Friday, 7 August 2020

Heart Attack!

 I recently suffered a Heart Attack, which when I come to think about it was no surprise at all. I am overweight, middle aged, and in no good physical shape at all. In addition to all that, I have always had a short fuse (hot temper), and I like to eat junk food. Still, getting a heart issue was always far away from my thoughts. I never thought about it at all.

So when I go it, and the ambulance personnel confirmed it, I was never any scared of dying at all.  Strange really, I just laid there trying to figure out what was going on around me. Family and friends have asked me how it was, and so on. Ok,  Let's track back a few months.

Fat Boy hooked up.

We had been visiting one of my sisters for a little party. It was myself, my two sisters and our plus ones (wife, boyfriends, etc). Lots of eating and drinking. The taxi was ordered at around 1:30 am, And I went to bed almost immediately after we came home (to my mother's place).

I woke up around 6 am I think it was, with chest pains. I felt very uncomfortable and I thought it was some indigestion since it had been a of lot eating and drinking during the previous evening. So I tried to sleep it off. But it would not go away and I started to feel more unwell, so I went to the bathroom to see if that could help. And it did not. Back to bed, and I tried several sleeping positions, still sure it was something which would pass. But it didn't

I got dressed, went to the living room and tried to stretch my body in all directions, but the pain was not going away. In fact it had increased in intensity. This was probably a good 45 minutes after I woke up. I sat down in a chair and now seriously started to wonder if I was suffering a heart attack, so I started to think of symptoms I had learned over the years in all the first aid courses, and what I had watched on the TV. And the intensity of the pain increased all the time.


Hooked up, and awake after surgery.

I guess almost 2 hours (or 90 minutes maybe) had now passed, cant remember for sure since the time was kind of not in my mind anymore. Anyway, my wife came to the living room because I was not back in bed, and she heard me moaning in the living room. I was sitting there and now I started to feel the pain in the arm, which is the sign we all have learned. So I told her to wake up my mother and tell her to call the Emergency number and let them know I most likely was having a heart attack. So she did, and after just a few questions I got confirmed the Ambulance was on its way. Luckily they had a station with Ambulances stand by very near my mother's home.

Now everything started to happen fast. The ambulance came within minutes, and they hooked me up and asked a couple of questions, since I was still awake and sat on a chair. I could walk with help to the Ambulance, and got hooked up with more stuff. I also got myself a Morphine shot (I think it was) for the pain, and that helped immediately. This was good stuff indeed. I only struggled a little bit with keeping my eyes open. I guess due to lack of sleep and the shot I was given. But I could easily listen to everything that was said in the Ambulance. It was very interesting to listen to the Doc's communication with the Hospital, so I knew all the time how many minutes we were away from it, and my own medical condition.

At the Hospital, things did not slow down. I was slid over to another bed in some sort of arrival lounge, then rolled into another room which was the operations room. Again hooked up to a lot cables. A big monitor was adjusted in such a way it was just over my face, so I couldn't see anything, but i still could listen. And listen I did. It was fascinating to be awake when they did the procedure on me. How they inserted something into my wein (from the groin area) into my heart, in order to get rid of whatever had blocked that artery. Then a new wire was inserted with something they called a Stent. Lots of technical talk, and a new shot with morphine, or whatever it was. I remember I managed to make a joke about be careful so I don't get addicted to this good stuff. A silly joke from a man in distress.

I remember at one point during the procedures, I started to get this feeling I needed to shift my position, since I had been laying in the same position for a long long time. So I got a bit restless, and started to move my feet a bit. I also told the staff I felt this urge. No, the Doctor said, very loud. Lay still! I have a wire into your heart right now, and if you don't lay still I will have to put you  under a full anesthetic. That kind of made my mind take control of my body again.  Funny, after the procedure and before I got rolled into the ICU, the Doctor apologized for being so rude and loud to me. I just smiled and said, no problem Doc, you are Boss.

And that was that. Easy fix. Speed and Service.


Ready to get home.

After some good sleep, just interrupted by all the times I had to pee, due to all the fluids they poured into me prior to the procedures, I had no pain, or felt uncomfortable at all. I could easily gotten home that same day they did the surgery. But they wanted to keep me for observation for a few days. I managed to get home a day earlier by arguing with the Doctor about me getting better sleep at home than in the noisy hospital. And he agreed about that. So home I went, to reschedule the flight from Norway to Thailand, since we actually should have been on the flight the day after the heart attack. Which could easily had happened over some undesirable country if they they had to emergency land me there.

Lessons learned. The Doctor was very upset with me since it took almost 2 hours from when I felt it until I got in the Ambulance. It should take 10 minutes max before you call, he said. Never mind if it is not life threatening, always call. Point taken Doctor.  And now, I eat a bit healthier. At least I do not eat that much junk food anymore. The medicines have helped me a lot. And I am more active (exercising) these days. I guess I live to see a few more years. 


Tuesday, 4 August 2020

My Grandmother.

The picture of that smiling lady you see above, is of my dear Grandmother (rip). As far as I can remember, my grandmother was a very hard working women with a big heart. When thinking back to my childhood, I can not remember one single incident where she cried or was upset. Talking to my family, friends (who knew her) and relatives, absolutely none of them can remember her being angry or annoyed at anything.

Surely she had her heavy days with stuff she worried about, like the rest of us. But she never showed it to anyone. Maybe my mother and her siblings might have noticed. But talking to them, they keep saying she was a good mother, with a big heart. Her husband was out of the picture early on, so she was the one (living alone) I always visited as a kid. And sometimes I stayed overnight or a weekend, and got spoiled as grandkids are. Food and sweets, and watching television late. Good memories.

Good looking ladies (Grandmother & mother) in the 60s.

Amazingly enough, my dear grandmother also had a career at sea. Although not as long I myself. But when I heard the story, I just have to be proud of her, my cool  grandmother.
It turned out that when she was 50 years old, she decided to take another job, in order to save up money for an apartment in one of the new apartment blocks the City of Bergen (Norway) was planning to clear land for, in one of the suburbs (Fyllingsdalen). And what did she do? She became a seafarer, at the age of 50!

Yes indeed, she went to the Registration Office for seafarers to register as a sailor and obtain a "service/discharge book", before she sent out applications to the various shipping companies in town. Bergen back then was a huge shipping town, with plenty of companies, so she got herself a job with the company "Jebsen" (later named Gearbulk). This was in 1963, so the first-timers normally joined the ships when they were about 15-17 years old. But not my grandmother, she joined at almost 50! I only wish I could ask her what went through her mind when she did this. Was she nervous? Was it an absolute must, and she didn't want to do this? nevertheless, it was sporty! Sporty as hell 👍

Original Contract.

Above is a scan of my grandmother's original contract, which I am so happy we manage to find when going through her belongings after she passed. The contract is dated 4th of May 1963, and she is hired as "girl" on a brand new ship, the M.S Cementus. The position "girl" would these days probably be the equivalent to a Mess room utility.

The M.S. Cementus.

She did her contracts, working in these very unfamiliar conditions, until she had the money she needed for an apartment. Saving up what she could after she had transferred some of her salary back home for the family monthly. I can only imagine this was a slow and painful process. Surely she must have missed her family and home town.

One must understand the pride I feel after I found out about my dear grandmother's career. Especially since I also chose a career at sea. Her choice was nothing less than impressive, knowing she had to leave her family at that age, to do this job only temporarily. And it now makes so much more sense when my my mother tells me that my grandmother was extremely happy whenever she received a postcard from me, sent from all over the globe. I must have sent her 100 cards before she passed.

That is why every year on the International Women's Day March 8th, I post a little collage in honor of my cool cool grandmother.

 Coolest grandmother ever.

Monday, 13 July 2020

First time to Isaan, Thailand.

Welcome to Isaan.

Everybody will remember their first time visiting Isaan, the North-Eastern part of Thailand. Depending of course how long ago, and what kind of town you visit, it could be like walking through a time-portal. Of course, it also depends of what you expect and have experienced previously.
For me, a city man, I really did not know what to expect. I had read a lot online about what various expats shared, but I started to ignore many of those stores because it was evident the vast majority of expats are very emotional when they write about Thailand. It could for some be heaven on earth, or for some some just a backward banana republic in a third world region. 
So it is better to experience it yourself with an open mind.

Khon Kaen airport, 20 years ago.

The trip is really divided into three parts. At least it was for me, and always were later as well. You travel up to and inside the region, towards whichever town or city your destination is. Some take bus, or they own a car (which I did not have back then), so we booked an airplane to Khon Kaen. I can't stand long travels on a bus/train. Then someone will either pick you up, or you rent a car, and you will head for the smaller town where your (potential?) future family lives. And finally, you might proceed from that village/town towards the farming area, if they are farmers of course. Which the majority of people in Isaan are. 

Good network.

Very dusty roads during the Hot season.

I was very impressed about the road network, as soon as we left the airport in Khon Kaen City, on our way to the province of Kalasin (Karasin?). Later on, I learned that a lot of this network was actually financed with American funds, during the cold war era around the Vietnam war. This to allow for a more smooth operation logistically wise for the military. If troops and equipment had to be transferred quickly.

Very lush during the wet season, and just around harvest.

The landscape is very changing, depending what time (season) of the year you travel here. It can be the hot, wet, or the dry season. Which means you might see dusty burned out farming areas, with dried out roads in the smaller towns and villages. Or you will see lots of small green pastures (rice paddies), small lakes and ponds everywhere around you, with some cattle (and water buffaloes) sometimes eating on the side of the roads. Or you will see plenty of activities if it is the end of the rainy season and the harvest is started. The best season for me is probably just before harvest, since the rain has almost stopped and the green green grass (rice) of home for the locals is still there. 
Amazing to look at.

Heading in to the little town/village for the first time.

You find yourself looking out the windows watching this new and exciting world passing by, with all the sights and sounds that you never experienced before. I remember, I just sat in the car looking out the windows, while my future wife was chatting non stop with her family (who picked us up). It was just like a background chatter, which I had already learned to filter out, since the dialect here is very different from the dialect in and around Bangkok. All the practice of trying to learn Thai, was more or less useless for me here. So I observed instead of participating, and my girlfriend was translating if I asked a question.

Grandfather's house.

When we enter the small town, or village, you notice this strange mix of old and new stuff. The houses and the small roads are lacking with maintenance and upgrading, but you might also observe all the satellite antennas (dishes) on the very same houses. Kind of depends how "lucky" they (or someone in the family) have been, regarding finances. You will observe the weird prioritizing they have regarding their spending. Or, it is weird to you. But most of the houses look very modest (to be nice). And we drive slowly through these narrow streets between the houses, stopping here and there to chat for a minute or two, and of course show off the "farang" (westerner). 
But first, visit (in my case) Grandfather.


As soon as we have parked, I have greeted the oldest in the family (parents or other), you know how important this is. Then it is time to get the gifts out of the car, together with any snacks or food//beverages we might have picked up on our way to the town. Or, I hand over some money to my girlfriend so she can send someone to buy stuff for us. This is the same as many other places in the world. The one blessed with a better job and/or status should pay the majority of these social gatherings. Some sort of karma thing. So neighbours and relatives very soon show up. It is like the circus is in town, and you are the circus freak. 🤡  They do not shy away from staring at you and talk about you while you are there. You get used to it.

Local kids watching.

Some snacks and beverages, on your dime. 😉

As soon as the food/snacks and beverages arrive and they start socializing, you are kind of forgotten already. Just the kids really stare at you, a bit more shy maybe than the adults. The chatter is loud and very jolly. I learned later that they love to gossip in Thailand. Not only the ladies, but also the guys. So they eat and drink and talk, joke, taking pictures. It hit me how similar they were to the Filipinos in this regard. Very social, and always have food available when they get together. Of course, everything I tell here is regular stuff for anyone who has been to Isaan. But for a first timer such as myself, it was impressions after impressions. 

Some snacks, and something to drink in the shadow.

Then it was time for a short drive out to the farm. Out of the village, on to the main road again, and after a small while, in to a dirt road towards all the paddies. Another eye opener was really waiting for me. Because the word farm is not really what you would use when you see it. You expect farm buildings, like back home. Here it is more like bigger and smaller sheds, which they are happy with. They do not want to spend anything extra just for the luxury of comfort. A shocker for a city slicker like me. They seem dirt poor, but really are not. I guess they could be compared to any worker families around the world. Not middle class, but not poor either.

Not what I expected.

It was quite evident that the farm was just means to an end. They did not put any priority whatsoever in to the farm since they all have a house in the small town nearby, except taking good care of the animals and the rice paddies (their livelihood). The living conditions were very basic. And I observed immediately that they couldn't care less about it because it was not important and they were used to it anyway. That was a shocker as well. But I also got over this shock quickly because one can see immediately they do not suffer, or struggle in any way because of this. 

Regardless, not long after (next visit or so), I started to put some money into this place. They did not want me to that, although they were very grateful. A well with a pump, and a generator for electricity were the first I arranged. Then some light concrete blocks for the small main house, and some corrugated metal sheets for the roof. Stuff like that. After all, if I was to visit here again and again in the future, I could not just sit an watch this. I might seem arrogant here, but that is not what I want to look like in this case.

My future father in law.

Cattle, motorbikes, rice, chicken, etc.

And just like in the village, food and beverages will be prepared for everyone to share. This time the food will be a real meal (dinner time), not only snacks. Plenty of local food I never saw or smelled before, and of course the grilled chicken, cooked chicken, grilled fish, soups, steamed rice, sticky rice, wok grilled beef bits and pork bits with their dipping sauces, and not to forget.......the insects! Oh yes, the insects. Most of us remember the insects. Roasted silk works, grasshoppers, and baby frogs. Then some soft water beetles they suck the juices and eggs out of. And the ant eggs of course. A culinary voyage you never forget. 😁

Frogs anyone?

Mmmmmm, crabs.

Preparation for something to eat and drink.

Lots of good stuff.

And exactly the same atmosphere as when we were in the town. The chatter and laughter is loud, and people really enjoy themself. Everyone have a good time. The ladies seem to gather in one place and the guys in one place. Don't know why, just a cultural thing I guess. Anyway, it is kind of amazing to feel part of this, although I felt it was important to stay relatively close to my girlfriend (later wife), since she had to translate a lot. They all wanted to know about me, and I asked many questions as well. Particularly about the food. 

This time, the drinking would last a bit longer. 😁 Normally it will last until someone just HAVE to get home, or if it is nothing left to drink. The latter hardly ever happens because there is always a bottle left with something to drink. Especially since the so called Thai whiskey (sometimes local Rum) is so cheap to buy, they all can afford it.

The guys enjoying something to drink.

Many Kilos ago.

As I mentioned a couple of times probably, the priority when it comes to spending their money always surprised me in the beginning. They often wanted to spend their money on more luxury gadgets as phones or a satellite dish or a newer car, and forget maintenance or living conditions. 
I think I mentioned it to my brother several years later, don't be surprised if you see an old lady squatting out in the rice paddies far away from the civilization, while she talks on a brand new iPhone. 😁

Phone is important............ for the kids as well. 😉

Soon, after dark, it will be time for us to start moving towards the town again, and also towards the nearest city for the night. Unless you sleep in town. Something I have never ever done. They shut down the lights and most are fast asleep at 9-10 pm, and up again with all the noise you can hear in the morning hours around 5 or 6 am. If you are lucky, you get your own room and air con. If you are lucky that is. No thank you from this big-city man.
So, passing the town on our way back to say goodbye for this time, and on the highway again to towards the hotel. Maybe back to the farm next day, or a night in the city before the flight back to Bangkok. At least, that was our routine.

Back in the hotel.

See you next time.

So that was my first time. Got a feeling it was not too different than many other felt it the first time they went to Isaan. Some fall in love with region, the people, and lifestyle there, and some are just so happy they still live in the holiday resort town, or bigger city somewhere else in Thailand.
For me, a smaller city in the region turned out to be the perfect match. Still some sort of city feel, but near the wife's family.

Sawatii Krap.






Picture of an old friend.

Thursday, 9 July 2020

A wedding day in Bangkok.

The wedding day, who doesn't remember that day? I know I do.
As a foreigner in Thailand, to get married is a little bit more complicated compare to getting married back home. More paperwork for a starter, and sometimes you even need two wedding parties. Which can be more expensive than a wedding back in "the west". I know many who chose the two party way to do it, and that was something they regretted later on. Little did they know how many people the party back home included.

Ok, first, the paperwork needs to be in order. This is more or less the same as back home, except that if you are already in Thailand as a foreigner, you need to correspond with someone back home in order to get hold of your own marriage license and other papers you might need. And when you have organized all your paperwork, you need to get them translated, so they can be used in Thailand.
Some people arrange all this themselves by finding the right offices and authorized translators, and so on. And some, like me (seafarer not always home) used a lawyer to do this, so I didn't have think about too much. A bit more expensive solution, but less headache.

Then you fiance' needs to get her paperwork collected as well, and this should be more simple, but not always. Thais are not always as paper-organized as one might think. They normally keep some papers (ID card, special book) with them. However, other necessary papers need to be tracked down, or renewed, which means travel home to find them, and/or home to your Amphur to get new papers.

When all the paperwork are in order, it is time to book an appointment at wherever you will get married (city hall, or other office). We chose an Amphur office in Bangkok. We wanted to do it swiftly, since I had to return to the ship in a couple of weeks. So an appointment was booked, by help of our local lawyer. It was mid-week, and the appointment was in the morning, forenoon. Which meant a painful taxi ride in the Bangkok morning rush, which took about 2 hours.

At arrival, you enter an office landscape which seems a bit chaotic, but you realize soon they have some sort of control. Just another system you might be used to. We let the lawyer do all the talking, so we are being ushered here and there, and some questions related to the paperwork are answered, with the lawyer translating for me. Then we sit down in front of a desk while a person starts looking through the paperwork, and begins hammering on a computer. We are soon to become husband and wife. And then we are told that unfortunately the computer system has crashed. In fact the entire server crashed.

Oh well, nothing else we really can do here but leave and return another time. We just have to get a taxi and get home, and I need to control my temper. I am extremely impatient as a person, so this is not exactly how my wedding day should be. The lawyer gets us a taxi and he promise to give us a call another day when the system is up and running again. We head home to Chatujak. Luckily not so much traffic jam since it is in the middle of the day. Still, I am annoyed. Oh so annoyed.

We have not been home for more than an hour or so, and the telephone rings. It is the lawyer again, who tells us the system is up and running and he has talked to that office. We are good to go, if we can manage to get back to that office before it closes for the day. I look at my fiance, let's do it I say! Let's get this over with. My mind has already gone over to action mode. Romantics are out the window long time ago, only one thing matters now. So we get a taxi, and off we go (drive) in to the afternoon rush. 2 more hours with a painful taxi ride, with a driver who also is getting impatient. I feel for my fiance having to endure this ride with me and my stress, and a increasingly moaning taxi driver. 

I keep looking at my watch, all the time. I hate being late. Absolutely hate it. Approximately 20-25 minutes before we are there, the taxi driver had enough of this slow moving traffic and he tells my wife in Thai, he wants us to get out. He needs to get himself many short trips now, for sake of the meter. My dear future wife tells me this, and she knows the reaction. I explode! Tell this driver that if he as much as mention this one more time, I will call Ae, whom is a very dear friend of mine and happens to be a Policeman as well. And tell the driver that I will pay Ae a lot of money just to make the driver's day miserable! I have no idea what my future wife actually told the driver, but he shut up and we kept creeping through the traffic.

Finally there, and my mood changes immediately. It always does. And I give the taxi driver a huge tip, which bring out his big smile. He might still hate my guts but he looks happy. Good enough for me. The lawyer is waiting for us outside the office, and we are hurried inside. I look at the watch and I see we only have about 15 minutes until they close, and there are other couples getting married also. Luckily only one (weird looking) couple is before us, so we sit next to them in front of the counter. The groom to be is approximately 80-85 years old, only skin and bones, with lever spots all over, dressed in a poorly fitted hospital pajamas, wearing flip flops. His wife to be, prox 30 my wife guess. Their lawyer is an American gentleman wearing a Hawaii shirt, shorts and sandals. Classy!

Anyway, the paperwork, computer work, signing of paperwork, printing of originals which is signed, happens fairly quickly. And there we are as a married couple, just a few minutes to spare, before they close the office. Good stuff, let's get home darling. Taxi again, still rush hours, but now I am not stressed at all, and not impatient. Because I know we will be home in good time for ordering a pizza delivered to the apartment, just in time to switch on the tv, so I can watch Premier League football from England.

Happily married ever since.

Thursday, 21 May 2020

To quit smoking.

I believe most smokers have some desire to quit smoking. Most of the smokers who has this wish probably have a variety of reasons why they don't want to quit today. The most common excuse is "I can if I want to" , so they keep smoking, knowing it will probably reduce their quality of life in some way. 

And I was the same. I always had a plan to quit smoking by the time I was 50. That would give me some years to get the body "cleaned" and still experience many more years as a healthy human being. Why 50? No reason, it just seemed like a good number. I started when I was 14 in Junior High, which most of my friends did. And that would give me 33 wonderful years with my sigs.

Yes I say wonderful years, because even today, 9 years after I quit, I must admit there is probably a page full with good reasons to smoke. Or why it was good reasons to smoke in the past. Reason number one was of course because it felt good smoking. Don't forget the sig after a heavy meal, or sex. Oh yes, the sig after sex! You smokers know what I talk about.

No problem finding pics of me with a sig.

So how did I manage to quit, despite the fact I really didn't have any motivation for it? It was actually very easy to do so, I surprised myself and other. And it was not because of all the different laws regarding smoking which had recently been implemented and/or planned to be implemented. Nor was it the price level on cigarettes which had increased lately any factor, since I could easily buy cheap sigs on tax free, etc.

As all smokers know, it is just down to how we prioritize our money. If we have enough to pay all our bills, and still have a decent life, no financial reason to quit smoking. In the end of the day, it is just down to plain wanting to stop. And to not come up with lame excuses.

Always a sig available.

What made me decide to finally give up smoking after 33 years, was the simple fact that I was not able to reduce the number of sigs I smoked per day. It was starting to be restricted where we could smoke on the ship, and I expected to reduce the consumption from 20 to prox 10-11 sigs per day, the months I was onboard. 
This was not working, because it started to feel like the body needed a certain amount of sigs per day, regardless. So when I sat in my cabin in the end of the day, watching tv, read, or listened to music, I increased the pace with the result I had finished a pack that day before I went to bed.

Ok, I needed a plan. Quit smoking always needs a plan, regardless if one plan to quit soon, or quit there and then. My plan was, when the carton I had in my cabin was finished (2 more days), I would NOT proceed down to the Provisions area and ask the Provisions master or his Store keeper to buy a new carton. I would make a try and see how long time it would go before I shamefully had to get down there in order to buy more sigs.

Plenty pics of me smoking.

So here we go, the 2 days had passed. I had removed the ashtrays and lighters from my cabin the last evening with cigarette smoking, knowing most smoking paraphernalia would probably set me off, and I would be on my way to buy sigs again. How long would this last?
The first thing a smoker does in the morning is either having a cigarette with the coffee, or a sig after breakfast. It is almost a sacred ritual. The sig in the morning is kind of the start signal for the day to begin. A spark plug for the body.

Amazingly enough, although I thought of smoking the entire morning, it was not difficult to avoid smoking. I guess all the thinking about quitting lately was still a motivator for me. It really took me by surprise. But I knew the real tests had not arrived yet, because bigger meals and smoking in social setting when drinking, thats the real test. So before I knew it, the entire day had passed, and the evening with the normal chain smoking had come.

So, being in my cabin alone, watching tv, or whatever I usually did, without sigs as my loyal travel companions, I needed something else to put in my mouth or I would crack very soon. Luckily I had a bowl with fruits on my table, so I started eating fruit instead. A very healthy substitute for nicotine I guess. Or, so I thought. Because consuming 8-10 pieces with apples, peaches, and oranges every evening before bed time is nothing else than a double edged sword. More about that another time.

When it was cool to smoke.

Day number two and three came and went, exactly like the first day. Only difference was of course work related. But quit smoking was still a go. Part of my motivation those first days was the fact I knew I would feel like a major Loser if I could not even exist without a cigarette for a couple of days. To start smoking so soon would have been an incredible defeat. Kind of Self-shaming, which seemed to work very well.

Unfortunately, when day 4 arrived a colleague on the Bridge mentioned I was never on the Bridge anymore when we have the 15 minute coffee break at 3 PM. We normally would gather on one of the Bridge wings, with the door open, having coffee or tea and a cigarette. A tradition which was already there when I started in the industry many years earlier, and still going on. 
So the cat was out of the bag. They just knew I was trying to quit smoking. And all the standard questions as how many days so far, how serious I was about it, was I ill, or did I feel the need for a sig already? Questions I had asked friends and colleagues over the years when they tried to quit. They all knew the answers. I try (ONLY trying) to quit, I am not ill. And I need to be away from the temptations, so please do NOT offer me a sig. They all understood of course. Nothing new under the sun here.

The need for nicotine increased a lot the next few days. So I started to read up on how it is to quit smoking. The struggle I would expect to have in the near future, as well as all the health benefits I would get by not smoke. The health benefits were not really something I ever thought about as a smoker. Of course, I always knew it was not healthy to smoke, and the risks of getting very ill. But this time I was more into reading it and understanding it. And it helped me somewhat to not crack and start smoking again. But this was not really the main motivator.

The main motivator was without a doubt my colleagues on the ship. Because after it was clear to my colleagues on the Bridge and colleagues in my own department I was trying to quit, they all took an interest in it.  Every day wherever I was on the ship, on the bridge, in a corridor somewhere, out on deck somewhere, I passed a colleague who asked me how many days without a cigarette so far. Doesn't matter if it was a smoker or non-smoker, they all seemed to take an interest. And nobody ever offered me a cigarette. And it all started in the early morning as soon as I stepped into the Bridge. Talk about being blessed with good colleagues!   

Smoking at work.

This strange "surveillance" of me, by my colleagues started to become the number one motivator I had when it came to quit smoking. The self-shaming thoughts (in case I cracked) I have had earlier was nothing compare to the pressure I suddenly experienced. It became some sort of Duty towards not only myself but my colleagues as well to not crack under the urge for a cigarette. There was no way I could fail now. If I failed, it had to wait until I was off the ship and back home. Which was still 6 weeks ahead of me. And so the days and weeks passed, and still no cigarettes. Not even a drag. because one single drag and I would not be able to tell I had not smoked for that long. 

If I started to have this strong urge for a cigarette, I also could use my colleagues who also were x-smokers. I could tell them about how much I felt I wanted a sig, and they would listen and tell me about exactly the same urges, and what they did to. That also helped a lot. 
And so the time had come for me to sign off the ship for this time, I had been without a cigarette for 6-7 weeks (I think). To begin smoking now would just be plain fucking stupid, I though. After all that pain and suffering, and then start again? Hell no! 
I had become a non-smoker.

Spit it out!!

This makes me think of all the people out there who struggle with an addiction which makes quit regular cigarette smoking look like "a walk in the park".


Wednesday, 6 May 2020

Leaving Thailand - A Memoir by Steve Rosse.

Glad I bought this book.

I was very curious about this book when it got my attention because I have a preference for the more non-fiction side of books. The title especially made me really want to read it. Why did the author leave Thailand, and what did he experience before he left? 

The book turned out to be a page turner. Very easy to read. I started to read it late in the evening in bed, but had to stop that since suddenly it was very late (early morning). The book made me burn the midnight oil.

Steve Rosse takes us on a journey from the USA to Thailand, back to the US and to Thailand again (for a visit), where we follow him through his various encounters with women, colleagues, flings, and more serious relationships. And not to forget, the work and family issues he experiences. Some of the readers might find some of this very familiar.

I was surprised how personal the book was,  Steve Rosse invites us into his mind, and he shares a lot of personal issues with us. Again, the book was very easy to read, and I am very glad I bought this book.

Absolutely recommend it to anyone who has either been a long time in Thailand, or plan to travel to Thailand and stay for an extended time, to buy it. Doesn't matter if the book was written a few years ago, most of it are still very much the same.

Something to read on my travels.

Hopefully I will be able some time in the future to meet Mr. Steve Rosse in person. I feel I have a lot I want to talk to him about. And to have the book signed as well.

Thursday, 23 April 2020

South Pacific islands.

The South Pacific and other tropical areas created some memories I will cherish for the rest of my life. Of course this was not only fun and games, because in the end of the day we were there to work and provide a service for the passengers. 
Let's have a look at some pictures.

A deckhand and myself, in Vanuatu, prox 1996.

Moorea, French Polynesia prox 1996.

Normally we would be at anchor somewhere, and shuttle the Pax (passengers, or guests) and Crew to a smaller pier, to get them on the island. Sometimes we were lucky and could go alongside with the ship, but that could become a real a struggle since we needed an "overhang" with the ship, which means only part of the ship would be alongside with an anchor out and mooring lines to some bollard on the beach.

At anchor in the bay or off the beach, in safe water.

Crew prepare Tender Boats for transportation of Pax and Crew to shore.

The activities on the beach would sometimes be a full beach B-B-Q, where the crew worked extremely hard the entire day bringing everything ashore.
Sometimes it would be watersports activities from the beach, which was also a stressful day for the crew. And sometimes just regular tender service (shuttle traffic) for the Pax and Crew who wanted to go ashore. 
Let's scroll down.

   Kho Kood, Thailand. The Crew arrange a Beach BBQ.

In a safe distance.

Fiji islands. Tender shuttle to a temporary made pier on the Beach.

Fiji Islands. Can not get more tropical than this, can it?

Around year 2000-02. Always wondered what the Captain and I was concerned about there. 😁

Sometimes we had to do something we called a "wet landing". This was unfortunately not for the more old and fragile, because it included having to climb out of a Zodiac (or a RIB), in order to wade in the water towards the beach. Reason is simple, not enough water depth to bring the ship or the tender boats close enough to disembark people.
I still remember how this could be a very stressful operation. Just look at the pics below, with me in a zodiac. Getting assistance by many of the locals.

The ship anchored off Kennedy island, Solomon Isls.

Slowly guys, very slowly.

Have a wonderful day.

Careful Madam, be careful.

Young and slim, cruising the world.

Oh yess, good times indeed. So happy I was able to experience this before the total commercialization started within the travel industry.
Thinking back, and watching these pictures, the stress will normally disappear and we keep the good stuff in our memories.
I consider myself very lucky.

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