Thursday, November 15, 2012
Since leaving London, we've ...
- covered 27,100km (14,400km by train, 8,700km by boat and 4,000km by bike)
- taken 14 trains, 2 boats and 1 bike (with only 1 puncture)
- passed through 11 countries (and had our passports checked about 2700 times)
- received 2 certificates from Neptune for 'crossing the line' in the Pacific
- peaked at an altitude of 4481m
- encountered 10 languages (of which we spoke only 3)
- taken 3500 photos (of which 1700 were worth keeping)
- made 1 emergency visit to a doctor
- given a boy his first haircut in a Mongolian ger
- shown off the tandem to admiring crowds in countless Chinese villages
- danced at a floating Filipino BBQ party under the stars
Wednesday, November 14, 2012
Tuesday, November 13, 2012
Today's 13 hour train ride down the east coast to Sydney was the last leg of our trip. We passed through some picturesque rolling countryside, many tiny stations, and we were surprised at how rural it felt, even here on the relatively populous east coast.
It seems we've grown accustomed to these long journeys, as we were 7 hours in before we even looked at our watches, and before we knew it, we'd arrived.
Monday, November 12, 2012
After the shock of paying first world prices for a taxi into town, we spent an afternoon exploring Brisbane. It seems very cosmopolitan and a pleasant place to live, especially compared to many of the cities we've seen recently. The evening rush hour on the riverside walkway was an endless stream of runners, walkers and bikers.
Dinner was an unexpected reunion with Steph's aunt and uncle, who happened also to be 12,000 miles from home.
Sunday, November 11, 2012
We had a few days of sunshine onboard, but is was often much more grey, wet and windy than is normal for this part of the world. The weather for our approach to Australia was also very different from our expectations, with high winds and rough seas. By the time we could first see land, the sky was clearing, though it remained choppy enough to add a little excitement to the harbour pilot's transfer to the ship.
The entrance into port required 4 hours of manoeuvring through Brisbane harbour's narrow channels, and we watched the action unfold from the bridge. Finally the tugs were summoned, they quickly spun us around, and suddenly we were alongside.
Life onboard quickly fell into a predictable routine. There certainly wasn't a whole lot to do, but despite this, time passed quickly and we were never bored. Each day was centred around meals in the officers' mess with our 4 fellow passengers, where the steward treated us all like royalty. We filled the rest of the day with reading, sorting through the mountain of photos we've taken, using the tiny gym and taking in the views on deck. One of the highlights was spending time on the bridge, especially when Dennis, the friendly third mate, would tell us about the workings of the ship and his adventures at sea. It was all a welcome change of pace from being on the road and being constantly on the move.
From time to time, an event would break the routine. Sightings of other ships, whales or flying fish were the subject of much discussion, and close passes of tropical islands and coral reefs were hotly anticipated. The highlight of the social calendar was certainly the 'BBQ party' which took place every three weeks for the entire ship's company. After we'd eaten bratwurst in the howling winds on deck, most of the officers retired and the Filipino crew hit the cramped steel dancefloor. They were a talkative, jovial and incredibly friendly bunch, and we enjoyed their company just as much as they enjoyed having new faces onboard.
Friday, November 2, 2012
Our taxi driver couldn't understand why we wanted to go to the container port and it took plenty of convincing before he gave in and took us there. It was a vast, bustling place, and our minibus ride to the berth, between the legs of the giant gantry cranes, was a surreal one.
Once onboard, we met our friendly German captain and were shown to our room, which far exceeded our expectations and had a great view over the bow of the ship. We were amazed at how the crane drivers flung the huge containers around at a frantic pace, and we spent some time watching them zip past our window.
At 4am, the pilot finally boarded, the tugs pulled us off, and we headed out to sea.