Friday, February 6, 2009

Nine Inch Nails

The adventure is now in progress! The day has been amazingly fun...from getting myself and five bags from the hotel to the pier, then the pier to the dinghy and then the dinghy to the boat. John and his girlfriend Nat picked me up in the dinghy and showed me around the boat, which is totally killer. It's huge and lived-in with stuff everywhere and works in progress and laundry drying on the lines, etc. John's been living on the boat for seven or eight years so it's got life all over it. This is not the posh loveliness I'm used to on the decadent spa retreats (I'm won't detail the lived-in-ness for you) but there's something warm about the realness (though in:spa still rocks!). I was the first and only crew member to arrive in the morning. John & Nat left me on the boat alone for two or three hours so I just got to be with it and get used to the rhythm of the sea. The Millennium is anchored in Chalong Bay sprawled beneath Phuket's Giant Buddha, which sits atop one of the highest hills. I visited the Buddha yesterday so I know there is actually a live Buddha sitting up there praying somewhere under the great statue. Thus, I feel the boat has been blessed these past few days it's sat in the bay.

Oh but wait, that reminds me...turns out there may be a threat of piracy after all. John left me with this giant print copy of a Guide to Sailing the Indian Ocean. It's photocopied on that giant 2x size paper and hand bound with those crappy plastic binding devices. I flipped straight to the table of contents and the two topics that grabbed my attention were the Andaman Islands and the Pirates. But first I read the preface, a nice long letter from the author. The letter closes with an appeal to sailors to not make photo copies of his book because he doesn't have a villa in Italy and doesn't believe the argument that sailors' shoe string budgets should preclude them from paying full fare for the legal version of his book. Then...and this is where it gets scary...he says he had a shaman in India put a curse on all sailors who use bootleg versions of this sailing guide. So there I sat...on the sailboat Millennium...holding a bootleg version of his book...realizing I'm now a direct target of a shamanic curse on pirates of intellectual property rights...and I'm the pirate. This is further affirmed by the fact that I spent 1500 bhat in the dark back corridors of a city market last night on 37 pirated DVDs. It makes me sick to think about it. It's the one thing John asked me to do/buy to contribute to the preparation of the trip. How could I not do it? The shameful thing is how quickly my ethics vanished once I crossed the line...I bought twice as many movies as I'd planned. (Everyone please do some sort of prayer ritual to the shamanic Indian to let him know I otherwise pay full price for all my movies. Heck, I'm the only person on the planet who purchases all my music from itunes.)

I vow to purchase the legal version of the book as soon as I get settled.

But why am I talking about pirates? I've spent the day on the boat, met the crew, checked through customs and I know so much more about everyone and everything. After my three hours of solitude chilling on the boat listening to Nine Inch Nails and watching the Buddha watch the bay, the dinghy arrived again with John, Nat and Penny in tow. Penny is the artist from Japan. She's British but she's lived in Japan for 24 years studying a "particular kind of art." She thinks she may move in a year but doesn't know where yet since the economy is so bad everywhere. She's a little older than me, tall and pretty and reminds me a bit of Nicole Kidman. She's fair skinned and John asked if she brought enough sunscreen. These people do not yet realize I'm a traveling drugstore. I should get Boots tattooed on my forehead. We loaded the groceries onto the boat and then quickly raced back onto the dinghy to get to the customs office before 3pm. Alyssa and Fiona were waiting with their stuff in front of the immigration office. They're the two young Aussie girls, about 22 I think. Fiona is tall and athletic, confident and friendly. Reminds me of Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio and Christiane Amanpour. Turns out she's a world traveling journalist so the Amanpour thing makes sense. She was editor of a magazine in Vietnam but the "GEC" (global economic crisis, she's tired of saying the whole thing) has got the industry squirrelly so she's doing various things - one of which is an article or two about this voyage. So...looks like I don't have to blog after all, I can just send you her article;) Fiona has sailed a few days with John on a regatta and testifies that he's as wonderful as he seems - a great teacher, patient yet firm. Fiona will leave us in Andaman, after which she's going various places on seemingly fabulous writing assignments including something about a German documentary film crew in Mumbai...or something. I'm trying to escape from the fabulousness of modern life, so I'm going to try not to figure out what the hell she's doing. She's a super cool chick and really funny. Lots of humility. I asked her and Alyssa, "so y'all are surfers?" and they started laughing....apparently they've possibly been on surf boards before, but that's about it. Fiona likes my Texas pendant and seemed appropriately disgusted when I explained how I saw it on Jessica Simpson in People Magazine and just had to have it. But it's true, I did just have to have it (Missy, thanks so much for finding it for me) and it reminds me of my family and it stays on me wherever I go. Alyssa is quieter and didn't have any particular career or journey to explain in the time we had to kill at the immigration office. Alyssa and I are the only ones signed on to go all the way to Madagascar. She's never sailed so it's quite brave of her, a young pretty blond girl with a giant backpack and a tan. The four of us girls got along nicely, laughing about how none of us can sail, swapping stories on the madness of trying to get permission to enter the Andaman Islands, and collectively agreeing none of us will take antimalarials. Fiona knows all about the antimalarial debate and has worked/lived in many malaria regions...and has seen someone go schizophrenic on Lariam, so she's with me on the anti-antimalarial agenda. Still, I assured them I have enough malarone for all of us (because my traveling drugstore has a 24-hour pharmacy). Fiona is well versed in travel medicine and put together an premiere emergency kit at the local pharmacy here...and apparently she understands how and when to administer which antibiotics, so that's good. Since I don't.

It was amazing having the boat to myself for three hours. I'm on the other side of the island than the Hilton so I see the front of the Buddha for a change...and it was fun being among the boats. The water is an emerald blue-green and the landscape is subtle, just a handful of hills with the Giant Buddha as the only distinguishing characteristic. It has been an amazing day all around - finally I'm on this journey after all the talking and speculating and not-talking and planning and fretting and traveling to get here, I'm here. It feels good. I've been listening to Nine Inch Nails all week and keep going back to a song called Everyday is Exactly The Same...and it reminds me of my daily lunch with Rebecca on the first floor of the BofA building, looking out over Canary Wharf. We talked about this trip daily for weeks (she was my confidante at the beginning)...and before that we talked about moving on from BofA...for weeks. Day after day. Every day was exactly the same.

Not anymore.


Becca said...

The 1st floor at BofA misses you but of course you wouldn't make it through the security check point now w/ your 'dvds' :) Can't wait to hear how the adventure on the sea unfolds!