Man overboard (almost)!!
Trip Start Jul 26, 2006
109Trip End Apr 01, 2008
Map your own trip!
Show trip route
I've already gotten quite a few "Huh?"s and "WTF?!?"s from people regarding this whole freighter "cruise," and given the relative expense and inconvenience of the affair, some skepticism is probably in order
I am however native to a peninsula (aka Florida), the great-grandson of a lifelong seaman, and evolutionarily descended from an extensive line of ocean critters; I have thus managed to acquire/retain not only decent swimming capabilities but also a deep fascination and connection with the sea. Prior to this trip, the most amount of time I'd spent out on the water was a few days on some short live-aboard trips in Thailand and Australia. Recently however, things had been seeming a little more serious and I felt that the time was right to take the relationship to the next level.
Like magic, along comes the "MV Kota Pertama," a 200 meter, 24,000 horsepower container ship making its way from Singapore, up the Malacca Strait past Malaysia, then right across the Indian Ocean for Colombo, Sri Lanka and Mumbai, India. Legally these container ships are allowed to bring along a few passengers, though they rarely do, and given all the logistical hurdles it's not hard to see why. For one thing, there are only a handful of travel agents in the world who can organize such a journey, and they may or may not be able to find something heading along the route that you're interested in
And stare I did. For seven days and nights I rocked to the rhythm of the ocean, watching it change colors and demeanor like moods, communed with the wind, and tracked the movements of the sun, the moon, and the night sky like close friends. Sitting perched atop the ship's bow for long stretches, I watched countless flying fish glide across our path, and laughed like an excited child as entire pods of dolphins played chase with the ship-streaking ahead of us like little blue torpedoes. When I wasn't busy being enraptured, I read, wrote, and slept my fill, studied Hindi, and even watched a few movies. I also chatted a bit with Loyal, the other passenger, though he was only along for the Singapore-->Colombo leg
Loyal got off the boat in Colombo, and I nearly had to join him. When I went ashore to check in with the Fulbright office in New Delhi, I learned to my horror that the Indian High Commission in Kuala Lumpur had issued me the wrong visa. For a minute it seemed like I'd have to abandon ship there in Colombo and try to get the visa situation fixed, but after a few hours of frantic phone calls it was decided that I should continue on to India and just deal with it once I arrived in Delhi. The visa fun continues...
As we arrived at port in Mumbai, I felt reluctant to leave the ship. Not only was I leaving behind the purest air I'd breathed in months, and the most tranquil nights I'd probably enjoyed in years, I was stepping back into one of the world's most densely populated nations, and one of its more polluted cities. Needless to say, I doubt that this will be my last time out on the water...
For any other brave (or foolhardy!) souls who have a little extra time and money on their hands and are interested in giving this mode of travel a try, read this.