A Travellerspoint blog

Overall Trip

109/110 days at sea!

semi-overcast 72 °F
View Semester at Sea on GabrielRR's travel map.

As I left my house on the 24th of August, I had an idea of what I thought lay ahead of us. I thought that in each country we would just sort of walk around and go to some monuments and I was pretty set on staying on the ship as much as possible, and just waiting it out for 3 1/2 months. I never even thought about the cultural aspect of it or anything. Basically, all I knew about it was that I was going to miss my fall baseball season.
Once the trip started, and we went to our first port, I realized that I had a chance of survival when we went to monuments as I thought, but they turned out to actually be fun, like the Alhambra in Spain. I somehow found that interesting! I never thought that I would even come out of my cabin, and here I was, actually having a good time. I had that same feeling in South Africa, when we were climbing a mountain. I never thought that we would ever be doing anything other than listening to a guide talk, but here I was, actually doing something that I would want to do at home! Things like this continued throughout the trip. We went snorkeling in Mauritius and saw a Kung Fu performance in China.
The whole time, I was missing home just as much as I thought, but I never realized that I would be having all these positive experiences! One of the things that turned out to be the most positive parts of the journey, was that now, I will forever be able to say that I saw the final half inning of the world series in a restaurant in Cambodia! I had for days before woken up at six in the morning to watch the ESPN gameday play by play broadcast of the world series games with the other baseball starved Semester at Sea voyagers. It wasn't like actually watching it, but at that point, whatever we got, we would take.
One thing that surprised me a lot was the food on the ship. On the five day preview voyage in January, the food was amazing. On this voyage it is not. At the beginning, when we were sailing from Norfolk to Halifax, the food was like the five day voyage: Delicious. Once the college students got on, it became worse, and in the final month or two of the trip, it was disgusting. Some days, there was never anything I wanted to be inside of me. One thing I'll give that cook, he was consistent. Every meal of the day, every day of the week, every week of the 3 1/2 months there were potatoes. And every lunch and dinner, there was pasta. From the beginning of the voyage to now, potatoes have gone from being one of my favorite foods to my never wanting to see a potato again.
Then, a week or two ago, a new chef came aboard! He was actually decent! Even though we still have potatoes every meal of the day, we actually have other things too! Sometimes, they are actually edible! Sometimes, they are actually good! He even goes as far as giving us Ice Cream! I am eternally grateful to him.
All these things I never thought would happen, but sure enough they did. Although as we get close to wrapping up this trip I am ready to go home as ever, these surprises made for a trip I'll never forget.

Posted by GabrielRR 10:37 Archived in Wallis and Futuna Islands Tagged boating Comments (0)

Japan

My half port

overcast 60 °F

On November 20, 2009, our 85th day on the trip, we pulled into port in Yokohama, Japan. We got off the ship and started by going to a garden. It had little buildings in it too that had traditional Japanese architecture, meaning that it was asymmetrical. The builder went out of his way to make everything uneven. Actually, that is why the builder is famous. He’s famous ; for being one of the great masters of asymmetricallity, if that’s even a word. The best part of this garden was were the Koi fish in the huge pond in the middle of the garden. They had huge mouths, and instead of actually biting the food in the water, they would suck the water into their mouths with the food in it,. So we decided to fish for them by sticking reeds into the water. They would suck on it, and it felt so weird. One time, one fish jumped out of the water at Eli; it was insane.

Next we went to see the outside of the Yokohama Bay Stars baseball stadium. It looked like a pretty nice field, even if it didn’t compete with Camden Yards Stadium, in Baltimore, Maryland, U.S.A, North America, Western Hemisphere, Earth, Milky Way. So anyway, we threw the football for about an hour. I was on a team with my dad, and I know Eli really exaggerated on his blog and so did Cy about the score, so this is what my version of the story is: we won against them 84 to 14. Eli had one receiving touchdown and Cy had one receiving touchdown. After we annihilated them, we were done for the day.

On our second day, we went and visited a group of Buddhist temples that were all hundreds of years old. It was pretty cool, but in my opinion, we stayed out too long and visited too many. We visited like five or six. In the one that was coolest, it was built up behind a ginormous cliff. There were probably at least seven shrines there. We could hear the monks chanting in one place.

I didn’t even get off the ship in Kobe because I was sick, so Japan was pretty bland for me. The culture I did see I liked, though. I thought it was funny how polite everyone was. A huge part of their culture is manners, so table manners, politeness, respect for the elderly, cleanliness, and orderliness are all very important to them. Also, a huge part of their culture is fashion, and apparently some people think that being depressed and wearing dark clothing is fashionable; Japanese goth clothing is a huge trend. We even saw an elderly goth dressed person, even though we didn’t go into the biggest city of Tokyo. If I wasn’t sick in Kobe, Japan might have been one of my top five countries, but you will see in the list where it stands now:


  1. 1 Mauritius 9.4

  2. 2 South Africa 8.8

  3. 3 China 8.65000000127190976589

  4. 4Vietnam/Cambodia 8.65


#5 Spain 8.3

  1. 6 India 8.1

  2. 7 Ghana 7.7

  3. 8 Canada 6.8

  4. 9 Japan 5.2307

  5. 9 Morocco 3.662

Posted by GabrielRR 19:05 Archived in Japan Comments (0)

China

According to my teacher, I learned about this in second grade. I don't ever remember learning about this.

snow 25 °F

China was one of my favorite countries. It is the most populated country on earth, and has a history dating back over five thousand years. It was ruled by over twenty different dynasties, and was for a long time the most powerful country on earth. They still consider themselves the most powerful country on earth.
We arrived in Hong Kong, China on November 11th, 2009. We got off the ship, and took a tram to at the top of a mountain. We all thought it would be just be a ten minute hike, but it turned out to be forty minutes to an hour. The hike had great views of the city, though, and the third tallest building on earth. Next, we went to a sort of botanical garden/zoo. When there we saw the craziest monkeys I had ever seen. What they would do, is that they would blow up their neck like a bullfrog, and let out this really low noise, and then do a high pitched noise. Sometimes, one monkey would do the low noise and the other would do the high one. Then, they would start doing it faster and faster until one of them screamed as loud as it could it was crazy. After the Zoo, we left and went to the third tallest building on earth! Looking up at that sky scraper made me feel like my head was going to break off because I had to crane my neck so much. We went up to the fifty-fourth floor, which is the highest you can go without actually working there. There are really 84 floors. When you were up there, you could feel the building swaying which was really scary for me.
Our second day, we jumped on a plane and flew to Beijing. When we arrived there, we went with a group to somebody’s house. They had signed up to teach us to make dumplings. I was pretty good at it. All you really have to do is shape some dough around some stuff that you put in it, in our case rice. Eli and Cy were okay too. One person in our group named Pedro made a flat dumpling after insulting the girls and saying that the kitchen was only for them. It was hilarious.
In our third day, we went to Tiananmen Square first, where the college students that were protesting were shot down. Our guide couldn’t talk about it while we were there because it was the same communist government that they have now that performed the shootings, but while we were on the bus, he told us that he was almost shot down too while he was hiding behind a bush. Our next place was the Forbidden City, where the emperors of China used to stay. They were never allowed out of the city as long as they lived. It was awesome to think that if we had been there just over a hundred years ago, we would not be allowed in, and the last emperor would still be there. The rest of the day, we went to a school where the children of migrants went and to an acrobatics show. In the school, we played ping-pong, hacky-sack and basketball with them. It was great. In the acrobatics show, at one point someone was walking on the outside of this hamster wheel like thing that was moving up and down while turning while the wheel was turning while he was blindfolded. It as if he was committing suicide. He almost fell off twice, too.
We began our fourth day by waking up to kung fu! We watched as people did triple back flips, broke wood planks on their heads, twisted thick metal bars around and off their necks, put out flaming torches in their mouths, and had really thick wood bars snapped on their arms backs and legs. One time, one guy lay down on two huge blades with a bed of nails on top of him with someone lying on the bed of nails with someone standing on top of him. It was crazy. Our next stop was the great wall. Once I got on it, I couldn’t believe I was on it. It was crazy. The wall stretched so long and far, it was amazing. We hiked on it for one or two hours, looking off the edge at what used to be Mongolia all the way until we saw a sign that said: “danger no entry” that everyone was ignoring. We pondered it for a while and decided to go on. I guess I am alive, so it’s all okay. We headed down and went back to the bus. The next day, we visited a temple and flew back to ShangHai, where the ship had sailed to while we were gone.
Our last day in China, we went to a museum, where we saw sculptures that got to two thousand years old, and bronze work that dated back to four thousand years old.
Overall, China has one of the deepest, most incredible cultures on earth. The only thing I didn’t like was how they would freely spit on the ground or wherever. That was disgusting. But probably, there are a lot of things that they think are disgusting about us that we think is normal like spitting on the sidewalk for them. Of course if there are over a billion people in china, maybe it’s their culture that’s right.
Here are my ranked countries so far.


  1. 1 Mauritius 9.5

  2. 2 South Africa 8.7

  3. 3 China 8.65000000127190976587

  4. 4Vietnam/Cambodia 8.65


#5 Spain 8.2

  1. 6 India 8.1

  2. 7 Ghana 7.7

  3. 8 Canada 6.8

  4. 9 Morocco 3.662

Posted by GabrielRR 14:59 Archived in China Tagged travelling_with_pets Comments (0)

VIETNAM AND CAMBODIA

I'll give you a dong to read this(170th of a cent)

sunny 95 °F

On Tuesday November 3rd, we pulled in to port in Ho Chi Minh City, (formerly Saigon) Vietnam. This port was interesting, because the only thing that most people know about Vietnam was our war. We had our impressions completely changed after we left. On our first day in Vietnam, and got on a city tour on the bus. Our guide sort of seemed like he only was telling us the good things about Ho Chi Minh City. He said nothing about the corrupt government or the diseases that were common in Vietnam. We went around the city and visited a few museums including one museum that had a traditional “water puppet” show. It has people swimming around under water holding up puppets above the water. They decided to only splash exactly where Eli, Danny, and I were sitting. We got drenched. That was my favorite part of the day. We got back on the ship at 6 o’ clock, and went to bed early to wake up at 4:30.
So, like I said, we woke up at 4:30, and went to breakfast. We got on a plane for Cambodia where again none of us had heard anything about the country except the war. The reason we were there was to see thousand year old temples from the ancient civilization. The first one we went to was called Ta Prohm. It was the only one of some three hundred temples that the French left all of the vegetation on. This hindu and Bhuddist temple had huge trees growing on top of it with the roots going down the walls. It was so cool. I have never seen anything like that. We went to other temples that old, but none of them were that cool. Later that day, we went to the most famous one, Angkor Wat; it was huge. It was so big that we couldn’t even go through the whole thing. One reason it is also famous is because it was used as a militiary base in the Vietnam War. There were French A-K47 bullets all over the pillars of the temple. We went through that for a long time and went back to the hotel. The next day, we went around to about a bazillion different temples, and here they are: Angkor Wat, Ankgkor Thom, Bayon, Baphuon, Preah Khan, Neak Pean, Ta Som, East Mebon, and Pre Rup. It was very tiring to go to all those temples in one day, but it was awesome. Every single one was at least 850 years old. We left at 8:45 am, and went back at 9:00pm, so it was a tiring day. The last day, we went to see a floating village. We got on a sort of motorboat and went down the canal, where there were little boats that had been parked and stayed there. It was a little village on boats. There was a floating grocery store and even a floating catholic church. Apparently, if you don’t like your neighbors, you just float away. Instead of cars, they use canoes. It was amazing. We then went to the airport and flew back to Vietnam. In our final day in port, we stayed in Ho Chi Minh City, visiting a pagoda first. We then went shopping in the most humid air I had ever felt. We all wanted to leave the whole time. After we went to a great resturaunt for lunch, we got back on the ship, and our time in port was over.
I thought the Vietnamese language and history was cool. It had all these tones in it that made the meaning of the word change. Pretty much, the only problem I saw was the government. I wouldn’t want to live in a country like Vietnam without freedom of speech. But that, like I said was the only problem, even if it is huge.
My top countries.
Mauritius----- 9.5
South Africa---8.7
Vietnam/Cambodia-------8.65
Spain----------------8.2
India---------------8.1
Ghana-------7.7
Canada-----6.8
Morocco---3.662

Posted by GabrielRR 00:24 Archived in Vietnam Tagged boating Comments (0)

India

sunny 95 °F

India was a very mixed experience, but I think that all in all, I liked it. It was a mix of extreme sadness and extreme awesomeness. The poverty was overwhelming at times but some of the amazing structures were better than any that I’ve ever seen.

On the first day in India, we pulled into the port and went right out with our teacher, Ms. Dewald to Skype Eli’s family and go to the mall. Skyping went pretty well except we couldn’t see them because the internet was so slow. At least we could hear them and they could hear us and see us. The mall was cool. It was like a mall with the different floors and all the little shops, except most of them didn’t have fixed prices and you had to bargain. It was like a normal Indian market except they were selling electronics and other modern stuff. It was a strange experience, but a fun one. Then, we tried getting back, which was when stuff really started to happen. We hailed not a cab, but an auto rickshaw, which is what they usually use in India for quick travel. It is a tiny little car with three wheels, three tiny seats in the back, and no doors. It felt like it was a go-cart. What we did was that we put Eli on the right side where there was no door, Cyrus on Ms. Dewald’s lap in the middle, and me on the left side where was no door either. So we got into this guy’s rickshaw, and sped off down the highway, darting around other vehicles, driving in the wrong lane, and after a while, we realized that our driver: A. Could not speak any English, B. Did not know where the port was, C. did not know what a port was, D. did not know where the port was when the word port was translated into his language by some random guy that we met and E. could not read a map. Great. So we were just zipping along the highway with a driver that we could not communicate with that did not know where he was going and was such a bad driver that I had to close my eyes, it was so scary. We had to try to direct him to the port even though we had only been in India one day. Finally, we just stopped, got out paid him the cost, and ended up having to pay him 50 rupees more than we owed him so that he would stop blowing up at us. So finally, after a 20 minute walk back to the ship, we got back two hours late having worried our parents sick. All in all it was an exciting day!

On our second day, we woke up at 3:30, got on a bus, got on a plane, and flew to Old Delhi. We went and saw t
he red fort which basically a huge red fort. We went in and looked around the place for about 2 hours, and after we had an amazing Indian lunch, we went to the train station where we had a train ride that was supposed to be at 5:45 that was delayed two hours and that was supposed to take three hours and 55 minutes took over five hours. I know the other two boys completely exaggerated about this, so this is what really happened. Apparently while on the train, while I was asleep, I yelled out in my apparent anger about my lack of sleep, because we ended up getting a total of about nine hours of sleep in two days. So when we finally got back at one in the morning, they had dinner out for us. So we ended up eating two dinners that day, at the very beginning and end of the day.
On our third day in India, we woke up at five twenty in the morning, (AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!) and went to the Taj Mahal. It felt like we were in a postcard, actually seeing it in front of us. It was awesome. The structure was so big and so perfect, it was amazing. We stayed there for a few hours touring it, outside and in. After a while, we finally got tired of it, and we went back to have breakfast. Next, we went to a place that a king built a city out of joy of having his first son out of 15 kids. It was abandoned after 15 years because of the lack of water. We saw what looked like swastikas everywhere, but we found out that before it was the sign of the Nazis, it was a Hindu sign. We also saw Jewish stars everywhere and we found that that was a Hindu sign as well.

So then, we went to lunch and then a market until sunset when we would go back to the Taj Mahal. We stayed there for about an hour, and went to the train station. At the train station, it was very sad. There were so many children begging, about half had deformities, like a missing leg or legs on the wrong places or missing toes, and they were scooting around on the ground touching you and asking for money. The ones that didn’t have problems would follow you everywhere, tugging on your arm, telling you they had no family. There were probably more beggars than people waiting for the train. It was a very uncomfortable situation and a very sad one as well. Finally, we got on the train back to Delhi. It was an express train this time, so we were only ½ hour late. We arrived in the fanciest hotel ever. In fact, it was a 7 star hotel. I thought there could only be 5 stars. Apparently it was one of only four 7 star hotels in the world.

So after our phone rang at 7:15, 7:20, 7:40, and somebody knocked on our door at 7:59, we finally got up to an amazing breakfast. After eating, I realized that the last game of the ALCS was on. I refused to leave the hotel for our tour until the Angels player struck out and the Yankees got in. So, after we boarded the bus 5 minutes late, we went on a tour of New Delhi. We then, had lunch at a place called paradise. It was great. The food in India is actually not as different from Indian food in America as I thought it would be. Next, we got on a flight back to Chennai, and our Taj Mahal trip was over.

On our last day in port, we went to a Hindu temple, and the mall. The temple was awesome. There was a huge tower thing that stuck straight up that was covered with hundreds of god statues. It was amazing how much time it must have taken to build each intricate god and they were the most colorful things I have ever seen. There were all these shrines inside where the Hindu people would stop to pray. I guess they choose a god to pray to every day. After my mom bought a ton of stuff at the mall, we left India and headed for Vietnam.

I thought the Indian culture was really cool with all of those religions, languages, and people; it made for an interesting atmosphere. I think the only things I didn’t like about India was its pollution and it’s poverty, but both of those are getting better.

Posted by GabrielRR 23:20 Archived in India Comments (1)

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