Houston, we've found Carola

Hello World...

I seem to be less than consistant on my blog, something that I'm not exactly sorry for but wish we could add one more day in our week to do things like updating blogs, emailing, phoning people [if they aren't phoning me, which is usually the way].

Currently we are berthed in Bangkok, Thailand, with 3 days remaining before we head back east to Malaysia - Kota Kinabalu to be exact. Another long voyage is bound to bring excitment in the form of Fun Nights [full of embarrasment], sailing conditions and... good quality quiet time.

Alas, this voyage is the last I have with the BookShop. I don't want to leave my friends, but I feel that God is encouraging me to move in a new direction. We're way over the 6th month mark, and there is much change in the air. Many departments are losing people to other departments or because their commitment is over, bring a sad but somewhat refreshing time.

So I'm excited [and sad!] to become the new Deck Secretary. I don't like office jobs, but this one has the option of much variety and will be a challenge too. I do get the benefit of having the option of Deck Day Work if my jobs are done and I want to have a break, something that appeals greatly to me. But I really will miss my great mates in BookShop - Shift 2 especially. Lucky for me though, my new office is only along the deck from the BookShop, so they can pop in anytime. :D

So, we've been to Hong Kong when I last wrote on here. Then we has crystal glass water and smoothest voyage known to man kind on the way to Cambodia, which was excellent for our Ships Company BBQ one night. Cambodia is a beautiful but struggling country and we were blessed greatly by the hospitality of the people and their homes or hotels. Many Douloids made use of a 5-star pool at one resort, while others stayed there for a small break and used their facilities at a cheaper rate. We really have it too good on the ship despite what many think. I didn't actually make it to visit this resort, but I did do some random things...!

I got up at 4:45am one morning to walk with Jeff [USA], Josh [USA] Karl [UAE/AUS] and Sara [GER] to Independence Beach and swim/surf. It was random and was just a cool morning. The walk was about an hour and the rain was sufficient enough that we were saturated to the skin before we got to the beach. The water was incredibly warm and with the thunder & lightning storm around, provided a great wake up moment. Then we walked back and had breakfast at this ultra retro Disco Flights place. When i say flights, I mean there's a whopping great big plane in the middle of this 'hanger' which has been created into a resturant/night club. They made fantastic omlette and allowed us to sit in their comfy chairs despite being [still] so wet.

Another random thing was going swimming at about 10pm one night after work. It was REALLY nice!! After humid days, it was nice to feel cool but not cold!

Randomly, Rachel [USA]- roommate extrodinnaire, and I went for a walk about the town of Sihanoukville the day after we got there, and while out and having walked far enough down a road that lead to nowhere, we decided to turn back... as the rain began. Gentle and light to start with, it soon came down rather heavy. I was fine as I had a light jacket ontop of my shirt, but Rachel [who is ultra smart] was wearing a white top. not much underneath to protect her from the downpour that was about to happen. So either I give up my jacket or she reveals a little bit more of herself to the world. Lets go with the first choice. Then, hey, since we're at it, and since the rain just got harder, let us hide behind a building and then since I'm already wet - let me make a 'mock' weather report. I still laugh at the idea. No kidding though, the rain with the wind was like needles to your face. Ouchie-wah-wah.

Another random thing happened. We had a BookShop Shift 2 outting and to start it off, we had pizza, lovingly made by Geoff [NZ] and Joanne [SA]. Yummo. Taking one back to our cabin, Rachel & I were getting changed to do some extra ministry work at a HIV Hospital where we were cleaning and painting a hospital house so that it would be fit for patients to stay there [and not like it was before]. I grabbed some trousers from the Laundry and after pulling them on, sat down to put on my shoes. Barely a moment had passed after seating that I exclaimed "My, these pants are HOT!" only to stand up, turn and say "...or it could be the PIZZA I just sat on!!". Yes. I am clever, witty and wonderful and totally available to laugh at. Best thing? I let Rachel take a photo of the pizza stain on my butt for reference and memory sake.

To more... interesting news...

Challenges in Cambodia firstly was the weather, but followed closely behind that was the weather prevented people from visiting. Followed closely behind that was the prices of the things we sold. We had a deal that one ticket got one [then five] books in our deal deck, but in the actual bookshop, it was even too expensive for people to buy, and with communication barriers, confusing to shop. It was hard when you had to tell someone they didn't have enough for what they wanted. If its something small like a pen or wrist band, you could almost give it away [everything really was that cheap] but we couldn't do that incase it brought people who wanted to pocket more than they were paying for. I was challenged greatly by that.

After the 3rd day in Cambodia, I was moved to Deck for 2 weeks to help out while half of the Deckies were on training, and out of the few that remained, the BookShop needed 2 for Crowd Control [something that was actually more than no problem in the end]. So, because the Deckies were trading, I was the trade.

So I got to do many things as a Deckie. I worked in the Tanks - chipping, cleaning then concrete washing. I worked on the deck - scrubbing the deck, painting the exterior walls. I worked as the Bin Lady for the Rubbish Management one Lunch time and also was on Gangway security for one day as one of my friends hurt her ankle while working in the chain locker when we were coming back from anchor. Oh... that's another story.

The last day i worked in BookShop in Cambodia I was the head cashier. This meant I was the king pin incharge of the money for the shift, and because it was a Monday, our shift worked all day [which meant I sat at the same place for the WHOLE shift! BAH!]. Moving on...

After about 3 hours [so roughly 4pm Cambodian time] the nice day suddenly started raining. It was just a gentle, pleasant rain, keeping the 20 or so people who had visited inside. Then the rain changed and got a little harder. The Shift Leaders and random people from my shift then started closing the sides to protect the books from damage by the rain. This, usually is a good thing, but not this time.

The wind was a killer in Cambodia. One minute its normal rain, next minute its millions of needles piercing your skin. Well, on this day, at that point when the rain went from gentle to nasty, the wind went from calm to fierce, we found out that a typhoon had just arrived.

The Typhoon wasn't kind to us or our ship. Because it was a Monday, most of the ships company were off doing outtings and escaping the tininess of the ship for a day. When the Typhoon was slamming the ship into the berth and fenders [things that stop the ships destroying the jetty], we were trying to get everyone off the ship, into the crazy weather [sorry!!!] and we were preparing for emergency anchor, where we leave the port and sit in the open water in safety. There was about an hour between the announcement of us going out to anchor and us actually leaving to go to anchor. It was scary!! With so many people off the ship, especially the Deckies, what will they do - and what will we do?

We'll bring in Carola. She's young and fancy free, and amazing at picking up things quickly. First day of anchor we got to do tank work. Second day of anchor I got to help bring up the anchor and help with mooring stations [for a bit till they didn't need me]. Then as the days went on, Deck terms and items became familiar to me. I was blessed to work with 4 guys from Faroe Islands who were in Deck for as long as I was, and we had a cool bond because we all started at the same time and did many jobs together.

And the nicest thing was, I got to join the Deckies on their Deck Outting. That was amazing! We went Island hopping, something I've not done much of, but with about 30 other people, it makes the travel fun. Our first island was the furtherest from the mainland and we really felt like we were... away from all normality of life. We spent like 4 hours on this beach, swimming, snorkelling, sitting, and spitting seeds [it was a competition. When you are in a group with mostly guys, this is bound to happen]. The people who were hosting us for the day kindly cooked out meal for us, and can I say, of all the chicken and rice meals we've had onboard, theirs was SO tasty and SO amazing that most of us went back for seconds! The boy of the family hosting us was an amazing swimmer and he would go out deep, duck-dive down and come up with all sorts of critters and edible goodies. He managed [no one knows how] to pick up an ultra spikey sea urchin, and about 6-10 differently sized clams. The clams got cooked and most people tried them...

It was fun to be somewhere where ship rules were let off for a while, not to be disobedient but because swim wear allows it. Guys without their shirts on running wild up and or wrestling on the beach while girls with shoe-string tops and regular shorts [heaven forbid!] laughed and swam about made for a really nice day.

Then we jumped back into the 2 boats to the last stop of the day... another beach on another mostly deserted island. And what do the crazy people want to do? Jump off the sketchy jetty that was nearby. I haven't seen so many cut feel in my time!!!

And then we headed back. Tired from an exhausting but fun day of laughing and very much being spoilt. Only, most of us didn't realise the extent of our sunburns. Due to the Malaria tablets we take, majority of us burnt rather well, with many a "Cherry Red" being called out to all of us lobsters. Yet they were the ones remarking on how great our tans were after that. Yes, dead skin cells are attractive.

And then I was back in the BookShop. It was so nice to be back. I really missed working with my mates and having the jokes that we all knew and were familiar with. I also got to meet the new STEPers who had joined while I was in Deck. They are very cool, and every STEP group has had so many amazing people in them. Usually they consist of lots of 18-21 year olds, but the current one has older people and the maturity of the group is awesome and encouraging.

Fun times are to be had when you have a kiwi in the midst. One of the STEPers, Geoffrey ["Jiff"], is hillarious and... a full blooded "Noo Zullanda" whose lived in Australia. Nothing wrong with Kiwi's, but its fun to have the banter that goes on between Aussies and Kiwi's. Take the first slap Geoff gave. "Noo Zulland beet Orrstrayleah in the Roogbee". PSH. What ever. I'm foggy to remember if I have 'slapped' him back yet, but out chats are usually full of laughter and teasing each other. He's so opposite to me! He's the guy who LIKES to shop, and it actually drives me mad!! He's getting into the whole 'bartering' that goes on here and will stay for up to [likely longer] an hour and a half just to get a deal he's happy with. Holy MOLY! I would rather shoot myself in the foot than do that! He's a great mate, and I'll miss his blondeness when he's gone home to la-la Land.

Life is crazy but fun and going way too fast. The new preship is coming in like... 3 weeks and as we were the most recent newbies, we get to welcome them onboard. So, we've some planning to do, and coordination to make, but our idea should be hillariously fun!!!

I'll update more on ministry here in Bangkok later, but I thought I would just let you know what has been happening so far.