I can write gobs and gobs about HCMC so far. Let me suffice to say in this little introduction that it is a true working city full of really nice, friendly people, with incredibly good food at even more incredibly inexpensive prices.
Today I did a little exploration of a new section of town, took four buses that cost me a total of $1.00, that’s 25 cents each.
Here is a little video I took on my first days.
I found it best to just close my eyes often.
This video doesn’t exist
And if you think the motobikes are numerous, think of the alternative like Bejing, where cars sit in endless traffic jams and the pollution is so bad it’s hard to go out!
Since I have talked, written, about my planning process a lot, you know I like having a plan.
But there are times when a plan, any plan, has been elusive. Also, the best plans are always subject to change.
Generally, I find that the best plan, or better stated, the best initial plan, is one that stands the test of time. Having a straw man to test, If I go here, this will happen, allows me to continuously refine the plan and test it mentally with many different scenarios.
Having an initial plan also allows me to write about it, talk about it. So, my friends or anyone has a chance to ask, Uh, you’re not really planning on doing that, are you? I like, even need, questions like that. They are part of my extroverted thinking process. They make me better articulate, or think through, the what and why of the plan. And of course, there are times, I learn of significant mistakes.
Oops. Like this summer’s missing 1,000 nm. That’s about 25 days’ worth of coastal cursing. A month out of a season that may only be 5 months.
My initial plan after transiting the Panama Canal in January, was to head up the west coast ending in Southeast Alaska 6 months later. Not a terrible plan, if traveling by car!
But when the details are still an ocean away, don’t sweat, don’t worry.
Then as my Panama Canal transit got later and later, I’d make some adjustments to the west coast plan, deciding to stop in the Pacific Northwest or even Oregon if that’s as far as I got by October.
I still had not found the missing 1,000 miles, but then I still did not know they were missing.
We had a quick five day, 300 miles run from Panama City to Golfito, the southernmost port in Costa Rica.
I could finally catch my breath. In fact, during the five-day run, though it meant two long 14 hour days and then anchoring in waters no so protected, the seas were flat and it allowed me to start seriously thinking of the coming cruise up the west coast.
And then I noticed that my little planning table had a little error. I had not accounted for the miles of Baja California. Mexico from beginning to end is 2100 nm, I had typed 1100 in what I call my “Planning Table”. I found the missing 1,000 miles.
Another factor came to my attention. A few posts ago I wrote about the expenses of Dauntless. Our expenses are very consistent, when I’m on the boat they run close to $100 per day. The only way that number changes significantly, is if I am not on Dauntless, like in the winter and if Dauntless is in a safe, secure, inexpensive location (like Waterford, Ireland).
Also, In the last weeks, I’ve realized how much I miss Northern Europe. My biggest mistake was not spending two summers in the Baltic. And to have this realization half way around the world is a bit annoying. (since there is nothing I can do about it now).
Martinique was a nice port, made nicer having endured a relatively rough three-week passage across the Atlantic from Europe. Beautiful women, French food & wine, what more can anyone ask for?
But after three weeks, Micah and I were both ready to move on. Sitting for months at a time is just not in me.
Therefore, my new, updated, improved plan allows me to take my time traveling north up the coast. I won’t have to travel in bad weather or contrary winds for a change. But it will be incumbent upon me to find good, economical places for Dauntless to winter over.
This winter that will be someplace in northern Mexico, next winter probably British Columbia and finally Southeast Alaska, maybe near Wrangell for the third winter.
Crossing the North Pacific will come next, then probably wintering over in Korea before heading south along the Chinese coast the following spring.
Exploring Southeast Asia and Vietnam will be up next.
And after that?
A return to Northern Europe; unless of course, the plan changes.
As I mentioned before, if you are not living in the moment, you are reflecting on the past or planning the future.
At night, as I drift off to sleep, I am usually always thinking of the future. I hate surprises. For me, there is no such thing as a “good” surprise. Unless of course, I get notified that a non-existent relative left a large sum of money in Nigeria for me. What could go wrong with that?
Exactly my point. A surprise meant I did not anticipate well enough. As many of you reading this will understand, it helps if you do read. To know and have experienced everything, I would have to be as old as the Universe itself. I’m not that old and as most of us figure out in our formative years, we will never catch up to that second-grade teacher we are in love with.
Reading and writing allowed our civilization to grow on the experience of those who came before us.
Reading allows us to experience without doing. While not the same as doing, brain studies have shown that it’s remarkedly effective. Two pianists given the same piece of music to play, one actually plays it, while the other only “plays” it in their mind. After a given set of time, there is remarkedly little difference between the two, when they actually perform it on a piano.
So, developing a mental picture is critical to my planning process. I also always have an idea of best and worst conditions. I simply never want to be surprised.
Now that the Pacific chapter of this story has started, my vision has shifted to the west, Asia in particular. Even though Asia is still years away, once I get north of Mexico, there is not much of the coast I have not seen. When I was on Shemya in the Aleutians, 30 years ago, I never envisioned returning on my own bottom.
So, the eastern and even northern portions of the Pacific, I have well imagined for a long time. So now it’s time to learn the western periphery, Japan, Korea, China, Taiwan, and Vietnam.
At the same time, I’m starting to think again about what is beyond that. The Indian Ocean, getting around Africa and even, once back in the Atlantic, then what?
So one of my dedicated, alert readers emailed me and asked the obvious question, “Since you want to spend time in the Med, why not go to Korea via the Suez Canal and Indian ocean?”
Great question. It’s been more than a year since I last looked at the charts and the route to the east.
So, I just looked at it again. Nothing changed. Sometimes Plate Tectonics does not work as fast as one would wish for. Probably have to wait another few hundred million years before the Horn of Africa is considered another continent. But then the Pacific will be smaller by then also!
Don’t think I’ll wait.
Gibraltar to Yeosu, Korea via the Suez Canal, 10,000 nm.
So why don’t I want to go east:
Even though it’s about 30% or 3,000 miles shorter, and
we could spend a good time in the Mediterranean.
Avoiding the Red Sea and the Suez Canal. I have read many accounts of boats transiting both; none of them very positive.
I don’t like dusting. We don’t like deserts or hot dusty climates.
The Red Sea would be difficult; the Indian Ocean would be impossible. Jimmy Cornell’s book, “World Cursing Routes” is my bible. It shows the difficulty of trying to go west to east against the prevailing winds 11 of 12 months in the northern Indian Ocean. Trying to time the one month of “good” winds is a fool’s errand.
Though the pirate situation is better than it has been and is now not much better off the west coast of Africa, it’s still an issue on a problematic coast.
Straits of Malacca. Even more lawless than the Horn of Africa.
We want to enjoy Korea before seeing Southeast Asia.
Gibraltar to Yeosu, Korea via the Panama Canal, 13,000 nm. Though longer, why do we want to go this way:
Like a magic carpet ride, the trade winds will whisk us from the Canary Islands all the way through the Caribbean to the Panama Canal. winds
Sometime in Central America will be nice.
Looking forward to seeing the west coast of the US; a coast that I have driven along numerous times, yet have never seen from the sea.
Spending time in the Pacific Northwest and Southeast Alaska.
Crossing the north Pacific in July should be easier than the Atlantic. Also, the Aleutians provide stopping spots. The Bering Sea has a little east to west counter current.