Bangkok: Market Day

I’m always amazed any time I visit a foreign market. They’re just so interesting compared to shopping at home. You never know what you’ll come across. The variety of products on offer is incredible. Not to mention the whole experience of all the different sights, smells, and sounds. 

Bright red and gold decorations for luck and prosperity hang from overhead. Colorful orange, purple, red and green fruits with weird spikes, scales or bumps overflow into the passageways wafting their exotic sensuous scents into the air. Frangipani incense competes with the smoke of numerous bar-b-que grills cooking up fresh caught prawns or satay on a stick. Occasional motorbikes putter through the lanes, beeping along to clear the way. Blind karaoke singers toting their tape decks tap their way along, hoping for tips of appreciation from the crowds passing through. 

I always go to check out the nearby markets when I’m traveling. Last time I was in Bangkok, I went to Pratunam (mostly clothes) and Chatuchak (humongous ‘flea market’). Since I was staying in Chinatown this trip, I only had to cross the street to find myself wandering through winding lanes packed with stalls selling everything from teacups to electronics, wedding supplies, shoes, toys, hair and makeup supplies, Christmas decorations, jewelry, coffee, tea and snacks. 

Then there was the food. 

I have no idea what most of these edible items actually were. The vendors were happy to offer samples, but I wasn’t feeling brave enough to try many of their wares. It seems strange to me that they always have so many more varieties of things to eat than we do. I’ve never seen so many different kinds of fruits or vegetables in a store in the US. 

Maybe I’m being paranoid, a germaphobic American,  but I always wonder how they can sell their meats and seafood out in the open like they do all day. They don’t get sick, or at least I don’t think they have any more digestive issues than we do with all our sterile, plastic packed, refrigerated grocery meat departments. 

I suppose if I ever get around to moving out of the States like I keep trying to find a way to do, I’ll get used to the idea. I’ll probably even work up the nerve to try some of those more unusual things I’ve wrinkled up my nose at. Here’s to hoping that day comes soon! 🙂

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Arrival in Istanbul

Yes!!!

I’m finally out of the house and off on another adventure! I’ve spent the last couple of days on the road and have now settled in a bit in Istanbul (Turkey).

After a long flight (almost 13 hours) , and a loooong line at immigration, my driver was waiting outside the baggage claim to take me to the hotel. I chose the Osmanhan Hotel. It looked comfortable and convenient from the website. Also, not a chain, which is nice.

After 2 days with no sleep, I was too tired to do anything but hit the sack. The bed was very comfortable (pillow top mattress and down comforter). Sweet. 🙂

More later…

Met the Buzcador in Berwick

Sorry to have been out of touch for so long. I got a last minute job offer, and tho it was not what I was hoping for I was happy to get it.

I didn’t have much time to get ready, so I left the house with a lot of stuff unfinished. I meant to leave the house about 6 am, but with all the last minute stuff, and then phone calls all morning, I didn’t get on the road til around 10.

It was probably for the best. That allowed me to miss all the traffic in Houston and all along the way. It took me about 6 hours to drive from my house in Lake Jackson to where the boat was, in Berwick LA.

I had to meet a lady when I got close, to get passport photos taken for my Panama seaman’s book application. That took about an hour. I got to the boat about 5, already pretty tired.

The Buzcador was tied up next to a deck barge at Basin Fleeting, along the Atchafalaya River in Berwick. She was an old ex-Tidewater AHTS (anchor handling tug supply) and looked in pretty rough shape.

I drug my gear up the gangway and one of the crew showed me my room. I was pretty happy with it. It had just one bunk, a couch, 2 portholes where I could check the weather, a desk, plenty of storage space and my own head (bathroom). It also had a TV and DVD player, but I never bothered to turn them on so I don’t know if they worked or not.

I met the Captain, who I had worked with before on another boat. He was the one who pretty much got me this position. He had worked with this company before (I had never heard of them), and had made the winning bid to deliver the Buzcador to Colombia.

I hired on as AB. Of course I was hoping to get a mates position, but since I’ve been out of work for so long I was so happy just to get the AB job! At least it would get me out of the house and onto a boat. We were going on a voyage. Out of the Gulf of Mexico! I’m always excited about the chance to go somewhere new and interesting!

I met the other deckhands and QMED that night. I met the rest of the crew the next day. All together, there would be 8 of us making the trip. Captain Todd, Mate Noel, AB Sid, OS Marvin, QMED Wilson, Chief Engineer Carlos, and client rep Yesid.

We spent the next couple of days at the dock, working furiously to get the boat ready for the voyage. She had been cold stacked (tied to the dock with no crew) for years. Any boat will deteriorate if she’s not run regularly. The rust on deck is the last thing to worry about, it’s the machinery that is always the most concern. We had plenty to deal with in all departments.

While we were still at the dock, we had drills. Good thing, since it took a good, long while to get the fire pumps to work correctly. Electricians were still working on the alarm systems. We had outside mechanics to help too. Deck department was busy with cleaning, securing the ship for sea, preparing paperwork and voyage planning. Engineers definitely had the short end of the stick on this trip!

I’ll post more later, hopefully with more pictures. Like I said yesterday, I’m STILL having problems with my computers/internet!

I’m Back. Sorta

Hey! I made it!! The trip only took about 3 times longer than expected. I didn’t think I’d be out of touch for nearly so long. I’m so glad to see so many of you stuck around and didn’t jump ship on me.

We brought the ship into Cartagena (Columbia) this morning. It took us a couple of hours to get cleared by customs & immigration and to turn the ship over to it’s new owners.

Then it was off to find a hotel for the night (thanks to the personal generosity of the captain). Since we had no internet onboard, we had no way to look for anything beforehand. We had a recommendation for one from our Columbian client and we went there.

We wound up going to another place. It’s actually an apartment and close to the beach. We were all just happy to be off the ship. First order of duty was dinner and drinks! Cervezas! Margaritias!! The captain treated us to a nice dinner at the place across the street. Everybody came back to the apt and crashed afterward. I went for a walk.

I’ll tell you more of the story over the next few days. It’s after midnight and I’ll be up at 0630 in the morning. We leave here at 0730 for the airport. My flight leaves around 1030 (I still don’t know the exact details).

I heard my flight(s) will arrive into New Orleans around 2300. Then I still have to get back to the dock where I left my truck. It’s about a 6 hour drive from there to get home. I’m not sure I’ll be able to make that drive after being up all day. I’m not so good at staying up past 24 hours anymore.

So I won’t actually be home for another day or two. Look for me to catch up after that. 🙂