Semester at Sea - Fall 2010 Itinerary

Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada – August 27
Cadiz, Spain – September 4-8
Casablanca, Morocco – September 10-14
Takoradi, Ghana – September 22-25
Cape Town, South Africa – October 3-8
Port Louis, Mauritius – October 14-15
Chennai, India – October 22-27
Singapore – October 31-November 1
Ho Chi Minh City, Viet Nam – November 3-8
Hong Kong / Shanghai, China – November 11-16
Yokohama / Kobe, Japan – November 19-23
Honolulu / Hilo, Hawaii, USA – December 3-6
San Diego, California, USA – December 13

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The Last One

           Well it’s been four months since I first boarded a plan in Boston to take me to the ship that would change my life. I have experienced the most fulfilling and thrilling times of my life, and I have been stricken with the worst news a person can received. But through it all I had friends both near and afar to keep my going. Now as I am just a few hours away from landing in the greatest state and city in the United States (Boston, for those who need help on this no brainer) I am reflecting not only on the past few weeks but the entire voyage that has shaped the person I have become today. So before I give you my final thoughts here is a look at the last days on the voyage between Hawaii and San Diego and then brief stay in San Diego.
The MV wasted no time jumping on finals, right after getting on the ship from Hilo the ship turned into full study mode. Luckily the next day would also be a study day, but unfortunately for me three out of four of my finals were back to back on the exact same day. I have never studied so much in such a short amount of time and such opposite topics, Emerging Markets, Consumer Psych, and Global Music it was somewhat overwhelming, but by the afternoon of my finals I was relieved to be done. The only other final to take was Global Studies, I would like to say I passed my classes with solid grades for a semester where classes were held once every ten days at times (FUN FACT: this is not as cool as it sounds, try having to remember back to a class in October when that class was only two classes prior to the class you are taking in December, kind of hard to remember the topics).
Anyways the “school” aspect was over, now us students got to be rewarded with the Alumni Ball, which welcomed us the Fall 2010 Voyagers into the Semester at Sea Alumni group (you Nichols people think a mix between the Wine and Cheese Event and the One Day Social… For everyone else think, Prom meets Senior Banquet). I was surprised to see how cleaned up everyone got for the event. The dinner was formal, but people went extremely formal we had anything from tuxes and ball gowns, to my friends’ shirts and ties and cocktail dresses for the ladies. The dinner was very similar to prom where you pick your tables and then we got served a five course meal complete with a Champagne toast from the Executive Dean toasting us to a fantastic semester. After the dinner and a million pictures, we headed up to Deck Seven for the dance. The dance reminded me again of high school, but ended up being a good time and we partied until about 1 am when the ship started to die down.
The next day was our second to last day on the MV this meant time to start packing up we had to have our bags ready to by the next day at noon to be moved into the loading areas. After a few hours of packing it was nice enough to lounge outside for a little bit and knowing that Boston is frigid at this time, mine as well take advantage of the nice weather. Then the photo sharing, map signing, and address swapping commenced for basically two days. It was weird to think that this could be the last time I see a majority of these people. The photo department put out a end of voyage video that did a great job capturing the morale of the ship and the entire voyage. The last night on the ship ended with our last Cultural and Logistical Pre-Port that consisted of students mocking certain staff and faculty and their roles preparing us for each port. It was a great way to end the trip because the ship was all together for the last time and laughing and not thinking of the inevitable we are leaving in less than 12 hours.
6:30 AM, Monday, December 13, 2010 the PA system is blaring “We’re Coming to America” I don’t know if it was the thought that I was getting off the ship or that I did not get enough ship but I contemplated killing whosever idea it was to wake us all up with that song. Nevertheless going back to sleep when barely being able to fall asleep was just not gonna happen. So while tom angrily fell back asleep I met my friend Molly for breakfast, where she and her roommate, Erin were dancing to our musical alarm clock selection. Around 7:30 AM the decks were packed with students as we sailed up past Mexico and into California and prepared to dock in the port of San Diego. The closer and closer we got to the harbor the more real this was become, finally around 8:30 AM the pilot boats met up with the ship, with Parents who paid money to ride in with the MV. Now a lot of these parents (not mine, Pops was flying in to San Diego still while this was going on, lucky for both of us the airport and the ship were a hop, skip, and a jump away from each other) came with anything from poster boards, balloons, to banners of welcome home signs, which were immediately met with student’s poster boards from the ship saying Hi back to mom, dad, dog, and grandma.
Now we were docked and the fun part, waiting to disembark. I was second to last for disembarkation, which meant that I was not getting off the MV until about 1 PM. Well that was before the delays due to lack of porters. The first person off the ship happened at 10:30 AM, then the next sea was delayed to about 11;30 AM, finally the ship was calling off those who didn’t need the porters and one by one my friends all got off the ship. Finally after the Yellow Sea, the biggest group of my friends, were disembarking I grabbed my bags on the ship, threw on the shades and left the ship. I knew by then it was time to go and any longer would be too much to bare as by then the ship was bare. So by 1 PM, Dave Matthews shirt and all (the same way I boarded the ship) I said my final good bye to my home away from home, conveniently right as dad was landing in San Diego.
So now adrenaline rushing I was in the city of San Diego (my first time ever to CA or the West Coast), dad and I headed to the hotel to relax before dinner. We headed to the Gaslamp district for some Italian Food (I had been craving) then dad had to work in the morning and went to the hotel while I went to my friend Liz’s beach house for a farewell after dinner party. It was good to be able to spend some time with her, Rhae, Margaret, and Joe (missing Barto and Steph) before we all went our separate ways. I had become really close with all of them along with my other friends most spread out through the city or home already. The next day Rhae and I explored San Diego, which in my opinion is not what I pictured San Diego to be like. More of city than I pictured, I was thinking it was more beaches less buildings, but hey it was still somewhat warm so no need to complain. Finally we said goodbye and I headed back to the hotel to meet dad for dinner and to prepare to head back to my favorite place in the world, Boston.
So now that brings us full circle to where I am now. This trip has been unreal I am fortunate that I was given such an amazing opportunity by my school and my family. I have learned a lot about the world, and myself. One thing I learned was places I was excited to visit such as Hawaii, ended up not being my favorite place and not what I expected, place like South Africa that I knew little to nothing about, I can’t imagine not visiting again. I got to see first hand how much we the fortunate middle class take for granted, these people are living on little to nothing and most are still completely happy. It amazes me that these people can live on under two US dollars a day in many of these countries and I can barely do that on twenty US Dollars.
I learned I love service projects like Habitat for Humanity, the people who are going to live in these houses made on limestone and dirt mixtures with not running water or electricity and dirt for grounds are just grateful for the roof you are putting over their head. I am looking more into things such as Peace Corps or AmeriCorps to help out others, plus just being able to attribute those successes to one is fulfilling to say. I have visited so many amazing places that I want to travel back to such as China, Vietnam, Morocco, and Ghana. However more I have a desire to see more of this great world of ours.
My next big travels spots to see are Egypt, Croatia, Turkey, Greece, Amsterdam, Kenya, Cambodia, UAE, Qatar, Argentina, Australia, Chile, and Antarctica. I say it’s all doable, plus I want to see more of my own nation I am setting three goals to do before I die. One is to visit all 50 states of the United States. Two is to visit every continent in the world (I need South American, Australia, and Antarctica). Three is to visit and swim in every major ocean in the world. And of course I need some high risk activities since I have now jumped off a cliff, skydived, and bungee jumped I will need to find some new extreme things to do, all I got so far is shark cage diving and going skiing out of an airplane, plus I am going to continue hiking because I actually enjoy it. Now don’t all you adults worry I have plans for the future too that include work related topics too, I’m going to get that MBA, the faster the better, plus I have been thinking more and more about a Real Estate License, so who knows. If this trip has taught me anything it’s that I can do anything I want with my life so dream big and go for it. On the short term I’m looking forward to visiting my SAS friends and them visiting me, including a reunion trip already setup for next winter in Utah with Tom, Gail, and Marcus and to hopefully becoming a Global ambassador for SAS and help promote it to the Nichols Community, which in my opinion needs to have more students go abroad and see the world.
Well I want to thank you all for following me as I circumnavigate the world. It has been fun sharing my stories with you all and giving myself an outlet to write and remember the amazing times I have had on this trip. If anyone ever has questions about my experience feel free to ask, anyone considering going on Semester at Sea (student or adult, they have life long learners) feel free to ask I would be happy to answer any questions. It’s been real for the last time…

Later,

Ed

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Aloha from Hawaii

ALOHA!!!

           Well friends we have reached the last port of this journey, and I have to say it feels good to be back in the United States!!! Hawaii was beautiful and the warm weather is a great change from cold China and Japan, We spent the first night in Honolulu, which meant I had a lot to get done before sailing’ to the BIG ISLAND where we docked in Hilo. Honolulu is not what I expected it to be, it’s very much a city and not the tropical Hawaii I was picturing. However it still was unbelievable to be here FUN FACT: this is the farthest west I have ever visited in the United States; now to you all reading that must seem like a “no really” situation as it’s the farthest west in the US you can get especially from Boston. But I have never visited as far west as Florida in our own country, I know kind of embarrassing to say especially after I have just seen the far ends of this world, but its true I have stayed on my beloved East coast minus a layover in Chicago in my twenty one years. Anyways, the SAS kids who don’t have international plans were going Hog Wild when they realized that Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, and all other American providers were working so they were all texting away bright and early at 6:30 AM when we had to be up for immigration. 

Around 8:30 AM we were off the MV and into the city, a bunch of my friends headed for Sky Diving on the North Shore, while Gail, Marcus, Carly, and I headed to Pearl Harbor to pay our respects. FUN FACT II: My grandfather has a journal on the Battleship Missouri, from when he was in World War II including the signing of the end of World War II, which took place on the Missouri, so that was a good enough reason for me to visit the historic landmark. Pearl Harbor while very interesting to see and something I am glad I had the opportunity to see was sort of a disappointment to me. Just the national park was not at all what I thought it was going to be. First for those who have not been its right off the Hawaiian Highway, which irked me a little I was expecting more of a grand entrance to such a historic landmark, and then it just was a park on a base that had some artifacts and a ferry that took you to the Arizona and a shuttle that took you to the Missouri. It just seemed like there was more that they could have. I felt rushed as if you get on the ship to see the Arizona and then you can pay to go see the Missouri or you’re done. What I did like was that they had real Veterans there from the Pearl Harbor Attacks to give you first hand stories from that day.

Now don’t go thinking I’m telling none of you to go to Pearl Harbor because I still believe it’s one site everyone should see in their life, but just go in with the understanding that it is a tourist trap. Plus now I can say I have seen where World War II began with Pearl Harbor and ended with the A-BOMB dropped on Hiroshima. 

So after Pearl Harbor, Gail, Marcus, and Carly headed to the North Shore and I went to meet up with my friends, Liz, Steph, Rhae, Margaret, Barto and Joe to spend the afternoon/night down on Waikiki Beach. Before heading over there I explore the center of Honolulu, which was right next to the ship, I saw Aloha Tower, and a lot of public buildings. On the bus a woman told me that the Governor-elect was hosting a function where he invited voters to meet with him and discuss what they hope to see in the next four years. That was cool I thought that a politician would look for feedback before even in office. So after a walking tour I ended up at Waikiki where I met my friends for some beach and then spent time there before heading back to our hotel for dinner and some evening activities. 

The next day we woke up around 9:30 AM and headed off for another day at the beach. Today we decided to get away from Waikiki as it is also a tourist trap and head to a more what I call “Real Hawaii” spot. We ended up at a beach known for its snorkeling, about 30 minutes outside the city. It was cool you got to actually swing with the fish in the coral reefs. We saw a variety of fish and the water was nice and warm that we had no problem staying in for hours. The beach had a nice mix of locals, tourists, and SAS students and was big enough that we all were spread out doing our own thing unlike other beaches that put all us SAS students together. Finally it was time to leave and head to the ship so we could transfer to Hilo for the rest of our Hawaiian adventure. 

The next day we had made it to Hilo, much different from Honolulu. For starters Hilo is no tourist trap in fact the city is not know for its tourism. This day everyone did their own thing in the morning. My friend Mandi and I decided on breakfast and the beach. We headed to this local spot with national recognition called Ken’s Pancake House. Mandi got a breakfast burrito and pancakes, while I settled on Crab Cakes Benedict. The Plates were ENORMOUS, and the prices were decent for what you got, both plates came with a side of home fries and I chose toast over pancakes. Food comas were the result of that breakfast, and then we headed off to the beach. We met up on a small black sand beach with basically everyone from the MV at Richardson’s Beach. It was nothing like the beaches I was used to and if anytime resembled a lake beach with the large amounts of grass and trees covering the area, the other half was covered by rocks and get this Sea Turtles and not just little turtles Gigantic sized ones and a good number of them too. It was crazy to see, after a while it started to get cold and started to rain, so it being Sunday with a great line up of Football games on had us and a few of our friends head to the city’s only sports bar, Cronies’, for lunch and to see the Cowboys beat the Colts. Afterwards we headed over to my roommates hotel room at one of the islands only hotels for the Steelers and Ravens, where my roommate, Tom, a Steelers fan celebrated as we watched the Raven’s blow the game to his beloved Steelers. (Unfortunately I missed the Patriots game the next day where they bulldozed the Jets, but New England Fan’s on the ship were celebrating here on the MV). 

The next day was a bittersweet day; it was our last day in a port and also it made me realize that the next time I would be stepping off the MV would be forever in San Diego. Plus Finals were this week and I don’t know who loves finals cause it certainly is not this kid. So the goal was to make the most of my last day in Hawaii. The morning started back at the SAS filled Richardson’s Beach (the next closest beach was over and hour away) and an afternoon at the Waterfalls. That was cool I jumped off a cliff into the water (so there you go Alicia, Jumped off a Cliff, Skydived, and Bungee Jumped) although due to our location cameras would have been impossible to bring so I need to repeat this for a picture opportunity. It was really cool, I have done a lot of fear based activities this trip and loved them all, only had a freak out on two of the three (one’s on camera). 

Now it’s back to life on the MV, just took three of my finals and glad to be done with them, now it’s packing up Cabin 2034, my last final, Ambassadors Ball, and its time to get on with my life. Oh we had a Shipboard Auction to benefit the Scholarship Foundation for SAS and me, along with Tom and Gail bought a Ski Trip to Utah!!!! So we got a reunion coming up, but now all this kid wants to do is get to Boston, see the family, my friends, and prepare for one hell of a Semester in Dudley at Good Old NC. One more post to come probably once I am in San Diego, maybe Boston to wrap this up. So far all I can say is I lived the dream! Until I’m Stateside, enjoy the pictures that are in the post below this.

Later,

Ed

Heres Some Pics for You


USS Arizona Memorial, Pearl Harbor

BUNGEE HONG KONG

SUNSET ON THE GREAT WALL OF CHINA

Waddup KYOTO

Peking Family on the Great Wall of China

USS Missouri Museum

Center of Shibuya Toyko

Ash and I in Japan

Carly and I at Pearl Harbor

The Entire Peking Family in Tienanmen Square, Beijing

Thursday, November 25, 2010

JAPANNNN

HELLO FROM THE PACIFIC OCEAN!!!

Well it’s the moment we’ve all been waiting for, ED IS ON HIS WAY BACK TO BOSTON, and stopping in Hawaii, MARK YOUR CALENDERS I get into San Diego December 13 and will be in Boston on December 15!

Anyways on to Japan, It was UNREAL… Not my favorite port, but still a great time! The first day we got to Kobe, home of Kobe beef, which costs an arm and a leg to order, $60 bucks for a small steak, but apparently well worth it. I headed down to Hiroshima, famous for where the US dropped the A-BOMB on Japan, it was wicked sad and powerful to grasp, but worth seeing especially since I’m going be at Pearl Harbor next week and to understand the destruction of Nuclear weapons first hand. The city has one building still standing from when the bomb was dropped to serve as a memorial site and so that no one can forget what had happened there, then you go into a museum that has artifacts, a documentary, and a step by step depiction of the days leading up to, that day, and then days following the Atomic bomb being dropped in Hiroshima. That night a group of us headed out for conveyor belt sushi, a few drinks, and then Karaoke! FUN FACT: Karaoke is sung in private rooms per group not in a giant crowd as the States do it. We had some trouble using the Karaoke machine as it was all in Japanese and in effect we ended up being able to sing only two songs both on repeat, “Don’t stop Believing” (a crowd pleaser) and “Bad Romance” (the only other English song we knew). Then we got half our money back for our troubles and called it a night…

The next day I woke up and headed to Kyoto for sightseeing with my friends, that was cool, we interrupted a Japanese wedding (not intentionally) by taking pictures of the scenery right where they we taking their photos and then walked more around the city. All the cities tend to blend together after a while, Japan doesn’t have distinct differences, between the cities other than the center regions. We walked around the river walk in Kyoto before we headed back to Kobe, that was a cool area because you got to see a lot of the locals down there playing sports, walking dogs, running (a big thing among all Japanese), or playing music. It was a nice peaceful day of just exploring then we sailed to Yokohama.

We get to Yokohama and hit the trains to go to Tokyo, crazy city, people dress in whatever they want so style is really in the eye of the beholder, We spent most of our time in the Shibuya and Hirajuka which is where most of the young people hangout. We continued explored all day saw the Imperial Palace, then went to TGI FRIDAYS for lunch because American food seemed like a great idea and then met up with our friends at the hotel, that night we went out for our friend Josh’s birthday and ended up at McDonalds at the end of the night, seems to be a common theme for me in Asia, McDonalds, as soon as I get to the states I am never going to a McDonalds for years. The next day we all got up and explored more of Shibuya, which is one of the many districts within Tokyo, we went up to the top of an office building and viewed the impeccable skyline of Tokyo, unlike many of the other views I have seen, Tokyo is completely surrounded by buildings, very little parks and greenery were seen from the view we were at, the farthest ends of the city were that of the mountains, and that was impeccable to see. After that we did some shopping, before catching our train to Yokohama. The trains might I add was a process in itself. Unlike China there was less English around to help us get around, and the trains was one of the hardest places for us, the maps only had prices next to the stations labeled in Japanese, thankfully the people were so friendly and willing to help that they got us to where we needed to be.

Traveling in the Pacific has been rough so far, last night no one slept due to the rockiness of the ship, all our stuff fell everywhere, my roommate got hit in the face with stuff that fell off our TV and desk, I got sea sick, my classes got cancelled in our Union because it was too rocky to be there its been pretty bad…
Well now its eight days to Hawaii, SPRING BREAK PART II, I can’t wait to just relax at the beach, attempt to surf, jumping off waterfalls, and seeing Pearl Harbor. This is the life can’t believe its coming to an end, but that means I’m that much closer to be back in Boston!!!!

Happy Thanksgiving

Ed

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Bungee, Hiking, and the Peking Family

Me and Cassidy in the Forbidden City


Hello to you all back in the states

China is the most interesting place in the entire world, I laws lucky enough to visit both Hong Kong and then the mainland to get a feel for all of China…  

Me on the old part of the Great Wall
So first things first, I spent most of my time in Hong Kong actually in Macau for Bungee Jumping, due to the fact that passports took all day to hand out we missed our first two time slots (I went with about 57 kids) at 11 AM and Noon, I was in the 1 PM bracket but didn’t get to jump until 5 PM. Still though being in Macau tower you had the most amazing views of the area Casinos and skyscrapers. Macau is the Vegas of China and amazing to see lit up all at night. Anyways back to bungee I got the video and pics, In which you see me have a small breakdown on the plank where I am yelling some profanity over and over again, then have to be pushed to the edge by the instructors and its looks like I am about to pass out, then it’s “5, 4, 3, 2, 1, BUNGEE” next thing I know I am off the platform and into the air, what a rush that is, the first moment I was freaking out, but then it gets to be quite enjoyable when you are in freefall, then I shot back up almost to the top again and I didn’t mentally prepare myself for this so it’s another round of profanity as I try to remember to pull the tab to make me rightside up so then I am trying to figure that out for another few minutes, needless to say it was a process, but anyways I LOVED IT, it is something I will do again. After Bungee it was back over to Hong Kong where I spent the evening touring the city with my friends Marcus, Gail, and Carly picking up mementos from this amazing port and visited the night market which was still crowded at about 1 AM.
The Bird's Nest Olympic Stadium, Beijing
THE GREAT WALL WAS UNREAL, when you get on it you just cannot grasp how big it is and that people actually spent time making this monstrosity its long enough to fit from the east coast to the west cost of the United States. We hiked the old or unfinished part on the first day, which consisted of more trail based hiking at parts of the wall were over grown and you had to get off the wall at parts and then on day two we hiked the  finished area which was all on the wall, but was steeper and more of an up and down exercise… oh its unbelievably cold too thank god I bought a North Face Winter Jacket in Vietnam, and had a sweatshirt cause I had to give this girl, Margaret, my inner lining of my jacket to wear cause it was so cold, but anyways we hiked for two days and that was cool, plus the views of the mountains and the never ending wall were out of this world to see, we saw the sunset on the wall, and then were attacked by vendors selling anything and everything I Bought a Commie Hat just for the sake of it but came in handy as it kept my face warm it has the ear flaps. YES HB I recommend the Great Wall to anyone, Oh and just a little FUN FACT: If you will pay they will hike McDonalds up to you on the Great Wall that was our lunch the first day of hiking on top of the Great Wall of China I had 2 Big Macs, cross that off the Bucket List. FUN FACT 2: Bowling and Karaoke are huge in Asia we had a bowling alley and an archery court in our hotel and they were the hot places to go and Karaoke Bars are more frequent than a Dunkin Donuts in Massachusetts. 

The last day we headed into the city of Beijing wow the skyline and buildings China is looking more and more modernized and less and less like a developing country… We saw the famous Tiananmen Square, which is the largest square in the world and the place where Mao Ze Dong proclaimed the creation of the People’s Republic of China… Behind the Square is the Forbidden City, which is a monstrosity in itself and the Chinese imperial palace from the Ming Dynasty to the end of the Qing Dynasty. The complex houses 980 buildings and 8,707 rooms and took nearly 20 years to complete. The place is about the size of Nichols College getting from Winston all the way down the hill to Rem and then have some extra room too. After that visit we went to a tea house where we were taught the culture of Chinese tea, and believe me there are a lot of rules when it comes to drinking and preparing tea, mainly which cup is for which tea, which one is for smelling or drinking, and proper hand positioning, seems a little excessive for tea drinking, the preparation of drinking take longer than actually drinking it, but hey that’s how they make their money, especially off tourists who need to get every type of tea, and then all the proper tea glasses for their new teas, so my guess is it’s them laughing their way to the bank.

The last stop before heading to the airport was to a drive by at the Olympic stadium, “The Birds Nest” the Olympics did a great job making it look much bigger than it actually was, the Stadium looked like Gillette Stadium could eat it for a snack, but still the design of that building is impressive, and according to our tour guide the building is being used constantly for all types of venues, their next big usage of it will be for Celine Dion’s World Tour which is something China is excited to start gearing up for, in my opinion the Olympics were bigger than her, but hey at least its being used… That night we were back in Shanghai meeting up with the ship after being in transit for two nights from Hong Kong to the mainland… We went out that night to a cool nightclub to celebrate my friend Tristan’s 21st birthday, what a place to turn 21 in… The next day a few of us visited the marketplace to buy some more brand labels at cheap prices, Today I got Beat headphones by Dr. Dre for $11, two pairs of Vans for $40, pair of Oakley and Ray Bans for $18 all American Prices so even if they are knockoffs the prices aren’t bad at all, gotta love China, Shanghai port where we docked had the best view of the waterfront and Pudong Skyline which is continually growing with more and more skyscrapers, including the Oriental Pearl Tower, which is the second tallest building in China at the present time… 

So now I will talk about the food, everything is served on a lazy susan and the food is setup for approximately 8 people, we had everything from disgusting mushrooms, tofu, and full fishes, which no one ate, to Peking Duck (not bad), to Kung Pao Chicken and then millions of veggie and pork dishes we ran out of food at every meal minus the gross plates no one would eat, at one meal they refused to give us more food (going so far to give the extra duck to the Vegitarian table that we were stuck next to just to be funny), others we took this matter into our own hand and went around to the other tables in our group and took the food they didn’t eat. My table was told we eat the most out of anyone they have ever seen, by the tour guide and the waitstaff… and as I said before lunch on the Great Wall they hiked us up McDonalds, (I had eaten more McDonald than anyone ever needs to in a weeks period). Anyways my table was me, my friends: Kelly, Tristan, Drew, Cassidy, Jen, Nate, Pat, Kristin, John. We ate every meal together and became a family. The Peking family to be exact named after our Peking duck dinner, quite a group in fact we have our first on ship family dinner tonight!

All in all China was a great experience and I now cannot wait to return here and see more of this fascinating country. So tomorrow I will be in my last foreign port, Japan I cannot believe how fast this has gone by, I am heading off to Hiroshima tomorrow and then exploring Kyoto the following day, then Tokyo, and Yokohama, and going to a Sake production factory, and you can bet yourself I will be at a Karaoke bar and Sushi restaurant where you get the sushi off the conveyor belt. Then its 9 days to Hawaii, or as I like to call it Spring Break Part II after Mauritius, then a week to San Diego, where did the semester go, Keep me in Paradise I don’t want to cold and snow of Boston, Burlington, or Dudley… Enjoy the pics I used up some of my internet minutes for you guys, next port ill try and do a post of just pictures

Until after Japan Later,

Ed

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

NAM!!!!

Well it took about 26 and a half hours and three flights, but I made it back to the MV Explorer meeting up with my ship on its last night and my only night in Vietnam, I got here around 11:00 PM or the middle of the day for Boston on Saturday… Its good to be back though and continue this amazing opportunity that I am doing now not only for me, but my mom too.

So with the very little time I had in the country I utilized as much of the time here as I could. I first pulled an all-nighter due to the fact that in my mind it was the middle of the afternoon, while everyone was sleeping then around 7 AM, I headed to the Cu Chi Tunnels with SAS where we learned about the underground tunnel system used by the Vietnamese during the Vietnam War. It was actually really cool to see how the Vietnamese would not only hide, but fight the Americans from these tiny places that would include small holes in the ground to tunnels miles long and no bigger that 4 feet tall, yes we had to crawl a lot. FUN FACT: Vents were put every half mile to ensure that no one would pass out, although if you weren’t near a vent it gets extremely claustrophobic fast. My favorite part though was when I got to shoot an AK-47 at the Vietnamese gun range. That had to be the most fun I had during the visit, but the entire site that we were on was amazing to see. Right when you walk into the start of the trail you see a giant crater from a bomb that went off and then right next to it a trap door that is hidden with bamboo spears in the ground to kill its enemies. I even got to go inside one of the underground passages that are not made for Americans or tall people, the size of the hole was no bigger than an air conditioning vent (I’ll try and put pictures up when I get to China) and got to sit in one of the tanks that they have on site. The trip was so far the best one I have been on because it did a great job integrating the important history while engaging us with fun interacting things to do and explore.
After the tour, I headed off to the marketplaces to take advantage of the low costs thanks to the exchange rate… I spent less than $200 American and bought the following:

a North Face winter jacket $36

DVD Sets $60 all together
CSI seasons 1-10
Mad Men season 1-4
Family Guy season 1-7
Two and a Half Men season 1-7

Nike Shocks $70 for two pairs

So in my opinion it was a successful day, minus the torrential downpours I got stuck in. But hey it’s a small price to pay, right now we are having some big swells in the ocean as we head for Hong Kong, I am bungee jumping my first day then its off to the Great Wall to hike it down to Beijing and then seeing Shanghai on my last day in China. Probably trying to find some good deals like Vietnam.

Well That’s Hit from the MV

-Ed





Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Sea Olympics & India

First things first, yes its been a while since i updated but well things have been hectic the last few weeks...

So just before India, the ship took part in its tradition of Sea Olympics, and event where each sea, made up of different decks and areas of students, faculty, life long learners, and dependent family members participate in shipboard events that vary from dodge ball, jeopardy, lip singing, and banner making to name a few. My sea, the Aegean Sea, made up of all deck two, was considered the "forgotten sea" by our rivals, ended up taking second place overall placing in the competition.

My Roommate Tom, Me, Archbishop Tutu, Aubrey, Lindsey, and Sulli reppin' the Aegean Sea at Sea Olympics
 The competition was a lot of fun and it brought our sea together where days before members of our sea could not even name names of those who were neighbors to them. The best part though was the lip singing competition and the skits competition. We did a "Anchorman" parody, which I took part in and took in some big laughs and the Lip singing we took first in with a mix of different songs and some pretty good resembles of the real people including Justin Bieber....

After the fun, it was time for India, which for me was an abbreviated trip that consisted of a day in Chennai with my good friend Ashley, where we along with a few of our other friends braved a day of riding in a rigshaw and looking for stickers and shotglasses something we all seemed to be collecting... That night we made our way to a mall that blew the doors off of the malls in Massachusetts, and had a movie theater that was incredible. We wanted to see a Bollywood film, but all that was playing was "Despicable Me" in 3D so we did the American thing and went and saw it after pigging out at the malls Americanized food court, however I chose Indian Chicken Kabobs which were amazing..

Me at the Taj Mahal at Sunset
The next day day i was up at 4 AM to catch my plane to the Taj Mahal, which has been my favorite attraction i have visited to date. It really was an amazing place to see especially at 6 AM for sunrise, granted i was not happy to be up that early once I got there. India itself I am not a fan of, don't get me wrong i saw a lot of amazing places such as the house where Ghandi was assassinated, his burial space, and some great temples and historical landmarks. But the Taj takes the cake as the most beautiful places in the world, during the day it changes colors and the people there were in the masses. By sunset when we got back, there was barely any room to move at the Taj as it was swarming with people anywhere you could stand... Now the country itself, mighty dirty, and just people everywhere. That was a culture shock, people sleeping on the streets, making bathrooms out of the road, poverty in the masses, and the driving, it was completely overwhelming for someone who was not used to it, I have been to Manhattan countless numbers of times and that is quite a hustling bustling city, but this was more chaotic and stressful than anytime I have been to New York or Boston or any other city we have been to so far.

Me at the Taj Mahal at 6 AM
The worst part of the trip though had to be the travel, my god how I wanted to kill myself, first it was early morning flights from Chennai to Delhi, then a five hour train ride to Agra for the Taj on the slowest train in the world, then a train ride back to Delhi, where we stayed in the nicest hotel I have ever stayed in Five Star Hotels, multiple restaurants, and rooms to die for. It was a great retreat from the long days of traveling around India to relax in luxury.

So finally I took a detour back to the states, to see the family, for those who don't know my mom passed away after battling lung cancer. She was a fighter and went peacefully and it was good to see my family and friends (who basically are family) at this time, and after 28 hours of flying and enduring American Airlines longest nonstop flight from Delhi to Chicago (15.5 hours) I made it to Boston. Now I am preparing to return friday to the MV Explorer in Vietnam and finish what I started not just for me, but for my mom too. Now after getting a Visa in less than 48 hours I am ready to go back, im hoping for some bungee jumping in Hong Kong, what can I say I'm an adrenaline junkie, but Vietnam I want to get me some Nike's for the day I am in the country...

Until China,

-Ed