With the first two weeks under my belt, things settle into place onboard. Still meeting new people and learning new things. All goes well except that I am starting to peel from too much sun in Thailand. Quality problems, eh? Looking forward to that golden brown aftereffect. Southeast Asia so far is delightful. The biggest thing of note must be monsoon season. Around 3-4pm the heavens open and drench everything to the bone. All of the streets have deep rain gutters to handle such a downpour that you have to watch for lest you slip into a dirty trench. One port, while returning to the ship on one of our smaller tender boats you watch the port literally disappear behind a curtain of rain so thick the curtain is unpenetrable to the eye. Just imagine the hardest rainfall you’ve ever experienced and double it. Also, unlike most hard rains that last a few harsh minutes, the monsoon rains go on and on once they start. My last ship I grew to miss rain. On this ship, the opposite may hold true.
Until today, I had no real appreciation for the word Monsoon, as in monsoon season. Now I know. Now I know rain. Rain beyond any previously imagined rain. And people live here? Much hot. Much sweat. Much heat. Awesome time. Did have the best plate of noodles in my life. Looking forward to visiting Penang seven more times as it is my kind of place. Much fun. Looking through my pictures of the day to find a map of China made out of sweat on my belly from a picture a friendly Asian man took of me after I offered to take a picture of his family seeing they were having trouble balancing their camera for a group shot. Good times. On to Phuket. Got to love that name as an English speaker. Right up there with Bangkok.
Few places can you see the saying; “Familiarity breeds contempt” more clearly than on ships. As we slowly roll into Penang in Malaysia I comment to a fellow seaman how impressive a sight the city skyline is to receive a mild grown and a subtle eye roll. I am excited for today the stars align and the ship docks during the Indonesian Cultural Festival right in downtown, right next to the dock. Yes, I know Indonesia is a different country than Malaysia yet there exists a vibrant mixture of cultures on the peninsula. No different than a Mexican Cultural Festival in Manchester, New Hampshire. Although to be fair, festival in that case is a bit strong as under a hundred people showed up. The gangway docks in twenty minutes, all ashore!
First time off ship yesterday and I keep finding myself thinking; “I’m in Thailand.” What a world, what a place. From the glowing golden temples to the spider web of power cables linking place to place. My body is confused at going from quite cold to powerfully hot and humid. A quick meander through town ended with yet another bucket list check off. You guessed it, having the dead skin nibbled off my feet by swarms of little fish. So very cool, my feet are smoother then a babies bottom. You know that feeling of pins and needles when say your foot falls asleep and the blood starts to flow back in? Yeah, that’s what it feels like.
First day onboard and hope runs high.
Ah, the little things. The first thing I notice, the speed camera signs. Non-Americans have remarked that in The States you see flags everywhere. So very true as this does not occur elsewhere. Sure, a government building or an international focused hotel will fly flags yet not your average business or citizen. Back to the cameras, despite a few noble efforts to fight back from states like Virginia and New Hampshire most everywhere warns the citizenry that the camera watches, ever ready to punish. More to point, in Hong Kong the speed camera logo is an old time camera the likes of which shown in old, really old, black and white movies. You know, the large wooden box camera with a full tripod where the camera man throws a large cloth over themselves before the flash bulb explodes.
I came across a quote from a Brian Cox; “The problem with today’s world is that everyone believes they have the right to express their opinion and have others listen to it. The correct statement of individual rights is that everyone has the right to an opinion, but crucially, that opinion can be roundly ignored and even made fun of, particularly if it is demonstrably nonsense.” I like the flavor, yet have comments. First, defining a limitation of having others listen to it. It’s worse than that. People want to express their opinion and have others respect it, not just listen. Next, this slope leads to dark places. I’ve often stated, to little avail, that there is no right to be liked. People want there to be a right to be liked, accepted and respected yet miss two painful points that carve this dark slope. All rights carry behind them violence or they are not rights. Saying I can do something yet being restrained from acting on that desire to do is nothing and vice versa. Also, communities are defined by the requirements they place on their members. When you limit requirements, you limit not just free association as the corner stone of property rights if not all aspects of freedom. Humans are social animals and without a defined social group we languish in misery. Take away humans freedom to define themselves fails to create anything more than a mountain of misery.
I don’t know about you, yet I feel an insidiousness corrupting the fiber of football. One aspect I truly enjoy regarding sports is their bastion as a last remaining activity of merit based performance. One team wins and another accepts loss. There is a detailed rule book and agreed upon judges and in the end a winner and loser. During tonight’s game, the big evening game shows a commercial of a NFL player waking up and upon realizing it is snowing shows excitement over a snow day. What kid didn’t love a snow day? There is something truly exhilarating about playing in snow. The extra cold allows for extra exertion and the extra cushion on the ground allows for harder falls with the extra pleasure of sliding. As the players and other professional athletes gather their shared pleasure grows along with various acts of athleticism. A good commercial creating an emotional desire and offering a solution. And then women show up to join the players and other men of the neighborhood. Okay. Then the quiet softly hidden message seeps into the media message. The two sides of “neighborhood kids” have formed teams and the two captains square off and ask if they are to play tag or tackle football. They agree to play tackle. Of course, a woman starts the game by kicking off. Now, what man in his right mind would subject a women he has any respect or care for to the violence of tackle football against NFL superstars? It is nothing short of brutal barbarianism for what? More sales of pink jerseys? A subjection of women to blind violence so they get an ego boost? At its core, this idea shows a deep sickness of American culture. The idea that violence towards women is acceptable if not desirable if the end result is commercial success or the creation of a desirable emotion.
Need to get back on ship. How do I know? I’ve started writing the date as month than day rather that day month. Personally, as an IT guy who uses file sorting all the time I name my files by year month day so a sort by name works properly as Microsoft sorts by date strangely and their library indexing leaves much to be desired.
Lots of differences both great and small. The one most startling, getting back into the use of days and dates. Ah, today is a Saturday. That means no regularly scheduled rush hour and businesses have different hours and schools are closed. Can’t say I like it much. On ship, there is always something to do. Always someone hanging out or a show or a port or some generally not needed excuse to splurge for a special dinner or just the occasional quiet night to listen to music or read. Regardless of what you want, there are always numerous options. While I realize that on land presents many more options, those options carry a lot more logistics and considerations.