have seen on those motor bikes: YOU!!!

Love that you are loving this!

Anonymous said...

omg, i can't believe this is all happening to you. just enjoy it. you should do another trip. just think what you would get out of it even if the mixing is frowned upon. i am going to see lena tomorrow and i am going to have her read your blogs. so amazing. i can't wait to meet her at a port when she goes. if you have a chance, see what the essays were for these kids to get in.

Anonymous said...

Dear Missy,
I am in awe of you!!! What an incredible experience this has all been-and you are definitely taking full advantage of everything. Can't wait to see you. Be safe.
Love, Bev