ESPERANCE, Western Australia—Since my last post, I’ve moved on from Perth. What to say about Perth? I’ll let a great writer take up the intro:

“Now it is a strange thing, but things that are good to have and days that are good to spend are soon told about, and not much to listen to; while things that are uncomfortable, palpitating, and even gruesome, may make a good tale, and take a deal of telling anyway.”

—J. R. R. Tolkien. “The Hobbit.”

Unfortunately—from a storytelling point of view—there was nothing uncomfortable, palpitating or even vaguely gruesome about my stay in Perth, other than the outrageous prices on everything. It’s a lovely city, lapped by the gentle waves of the Indian Ocean, with spectacular beaches, a decent local music scene and a food environment that, really, is a bit lacking in imagination. Thai and Nepalese are about as outré as it gets. Read More

Hello all! Long time, eh? Well, sorry about that. I was at sea when the world supposedly ended.

Perth is the most isolated big city in the world. To the west, the endless tracts of the Indian Ocean, only interrupted by the bulk of Africa and Madagascar almost 7,000 km away. To the east, north and south lies the forbidding Australian outback.

So arriving in Perth after 10 days at sea felt a bit like landing at a moon colony. (That it’s also a mining town brings to mind science fictions’s fascination with lunar mining.) Regardless, I’ve been getting my feet under me here in Perth since shortly before Christmas. Add to that the holiday hoo-hah, and you have few opportunities to write.

So what follows is a departure from  my usual blog posting. It’s basically the journal I kept while on board the White Sea, and as such might be a little raw, contradictory or just plain boring — as the trip often was. But, I think it gives a pretty good idea of what traveling solo on a freighter ship is like. Fair warning, though: This is a long post. Read More

ABOARD THE WHITE SEA—This will be a quickie, as I’m still in port and using my phone for Internet access, but I’m aboard the White Sea and will be setting sail in some hours.

The ride into Pasir Panjang Terminal was uneventful, and the shipping company made me use their own driver, as private vehicles aren’t allowed in port for safety reasons. But as we approached, the necks of the idle cranes loomed over the trees surrounding the area. With their green and yellow paint jobs, they evoked strange, mechanical dinosaurs towering over a primeval forest. Read More