Trip News and Notes Continued...

Click here to view photos

Plan B: East Malaysia and The Kingdom of Brunei

Posted by Keith on August 8, 2007 at 3:47 pm | 1 Comment

August 9, 2007
07:00 Local

We were two thirds of the way across the Sulu Sea, on a westerly course from Cebu to Puerta Princessa, on the island of Palawan, The Philippines.

That’s when Captain Wolf mentioned that many cruisers used the port of Kota Kinabalu, on the west coast of East Malaysia, on the island of Borneo, as their jumping off point to cross the South China Sea.

Twenty-four million people call Malaysia home. However, most of them live in West Malaysia on the southern half of the Malaysian Peninsula that extends down from the western portion of Thailand. About 600 miles to the east of the Peninsula – back toward the U.S. — is the large island of Borneo. Borneo is not a country, just a large island. East Malaysia occupies a large portion of Borneo, along with the tiny kingdom of Brunei.

I used to confuse Malaysia with Indonesia. Indonesia is a vast nation to the east of Borneo. It is comprised of more than 8,000 islands, and has a population of 247 million people.

Kota Kinabalu is about 270 miles south-southwest of Puerta Princessa on the northwest coast of East Malaysia.

When Wolf mentioned the place, I went online and discovered that (a) there was a fancy new marina there; and that (b) the place was surrounded by offshore oil wells. This gave me hope that diesel fuel will be especially inexpensive there.

So we stopped in Puerta Princessa only long enough to get our passports stamped for exit from the Philippines. We were there for less than five hours, and a chance encounter with an uncharted sandbar in the middle of its harbor notwithstanding, our visit was uneventful.

I have posted a video I took from the ship as we entered Puerta Princessa’s harbor. It’s sobering to see how thousands of people live there, and frankly I was very glad to be on our way.

From Puerta Princessa we charted a southwesterly course down the east coast of Palawan Island and through the Balabac Straight that separates The Philippines from Malaysia. As we exited the straight we entered the eastern portion of the South China Sea.

The oceanic shelf along the northwest coast of East Malaysia and Brunei is dotted with oil wells. It is a busy sea lane, filled with tankers bringing Malaysia’s and Brunei’s black gold to market.

Brunei is a tiny kingdom about 150 miles south of Kota Kinabalu, also on the west coast of the island of Borneo. It is the home of the world’s richest man – the Sultan of Brunei.

Unless fuel is much less expensive in Brunei than in East Malaysia, we’ll most likely travel to Brunei from Kota Kinabalu by ferry or car. This helps avoid the fees and paperwork of processing the ship in and out of yet another country.

We hope to stay in Kota Kinabalu for no more than three nights, including our visit to Brunei. Seas are extremely calm right now – especially for this time of year – and we would not want to lose this weather window for our 6-7 day crossing to Bangkok across the South China Sea.

We will take a final stab at finding a way to land near Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) on our way to Bangkok; but unless we can find an agent who assures us hassle free entry, we’ll avoid taking the ship there. However, one way or another I will visit Vietnam. The plan currently: Unless we find the aforementioned agent, I’ll fly in from Bangkok.

We’re about 45 miles north of Kota Kinabalu at this moment. There are mountains to starboard, islands to port. Seas are calm, the sky is blue. Life is beautiful.

East Malaysia here we come.


Crossing the Sulu Sea!

Posted by Keith on August 6, 2007 at 2:14 am | 1 Comment

August 6, 2007
17:00 Local Time

The Past 24 Hours

We departed Cebu City yesterday afternoon bound for Porta Princessa on the Philippine island of Palawan. Palawan is located about 300 miles west of Cebu Island, away from the main Philippine island group.

We spent all of last night on a south-southwest heading along the eastern side of Cebu Island. Then early this morning as we cleared the southern-most point of the island Negros we were finally able to steer westerly, on a heading of 280 degrees across the Sulu Sea toward Palawan.

All morning we dodged the lines of tiny one-and-two-man fishing boats. The boats were nearly impossible to see until we were almost upon them; and the small white floats holding their fishing lines that they strung together across many hundreds of yards were even harder to see.

But it was important that we avoid them if at all possible. Unwrapping nets and fishing lines from our propeller or rudder is a royal pain.

As we headed further into the Sulu Sea, the fisherman slipped farther behind us, but winds from the west-southwest – almost on our bow – picked up and have provided quite a chop. There is little swell action — just small choppy waves a few seconds apart.

Relieved to Be On Our Way

I can’t express how pleased I am to be out to sea again. Cebu, for all its wonderful people, was depressingly dirty and poor. While there was growth and economic activity wherever I looked there, there was also grinding poverty. It deeply troubles me that since World War II, and despite The Philippines close political and economic affiliation with the U.S., so little progress has been made in lifting the living standard of the average Filipino. Thirty-six million of them live on less than U.S.$2 per day; and 14 million of those people live on less than a dollar a day.

Even the highly-skilled technician we hired in Cebu to resolve some computer issues on the boat made it clear that wanted to come with us when we left. He was entirely serious. He even brought his wife and children to the ship for us to meet, I believe in an effort to convince us that they supported his desire to travel with us.

Hiring him was out of the question, as we are fully staffed, and we never discussed his compensation. But all indications are that this Microsoft-Certified technician would have jumped at the opportunity to travel with us for far less than, say, U.S. $12,000 per year.

I wish that man, and so many millions more like him, every success as he works to make a better life for his family and for himself.

But that is behind us now. I realize we’ll see even more poverty ahead; especially in the Indian sub-continent. But for now I look forward to enjoying a quick stop at picturesque Palawan Island before crossing the South China Sea for Bangkok.

Here’s the Plan

The plan for now – unless we succeed in our continuing efforts to obtain landing clearance near Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam – is to head directly across the South China Sea for Bangkok from Palawan, and to explore Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam by land and air.

Our approximately 1200 mile voyage from Palawan to Bangkok should take about seven days, subject to weather.

We’ve already been in touch with the beautiful Ocean Marine Yacht Club near Bangkok. They’ve promised to keep the light on for us.

All hands are in good shape and good spirts. We are all equally glad to be underway, and we all look forward to whatever lies over the next horizon.


Farewell to the Philippines: Our New Near-Term Itinerary

Posted by Keith on August 2, 2007 at 11:13 pm | 2 Comments

The crew and I have made some executive decisions regarding our stay in the Philippines and our near-term itinerary:

We’re Departing the Philippines As Soon As Possible

We’re going to depart the Philippines the moment the weather permits. Originally we planned to head from Cebu north to Manila, with a possible stop on along the way.

But, frankly, we’ve seen enough of the Philippines. The people are wonderful, the countryside is beautiful, but the population centers are a mess. Flanked by occasional pockets of walled wealth that is protected by armed security guards, the streets are jammed and dirty, with every conceivable form of ramshackle structure along them. People hang from busses, building and bikes.

Read more

To see a bit of history, and to see remarkably upbeat people in often squalid conditions, please click here.

Welcome to the Philippines!

Posted by Keith on July 31, 2007 at 2:46 am | 4 Comments

July 31, 2007

15:30 Local Time. We’ve been at sea for three days. Since sunrise this morning we’ve been in sight of the Philippine archipelago as we thread our way through various straights on our approach to Cebu City from the east.

It has been a relaxing and uneventful passage from Palau. Seas were a bit choppy the first night, and it rained for awhile every day; but otherwise the trip was smooth, comfortable, and much too short!

Read more

On the Road Again!

Posted by Keith on July 28, 2007 at 5:56 pm | 1 Comment

Yahoo! We’re on our way again aboard The Global Adventure!

We said goodbye to many new friends and departed Palau about 15:30 yesterday, local time. Our destination: Cebu, Philippines. We should arrive there Tuesday night (it is Sunday morning here now).

It rained hard for a couple hours last night. But we feasted on fresh Tapia aboard ship, in dry air-conditioned comfort. And we enjoyed once again the serenity of being out to sea.

Our heading is 290 degrees – west-northwest. Seas have calmed since last night when things were a bit choppy.

I’ll keep you posted.


China Commentary: Beyond Words

Posted by Keith on July 21, 2007 at 8:10 pm | Leave a Comment

How do you describe a nation so vast, with so many unique locales and peoples, all engaged in every conceivable occupation — from subsistence farmer to engineer, from small merchant to government minion to international tycoon?

A nation that drips of totalitarian intrusion into every aspect of people’s lives, yet that projects permanence and power — from the Great Wall to Tiananmen Square, to the marble foyers of its public buildings to the immaculate uniforms and confident demeanor of its military personnel; but with the world’s worst pollution, and with grinding poverty just beneath its powerful façade; and yet still with a population genuinely enthused about the progress that has been made here these past 30 years?

Read more

VIDEO: Incredible Yangtze River & Three Gorges Part II

Posted by Keith on July 16, 2007 at 3:46 pm | 1 Comment

NOTE: This video is ten minutes long and will take a few minutes to load. But it’s definitely worth the short wait!

« Previous PageNext Page »

Our Sponsors


Onboard medical equipment and MedLink telemedicine service provided by:


Communications are reliably provided by: