The Passage

First off, i am sorry, that you didn’t hear anything from me for such a long time.
The main reason is not that i didn’t have anything to tell you, but that i was on sea for more than 2 weeks and did not have any internet.
Also we have a videographer on board which makes me a very lazy photographer. Why make a picture if there is somebody with a huge camera setup who makes delicious crisp videos.
The downside of this is however, that it will take ages until the videos are all edited and uploaded.

Lets start at the beginning!

Last time i wrote we just arrived in Chuuk the wreck diving place.
We toured in the huge lagoon and pirated some of the Japanese war ship wrecks, as we did not pay a guide.
I experienced a glimpse of island politics, as I met with the mayor and vice-governor of Chuuk concerning our environmental mission.
And although th US is slowly infiltrating their culture it was very nice to see that the Island culture is still existant.
Or as my friend (the first nephew of the micronesian premier minister) said: “It doesn’t matter how many Cheeseburger or Pizza
are in you, you are still a sea goer by blood”

One of our crewmembers got a very bad infection on her leg and she had to fly to the next island to go to hospital.
We took the best wind and followed her in a fast sail.

It took us only 2 days to reach Pohnpei, the home of one of the ancient pacific civilizations, comparable with the roman empire.
The ruins are made of vulcanic balast rock, wich grew in very handy “logs”…the whole complex is over 2km long and completly in between the mangroves.
So everything was build onto the watersurface.
The channels between the different island parcels still exist and give a good impression of how the life must have looked like a thousand years ago.

The next day we decided to spend a night ashore on the top of a mountain near an old Japanese gun station.
We hiked to the top where we had an amazing view over the bay and the tuna fleets unloading their scarce catch.

It is scary talking to the islanders, everybody is talking about the fish getting less and less, smaller and smaller.
Somehow it is a different feeling, reading that China is over “Peak-Fish” and talking to a village chief who tells you the big ships take all our fish.

On our way back from the viewpoint to the camp we found something special.
I thought it only existed in myths or stories but here it was, fluorescent mushrooms.
They made the forest twinkle. At first we only saw a few but after time your eyes could see that the whole forest was full of them.
Pohnpei was fluorescent all over. The bay that we anchored in was lit every time we drove the dinghy. Sadly one cannot make pictures of the algae, but when i swam in it it looked like i was on fire.
The scene in “Life of Pi” was nothing compared to it.

After pohnpei we had a 14 day passage to the next island.
We crossed the equator in our dinghy .
Our filmmaker was filming infinity in the middle of the ocean…videos are coming up some day 😀
Reading a lot, sails up, sails down…passage routine.


Then one day suddenly we arrived in Tikopia.

The island survived the strongest cyclone of the century basically without outside help and no deaths.
The reason, soft leaf roofs and tons of breadfruit.
The island was very idyllic and the huge volcanic lake in the middle just added to the charm. On the island we met a Norwegian family which made a children’s documentary about this little paradise.
They joined us for our Halloween party – the picture many of you have seen already.
But pictures say more than thousand words:

Now we are in Vanuatu.
And its pretty nice…but thats for another time…

So long
Ole

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Nong Kiaw+Muang Noi – Welcome to the Jungle

After PeeMai (thai: Songkran) I found some travel companions other than my backpack. A Kiwi couple Sanji and Catelyn (People from New Zealand), One Italian girl (Gemma) and one Dutch girl(Roos). So we were a colorful mix 🙂 We made our way by bus to Nong Kiaw. It is a beautiful “city” in midst of huge limestone walls, the Nam Ou river and Jungle where ever you look. We decided to camp near the river, which was a nice thing to do, if it wasn’t for the rain in the night…but my huge backpack includes a big tarp, so we got out dry after all 😉

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After 2 nights we went on to Muang Noi, a serene place that is only reachable by boat and was supposed not to have any electricity…but we arrived one week late.
Chinese money and a mass of seasonal tourists slowly modernize the country.
At least there was no Internet…yet.
One night and two all you can eat buffets later we started a supposedly easy one-day-trek to the next small village Ban HoySien , that really did not have electricity yet (at least only self produced)
On our way there we got to know about a tribal village that was “only” 3h trek after HoySien.
There we asked the guest house owner for the way and got a really confusing description that got us almost killed… am i exagerating? A little maybe. But if we did not have a guardian angel in the form of a local hunter appear to us, we would have walked straight into…..Damn, i almost took away the suspension.
We only saw what was coming after one more hour of walking, but i cannot make you read for one hour, can i?
The Hunter told us with an relieved face (relieved that he found us) , that the Village we were looking for was the other direction.
When we were asking what was in the way we were going he made a motion with his hands and said something like “Fire-fire” and “No-No”
We just trusted his directions and walked back, almost lost our path again and then we saw the other side of the valley lit up in flames.
It was the biggest fire i have ever seen…by far. I think the flames were about 7-8 meters high, and covered a huge area!

After we recovered from this shock, we went on…to find ourselves in the next tricky situation.
You probably know how the Lonly Planet advertises it can get you “off the beaten track” well we were literally looking for it…there was just no pathway anymore. Leeches were everywhere, crawling through the holes made for shoe laces…brrr
but we found a promising path after wading through 50m of creek…and it seemed to be the right.
We were so relieved when a Tribe couple came along this path to tell us we were back on track.
But soon our water reserves, which were not planned for a 5h but for a 3h trek, were exausted. That’s when our second guardian angel appeared, he brought us all the way to the Kamu-village showed us a small creek to refill the water (no i did not get sick from it…and it was better than dying of thirst 😉 )

The Village Ban KiuKaan is a barren, a little bit depressing place.
Everything is done for survival, the men are hunters, the women collect bamboo.
It is self-sufficient, but its not an easy life on top of the mountain.
But the children develop games anyways, with what ever they have, in this case two big flat round seeds…for a game at which i am not very good at 😀
I tried my best.
The next day we walked to Ban Hatsepui, a long but easy trek, we were really relieved after all this walking in the sun with about 39 degrees to see the Nam Ou.
Ban Hatsepui is a much more happy place, the grounds seem to be fertile, the river is directly adjacent and the children have an open smile on their faces. In short it was way easier to get integrated in the children’s activities, then in the Kamu-village. They actually invited us to play their games.
Finding a stone on the rocky riverbed, that is thrown in again and again (wow these kiddies are fabulous swimmers…butterfly, freestyle etc. with 8 years) or shooting slingshots at supposedly impossible targets.
Games i guess, that will help in later life…but so easygoing.
I really enjoyed this village. Teaching them cardgames, juggling, getting shown around in town, painting fingernails, running around etc. just having a lot of fun together.
And the Adults watched happily somebody is finally powering out their children 😀
Then we took the morning boat back to Muang Noi, and relaxed there for a few days.
And the rainy season started….but thats stuff for the next entry 😛
Enjoy:

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Now our group splitt, me and Roos have a hitchhiking competition with the other three. Who can reach Tachek first…bad only that it seems to be raining every day 😕
we will see
So long Ole