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Prologue

In two weeks I will be flying to Indonesia to look for a boat.



I got the whole idea for this trip while I was searching for budget travel tips, and came across a post from Matador Network titled "How to Travel the World by Crewing on Yachts."  Oddly enough, a week later, I met a frisbee player who had just come to Beijing from Mexico, where he had spent a year or so sailing his own boat along the coast. (Christian's blog is here.) During introductions, when I asked what he did, his reply was something the effect of, "I do whatever I feel like doing."  Having spent much of my time over the last four years pretty much cooped up in offices in Beijing, I thought that sounded quite nice.


I had already put in my notice at work the week before, so after a bit more Googling, I became more convinced that this would be a good idea, and a way to see more of Asia as long as I'm here.  I asked one of my former colleagues, a Norwegian guy who had circumnavigated the world on his own boat, for advice, and he pointed me to some useful sites like CruisersForum. I started telling people about my plans, and a surprising number of them said they knew friends who had done this, or had sailing experience themselves. Another frisbee player, Nicki, had sailed across the Atlantic.  She and Christian gave me very helpful tips, like how I should not expect to set sail from Hong Kong in July, where it is typhoon season.

I ordered The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Oceans, which turned out to be pretty poorly organized but contains some useful information.  It suggested Cebu Island in the Philippines as one of the easiest places to find boats at this time of year, but Christian suggested I'd have an easier time finding boats the further south of the equator I went, where there's less likely to be storms, so eventually I settled on Indonesia.

I've got a ticket to fly to Jakarta on July 25.  My plan is to head east across Java, check out a few places like Yogyakarta, and probably end up finding a boat around Bali or Lombok. I'll have 30 days with a visa-on-arrival, which I should be able to extend for another 30 days if needed.  I still probably need to buy an ongoing ticket, since I understand sometimes they ask to see this at the border as proof that I'm planning to leave, so I may buy a cheap ticket to Singapore or Kuala Lumpur.

I'll follow up later with more juicy details about my preparations...

Comments

Michael said…
Sounds awesome. Did you take off work temporarily, or not planning to head back?
joel said…
No I'm planning to end up back in Boston eventually and stay there for a while. Or I'm at least going to spend some quality time outside of China at any rate.

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I give up

My visa expires on Wednesday, and nobody needs crew around here, so I booked a ticket to SF on Monday. It was almost free with frequent flier miles and I will get to visit the airports of Bangkok and Frankfurt on a nearly 50-hour itinerary.

I could have flown to Singapore or Australia and tried again but I'm getting tired of spending time and money being a tourist, and there simply aren't boats going in the direction I want to go, only boats sailing to Malaysia and Thailand and bumming around. I just feel like going home. I'd still like to try this again in the future, but I can do it any time, and next time I can pick a place where there's favorable wind. So far I haven't spoken to a single sailor here who says they've had more than a day or two of proper sailing. Everybody is just motoring against the current without wind, so what's the point? I've already done plenty of motoring on the ferries here.

I spent two nights in Lombok and a day hanging ar…