Days 1,202-1,207: The Voyage of the Mell Sembawang

Mon 16.04.12 – Sat 21.04.12 The Mell Sembawang is a wonderful little boat: my cabin is clean, the air-con is working, the food is magnificent (I had steak in pepper sauce yesterday YUM) and the guys on board are a good laugh. We’re making our way to the US territories of The Northern Mariana Islands (formally Islas de los Ladrones (Islands of Thieves) and Guam. On Wednesday we pulled into the Japanese port of Naha on Okinawa island, but as we were there for less than three hours and a shore pass would cost (get this!) $250(!!!!!) I opted to stay on the ship. So most of this week has been spent mooching about, brooding about the loss of my hat and wondering what the hell I’m going to do with my life once all this is over. The crew have cleared a space on deck…

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Days 624-629: How Do We Solve A Problem Like Korea?

DAY 624: DISMEMBERMENT 16.09.10: So I disembarked (hilariously described on the ferry’s website as ‘dismemberment’)... ...onto the native soil of country number 169, South Korea – a place at pains to remind you that it’s the only divided country in the world.  Which it is.  If you ignore Cyprus/Northern Cyprus. And Ireland/Northern Ireland. And Israel/Palestine. And North Sudan/South Sudan. And Somalia/Somaliland. And China/Taiwan. And Pakistan/Bangladesh. And Mongolia/Inner Mongolia. And Macedonia/Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. And Georgia/South Ossetia/Abkhazia. And Azerbaijan/Nagorno-Karabakh. And… But pedantry aside, North and South Korea have been officially at war for over fifty years now (there was only a ceasefire, not a peace treaty) and now we have a crazy situation in which the southern half of the country is one of the richest and most progressive in the world, while the northern half is a basketcase and something akin to George Orwell’s 1984,…

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