Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween from Singapore

We celebrated Halloween a night early as we were still at sea and because of the fact that on Halloween we would be scattered throughout Singapore. As always, Sandy got into the swing of things:
Alias, Betty Boop
Then, on Halloween night itself we, along with a group from the ship we went to the Night Safari, which was quite cool (actually, very humid):
 Following a nice buffet dinner we took a tram through the rain forest viewing the animals in their nocturnal habitat. And, being Halloween there were a few additional surprises along the 45 minute excursion.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Pre-dinner activity

Sandy and friends in the faculty lounge
Every day in the Faculty lounge (no students allowed) from about 1700-1900 the bar opens and faculty, staff and life long learners gather.  Every other day there usually is some type of activity or presentation.  Last night George McLemore, a faculty member who teaches photo-journalism, gave an excellent talk on how to take better pictures.  His specialty is taking photos of people.
George McLemore working the crowd

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

More scenes from the Chennai area

The Chennai Rotarians were nice enough to hire a bus to take our group about 40km south of Chennai to view the wonderful temples at Mamallpuram.  On our way there we did make a stop to see an alligator/crocodile farm:

Crocodiles at feeding time: I think I ate one of their cousins back in CapeTown
And, of course the sacred cows can be seen just about anywhere you go.

The temples were quite impressive; one was right on the beach.  And five of them, the "Five Rathas" or Chariots each were carved out of massive piece of granite.
Two of the Rathas
The Indian cuisine was wonderful.  I am not one who enjoys hot spicy food and I was able to eat virtually everything that was served.  At breakfast I really enjoyed the chutney and coconut and chutney and tomato dishes.  And one dessert was fried ice cream, just like biting into a donut and hitting ice cream in the middle.
One of our lunches
And, to end one our evenings my host family took me to the movies to see "Robot" one of the hottest films being shown in India. It was a sci-fi, one of India's favorite gendres,  we went to a 10pm show (and did not get out until 0135). We watched it in the smaller theater, one that perhaps held over 500 people, in chairs which reclined.  Ticket prices are capped by the government so even with these delux seats it cost only about $ 2.10 each.  Tonight we set sail for Singapore.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Rotary homestay in Chennai

One of the "field trips" I signed up for while in Chennai was to stay with a Rotarian's family for 3 days and 2 nights.  I was  matched up with Rajkumar Devarajan and his family. His wife was out of town tending to her ailing mother so it was Raj, Sasha, and me.
Rajkumar and Sasha, in their home in front of portraits of his grandparents
Being a rotarian myself (having joined the Oakland, Md chapter just about 6 months ago) I was quite interested in attending the Chennai Rotary meeting.  About 30 of us from the ship were placed with Rotarian families and on the first evening we all gathered for a Rotary meeting. Two chapters organized it and it included representatives from 10 clubs in the Chennai area.  For the past 18 years they have been hosting Semester at Sea people each semester.  I presented two of the clubs the banner from my Oakland chapter.
The President of the Adyar chapter
 The Chennai Rotary chapters are very active; just yesterday was "Polio" day-- India, along with Pakistan and Nigeria still have a significant polio problem.  The country does appreciate the role the Rotary plays in trying to eradicate polio:
A huge banner hanging outside a theater in downtown Chennai
Rajkumar gave me a nice white button down Rotary shirt: I gave him a work shirt

Chennai, India

We arrived in Chennai a few days ago- on the first day I took a general city tour and then went on a 3 day, 2 night home stay, hosted by the local Rotary club.  Sandy left a couple days ago at "o'dark" to catch a flight to New Delhi where she is touring, including the Taj Mahal and Varanasi.  It is hot and humid and the city is chock full of people (about 7.5 million).  I hope they have no-fault car insurance as cars, motorcycles and people all seem to converge to within inches of each other along the roads.  The following are some visuals of places and people in the city:

Hindu temple in Chennai

St. Thomas: the apostle Thomas is buried here
Woman frying plantains and hot peppers
A woman at the temple

Monday, October 25, 2010

Sea Olympics

During each semester the students are divided, according to where on ship they are living, into "seas"- each Sea has a young adult who acts as a "resident adviser"- and, once during the voyage a "sea olympics" is held during an afternoon. The students compete against each other in events such as ping pong, Jeopardy, crab soccer, sustainable art, limbo, ice cube race, etc. And the adults form their own team. For this semester our team was named the "Nomer"Sea:
our banner
While I spent 2+ hours as a ref in the crab soccer event (during which I got slammed with the soccer ball a half dozen times) Sandy was competing in the sustainable art contest and the ice cube event (which they won)-- overall, the Caribbean Sea won the Olympics and the NomerSea came in a respectable 3rd (out of 10 teams).  The winning team gets to enjoy a dance in the faculty lounge in a couple of weeks plus they get to be the first group off the ship when we arrive in San Diego at the end of the voyage.
Griffin, our mascot
Sandy with "daughter" Amy, who as you may have guessed, was on the Yellow Sea team
Sandy and teammates competing in the art sustainability event

Friday, October 22, 2010

Half voyage party

The other night the faculty, staff and life long learners held a party to celebrate that we were half way through our voyage. You were suppose to come appropriately, Sandy came "half heartedly" and I came supposedly with half my hair back....oh well, we tried to show that.  And, on the way to the party my new friend Hieu saw my head and said, "Oh my gosh, let me do mine on the other side."  Well, you can see the results. I think together we made a "whole wit".

Me and Hieu
"half-hearted" Sandra and "half lit" Julie

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

3pm: It must be game time

Sandy, and up to about 5 other adults and students, are now known to congregate at a given table in the 6th deck dining room (the "Garden" dining room) at this hour each day to play games:  Matchability, Bananagram, etc.  And, yesterday after their game we taught several people how to play "Oh Hell".

Sandy with Julie, Chris and Maria at the game table

Our extended family

One of the programs on board ship is the creation of extended families where faculty and life long learners "adopt" students who would like to have "family" while traveling around the world. Sandy and I had a miscommunication early on and did not receive any students. But, in the last couple of days we have learned of "orphans' which we have now adopted.  We have three young ladies (Amy, Kayla, Kelsey, and one young man, Anthony).  Two nights ago we had a "meet and greet" gathering at dinner. And tomorrow we will again meet by the pool and share some pizza and burgers as we teach them how to play "Oh Hell".
Amy Sinclair (with her shaved hair from Neptune Day)

Anthony Lo
Kayla  Malone
Kelsey Brown
Our extended family (the black on my head will be explained in a separate entry)

Marine Park field trip

We were in Mauritius for only 2 days but on each day I led a FDP (Faculty Directed Practica).  On the second day 19 of us first headed to the government's Marine Science Institute where we received an hour briefing on the work they are doing.  Probably the most important focus for them is how to assist in managing the booming tourism industry on this relatively small island.  Hotels are being constructed near the beaches around the island.  Associated with this tourism comes potential pollution, from the construction of the buildings, to waste disposal, to swimming around the reef ecosystem.  It seemed that these scientists know what the source of pollution will be, now they need to convince the policy makers to pass and implement the needed regulations.

Following this briefing we headed out to one of the Marine Parks that the government has established.  We took a glass-bottom boat out to a privately-owned island (by a hotel chain) where we had a wonderful buffet lunch, followed by about 45 minutes of snorkeling.  One could rent this island for $ 4,000/day and I think the female students on this trip began planning their weddings at this location.   The coral near the main island was already dead from some sort of pollution; fortunately, about 1/2 mile offshore the coral was alive (although not too colorful) but the fish around it was fun to see (in about 15 feet of water).

Snorkeling, with the private island in the background
Villa's courtyard on the private island


Sunday, October 17, 2010

Mauritius: the Jummah Mosque

On the first day in Mauritius I lead a trip called a Faculty Directed Practica, which means the trip was associated with one or more of my classes.  I am having my World Regional Geography students develop the theme of "place" as they journey out in the country side at each stop.  This could result in many different topics such as the market place, churches, role of women in society, architecture, etc.  Thus, I wanted to have a trip to the largest mosque in Mauritius and to have the Iman (head religious leader of the mosque) give us a lecture on Islam in Mauritius.  We had 8 of us journey to the mosque, which was built in 1852 and is now right in the middle of Port Louis, the capital of Mauritius.  They built the mosque around a wonderful Bandamia tree which remains prominently in the courtyard immediately outside the prayer room.

Bandamia tree

Following presentations by the Imam and the mosque's historian we enjoyed a wonderful biryani, or lunch of rice, meat cooked in wonderful spices.
Place to cleanse oneself before entering the prayer room: note the coy

Our lunch


Back at Sea

Sandy and I are sorely behind in posting our blog entries-- Sandy has promised to write up her experiences for the last few posts soon.  We have just been very busy enjoying the wonderful countries we have visited. And, once back on ship I am busy teaching my 3 courses plus internet access is very spotting and slow.  And, Sandy has developed her own daily routine.
We just had a brief 2 day, one night stay in Mauritius during which I led two Faculty Directed Practica (FDPs). I will provide a separate entry for those hopefully tomorrow.  We are about 1/2 through our voyage and little more than half way thru our course teaching. Once we reach Southeast Asis the teaching days become few and far between as we cease teaching once we reach the ports.  We arrive in Chennai, India in about 5 days.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Kariega Game Reserve

For our last 3 days in South Africa Sandy and I, along with 22 others, flew 1 hour to Port Elizabeth (and then a 2 hour drive) to the Kariega Game Reserve.  We shared a chalet, with 3 bedrooms- a kitchen (which we didn't use)- living room- and a deck with a nice view of valley, with another couple.  Immediately upon arriving we were treated to a wonderful buffet lunch in the main chalet.

Our first lunch
Later in the afternoon we were off on the first of 4 excursions; 6 of us were in an open jeep with our driver in search of the big 5.
Our chariot
the Rhino
 In the course of these 2.5 days we saw all but the elusive cheetah.
One of 4 hippos in this part of the river

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Penguins and Baboons

We just departed South Africa last night after a full week of adventure.  Over the next few days I hope to post several blog entries to chronicle what we did.  On one day Sandy and I joined the ship's photographer, "Picture/Video Mike" and his family including their two daughters, Rachel and Riley. We rented a van and headed out to Boulder Beach to see the penguins:
Penguins at Boulder Beach
Rachel and Riley viewing the penguins
 Then, onto the Cape of Good Hope we went. It is here where the Atlantic Ocean meets the Indian Ocean:

Cape Point
At the Cape of Good Hope park there were many baboons roaming around.  One has to lock the doors and keep the windows rolled up as they know how to open them both.  Rachel and Riley placed their hands on the back window and the baboons placed their paws on the other side of the window "on top" of the girls' hands; as the girls moved their hands around the window, the baboons followed with theirs.  Quite cute!

Baboon by my outside rear-view mirrow

Monday, October 4, 2010

Warthog anyone?

Last night I and several friends went to a nearby restaurant, the City Grill, for dinner.  Debating what to have off the menu the waitress recommended that two of us share in the "Giant grill" which was a large skewer comprising Kudu, ostrich, Springbok (a gazelle-type animal), warthog, and crocodile:

Our platter
Starting from the lower left, it was Kudu; the sausage-looking meat is Springbok (I also had smoked springbok as an appetizer which was thinly sliced).  Partially hidden by the springbok is the ostrich, which ranked as our favorite.  Just in front of the carrots is the warthog, and finally covered by a cream sauce is the crocodile.