Monday, August 24, 2009

Setting sail!

In the next hour I will leave my hotel and step aboard the MV Explorer for the first time! We have most of the day to get settled and run off the ship again if we need to. The ship will sail at 11:00pm tonight.

After a few relaxing days in North Carolina with Mom and Dad and a visit with Grandma we hit the road for Norfolk Saturday. Luckily a bit of rain on the way was all we experienced of Hurricane Bill and that is enough for me. After checking in to our hotel we went to the mall across the street for some dinner and additional shopping. After that we walked to the pier and I saw the ship for the first time. It was all a buzz with cleaning crews as the students and staff from the summer voyage just got of the ship that morning. It was a great moment seeing the ship that I would be calling home for the next few months. Bright and early Sunday morning mom and dad when to church and we got breakfast after. With that came the good byes and the tears as Mom and Dad started the drive back home. I spent the day making some phone calls and walking around the dock areas.

I am sharing my hotel room with 3 other staff members, Eddie, Grant and Bridget so as the day progressed it was fun to have a knock on the door and meet the new roommates - it was very "Real World". The Living Learning Team (formerly known as the Student Life Team) all met for dinner at a converted Abby here in Norfolk. While some of our conversation was not the most appropriate for an Abby but i imagine that its walls have heard worse. We also had a lot of laughs talking about all the baggage and things people brought. Ana brought 10 cases of water! Eddie brought 100 pairs of underwear (I'm still not sure if he is kidding, his amount of luggage would suggest that he is not) With a post dinner run to WalMart we picked up a few final things and the roommates and I came back to the hotel.

Eddie, Grant and I decided a round of drinks were necessary so off we went. A few hours, a few drinks and many laughs later the bar was shutting down and we were kindly asked to leave. I think this is a great start to my trip.

I have not gotten our training schedule yet but I expect to be pretty busy over the next few days so I'll update as soon as I can.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

We all have our baggage...

...and mine shattered into a million pieces. A million pieces of junk!

At the end of a long day of flying I was happy to get off the plane and ready to get my bag. Dad and I were waiting and as soon as I saw it coming toward me on the carousel I knew something wasn't right. What should have been a flat bottom was rounded. I tried to pull it off and heard the pieces of the bottom support shuffle and crack even more. UGH!

Annoyed and struggling to roll it out of the Charlotte airport I figured, I better get to the store, I need a new bag for Saturday. Upon arriving to my parents house I was welcomed by a batch of famous Mommy Lynn cookies so that took my mind off the luggage situation for the night. Now, my mom likes a challenge and she was one unhappy little Irish woman when she found out about my bag. She called Samsonite and asked what we needed to do in order to get a new bag or my money back. They told her to take it to a luggage store in the mall and we would have to pay to have it shipped back. If Samsonite determined that it was damage due to the airport then I was out of luck but if it was a product defect they would repair or replace it. So off to the mall we went. I guess the base of the bag has been a reoccurring problem because almost as quickly as we walked into the store, the guy working went to the back and got me a new bag with no hassle at all. Cheers!

My parents and I will head to Norfolk Saturday morning and I will see the ship for the first time, I can't wait. The adventure is a few days away.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009


How does one pack for a three and a half month trip around the world?! How many pairs of jeans? Is 6 pairs of shoes too many? Should I bring my own wine opener? Will my small bag be big enough for my excursions? How often will I get my laundry done on board. Is two weeks worth of underwear enough?!?!
I know that thousands of people have done it before but I am having a hard time. Its a bonus that we are ending our voyage in San Diego and will not need to fly again on the way back- I imagine that I will add a few things to my bag along the way, if not another bag entirely. While I leave LA in 5 days I will have a few days in North Carolina with my parents before I to Norfolk to board the ship. I'll be doing my 'final' shopping in NC where I'll pick up the stuff I don't want to fly with like full bottles of shampoo and conditioner, office supplies, and 3 months worth of Doritos.

Monday, August 3, 2009

The Field Program/SAS Excursions

One of the most important aspects of the Semester At Sea program is the Field Program - or the in port excursions. Some of them are directly connected to a class, some are not. In any form, all the classes incorporate the experiences students have in each port. Two weeks ago students, staff and faculty registered for the over night trips. We will sign up for the single day trips along the journey once aboard. With over 500 students, 40 Life Long Learners and 70 some faculty and staff I didn't think that I would get all the trips that I requested. Obviously there are limitations on trips so if numbers exceed the capacity then a lottery will be done for all positions. I am very fortunate that I got ALL the big trips I wanted. Once on board the dean will decide what staff members will be a trip leader thus receiving half of the price covered by SAS - I am hoping to be a leader on at least one of my trips.

I'll do my best not to over load you but here is some info from the guide book about the amazing trips that I will be experiencing.

Located on an oasis at the base of the High Atlas Mountains, Marrakech is the gateway city to the Sahara. The cultural, natural and historical attractions of this traditional Berber capital, seat to nearly all of Morocco’s dynasties over the last thousand years, make Marrakech the top tourism destination in North Africa.

Ouarzazate lies on the confluence of three important oasis valley systems: the Ouarzazate, Dadès and Drâa. As one travels southeast from Ouarzazate to Zagora, the contrast of bare sun-baked rock with the lush green of the palm groves forms some beautiful scenery. A labyrinth of irrigation channels feeds the fertile, palm-shaded terraces of farmland in the Drâa valley. Dates are the primary commercial crop, and the best eating dates are found in Zagora. The Drâa Valley has always been strongly influenced and interlinked with the destiny of the surrounding nomadic tribes. It has served as a stepping-stone for Saharan explorations since the 10thcentury. Your experience in the Sahara will include an overnight in a nomad camp and a camel trek into the desert.

Day 1: Depart by minibus to Marrakech. Upon arrival, you will have free time to explore the city. This evening enjoy a Moroccan dinner with folklore show and horse fantasia at Chez Ali. Day 2: Travel to Zagora in the magnificent Drâa Valley. A lunch stop will be made in Ouarzazate where you will have a tremendous view of the Saharan world including its dunes, oases and small mud villages. Later enjoy dinner in a nomad tent before settling into camp for the night.
Day 3: This morning you will venture into the Sahara Desert on an early morning mehari (camel trek) with nomads. Enjoy a last mint tea in the desert before returning to Marrakech. The late afternoon and evening are free to explore the famous Jemaa el Fna Square and other sites.
Day 4: Enjoy Marrakech on your own until you depart for your return by minibus to Casablanca.

Day 1: In the early morning depart for a scenic drive through the coastal savanna of the Accra plains. Once at Afadjato Mountain, climb to the highest point of Ghana, without the need for climbing gear. After reaching the summit, depart for an eventful drive to Wli Waterfalls. Hike through the lush greenery of the Agumatsa Forest Reserve where you will cross the same river eleven times to reach the breathtaking falls. Enjoy a picnic lunch at the base of the falls. The water falls from a height of about 1,600 feet into a plunge pool where swimming is permitted. You may swim in the plunge pool at the base of the tallest
waterfall in Ghana.
Day 2: After breakfast, drive to Tafi Atome, a village that has practiced conservation as a culture by keeping their monkeys sacred. Witness these endangered animals in large numbers as they live in the wild. The monkeys are the mona species and are considered sacred by the people who live with them.

Kruger National Park is one of the world’s most popular sanctuaries for nature and wildlife and home to innumerable species. There is an ideal opportunity in the park to observe Africa’s Big Five up close – lion, leopard, elephant, buffalo and rhinoceros – in addition to no less than 336 types of trees, 49 species of fish, 114 types of reptiles and 507 bird species, as well as endless elegant giraffe, baboons, zebra and buck.

Day 1: Transfer from the ship to Cape Town International Airport for your two-hour flight to Kruger. On arrival, transfer to the Sabi River Sun Resort. After check-in, the remainder of the afternoon is at leisure. In the late afternoon, the game ranger takes you on a game drive in open 4x4 vehicles. At dusk, enjoy sundowners deep in the bush. Return to the lodge to freshen up before dinner. This evening, dinner is served in the boma. This African tradition is typically dinner around the campfire in an outdoor setting.
Day 2: In the early morning, awaken for a full-day game drive. Experience how nature comes to life with the rise of the sun. Breakfast packs are available for the drive. Later, enjoy a picnic lunch in the bush. Afterwards, continue the game drive in search of more sightings of the Big Five. Return to the lodge in the afternoon and relax before dinner.
Day 3: In the early morning, awaken for a morning game drive. Breakfast packs are available for the drive. Continue to the airport for your return flight to Cape Town.

Day 1: Transfer to the airport for your 2 1⁄2-hour flight to New Delhi. Upon arrival, enjoy a city orientation of Old Delhi. Drive along Rajpath, the ceremonial avenue, past the Rashtrapati Bhavan (Presidential Palace) the Raj Ghat (Gandhi Memorial) and the Red Fort. Enjoy lunch at a local restaurant. In the afternoon, depart on a three-hour train ride for Agra. Once in Agra, proceed to the hotel for dinner and overnight.
Day 2: View the Taj Mahal at dawn, then return to the hotel for breakfast. Visit the deserted city of Fatehpur Sikri with its well-preserved sandstone palaces. Return to the hotel for lunch. The afternoon will include visits to Agra Fort and the Taj Mahal. After viewing the Taj Mahal at sunset, board the express train (two hours) for New Delhi. Dinner will be served on the train. Upon arrival, transfer to your hotel.
Day 3: After breakfast at the hotel, enjoy a city tour of New Delhi. Enjoy lunch at a local restaurant before transferring to the airport for your return flight to Chennai.

Phnom Penh, capital of Cambodia, was once considered the loveliest of the French-built cities of Indochina. Its charm is still evident despite the violence and destruction during and immediately following the Viet Nam War. When the Viet Nam War spread to Cambodia, the city's population swelled with refugees, reaching about two million in early 1975.

Angkor is an incomparable temple complex built between 7 and 11 centuries ago at the height of the Khmer civilization. Angkor’s 100 or so temples constitute the sacred skeleton of a spectacular administrative and religious center covering 200-square kilometer. The ruins represent successive capitals constructed by a dozen Khmer kings, which included massive stone temples, majestic causeways and imposing towers. You will visit the most famous temple complex, Angkor Wat. With its soaring towers and extraordinary bas-reliefs, many consider Angkor Wat to be one of the most inspired and spectacular monuments ever conceived by the human mind.

Day 1: Depart for the airport for your one-hour flight to Phnom Penh. Upon arrival, obtain a Cambodia visa. Visit the Royal Palace and the Silver Pagoda. In the afternoon, visit the Palm Tree Orphanage, supported by SAS alumni Terry Kellogg and Marvel Harrison, founders of Cambodia’s Hope. Enjoy a sunset cruise on the Mekong River followed by dinner at a local restaurant.
Day 2: In the morning, visit the Tuol Sleng Museum, the Killing Fields and the Russian Market. Transfer for your flight to Siem Reap. Upon arrival, view and explore Angkor Wat until sunset. Check into the hotel for dinner and overnight.
Day 3: Early risers may enjoy an optional sunrise tour of Angkor Wat. After breakfast at the hotel, spend the day exploring the area’s massive and elaborate temple ruins and restoration projects, including Angkor Wat. Late afternoon, transfer to the airport for your return flight to Ho Chi Minh City.

Day 1: Depart Hong Kong for your flight to Beijing and take transfer to Simatai. Watch the sunset over the Great Wall and then enjoy an evening under the stars. Dinner at the lodge.
Day 2: Breakfast is at leisure in the lodge. Today take a 4-5 hour (8km) hike from Simatai Great Wall and the Jinshanling Section. The Simatai – Jinshanling is a four-hour hike along the unreconstructed part of the Wall. The Simatai Great Wall is celebrated for its steepness and intactness. The main attractions include the Stairway to Heaven, the Fairy Tower, the Heaven
Bridge and the Wangjinglou Tower. The hike will continue until you reach Jinshanling, the best preserved part of the Great Wall with many original features. Overnight will be at a local inn.
Day 3: Breakfast is at leisure in hotel. Today hike 5-6 hours (12km) from Jinshanling to Gubeikou Great Wall. In this section of the Wall, there are 14 beacon towers, 143 watchtowers, 16 strategic pass, three citadels and many other military constructions. This will be a fairly smooth, easy hike. En route, pass a military area where you can walk along a scenic country road before rejoining the Wall. The hike will finish at the General Tower in the Gubeikou section. In the late afternoon drive to downtown Beijing. Enjoy at Roast Duck dinner in Beijing.
Day 4: Today visit Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City. In the afternoon transfer to Beijing Airport for
your return flight to Shanghai.

So, that is a look at the big trips that I'll be taking! Hopefully I'll get some great photos to share with you.

What Time Is It There?

While I am in the process of trying to figure out my phone situation which will inevitably be expensive and hope to not make too many calls during the voyage I thought it might also be helpful to share with you all time change info.

Based on Eastern Standard Time - the time on the ship is ahead EDT by the number of hours listed below:

Spain (+6 hours)
Morocco (+4 hours)
Ghana (+4 hours)
South Africa (+6 hours)
Mauritius (+8 hours)
India (+9.5 hours)
Viet Nam (+11 hours)
China (+13 hours)
Japan (+14 hours)
Hawaii (-5 hours)

I love mail...

...but don't send me your bills.

A few of you have already asked about where you can send me things. First, I LOVE that idea. While I am excited to meet new people and see the world, I know that I will miss the comforts and people of home - be that LA, San Francisco, Kalamazoo or Farmington Hills. Second, I'll be sure to send you something or bring you something back :) I plan to be a pen-pal for my friend Katie's classroom in Chicago. 'But first a word from our sponsor'

Please do not send packages to the ship - Excessive duty is charged in some countries. In many instances, packages are not delivered to the ship. Packages may be held in customs, or at a local post office, and the recipient aboard ship is never notified. If you send packages, you do so at your own risk.

This info can be found in a user friendly chart on the Semester At Sea site for all you visual people. It includes suggested airmail dates for things to be sent out from the US.

But here it is as well.

When sending mail please address this as follows
MV Explorer - Fall 2009 Voyage
Attn: Patrick Lynn

Then the Port Agent's Address (from the list below) should be written on the subsequent lines.

Cadiz, SPAIN - Suggested Airmail Date August 21

Perez Y CIA S.L.
C/ Ecuador, 2
11007 Cadiz, SPAIN

Casablanca, MOROCCO - Suggested Airmail Date August 27

30 Avenue des Far
20000 Casablanca, MAROC

Accra, GHANA - Suggested Airmail Date September 8

Seatec House / PO Box CO 214
Akosombo Road

Cape Town, SOUTH AFRICA - Suggested Airmail Date September 19

19th FLOOR
No.1 Thibault Square
8001 Cape Town, SOUTH AFRICA

Port Louis, MAURITIUS - Suggested Airmail Date October 1

Ireland Blyth Limited
Shipping Operations Department
No 6 Dr Ferriere Street

Chennai, INDIA - Suggested Airmail Date October 9

3rd Floor, Clive Battery Complex
4 & 4A, Rajaji Salai
Chennai 600 001, INDIA

Ho Chi Minh City, VIET NAM - Suggested Airmail Date October 20

5th Floor Osic Building
8 Nguyen Hue Ave.
D. 1, Ho Chi Minh City, VIET NAM

HONG KONG - Suggested Airmail Date October 28

Units 1802-1805, 18th Floor
Nº 3 Lockhart Road
Wanchai, Hong Kong - CHINA

Shanghai, CHINA – Suggested Airmail Date November 1

3/F 13 Zhong Shan Road (E 1)
Shanghai 200002, P.R. CHINA

Yokohama, JAPAN - Suggested Airmail Date November 6

2F Asahi Seimei Yokohama Honcho Bldg
36, 4-Chome Honcho, Naka-ku
Yokohama-shi, Kanagawa-ken 231-005, JAPAN

Kobe, JAPAN – Suggested Airmail Date November 9

Kenryu Bldg, Room 502
6 Kaigan-dori, Chuo-ku
Kobe-shi, Hyog-ken 650-0024, JAPAN

Honolulu, HAWAII - Suggested Airmail Date November 20
521 Ala Moana Blvd
Suite 256
Honolulu, HI 96813

Hilo, HAWAII - Suggested Airmail Date November 23
521 Ala Moana Blvd
Suite 256
Honolulu, HI 96813

The Excitement is Building.

Two weeks from today I will leave my house on the beach (my summer home as I have enjoyed calling it) to go to North Carolina so I can spend a few days with my parents and see Grandma before my voyage. A lot has been going on in the past few weeks so let me give you the update.

I had a chance to actually meet my supervisor Byron for our 1:1 meeting back in early July. He was ‘meeting’ with most of the staff over the phone as we are scattered across the country but as he is just an hour inland I thought I would make the trip to meet him. As expected from my initial conversation with him during my interview and our exchanges via e-mail our lunch meeting was a great time. We talked some business and I shared with him my thoughts and goals for my position. He told me more about his experience on the ship and a few of his highlights along his journey. As if I was not excited enough our meeting got me even more energized and eager for the adventure. On the hour drive back to the Westside (fortunately avoiding the traffic from the Michael Jackson memorial that occurred the same day) my mind was spinning with excitement and ideas for what the journey would be like.

In other news, I finally finished all of my inoculations. I went to the Playa Vista Urgent Care Center last week and it was thankfully less eventful than the interaction with the staff at the farmers market. I told the guy at the desk that I needed the MMR booster, polio and yellow fever shots for travel. They asked me where I was going. ‘Seriously’ I thought to myself, having imagined that this process would be quick, as I knew just what I needed. ‘I’m going all over the place, but I specifically need yellow fever for Ghana.’ The physician’s assistant seemed to be ok with that. Being the only person there I didn’t have to wait too long before I was taken back into an exam room where I spoke to the doctor for a very brief moment about my travels. Moments later the assistant again came in and told me that the doctor wanted a full list of places that I would be going. Now having gotten pretty good at running through the list and being a little annoyed I gave him the list pretty quickly. (I do have to admit, being unemployed since the end of May I have plenty of time on my hands but I still I was annoyed as if I had ‘better things to do’ or ‘had someplace to go’ of which I had neither). He looked up from his note pad like a deer in headlights, ‘victory’ I thought to myself.

“What is Mauritius?” He asked.

“It’s an island of Madagascar, but I don’t need any shots for that area”

He walked out and sat down at a computer behind a desk and asked another staff member, “He is literally going around the world. Where is Mauritius? I don’t know how to spell it, I had to sound it out”

He later popped his in again with a big grin and said, “I found Mauritius!”

The doctor came in again and I told him more about the program and he, not so surprisingly asked if I was a student. When I told him that I was a staff member he seemed rather impressed, rightfully so. Nearly an hour after my arrival I finally got my shots and soon after went on my way to sit in my summer home and do nothing but watch TV. It’s a hard life.