Saturday, June 28, 2014


Chill day. Did a late morning swim to the wreck next to Pangiamotu island. Saw a schools of yellow fin and other assorted fish. Water still clear.

Went to the Saturday market at Nuku-alofa and bought some tea cups of a particular vintage I've never seen before. They had a coat of arms as the backmark - brand logo. All the cups had individual decals - albeit a bit clumsily placed - were delightful drawings of a phoenix, mountain scenery, a geisha, egret, and my favorite - a man riding a fish on the side. Never seen that sort of drawing before. No one cup was like. The bottom of each cup also had a different design - some showing a turtle, egret, or geometric pattern. I was just going to buy just one cup. But they were all pretty in some way - so I bought all of them. Each cost just $1 each - I thought that was cheap. In Australia they would be selling them for $5 - $10 each.

I'm getting a bit bored. And a bit tired of the aussie jokes on board the boat. Once a twice fine - but they keep on repeating it - like chewing gum - its lost its flavor. On top of it all, I am not allowed to sleep on the bridge anymore nor outside on the bridge lounge area. I found that depressing. Those two areas have the best air circulation. I find it baffling that the other crew don't mind the lack of fresh air and not taking daily body washes.

Can't wait for us to commence operations and to do some scuba diving.

I took some photos of the tea cups I bought. A ray of sunshine and a optically formed rainbow appeared as I was taking the photos. Pretty things make me happy.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Pangiamotu Island

We are now moored off Pangiamotu Island while waiting for the Tongan officials to complete their paperwork (which will enable us to commence operations). Hopefully they will get it done before Christmas :)

Internet here is very patchy. It usually works best at around 3am - 7am. Other times and even whatsapp messages are liable to go amiss.

One of the crew members got a package from her mum in Germany. Her mum sent it via a fast courier mail service, paying US$200 for the privilege for delivery within 6 days. It took twice the time to arrive.

Its always wonderful to receive overseas packages - esp. so when you're miles away from anywhere.

Thankfully Tonga seems well stocked. You can even buy some electronic stuff cheaper here than in Orchard Road :)

I've learnt some new tricks on board the boat- after nearly a month of constipation - my bowels decided it had to learn how to shit outside its comfort zone.

Learning how to take a dump in the toilet however is not a lesson I wanna master. The toilet stinks. Its cramped. And despite the efforts of the previous occupant user - there is still an unpleasant odor.

I've learnt how to defecate over the side of the boat in broad daylight while holding onto the railing. What is tricky is learning to quickly cover yourself when a passing speed boat comes roaring by with gleeful angmo passengers. Haven't they seen the ass of an Asian man before here? :)

Relieving yourself off the side of the boat does have its advantages - esp. at night when you can see the magnificent multitude of stars too numerous to count and the occasional shooting star.

Anyway so far so good. Just chilling, reading books, listening to music and learning how to shit off the side of the boat quickly.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Wednesday 25th June

Spent the day reading a book about Captain Kidd, a privateer apparently falsely accused of being a pirate. It seems a cautionary tale of being in the wrong place, wrong time, and naively thinking that people in power, kings, govt officials who have entrusted you to do dirty deeds for them are going to rescue you when things turn to shit or when your reputation gets tarnished. Once you get a bad rep its hard to shake it off. And sometimes you just have to call it a day and learn to walk away from fights (including your reputation) that you may lose big time i.e getting imprisoned and hanged.

Things on the ship are starting to get irritating. I've never been a fan of the aussie sense of humor - ie mocking or teasing someone. Occasionally its funny - but usually it stinks like a bully's unwashed arse.

I stopped sleeping in my cabin cos there isn't a lot of circulation and my aussie room mate doesn't believe in washing. When he does wash he uses a godawful soap.

I received the blunt end of an accusation from one of the other crew members on the charge of leaving rubbish lying around. I didn't do it. And even if I did - there is no reason to get cranky with me.

Maybe everyone is bored cos we have not yet commenced operations yet. And so like cooped up chickens in a cage, they are just pecking away.

I couldn't give a fuck.

I tend to be solitary minded when bored - I stick to my corner, read my books, and mind my own business. I don't understand why people can't do the same.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014


The voyage from Fiji to Tonga took 3 nights 4 days. Our ketch rig boat SV (Sailing Vessel) ICE - measuring 20m length, weighing 35 tons - maximum speed of 8 knots/h (roughly 15km/h) is probably the smallest boat I've been on for such long trips. 

This was probably the most turbulent sea trip I've ever taken. It took some effort to even leave the surf break of the Fiji marina.

We've got 5 crew onboard including the captain. We had to all take turns doing watch - a visual watch on the ship's bridge (the driving seat area) writing the ship's log, checking the engine. The boat kept on being tossed and turned like a bottle in the sea.  After my first engine watch, having to content with the diesel smell, thumping sound of the engine,  I threw up. The ship's only vegan, the German media executive, had cooked our lunch - a indian dull curry. I felt like someone was wringing my intestines. I was ok afterwards and didn't get sick. 

The captain was impressed with my recovery - the other crew which included a coast guard reservist were terribly ill. But I'm still lousy on my rope knots skills and my ship knowledge isn't as good compared to the others. Its ok, everyday a learning experience.

The 1st 3 nights were particularly difficult as I was battlng sea sickness, nausea. It was a small boat compared to the larger ships I've been on - it was tossing like a bottle in the sea. The horizon, floor kept on rocking like a Carnival Viking Ship. A large component of fighting sea sickness is a mental battle - simply resolving to fight it and not give up and get sick. I just gritted my teeth, stared at the horizon ahead and fought off any thoughts of "FUCK GET ME OUT OF HERE." cos there is nowhere to run - you can't quit and walk out the door here in the middle of the ocean.

We reached Nukalofa, Tonga on Friday night but by then Customs had closed up shop and we had to wait til Monday. It was a welcome relief to be in a safe harbor. We could see a rustic 3 star resort on a nearby island tantalizing within swimming distance but we couldn't go (having not clear immigration).

Walking into town to buy a local sim card, USB internet data stick was sheer joy. haha. how urban. Internet here is slow but ok considering we are smack in the middle of the blue ocean wilderness.

Nukalofa is one of the biggest islands in the Tongan chain of islands. It is very much like many of the remote areas I've been to in Indonesia, Philippines... there is trash EVERYWHERE. The drain system next to the main road is sadly crammed with plastic bottles, plastic wrappings, soft drink cans, confectionary wrappings and all kinds of trash. The young school children seem happy but many young adults are unemployed and bored out of their minds. I see many of them sitting around corners staring into space with sad eyes.

The govt is also apparently very corrupt - according to wikipedia - it was discovered a few years ago that the King of Tonga had apparently squirreled away over a hundred million dollars in overseas bank accounts. When the people learned about it they rioted on the streets. The average wage is barely $10 a day. A burger cost $5 here.

I find there is a general feeling of quiet despair here in the streets of Nukalofa. Their country is going nowhere. The people are going nowhere. The leaders seem to be squirrels in disguise. Half of the population of Tonga actually resides overseas. Personally I think the people have lost their pride in their nation. As a Singaporean I can see the same thing happening except that due to Singapore's excellent cleaning services - our streets are kept clean by cheap foreign workers.

On the news I read about how the Japanese football fans cleaned up their side of the stadium after each match - and I applaud them for that. I think a great measure of how civilized a nation is - is how they regard each other, how they regard personal and public sanitation and cleanliness. When I see a person picking up trash off the street - I can tell he cares for his neighborhood, his nation. When the people are demoralized, when they feel disempowered - when they don't feel like they belong to the land - everything falls apart.

You don't shit in your own bed.

Sunday, June 08, 2014

Family loses flat over technicality

Singapore can be a terribly unfair country. I feel dreadfully sorry for the woman. Probably it would have helped if she had divorced her husband.

I think the real problem is that many rich Singaporeans own multiple properties. Apparently the former Minister of Housing owns 40 properties... I'm not sure how he's going to vote if a case was made to have a capital gains tax on property.

There should be a limit to the amount of properties you can buy. Singapore has a limited amount of land. If it was up to me, I'd limit Singaporeans to one owner(s), one property each. If the owner has another property - a one year grace period should be extended to allow the person to sell the 2nd property. Otherwise you're going to have a situation where the rich just game the system.

Saturday, June 07, 2014

Opposition ward politics

18 days in Fiji and we are still in the Marina. The electrician came again to fix the refrigeration unit - its a special fridge designed specifically for ships. Hopefully it will work otherwise we are gonna be eating plenty of tinned food for the next 5 months.

I'm reading with a bit of bemusement over the furor over PM Lee HL comments about denying upgrading for opposition wards.

Read it here:

I thought this was old news already. LKY made frequent warnings about opposition wards - mentioning not too long ago that if a PAP constituency went over to the Opposition side it would have to "repent". But he's been threatening this sort of thing for ages.

The Goh between the Lees also publicly warned that opposition wards would not benefit from any public development if they voted for Opposition parties. You can google the problems the people of Potong Pasir had with regards to MRT, HDB infrastructure developments and even bus services.

This is nasty politics. Politicians are paid using tax-payer's dollars even from Opposition wards. NS men from opposition wards also continue to serve in the army. If the citizens from Opposition wards are not entitled to infrastructure developments etc.. does that mean they can also forgo following the laws of the nation? Maybe next the PAP will suggest building a wall to turn opposition wards into ghettos.

Moreover nearly half to over a quarter of all citizens from Opposition wards voted for the opposition - so where does that leave them?

Having said that this sort of political favoritism occurs in other democratic nations as well. Maybe not so blatant and in-your-face but it does happen.

But really in a civil society - do you want to act so mean? If you have such mean politics its going to breed a certain nasty, mean spirited society - kia-su-ism as far as I'm concerned comes from our govt's policies.

Tuesday, June 03, 2014

Hungry in Fiji

When you go for these sorts of long trips all kinds of thoughts go thru your head - thoughts like - why isn't there kaya jam being sold when there are so many coconut trees in Fiji??????

Seriously why isn't there KAYA!!!!!????????? ARGHHHH

I was looking at all the fresh fluffy bread being sold in the shop and the one word that came to mind was KAYA, KAYA, KAYA, KAYAHAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Meanwhile the captain is giving me dirty looks cos I'm slumming and not reading the COMPETENT CREW Manual and SAILING FOR DUMMIES.

I totally crashed when he was giving us a lecture on ship sailing and what the Spinneker mast was for....Cleat, Forestay, Halyard, Foot, Leech, Luft, Topping Lift, Spinneker, FISHBALL MEEPOK.... wtf... yeah fishball meepok .... i want to eat fishball meepok.

For the love of all that is holy i don't even eat fishball meepok noodles in Singapore but now - I do.... arghhh....

Anyhow, my food cravings are fairly minor. more like an irritant.

The ship's engineer, JaneJane Chou is a great cook thankfully.

Monday, June 02, 2014

Treasure Hunting blues

How this entire trip came about was when the Captain in Tonga and heard about a local diver who was put in jail for selling bronze items that he claimed were gold.

The police got wind of it and arrested him. Later on the Captain talked to him and discussed plans to dive and excavate the ship wreck. However the police had other plans and arrested him again. They then "breathed heavy" on him to get the location of the ship wreck. The Navy was called upon and paid a ton of money by its own government to grab stuff out of it.

If you are a bit puzzled - google Tonga and you'll find its one of the most corrupt nations in the world. One sobering reason why there are so many ancient shipwrecks there was because the ancient Tongans used to entice the crew of visiting ships onto the island - with girls, feasts, etc.. and massacre them or capture them... and eat them.

Tongans were happy cannibals. They would also place their captives onto an island, using it like a fridge.

Thankfully Christian missionaries converted them and they stopped being cannibals... but not before eating a whole bunch of German missionaries in the process.

The Captain however is an upright dude and has arranged for the proper permits to look for and salvage the wreck.

Meanwhile a whole bunch of local divers were busy pulling stuff out of the sea and trying to sell ancient anchors, bolts, nails, etc.. from sunken ships. The problem with that is - a rusty nail is inherently worthless. Same for a rusty anchor. Or a plate. But if you can prove that the item came from- let's say the Titanic or some other famous ship wreck - and that piece of crap suddenly shoots up in value many many times. The local divers however didn't know how to do this and simply have a pile of rusty shit that no one wants to buy.

The Captain plans to do it properly and try and ascertain the identity of the ship wrecks. Hopefully my education as a historian will help in this approach.

Sunday, June 01, 2014

Work today

I'm not a passenger on the ICE - I'm actually a full member of the crew and I'm expected to do all the sailor things - including navigation, steering, and mast work.

Today I had to climb the Mizzin mast - the secondary mast of the ship to raise the sail. First I had to bring down the halyard to tie the sail. Afterwards I had to tie supporting ropes which held the sail protector.

There were over two dozen sailing terms I had to absorb - and mostly forgot straight after.

Climbing the mast was quite a feat for me. It was over 10m tall - and I had to climb it without a safety harness at the start. The tricky part later on was the tying of the support ropes  which I had to do with one arm wrapped around the mast.

I've always been scared of heights - when I was 3 I fell down 5m onto marble floor and nearly got killed.

The trick is not to worry (too much) about falling - but concentrating on the task at hand.

The top of the mast is 10m and if I kept on worrying about falling I would be totally captivated by my fear.

There were two support ropes to tie - and I had problems tying the 2nd one because my arm was slippery with sweat.

Anyhow I managed to do it all without falling.

I had problems sleeping the night before... I woke up at least three times with a hard-on. I miss my female companion in Singapore. And there is no outlet otherwise :) One of my friends is irritating me with photos of his female friends - he's a real charmer that dude. 

For afternoon tea I ate a sinful delicious cinnamon roll with plenty of icing sugar and black brewed coffee. Gosh darn it was good. The last time I ate such a monstrosity was back when I was attending a Pentecostal church whose sermons threatened to go on for hours - the preachers loved the sound of their own voices - I loathed their sermons and would sneak out to a shop called Saint Sinamon to eat their pecan caramel cinnamon rolls. Eventually I developed acid reflux in my stomach. But I had few vices other than a sweet tooth back then.

Gosh I wasted so much time at church...

How to lose weight without too much exercise

Everyone wants to lose weight, be fit and slim easily. So how do you do it?

I used to be fat. I suffered from reflux and poor indigestion.

I solved most of my problems overtime - 5+ years by doing simple things.

1. Eat Healthy Food. This means - eating fresh fruit and vegetables. And drink at least 2 litres of water

2. Cut out Junk Food. Slowly eliminate fried food from your diet - this includes KFC, McD, etc..

3. Think (and care) about what you are eating. 90% of the time we are just shoveling whatever is on our plate. If we thought carefully over what we eat - then we will be able to refrain from eating bad food - including white rice and bread.

4. Exercise at least an hour a day. By that I mean do some form of physical activity. Run, if you can't run, Walk. Avoid Sedentary hobbies like computer games. Our human body was designed for physical activities. If we don't use it, our bodies will deteriorate.

5. Eat smaller servings. Don't over-eat. Try eating smaller amounts - then waiting 20 minutes before going for a 2nd helping. It takes awhile for our stomachs to register that we are actually full.

8. Do it gradually. If you can't run 10km a week, run 5km or just 1km.

Think positive thoughts. Getting depressed only causes you to think negative thoughts and that can't be good for you. Its always good to keep a positive outlook on life. At the same time, you need to develop self-awareness. Be conscious over what you are doing. Ask yourself - why are you eating that chocolate, fried food etc..? And did you really have to eat that 20 chicken nuggets, bigmac, and large fries in just that one sitting?

Change bad habits. A lot of people resort to food as a quick pick-me-up if they get depressed. This probably stems from childhood when if you cried as a baby your parents/carers would give you a sweet or some food to pacify you. That sort of feedback is now effectively hardwired to your brain. Changing bad habits takes sometime. So whenever you get stressed or upset - you turn to food to calm yourself down. Rewiring your brain takes time. Changing thought patterns and behavior is very hard but it is possible. Just as a quick suggestion - if you get upset - go for a walk, get some fresh air, the endorphins produced by exercise will help to calm yourself down. 

Dieting programs do not offer the best solution. You can't go on a carbo free diet, or worse one of those water or fruit juice only diets. They are only band aid solution - and your metabolism actually slows down to take into account the food deficit.  The result is that the minute you stop, the fat comes straight back on and becomes more resistant to losing weight. A mindless adherence to a diet without any thinking is probably going to fail.

When you go on a diet. You are removing a key food from your usual meal.  Now there is a reason why you want to eat those food. Its simple. You like it. 

And when you stop eating it, you body craves for it. I think your brain sends endorphins into your blood stream whenever you eat that food.

What you need to do is to first be aware of your body's response to food and also aware of what the food is doing to you.

I used to over-eat a lot and I'd get indigestion. I also used to drink 10 cups of freshly brewed coffee (+sugar) a day. I'd consume a whole boxful of biscuits while reading my favorite book. I'd get heart burn, reflux and I'd even wake up at night because of heart palpitations. 1 + 1 = 2. You don't need to be a genius to realize what was killing me. Eating junk food, drinking copious amounts of coffee etc.. and over eating was ruining my health.

So do yourself a favor. Say to yourself - "YOU are important." Your health is important. Look after yourself because you only have one body. Its not like a car where you can change it when it wears out.

If you can. Take a notebook journal and write down all the stuff you eat. 

Now try and evaluate what you eat. Or in the words of Samuel L. Jackson - "Can you feel where the money went?" or can you justify it?

The sad fact is most of the time, we just shovel all kinds of crap into our mouths without thinking. We open a jumbo packet of chips and before we know it, we ate the whole darn bag in one sitting. (I did it just then). We try and fool ourselves by buying baked crisps but if you end up eating the whole bag whilst watching Top Gear, that can't be good.

The fatty food that we eat is almost accidental. People will often eat whatever that is served before them - they don't think. They just gobble.

Bad stuff that people swallow down without thinking are - 
1. French Fries
2. fried wedges that they serve at bars, together with the sour cream
3. Fried Chicken 
4. Fried Fish (and chips)
5. Pizza
6. White Bread - all white bread has practically no nutrient content whatsoever 
7. Most commercial cereals - Nurtigrain, fruitloops etc..
8. Meat Pies
9. Ice Cream
10. Junk Food - packets of chips

11. And horror of horrors - white rice and white bread.

Now, I'm not telling you to absolutely not eat it. Because the minute you say to yourself "don't touch" - you'll end up touching it. First you have to realize, I mean really deep down KNOW that the food is unhealthy for you. What we call food - chips, fries, soft drinks, white bread is simply junk food.

But forcing yourself to lay off those junk food overnight may simply backfire on you.

One simple step to help you reduce your dependency on food is :

1. Take time when you eat your food to thinking about what you are eating. Don't just shovel the food down your throat like a pig.

2. Learn to taste your food.

3. Make the fat you eat "work" for you. Meaning, whenever you eat that McDonald's Hamburger or that big bag of chips, you taste it, and you feel it. You're not just swallowing it down like flushing water down the sewer.

Taste it. Know it. Feel it.

OK, then evaluate. Was it worth it? And can you live without it?

Let me give you an example. I love eating McDonald Quarter Pounder and their French fried chips and drinking that Coke. Love it.

But I did realize that its not healthy eating it. Its filled with lard, preservatives and too much salt. But what to do? 

So instead I started eating smaller servings. First I resisted the temptation to upgrade my orders from medium to large.

Eventually I had the small size. Same Quarter Pounder but I had small chips and a small coke. Now, I rarely go to Mackers and when I do - I just order a Quarter Pounder and a cup of coffee instead. Or if I crave the chips - I order the chips and coke but no hamburger. But I still savor the moment, the food and my body after awhile can feel the fat and the unhealthy content in that burger. 

And what do you know? After a few years - I seldom go to McDonalds anymore. Rarely.

A gradual approach to healthy living is often the method that works the best. Be stubborn. Keep at it.

Your stomach is like an elastic band. You can stretch it and stretch it. It will accommodate all the food you want to eat and get bigger and bigger. Any drastic reduction usually doesn't work because its too severe. Your whole body - brain and stomach - will conspire against you.

Another important component is exercise. You have to try and fit in an exercise routine into your day. Is one hour too hard for you? Well, try 30 minutes then of brisk walking. Or maybe try a block of 10 minutes. Just keep it regular, frequent and you'll be amazed how that 5 becomes 10, 10 mins can become 15, and later evolve to an hour. Just keep it consistent.

People often make the mistake of going to the gym, working out too hard and then not going back again for a month. Try and learn to pace yourself. Make it a fun activity- go with a friend, do a group class.

There are three core components to physical well-being:

1. Strength
2. Flexibility
3. Endurance

One important exercise that everyone should do - and is often neglected - is stretching. Research in it. Get a Pilates DVD or watch it on Youtube - do a few routines, slowly. I say again, do it slowly.

It is very very important for your body to remain flexible. There is no point in being able to bench press 200kg if you can't bend and touch your toes. As we grow older our muscles and tendons shorten and as they get shorten they get tighter, stiffer, harder until eventually they break down. 

Look at yourself daily in the mirror. Have a few photos of athletes or people with good bodies next to the mirror. Somehow that process will help you gravitate to those goals.

Whatever you do, don't skip meals. Make sure you eat regularly at set times everyday. If you don't, your body will assume you are in a war/famine situation and your metabolism will suffer.

Snacking is good so long as you are eating healthy stuff like fruits, unsalted nuts.

Bottom line - try and think carefully over what you eat. And always drink water. Coca-cola and all sugared drinks +alcohol is all not good for you. Drink i occasionally but treat them almost like poison. If you avoid that and drink 2litres of water a day - you are going to make a world of difference to your life.

Anton Casey - Pinkerton Syndrome Part 1.

This is an old blog post that didn't get sent out. I went to Raja Ampat again to do scuba diving. It was somehow marred by the fact that there was this short middle-aged French dude on board who was molesting all the Asian girls who somehow didn't seem to mind the prick.

I couldn't understand why they tolerated such behavior. Seriously a big WTF? If any asian male did what he did - ask girls to come to his room for rumba- he'd be thrown off the boat with 100kg of weights tied around his throat. But this French dude was doing his shit with impunity.
I was partly repulsed by his behavior and also curious how he could get away with social murder. Maybe it was the jovial manner he did it. But still - what he was saying was over the line.

Which brings me to my 2nd point - are Asians too tolerant of white foreigners?

I think we are too tolerant. Unfortunately we are still living under the shadow of 200 years of colonial dominance. For the last 200 - 300 years the world has been living under the burden of white colonial rule.

There were clearly some benefits - but at the same time there were outrageous crimes committed.

The British - yes the same people who introduced Victorian Christian morals - also forced China to accept Opium as a legitimate trade item.

Get this - the British - same people who sang "Onward Christian Soldiers" - Victorian puritanism, Anglican schools, high tea, were the world's Opium drug dealers. Seriously WTF.

When the Chinese Govt objected and banned the sale of Opium - the British Govt went to war to force China to accept the Opium trade.

Can you imagine if China went to war to force Britain to allow heroin to be sold legally.

As part of the settlement, China was forced to hand over Hong Kong to the British for 100 years.

I found it seriously ironic when Western journalists complained over democratic rights when Britain was going to hand over Hong Kong back.

You should also find it ironic that I'm writing about this in English too hahaha.

OK... I've got to go back to my ship chores. I'm currently in Fiji onboard the Yacht ICE. You can follow our adventures here on