Day 158

Trip Start Sep 14, 2006
Trip End ??? ??, 2007

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Flag of Singapore  ,
Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Not sure where to start with this one! At 10am this morning I disembarked the container ship, the Theodor Storm, and stood in a new country, a new continent and even a new hemisphere for me.

It's been a long old journey from Blighty but after 24 weeks or so I've reached Western Australia entirely overland. I'm rather satisfied with myself though the feeling has been spread over time since I realised I was going to do it after securing my boat booking. Two week-long sub-journeys stand out - the Trans-Siberian railway from Moscow to Beijing and the Singapore to Fremantle voyage on the cargo boat.

So, how was the boat trip??? a really good experience to be fair, it started quietly, I was a little bored and depressed in the first few days but once I'd met the crew properly and been up to the bridge I was having a much better time.

Also, I've just done a word count I've just written 3,500 words on this and had three beers so get a coffee/beer depending on what time it is and enjoy my week's worth of diary. I'll load pictures in chronological order and try to track the boat on the map as best I can.

19th February - Singapore and boarding.
At first the shipping agents I had called over the weekend didn't know I was sailing with the Theodore Storm which was a worry. I had to call several companies in the chain and it felt like I was chasing them to do their jobs a bit. Being anxious didn't help and I'm sure if I'd have not  phoned at all things would have gotten done in time eventually. I'd been given a time and place to meet the agent - 2pm at the Keppel Tower - an office building near the harbour. At around 12pm a call came in on the Inn Crowd Hostel (fun place great people but bed bugs arrrggghhh) reception telephone. I'd given that number as a contact number and the voice on the end of the phone told me that the time had been put back to 6pm. No bother, I thought, then at 4pm another call came to tell me it was now 10pm. Oh well, I thought, I think I've already said in this blog somewhere that you really do have to go with the flow as far as cargo boat travel is concerned. So, at 9.30pm I got in to a taxi and met the agent at the Keppel Tower. I was picked up in a van driven by a local. The agent also a local was in the van and so was a huge Russian - surname Petrov. He turned out to be one of the engineer/officers on my boat who was also boarding in Singapore.

We stopped at another office where I got a pass for the Port of Singapore. You can't even get close to the boats without that. Petrov already had his as a regular sea man. At another stop in another office Petrov got out and did some paperwork while I stayed and chatted to the driver. I was feeling excited about the whole thing, I was quite pumped up and the driver could sense it. I was talking about my trip and he told me about another couple of backpackers he'd met doing this a few months ago. Not too many people take this form of transport it seems but a trickle do.

Then, well after 10pm, we drove up close to the boat. It had already moored and was beginning to discharge its cargo. Well, really the huge cranes were doing that, one huge container at a time, this was a job that would take a while!

I met the captain who looked quite busy in the cargo office on Deck B and one of the crew showed me to my room on Deck D. The room was quite ok, better than much of the accommodation I've had during the last 24 weeks! It seems the officers on board are all Russian while the crew (cooks, engineers, janitorial etc) are from the Philippines. They told me to go up and "rest" which I took to mean "it's ok if we don't see you again until the morning".

I met an Australian guy on Deck D, he was vacating one of the rooms as he'd just done the trip in reverse. It was nice to ask him a few quick questions about the boat (like how do I procure alcohol) before he disembarked. I knew already I was to be the only passenger on board but it was nice to speak to someone who knew the ropes to ask all my daft questions to.
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