29 November 2008


I bought a large Pelican case (model 1654) primarily for my camera gear and other breakables. It's quite impressive in its construction. Does anyone have any experience with this or similar cases?

I'll be experimenting with some different packing configurations, so any suggestions or recommendations are most welcome.

The case was fairly expensive but I decided to buy it since I want to make sure my camera gear (a lot more expensive!) is well protected. I'm going with over-engineered stuff as much as possible since I'll be traveling for about four months. Given the total cost of the trip I'd hate to have something fail for lack of a few dollars.

Major Tasks Out Of The Way

This has been a productive week. I took care of my Vietnam visa on Thursday and picked it up Friday. Much easier than the China visa; just one guy taking applications and collecting the fees, making change from a big roll of bills in his pocket.

That was the last document I needed, so today I'll send the visa along with scans of some other documents to the shipping agent to complete my booking process. After that I just need to pack, organize my apartment and get ready for my departure next month.

24 November 2008

China Visa and Insurance - Done

I picked up my passport from the PRC embassy this morning. I have a double-entry visa for China. Later this week I'll take care of the Vietnam visa and then that's the last one.

I also purchased my travel insurance package today and was able to take advantage of a 15% discount. I should probably be keeping better track of all these lesser expenses as they are adding up. I mentioned earlier about the fee for the PRC visa of SGD 225 ($190 for the application + $35 for the rush service). The travel insurance will run about SGD 600 and I still need the Vietnam visa.

21 November 2008

Visas, Vaccines and Schedule Changes

It's been a while since my last update. I spent a few days in Taipei visiting with some old friends and playing tourist. It was a lot of fun; Taipei has really improved since my last visit about nine years ago and it was a great time seeing some old friends, visiting the sites and eating some wonderful food.

As for my trip, my preparations continue. This morning I applied for my PRC visa; I'll pick up my passport on Monday.

As an aside, the rates they charge for Americans at the embassy here in Singapore are scandalous. For the double-entry visa, Singaporeans pay SGD 35; other countries pay SGD 75, and Americans get to pay SGD 190!

I'm required to get a yellow fever vaccine for this trip. I arranged to get a shot here in Singapore back on the 3rd. I probably should have paid more attention to the side effects.

For those of you who might have to get a yellow fever vaccine you should realize that there is a fairly good possibility of feeling very bad about one week after the shot. I was in quite a bit of pain; it was as if I could feel every minor, nagging injury from my misspent youth. I suppose it's a preview of old age, and if that's the case I'm not looking forward to it.

Finally, I received an updated departure date for Singapore. It now looks like I'll be shipping out about three days later than the original schedule. I'm not sure how that impacts the rest of the timeline, but for now I'm assuming all the dates listed below are now pushed out an equivalent amount. For those of you playing at home, adjust your calendars accordingly.

Enough for the moment. I'll do my best to answer some of the more specific questions over the weekend. Thanks to everyone who wrote; it's really great to hear from so many old friends.



08 November 2008

Some Preparation Details

Travel on a freighter is a bit different from travel on a cruise ship. On the one hand, my accommodations should be quite a bit larger than what you'd find on the average cruise ship; I'll try to post some updates from the company in the coming days.

One reason I selected this particular itinerary was because it would allow me a few days in most of the ports. Most large container ships these days spend less than 24 hours in port. The other year I was fortunate to get a tour of the Port of Singapore and it's really amazing to see how fast the ships are unloaded and reloaded; time is money.

For those longer stretches across the Pacific and the Atlantic I'm looking forward to spending some quiet days without email or a cell phone. If I get bored looking at the waves I'll be bringing some mind-improving books along to read.

Freighters are limited to no more than 12 passengers. This is due to maritime regulations; once there are more than 12 passengers then there are additional requirements like the need to have a doctor on board.

Part of my preparations was getting a doctor to sign off on a medical certificate promising that I was in reasonably good health. I also had to get a yellow fever vaccination and naturally I need some decent travel insurance.

Right now I'm almost done; I need to apply for the China and Vietnam visas and I'll take care of that later this month. I have to be within 30 days of sailing to buy the travel insurance, but that's a simple process.

I'll be buying a hard-sided Pelican case for my camera gear and some cold-weather gear to keep me warm and dry. If anyone has any suggestions or recommendations on things I should take, please let me know.

06 November 2008

A Few Answers

Wow! Great to hear from so many old friends. Thank you all for your response to my email. I'm looking forward to hearing from you during my trip and I promise to make regular postings.

One reason I set up this blog was to minimize a lot of duplicate email answers to common questions. Here are a few:

Working on the freighter: this is explicitly prohibited. I will be a passenger with my own cabin and my main concern will be meal times. I'll post some information on the ship in the near future.

Pirates: Thanks, yes, I'll watch out for them.

Reasons for doing this: There are several, but I suppose the most compelling was an opportunity to take a break from work and do something a little different and exciting. I've also had an interest in ocean navigation since reading the Patrick O'Brian stories; not quite wooden ships and a star to steer by, but still fascinating.

I also like the idea of experiencing travel as more of a journey. Not to sound too jaded, but international airports start to look alike after a while. There is a schedule, but the accuracy is measured more in days and weeks instead of hours and minutes.

Questions from schoolkids: Sure, I'd be happy to answer them, and feel free to use the blog and any updates in your classrooms.

Thanks again for your emails and support. I hope I can be a worthy correspondent.

05 November 2008

The Itinerary

Here is the current itinerary for my trip. Please note that this is subject to change, so the dates of arrival and departure might vary. I will update this list as more information becomes available.







Laem Chabang, Thailand



Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam



Shanghai, China



Dalian, China



Xingang, China



Shanghai, China



Masan, South Korea



Kobe, Japan



Yokohama, Japan



San Diego, CA



Houston, TX



New Orleans, LA



Philadelphia, PA



Antwerp, Belgium



Hamburg, Germany



Genoa, Italy



Suez, Egypt



Jebel Ali, UAE





More to follow...

04 November 2008

My Upcoming Trip

As some of you already know I am going to be taking an extended trip around the world by freighter. I realized that trying to keep everyone updated by email was going to be impossible, so I've set up this simple blog as a central clearinghouse on all things trip related.

I'll be updating everyone on my preparations, the sailing schedule, etc, in the next few weeks. Once I'm underway I'll plan to provide regular dispatches as time and circumstances permit.

If you have any questions, please let me know and I'll do my best to answer them.

All for the moment. More to come...