Tuesday, April 21, 2009


My home away from home! The MV Explorer has definitely become a place I can call home. I am going to be soo sad when it’s time to leave in 2 and half weeks because I’m soo used to it now. Life on board has been busy busy busy! More busy than I could have imagined, I thought I was going to have all this free-time and that my classes would be a breeze to get through, but no! Whole different story! Probably because I am involved with soo many clubs on board I’m always in a meeting or have somewhere to go. It’s been fun though!

I’m apart of four clubs/organizations which are the Students of Color group, Asian-Pacific Islander American group, LGBTQA, and the Ambassadors Ball. So I am always doing something or got to be some where on the ship. My main club that I am into the most is the Students of Color group, I took on the position of being the Student Coordinator and this group actually meets the most out of the entire shipboard community I think. We are like a family and I am soo glad we have this group here because I seriously needed some space to reflect and find support. So I help a lot with the event planning and coordinating of the meetings, send out emails and remind people when we are meeting. It’s nice to have conversations around identity and how we are affected by the things we experience in port. I am definitely proud of myself for getting involved in all these organizations because at home I would never have done it. I definitely want to get more involved back home now though since I have had such a positive experience from it here on the ship.

So I am usually super tired everyday basically, that’s why I was slacking on my blogs after India lol! It just got really difficult to keep up with everything because we only had 2 days at sea in-between each port traveling through Asia so it was soo hard! To just process everything we saw and to keep up with classes. It was a lot! It’s like school, vacation, school, vacation, but no time to recover from the last pot because your going to be in China the next day, it was like that. I like having at least 4 days in-between, it helps. So if you were wondering why I stopped posting for a while that’s why! I’ve been a busy girl here!

Another interesting thing is that we don’t have weekends on the ship, we have class everyday at sea basically, “A” and “B” days. So I never even know what day it is of the week really, none of us do lol. The time is constantly changing too! If you thought day-light savings was a hassle imagine losing an hour each day for 6 days. It gets a little hectic around here at times because everyone is super tired!!! Our meals on board are at scheduled times for 2 hour periods for each meal, so if you miss it you will probably be hungry… They have a pool bar on the top deck with snacks and a grill open at certain times, but it all adds up onto our shipboard account so I try not to spend too much there. It happens though, because I get hungry! A lot of people ask me how is the food, I mean they are making food 3 times a day for us for over 700 people so it’s not always the best food, but it’s food. Sometimes it’s good and sometimes it isn’t, but after visiting these countries you come to realize that at least we have food. So I don’t complain about it, because at least I have something everyday you know.

Classes are not too bad, just one that everybody has to take called Global Studies is the one we all don’t like. Everyday at 9:20 am we are supposed to be in the Union which is a big room that fits like 400 students or we can go in the satellite classrooms since they video tape it they just stream it in there… I have to go to the union otherwise I won’t pay attention. My other classes are alright, some of my professors are chill about things and will let us turn things in late and some are more strict. Just depends on who you have. The thing that kinda sucks though is that if you miss a class you will definitely see your professor later that day at lunch or dinner or just around the ship and they stop and ask where you were haha. I usually only miss class if I’m sick, but yeah… It’s very informal, we call our professors by their first name, and we come to class in PJ’s and sweats most of the time. It doesn’t feel like real school sometimes, but we do have assignments, essays, and tests. Just a different structure to try and accommodate our situation. It gets really rocky at times and it’s funny to see everyone swaying back and forth with the motion of the ship, people lose balance if they are standing sometimes, but it’s not weird to see anymore. I’m used to the movement of it now. I’m going to miss it when I go home actually!

They also plan out different activities on the ship for us. They have movie nights sometimes or like open-mic night. There’s definitely always something to do. I never get bored here! They have pub night on the 7th deck sometimes where you can drink, but there’s no music and it’s just beer and wine, not a fan. It’s limited to like 2 drinks I think too, 2 at dinner and 2 up there… Not sure because I never got a drinking card… Pub-night is definitely not my scene though, some people are just obnoxious honestly and I don’t want to associate myself with them. So I usually will just go up to get a snack or talk with the crew then head back down.

The crew is GREAT on the ship!!! They are like family to me! They take care of everything for us on the ship, they are amazing! We are soo spoiled here. I did not know they would be doing that much for us when I got on board, but they really do earn their $! They clean our rooms and bathrooms for us, make our beds, do our laundry, cook, and pick up our dishes during dinner. I try and take my own plate all the time because I don’t feel comfortable having them do everything! I feel bad… They are all really good people though. Mostly Filipino and Jamaican, but a few from other countries too. I definitely will be keeping in touch with some of them. The thing that makes me mad is they have a no “fraternization” policy between crew and passengers which I think is soo dumb!! They are people too you know, but yeah when we run into each other in port we will have a drink or something. It’s cool. I love one particular crew member from South Africa =) she unfortunately left in Japan, but will definitely have to go back in visit!!! I love the crew though, they look like me more than the students do lol… it’s actually kinda sad that the diversity on the ship is very low.

It was quite disappointing when I first got on the ship to see that it was all white people basically. Only 5% non-white students and like no staff! I mean there’s a few, but less than a handful. Something they need to work on, the students of color group has expressed our concern in that area already to the administration and hopefully they will do something about it in the future.

Back to more on what there is to do here, umm, they also have a gym and cardio machines, weights, and a basketball court!! They have a big net around it so the ball doesn’t go overboard. So in the beginning they had soccer and volleyball, now it’s basketball intramurals. I was playing, but hurt my ankle in Japan, so played once hurt the other one, now I’m done! Don’t want to leave on crutches so I decided to sit out. Yeah other than that everyone is either reading, working on assignments, emailing home, or sleeping if not eating. The days sometimes go by really fast. It gets pretty routine sometimes. I’m trying to do it all though, since time is limited I don’t want to miss anything!! I’m never in my room, just to sleep and shower really.

That’s basically what I do on the ship, nothing too special, but I’m telling you I am always tired! I love it though, miss home definitely too. Ahh it’s almost over, super excited to see you all at home don’t get me wrong! But I’m also going to be really sad to leave all this and just knowing I’m not going to see my friends here anymore is sad. We have become a really close group, and I’m lucky to have them. The whole experience has been great, I love it here. I really have grown to call the ship home.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009



Alright I’m sitting here trying to decide if I should go back and blog on the countries I missed and I think I should. Each one was soo different and I experienced too much to not share with you guys. Even though I’m writing this during my transit to Hawaii, I find it important to share. At least the major points of what I experienced…

What a hott/humid country Vietnam is! I did not expect to HAVE to shower twice a day there just to feel comfortable… Lol! Anyways, I do have to say I learned A LOT, soo much about the war and the people… I felt angered and sad after leaving Vietnam, or even while I was there. Angered at the fact that I was uneducated on the war and on the after-math it had on the people there. I went to the War Remnants Museum there and that was an emotional 2 hours. We weren’t taught a lot of what was actually done. We always only learn the American side to the story if even that, and it angers me! I could not believe the pictures I saw and things I read in that museum. I felt embarrassed to be an American. I never learned what Agent Orange was or about the torture American Soldiers did to the Vietnamese soldiers and civilians. It broke my heart to see that people are still suffering from the effects of being exposed to agent orange and how many children were born with deformities and disabilities because of it. The blood left on the Vietnamese soil is still visible left from our country. I had soo many questions walking through that museum, most of it began with “WHY?” Why did we do this? Why did it happen? Why wasn’t I taught about this? Why? Why? Why? Soo many questions unanswered….

I left the museum speechless, timid, tearful, and sad. My friend Braxton and I went together and we didn’t even know what to say to eachother. We felt horrible and just had to leave… I went to the Cu Chi Tunnels the 1st day and the museum the last day. If I would have went to the tunnels after having been to the museum my experience and outlook would have been totally different. I could not imagine how they lived in those tiny tunnels for soo long. I couldn’t stand maneuvering through the one we went in for longer than 5 minutes… It was an awakening for me as most of the things I have witnessed on this voyage have been…

I’ve learned that I have to seek the knowledge I want and am yet to learn. Nobody is going to teach it to me. I have to go out there and learn about it myself. I want to know more and more and more. Even if it is the horrible things that happened in the passed, I want to be aware of it. I would rather be knowledgeable than no nothing about the war or culture.

Yeah Vietnam was definitely an eye-opener. I did do more than learn about the war. I had a positive experience with a few locals that spoke no English and I speak no Vietnamese. We found a common ground though and communicated with hand gestures and expression. It was an interesting experience, one that I will never forget. They were soo excited to meet us though. I also had a chance to see the Mekong Delta and experience the floating market. I tried all sorts of fruit and saw a different type of life I ceased to know existed. The Mekong Delta was great to see… The food I had in Vietnam was fabulous! A lot better than the Vietnamese food I’ve had in the states that’s for sure lol! The people were AMAZING!!! I could not believe how open-armed they were to us …

My mind is overwhelmed with experiences from Vietnam. It was an emotional, life-alternating, self-educating, and challenging experience all-together for me. Vietnam is in my heart and I am soo grateful I had the opportunity to visit such a country of great people and tragic history.


It is May 21st and we are already going to be in Vietnam tomorrow just 2 days after leaving Thailand. It is getting really difficult to keep up with school and process all the information and my experiences soo fast. One day we are in India, a few days later in Thailand, and now Vietnam. The time really flies by, it is crazyyyy!

Anyways, I am trying not to fall behind in my journaling and blogging so I got to write and keep writing whenever I can. Thailand was a relaxing port for me. A LOT different than our last port (India). I did not get a chance to make it to Bangkok, but I did go to the island of Koh Samet and spent most of my time also in Pattaya. Two very different parts of Thailand! They informed us about the sex industry in Thailand and told us we would see it while we were there, but I was in no way prepared for what I saw. I have never seen that many sex workers in my life! It was soo bad! The area where I saw them in was in Pattaya by walking street. This is where the nightlife is at and is like Vegas, but more intense. Some students say it is even crazier there than Amsterdam? I have never been there, but yeah, Pattaya was like nothing I have never seen. I have to admit I had a good time partying out there, but it definitely took a toll on me seeing all those young women, looking not much older than myself, working the street and strolling off with old foreign men. It was terrible!!! =/

On another note, the Thai people were very nice and helpful. I was surprised to see how many people spoke English. I had the chance to spend a day with a Taxi driver that my friend and I paid to take us around and tell us about the culture and people. His name was pronounced like “Clack-Clack” but I’m sure that’s not how you spell it lol! He was GREAT! Took us all around Pattaya and even had dinner with us, told us about his kids, and his thoughts on the sex industry in Thailand. It was really nice having a local with us to show us the good places to go and see. I think I learn soo much more from people than seeing actual sites… I can appreciate the culture a lot more and develop a greater understanding of the people.

The massages in Thailand are the BEST I must say so myself! I had two while I was there and they were both great! If you ever go to Thailand make sure to get one! I recommend the oil massage! A little uncomfortable at first, but trust me, you get over that part fast and it is really relaxing.

I also had the chance to go see some animals in Thailand and I got the chance to hold and feed a baby tiger! It was great! A little scary, but I’m happy I had the chance to do it. I just didn’t appreciate how they treated the tigers there.. They seemed enclosed in a small space and yeah don’t want to get into the rest.. I also held a baby crocodile! That was pretty cool! Very rough texture to the scales/skin, whatever… lol…

The island of Koh Samet was a beautiful place! Nice clear water that was almost like bath water, and very warm. I went banana boating there which was quite an adventure… All of us came out with some form of injury and I lost an earring I had just bought! Oh well… It was worth it.. That overnight trip was very peaceful and relaxing, a nice getaway from the city… Overall Thailand was a super nice place to visit. I don’t know how I feel about everything I saw there, it’s a lot to process and some of it makes me really sad. The people I encountered were super nice and welcoming to me. Many people thought was Thai actually and I received soo many compliments on my short hair haha, it was nice. Thailand was a great start to the East-Asian countries we will visit. I’m going to miss it….