4-19-99
Mon
Woke up early to watch us come into port. I'm not sure it we were running behind schedule but we weren't near land at all. Jimmy and I ate and went back to bed. It was raining so there wasn't really a point to stay up. It seems that late was the theme of the morning. We got in late, then it took forever for the ship to get cleared. They couldn't get to us until customs had checked another cruise ship. We should have been out by 1000 but we couldn't leave until 1300. We sat there doing nothing for five hours, it sucked. Some good did come out of the wait though. Jimmy came up to me and asked if I would like to travel with he and Dave. The thing was that we were going to try and drive to Thailand. Not an hour ago Dean McCabe had made an announcement that we were not allowed to go there. That made us want to go even more. I jumped at the chance to go. I did feel bad telling Shabby and Christina about leaving them. I had felt bad when Jimmy and Dave ditched my trip so I didn't want to do the same thing. Shabby didn't care, I thought that Christina was a little mad but they were going anyway so it didn't really matter what I did. They had tacos for lunch so that was good, plus I almost got out of dock time. They made and announcement that anyone with docktime should come to the pursers office. They said since we were so late you could get out of it by helping carry some boxes up form the bottom of the ship. I told the person doing it that I thought I smelled a scam. She said no but it really was. After we got done they made another announcement that we could transfer of dock time to Vietnam. I ran down there and told them what had happened but Les McCabe said, "No, that was never agreed to." So I was right it 3was a scam. I was so angry. I talked to Dave and Jimmy and they said they would come back to the ship at 1500 and we would go scope out the Thailand deal. That seemed fine, I'd change money, get stamps, post cards, and get packed. Now 1500 rolls around, no Jimmy and Dave. So I waited for a while and talked to Steve about what he was doing, got my ID and passport, and read a little on where we could go. Now it was about 1545 and they were not back so I wasn't going to waste any more time. I left a note that I would be back at 1730. I walked around the town a bit. There wasn't a ton to do but it was nice. This is the first port we have went to that hasn't been 3rd world. The streets were clean, the place was high tech, and there weren't really any beggars. It was a shocking difference from India. This is what it's going to be like the rest of the trip. No more horrible poverty. It's going to be strange, I hop time doesn't dull the images people have gotten up until now. Malaysia is going to be like spring bread for most people. They are going to fly out to an island and lay out all day. Those people make me sick. I found out about a little club called "the Thousand Dollar Club." They spend a thousand dollars in every port. It's unbelievable, I can't even imagine having that much money. Oh well.... When I got back to the ship they still hadn't gotten back so I went out again. I check out Fort Cornwallis but didn't go in. It didn't look that cool. I came back to the ship again and had dinner. I figured if they're not back I'm going to do something. I was going to hook up with a group that was going to a shadow puppet performance. I knew that would be cool and I had really wanted to go but as I was walking out to the busses up come Dave and Jimmy. They had went camera shopping then gotten lost. They actually had to take a taxi which they just don't do. So we went back to the shop for a while they ate and played with their new lenses. We watched the sun set they headed out. After they had been lost for a while they decided to look in to getting to Thailand. They found a place that would take us, we just needed to find it. We headed out into the town. We all picked up some corn on the cob form a roadside vendor. It was so good, I haven't gad corn like that in a long time. The place we were looking for turned out being fairly easy to find. It was in a comic book store. It was 22 Ringgets and we would get to leave at 0445. We wanted to get traveling out of the way around the city before we wasted most of the day. All seemed well, we walked around the city for a bit more. As we were passing this one side street we saw this outdoor movie theater. It was just this thing set up in the middle of the street. We sat down and started watching it. It was a Japanese action movie (we think). It wasn't that bad and it had English subtitles so we were good. We sat there for about 20 minutes before anyone noticed that we were there. Then this guy turns to us, does a double take, and points us out to everyone there. They all laughed, I guess a bunch of while kids was the last thing they expected to se. The first movie ended and we though about leaving but we sat down for the next one. This guy came up to us and asked us where we were from, told us that this would be up two more days, then brought us some Chinese noodles. It was so good and it was only 70 cents so that was cool. We didn't stay for the whole thing though, it wasn't very good. It was a prison movie, but it just developed too slow. It was a really neat experience. We waked down the street a bit more until we came to a bar. We wanted to try some of this Tiger beer. The place we stopped in was an Indian place. It had the coolest sign in there it was a huge bottle of Tiger cut in half, filled with beer colored liquid, and had bubbles coming up though it. It was so cool, we tried to buy it but he said he couldn't because it was the suppliers sign. After we had gotten a drink we figured we better get back to the ship. It was getting late and we had to get up so early. But the time we got back it was about 0030. By the time we got to sleep it was around 0130.

4-20-99
Tues
We got up at 0400. It was hard but we had everything ready to go so we just grabbed our book bags and went. Nothing was open in the city. The only thing that even seemed to be awake were the rats. Malaysian cities have an open drainage system. Though it takes the water away it serves as a perfect breeding ground for vermin. They were everywhere! It was really disgusting. We got to the place right at 0445 but no one was there. We were getting a little worried when it got to be 0505 but then they showed up. It was more filled than I thought it would be. It was a full size van and we were the last three seats. I can't say I remember much of the ride, I slept most of the way. I didn't make it past the Penang bridge. I did get up around 0645 to see the sun rise. It was really nice. The sun came up over the mountains and palm trees. It was beautiful. Not soon after that we stopped so the driver could get our forms in order. This is where everything started to fall apart. There were some people from Denmark on there and they said there was no way to get out without having your passport stamped and having them take away your departure card. These were all things we just could not do. We paced around this little store/restaurant for about 20 minutes. These guys we were traveling with didn't quite understand the trouble we could get in. They were all like, "Fuck it, just say you didn't know." There was no way we could risk getting kicked off the voyage, losing our credits, and having to take these classes all over. It would have cost us $21,000 and then some. We talked to the driver and he seems sure there was no way not to get it stamped. We hopped back in the van and headed for the boarder. We are getting more and more nervous while the bleach blond guy from Denmark is trying to talk us into it. We got there in about 5 minutes. Everyone else walked through but we got stuck. We lied and said that the ship had kept our departure cards. At first they were stuck on that point but then they gave in. Where they would not budge was on stamping the passport. We trying to explain that the ship could not take responsibility for us if we left the country. They said, "It they don't want you to go, then we don't want you to." We asked them to stamp it on an official piece of paper and staple it in but they could not do that either. Finally this one guy, I think he was the boss, came out and crossed his arms and said, "No, it is against regulations." That was that, our Thailand trip was over. We walked back to the van to get our stuff. The driver laughed at us when we told him what happened. That sucked, they kept going and we turned about and headed back. This was the nadir of our trip. We were 20 km away from the town we stopped in earlier. We had no ride, no plan, and next to no money. We sat down on a bench to figure out what we could do. We didn't want to go to any beach crawling with SASers. There was a city not that far way but the question is how to get there. We tried to hitch a ride to anywhere but that idea died quickly. No one wanted to take three American kids. We walked over to these little restaurants to ask how to get back to Penang. A guy there said that a bus comes at 0830. Being that it was 0810 and it would only cost six Ringgets we decided that was our best bet. So we plopped down on this blue bench I tried to call home but the phones didn't work. Now all we could do is sit. Understandable some of us got a little testy. Jimmy and Dave argued a bit but over nothing really important. We asked some more people for rides but no luck. Finally at around 0855 a bus pulls up. Turns out it wasn't going to Penang but at this point we just wanted to get out of here. He said the bus leaves at 0930 so we had even more time to wait. We walked over to one of those little shops to get something to eat. Nothing looked good, especially since it was still the morning, so we ended up getting some pieces of cake. They were good and long 60 cents too. By the time we got back to where we were sitting it was almost 0930. We almost ended up missing the bus. As we were walking up it started to pull away. Luckily we were able to catch it. None of us lasted long, we were all asleep within five minutes. Another bad thing was we didn't know how to get to Penang. We needed to get off to catch another bus but where that place is was a mystery. Again we lucked out, the guy collecting tickets was a really nice guy. He showed us where to get off and even took us to the right bus. Again, none of us lasted long on the bus. After we paid we slept most of the way back. I woke up just before getting back in Butterworth. Overall the ride wasn't too bad it had cost us eleven Ringgets to get back from the boarder. Plus we hadn't wasted that much of the day, we were back on the ferry going to Penang by 1300. The ferry ride was interesting, it cost 60 cents. Now we found out another thing we hadn't expected. The ship was not in the port. The harbor is too small to fit more than two ships at a time. We didn't know if we would even be able to get back to the ship. We walked back anyway just to see what was going on. They were using one of the life boats as a ferry on the ship. We waited a couple of minutes and got on. Now the comedy of errors started. The life boat ended up crashing into the ship. Then they dropped one of the their poles into the water so we had to catch it. One of the crew almost fell into the water trying to get it. Then we had to circle around a couple of times because they couldn't come in straight. It took us 45 minutes to get back on board. It wasted so much time. Once we got back to the room we met Andy and Lisa. Lisa had gotten into a lot of trouble. They were staying at a Youth Hostel and had gone out to a bar the night before. When Andy woke up, Lisa wasn't there but her clothes, bag, and camera were. They called the ship to tell them she was missing after finding out where she had gone. She had left the bar with this shady guy last night. The ship was going crazy looking for them. Lisa's story was that this guy was into Yoga and massage. They talked and went back to his place to try some of it out. She had a drink while at his house and soon after he started, she fell asleep. He could have drugged her and raped her for all we knew. She said that wasn't what happened, that he was a great guy but I think she is an idiot. That is the stupidest thing I have ever heard anyone do on the ship to this point. What a fool. She had a meeting with Dean Kohler at 1500. We headed back to the land as soon as we could. Our plan was to see the Reclining Buddha then walk around until around 1800. We got a cab for 9 RM, we could have gotten it for less but Dave can not bargain. It was nice but strange. There seemed to be such a nix with Hinduism that it almost looked like a Hindu temple. The outside was so bring and colorful that it looked unreal. It certainly did not look like a typical house of worship. To see people praying there was strange. The place had two small buildings on the sides with the main building in the center. There were two huge dragons and two huge demon statues outside the front of the main building. After removing you shoes you could walk into the main chamber. There is this enormous Buddha lying on the floor. He looked very peaceful and nonchalant just lying on the ground. We were not allowed to take pictures so we walked around. The Hindu influence was all over. Buddha had the eye of Shiva as well as a Swastika on his chest. There were tons of smaller Buddha's around the building. There were also urns of ashes on the back wall and under the reclining Buddha. That was a strange sight. There were also paintings around the base too. We walked to the other room outside on the left. There was a large sitting, gold Buddha. Jimmy and Dave took a lot of pictures here so I walked around to the other buildings. The other building on the right looked like it had a female Buddha but I'm not sure, there weren't any signs. They were repainting some of the statues outside. It was a cool temple overall but strange. I'm not sure what to think about it. It just struck me as fake, but I'm no one to make judgments like that. I knew very little about it. Across the street was another temple so we went to that too. This one was less ornamented than the last one. The main hallway had pointing depicting events in the life of Buddha. There were three buildings with smaller Buddha's and one had a statue of the first female follower. We were looking around for this 27 foot gold Buddha but couldn't find it. Then we walk around the corner of the last building and boom, there it is. He was standing with his arm out stretched. Around the room there were about 1,200 small Buddha's, in the back were ones dedicated by all the countries of Southeast Asia. It was a interesting place to see, but again strange. They took pictures for a while. We got some fruit called wawa from this vendor outside. Then we started to make our way back. We stopped at the ocean for a while then at an herbal-type store. Dave picked up some dried Mango and the girls in the store laughed at us for some reason. By the time we got back it was around 1815. Little did we know that the last boat to the ship was at 1800. Jimmy's back was hurting (he had been in a car wreck and messed it up) and we were dead tired. After sitting there for awhile and having a popsickle and Mango juice we decided to go to the first restaurant we found. Unfortunately the first one we hit was too expensive. So was the next one. We finally stopped in this small Indian place. I don't know what we got but it was served on a leaf with rice. One thing was curry , the other two I don't have a clue. It was all good but we had to eat with our hands. We had no idea how to do it so we made a huge mess. People laughed at us in there too. We sat in there for a while and talked, we were just too tired to go anywhere else right away. The almost overcharged us 10 RM on the fill but we caught it. The while thing was only 18.30 RM. We walked around some music stores in Little India but didn't see anything we liked. The ship had docked while we were gone. They were sitting up the gangway as we were walking up. Some Tuna boats had come in too, they had been away for three months. They were taking these huge frozen tuna out of the bottom of these boats. I talked to Ryan too. I think I will go with them tomorrow. I'm not sure where they are going but I could like to go somewhere. Dave and Jimmy just don't cover the ground I could like to. They have to spend time taking pictures for photography. Plus the interport student is going so that will be good. We were going to walk back to where we saw that movie the other night but we didn't make it. We went outside to wait for Dave to make a phone call and were too tired to go out. I went back on, wrote a not to Ryan telling him when I was getting up, and went to sleep. I was dying. I guess waking up at 0400 isn't that great for you.

4-21-99
Wed
Got up at 0800 and it was poring rain. Evidently it's the rainy season in Malaysia. I met Ryan in the Grill, he said we would meet at around1030 to leave. At this point I still didn't know where we were going but I did learn we would be leaving Penang for the night. Since it was raining so hard we all just went back to bed. I needed the 2 hours of sleep bad, we were all falling asleep at the breakfast table. So I woke up, rolled up my blanket, and headed down. All my stuff was still packed from our aborted Thailand trip so I didn't have to waste any time. However saving time was not the other people priority. We wasted almost ten minutes waiting for three of the girls to get rain jackets. Hello! It's been raining all morning! The crew was Laura, Ryan, Kristin, Rachel, this other girl, and I. We were going to meet Rachel at 1130 but the bus ride took longer than we expected. We got there at around 1145. The trouble started quick. First thing we realized was that yes, Rachel had a drivers license but that doesn't mean she knows how to drive. It was a stick shift so that made it even worse. Not five minutes out we stalled on a hill. Ahhh! Thankfully the drive to her school wasn't far. Males were not allowed in the dorm so Ryan and I waited outside. When they came out Rachel had little Malaysian flags for us. We had Laura drive to her parents house. That wasn't so bad except for the fact that she doesn't have an international license. Even so, we felt safer with her driving. The driving on the opposite side of the road was hard at first but I think she got more comfortable as the day went on. We got to her adopted parents house for lunch. Again we had to eat with our hands but his time we had people to show us the proper technique. You need to cup your fingers and use your thumb to push the ball of food into your mouth. Once you get it, it is so much easier. No wonder everyone laughed at us in that Indian place last night. I have no idea what we were eating but most of it was really good. The only thing that is gross is the chicken. The quality is not like in the US. About the only thing that we would use the chicken that we were eating there for back home would be crab bait. They toned down the spice in the food when they found out that the people coming over were Americans. They had some spicy stuff but just a little and it really was spicy. We met a bunch of people in her family. Their house is more of a family house, lots of relatives live there. It was a fairly nice place and I wouldn't have minded staying longer but we really needed to go. It was pushing 1500 by the time we actually hit the road. Rachel drove, what a mistake. She was all over the road. She was driving the van like a scooter. We were driving in the middle of the lane, swerving in and out, cutting people off, and generally being a menace to the road. Before we got out of the island we had almost been in more than five accidents, all which would have been our fault. We nearly killed a man on a scooter. We swerved into his lane and nearly ran him off the Penang bridge. I didn't really want to make any comments about how to drive but she didn't even understand basic traffic rules. She didn't signal when changing lances, she didn't even look. I don't even think that she understood what the dotted lines on the street meant. She made a couple of comments like, "Oh, I thought I was in a lane" when she was driving down the center of the lines. I tried not to look but it was so horrible that you couldn't take your eyes away. Thankfully once we got off the island of Penang the road opened up and it was a little easier. We still side swiped some tricks but it looked like we were going to be OK. We were going for about 40 minutes when another problem came up. Oops, we're out of gas! We rolled as far as we could up this off ramp but we all had to get out and push. I can't believe it, how could we have run out of gas. She said she had asked him if it was full when we first got the van but even so I can't believe she didn't notice. I'm running behind the van in the hot sun in the middle of Malaysia. I can't say I ever expected to be doing this. A car stopped right away and Rachel and the girl who's name I don't know jumped in. We got some funny pictures of us pushing the car so it wasn't all bad. It was so hot just sitting there. Other cars were passing us and laughing at the stranded Americans. They didn't take that long to get back, it only took about 25 minutes. They came back with a couple of liters of gas, just enough to get us to the next station. We poured it in and after a couple of cranks we started up. Instead of taking the off ramp all the way they decided to drive backwards off the off ramp. I thought this was a bad idea but they did it anyway. We didn't have any problems though. At least not until the station. We see the sign and start to pull off, they see a sign that has two arrows, one for the pumps and the other for tracker-trailers. They think the arrow is pointing back into the road. So they pull off and continue past the exit. I couldn't hold back any longer, I start shouting, "What the hell are you doing!!! We're missing the !*#%ing stop!!!" They stopped just at the exit ramp. Well, we couldn't pass up the stations so we ride up the exit ramp. I was just thankful to stop. I had been in the van of horror too long. We filled it up and got some stuff to eat at the gas station. Laura had been driving but now Rachel takes over again. Big mistake. We should never have let her behind the wheel again. We were OK for about an hour before we hit the worst spot. We had to go over some mountains before Ipoh. The road was downhill and windy. You had to be careful even if you were a good driver. She is flying in and out of lanes, cutting cars off all over the place, it was horrifying. I never felt like I was going to die in a car before until then. I'm grabbing at my pants trying not to look at the road. I broke out in a cold sweat, this had never happened to me before. We were all in utter terror. We finally got over and just told her to stop at the first stop. We still almost hit a car turning into this mall in Ipoh and we had to push the car into the parking spot. We were lucky to be alive. We all agreed that was the last time she would be driving for the rest of the trip. We were in complete disbelief of the horror we just went through. Laura said, "I've driven with drunk drivers and I've never experienced anything that bad." We stayed at the mall for a while just to relax for a while. I tasted the strangest ice cream flavor ever, corn. It tasted exactly like corn. We made Laura the designated driver for the rest of the time. This didn't make getting anywhere any easier. We were trying to get to some waterfalls but it took so long to get there that we never did get to see them. We had to walk to get there but we just didn't have time. All we got to do was wade in the little creek that was there. It was neat just being in the rain forest but it would have been nice to get there too. I was getting a little worried as we were leaving. It was getting dark and we didn't have anywhere to stay. I knew we would have trouble finding anything in the daylight but at night it would almost be impossible. Needless to say I was right again. We drove around for hours just getting directions then getting lost over and over. It was horrible, Ryan was really getting angry at around 2030. All I wanted to do is get to the closest place, I didn't care how much it cost. We stopped at a fruit stand, he pointed us in another direction. We followed it but found nothing. So we hung out the window and shouted to the car next to us to point us to the closest place. He told us to follow him but oops, he took us to a police station. Turns out he was an off duty cop. That was bad figuring our driver didn't have a drivers license. They didn't care though and after a minute we followed him to a hotel. Finally we were somewhere. It was 68 RM a night but between the six of us that wasn't that bad. We paid, got the room, and headed out for something to eat. It was past 2200 so most places were closed so we stopped in the first place we hit. It was a western style place but we didn't care. I split some shark fin soup and got some fried Mehoon (they were some type of Chinese noodle). It was great just to sit and not have any worries. Everything was good. Once we got back to the room it didn't take us that long to get to sleep. We were all ready to pass out. I guess intense fear will do that to you.

4-22-99
Thurs
We got up at 0715 and were pulling out of the hotel at about 0745. On the front cover of a Malaysian newspaper was the story about the school shootings in Colorado. What is wrong with people? I'm so happy I don't understand those people. What I couldn't believe was that the story made the front cover of a Malaysian newspaper. The US is a messed up place. Anyway... Shockingly we were able to get to the caves we had wanted to go to fairly easily. We only drove past them once. We had paid and were ready to take our tour by around 1020. It took a while once we pulled off the road to get to the actual caves. Their tourist sites are not like ours. We had to drive down a one lane dirt road for a little over a mile before getting there. We passed some huts, evidently Jody Foster was filming a movie there (Anne and the King or something like that). There were several tours we could have taken, we took "The Top of the World" tour. It was about 1 hours long so that fit well into our time table. The bugs were bad here but I didn't really get bit, I guess it's my crazy AB+ blood. The entrance to the cave was so cool. It had a thick metal cage around it. I suppose it was against land slides in the rainy season. There was a stream running through the cave. The formations were not the bast I've ever seen but the size was impressive. The guide's English was not the best. When he was telling us how old the cave was he said, "ten thousand billion years." Assuming the geologists are right the earth is only 4 billion to begin with so I don't know what that guy was talking about. You could hear the bats squeaking and see the guano on the walls. They had mined for tin in the cave for a while. Some Chinese communists had taken refuge in the cave during WWII. You could see the writing on the walls. At the end of our tour you could have gone farther by waking through the river and taking a boat to the end. We really didn't have any time to do that. They turned out the lights for about a minute before walking back. This had really been the first thing we had seen. We hung around for a while and looked at the rain forest but we really needed to leave. We drive back to the mall we stopped at the first day to get something to eat. We hit the road around 1330. The ride back was so nice. Laura drove so there was no surprises. We were crossing the Penang bridge by 1530. Back in Penang it was raining. We all piled out of the van and booked back to the ship. I hadn't shaved or showered for four days so it was good to get back. Now the problem was that I had 4 hours left in a rainy Penang. I walked over to Elizabeth's room to see what was up. She didn't want to go out but his girl Susan did. We didn't really have a plan. All I wanted to see was the Koo Kongsi house. So we headed out into the city. she had stayed in Penang the whole time. She rented a bike and cruised around the island. The map I had was a little confusing and not all of the streets had names posted but we made out fine. We got to what we thought was the clan house but it turned out not to be the right one. Evidently the Koo family had more than one clan house. It was brightly decorated with dragons and such but we were a little disappointed, it didn't look much like the pictures. We headed down the street towards a Buddhist temple. This one was more like what we expected a Buddhist temple to look like. It was very ornamented but it still retained it's modesty. There was a Mosque down at the end of the street so we headed for that. As we were walking we found the real Koo Kongsi house. This one wasn't disappointing at all. The first clan house they built had collapsed. It was said it was too ornamented so the gods destroyed it. If the one now is more modest than I would have loved to see the old one. The only thing that sucked was that it closed at 1700, we just missed the cut off. So we headed to the Mosque. It was nice but since Mosques don't have religious images in their temples it seemed out of place. Susan had lived in Morocco for four months so she had some background in Islam. We met a man with a food stand out side so we talked with him for about 15 minutes. We told him what we did, he recommended seeing Penang hill next time. I had wanted to go but it was too rainy. The thing I think he wanted us to take Penang is that all the groups live in the city in peace. He's right, there are a wide range of races and religions and there was never any fighting. I think that's quite an accomplishment after looking at some of the places we have been to. Brazil, South Africa, and India all had problems with internal division. The only thing I see dividing Malaysia is politics. With all the rioting in Kuala Lumpur who knows what will happen to the government. I think the parliamentary system will survive but I see a change in the near future. We parted ways with that guy and continued down the street. We walked down one of the main streets when all of the sudden I hear, "Jeff, Jeff!!!" There is Andy on a scooter. It was so strange, it was a totally random thing. He looked so funny. First he had this huge helmet on and second he is about 6' 6" and is riding on this little scooter. He had spent the time with some fishermen in Penang. He had to meet them so he drove off. We went in a couple bookstores and finally in a little Chinese restaurant. We had noodles, chicken, seafood, and carrot juice. It was all really good and really cheep. It was getting late and we still had about 10 RM each. We ended up in little India, the same place Jimmy, Dave, and I had been the second night. We checked out some music stores. I ended u getting this corny sign with something from the Koran. It is the line that all verses start out with. "Glory to god, something something something..." I forget. I also picked up a sticker of this Indian actor for 2 RM. Everyone was jealous when I showed it back in the room. We also stopped and talked with his man at a fruit stand. As soon as he found out we were Americans he said he disagreed with the Kosovo bombings. It was cool just talking with him and eating fruit. He told us about eating dog, cat, monkey brains, and snake blood. We were with him for almost an hour before we left. It was getting late and I didn't feel like getting any more dock time. It was a quick walk to the ship. I got a few more post cards and went on. Dave and Jimmy were drooling over their new camera equipment. We got snacks and let everyone know about our shot for Thailand. Everyone had a good time it seemed. This port was by far the least deep. There weren't any townships or lepers but it was cool. And at least the whole world doesn't have it bad. It was refreshing not to have to be bombarded with horrifying images. People blew so much money on travel in this port. I was appalled that I spent 50 USD but some people went crazy. It wasn't that bad to get around, you could have gone to a nice place for around 200 dollars but I didn't really want to do anything like that. And besides I like traveling budget anyway, it is much more fun (not to mention cheep and easy). I didn't really stay up that late. I talked to people about what they did, went outside for a while, and went to bed. We did see a pilot boat come up, get someone from our ship, and fly off. I had never seen that before but people tell me it happens all the time. Our whole room was asleep by 0100.

4-23-99
Fri
Back to class. I spent most of the afternoon asleep. At night they had the open mic for Malaysia. It was fairly uninteresting but I did get up and tell a story. I told them about our whole driving experience with Rachel. People seemed to get a kick out of it. It was the first time I actually got up to say anything. Maybe in the future I'll get up again, who knows. After that we watched "The Killing Fields" in the theater. It was about Cambodia and these two journalists, one from New York and the other from Cambodia. It was OK but I think it was made in a time when people already knew the story so they didn't do a lot of background. One thing that was funny was that the chairs kept breaking during the movie. The bottoms would just fall out of them. Again no one stayed up that late, I was in bed by 0030. I wish we had more time between ports.

4-24-99
Sat
Today was a fairly cool day on the ship. After dinner they had a community college on people's experiences in Vietnam. Needless to say it all focused around the Vietnam war. I was surprised to find out how many hippies we had on. Somehow I can't picture Elaine Leeder as a peace, love, kind of dude. It was a fairly depressing scene but what do you expect, it was the prime of their lives and they were fighting for something they believed in. I wonder what my generation will say. I don't have any idea, I don't think we believe in much at all. It surprised me that on one there had been in the military. Even so, I think the seniors kept it balanced, though even they were of the opinion that it was wrong. After that was the preport crap, it was worthless as usual. Then was the talent show, and some people have some real talents. The kids did a stupid gymnastic routing, then were a bunch of singers. I didn't recognize any songs but that is probably because I'm out of the popular music scene. Dave and Dr. Waring played some jazz and Dr. Eliot sang. I didn't know most of the people so it's hard to say what happened other than guitars and vocals. A couple of guys did some stand up but the people at the bar were so loud that it took away from it. Dave and Steve played last but they weren't too good. They just needed some more practice together. The show ended late, I didn't stay up much after that. Everyone seemed to disappear.

4-25-99
Sun
Normal crap during the day. Classes, reading, getting stuff ready for Vietnam. At night we watched Dr. Dieker's community college on Cambodia. It was boring, we were disappointed. Our room is even more pimped out than before. We have this sign on our door now that is made from that caution tape stuff. Except now it says, "Caution Sex in Progress." I walked past my steward and he tried keeping a straight face but even he had to laugh. It is funny. After that we had logistical preport. Boring as usual. The exchange rate on Dong is about 13,500:1. That is going to be crazy. Watched a little bit of a video on the sex trade in Thailand. After that Platoon was on. That is not a good movie to watch before going to Vietnam. Everyone's all depressed, it sucked. Good Morning Vietnam was on after that but I had no desire to watch another depressing movie about Vietnam. I'd rather focus on the present and not dwell on the past. Jimmy and I putzed around for a while and went to bed. We want to wake up early to watch us enter the Saigon river. Everyone says it's not to be missed.