Myanmar Day 6: Sailing

Well it turns out Victoria Cliff Hotel doesn’t really know how to do breakfast service either. I think the problem is that it’s a relatively new place, and there aren’t a ton of options in Myanmar to learn how to run things. But I’ve never seen so many people running around accomplishing so little. All the food was cold, even the eggs. The coffee and tea would run out and not be re-filled. And there was an omelet bar apparently, but it was hidden around a corner out of sight with the cook looking bored.

We hung out in our room for a bit, enjoying a pretty nice view off Victoria Point. We had mixed messages regarding the transfer with an email saying 9:30 and a “boarding pass” saying 10. To be safe we checked out at 9:15. Checking out at the same time as us we met the others on our cruise. Rob and Jane are a couple in their 50s with 2 college age children home in London, and we had Jonathan and Sara with their two children Emily 16 and James 14, also from an upscale part of London. Check out was a bit difficult for the others and almost was for us as well when I was shown a bill for someone else’s room when we’d paid all of our meals in cash when we had them.

Our transfer was in fact at 10, though apparently Jonathan had met him the day before and it sounded like they were expecting us closer to 9. Our boat is the SV Meta IV (get it? Metaphor?) an 85 foot wooden ketch built in Thailand and owned by an Austrian that has circumnavigated with her. She now sails under a Malaysian flag. We have a Thai captain Suchet and our guide/crew AK from Yangon as well as crew Paul and cook Na from Thailand. AK is who we’re going to interact with most I think, he speaks English well and has been doing this for ~4 years. Suchet has been sailing in these waters for closer to 16 I think I heard. Paul is really green and needs a lot of instruction, I think Na knows more about sailing at this point.

AK it turns out has a wife and a 4 year old son, a few days later we learn his son is Autistic. AK is under a lot of stress I feel to keep earning money to support his wife and son living with his grandmother back home.

We have to wait for immigration to clear us and our paperwork before we can go, and they give the guy a beer. From what I’ve read online, cruisers avoid these islands because of the mass of paperwork involved in visiting them, so we aren’t going to see many other boats in our anchorages. That’s also part of why it’s as expensive as it is because the permits themselves are fairly hefty.

In the meantime we have coconuts and fruit followed by Na’s delicious cooking before we leave.

Rob starts the conversation with how he’s excited about the prospect of a Trump President. It’s hard to tell how serious he is. He likes pushing people’s buttons, and when we hear he’s in commercial real estate it kind of fits. I think he’s not a conservative so much, but he’s a burn it all down sort of guy perhaps. Jane starts with how she thinks violent video games are part of why there is more violence in the world. Great. I explain my perspective as best I can, that the violence in the video games is kind of not the point, that in FPS games you never feel like it’s really killing or death because there is a short respawn timer and then you’re back in the game, that it’s more of a mechanic for keeping score. I honestly think you could switch it all and make the guns paintball guns and no one would care horribly, it’s all a motif for a game and a story and I half think perhaps I’ve convinced Jane? Or at least she doesn’t want to continue to make things uncomfortable accusing me of corrupting the world’s youth, and she moves the conversation on to what the process is like for making a video game. I could do an hour lecture depending on how detailed you want to get. I also once read something that described game design in terms of doors which I shared. Someone tells you they want a door in a game. It sounds simple. There are many decisions needing to be made though. Is the door just a visual thing? Does it open? If it opens, how does it open? Like on Star Trek? Or like a garage door? Does the player interact with it via a prompt? Or do they just walk up to it? Can non player characters open the door? Is there an animation and sound? Can the player open it once they’ve gone through? If not can we unload the data from before the door?

Finally the boat gets going. She’s not the best sailing boat, but I half figured as much at 35 tons. Her sails are a bit worn from use, the genoa’s luff is stretched in shakes, and the mainsail is missing a few battens. The mizzen isn’t even rigged with shade rigged up in a way that makes me think it never gets used. I’m not convinced the crew are exactly experts either, though plenty fine. We have great wind angle though almost directly on the beam at 15 knots or so. We’re making over 7 knots most of the way but we have a good 6 hour passage to make. Our late start means we’re arriving after the sun has gone down laying anchor in the dying light. Our anchorage is just in the lee of a long narrow island, though I can’t make out much detail with it being dark.

All around us are fishing boats lit up at night with bright white and green lights. I count over 20 we can see. Apparently they’re fishing for squid, but I can’t imagine there will be much left at this rate. I’m sure they’re catching other things, and it wouldn’t surprise me if they were fishing indiscriminately with nets. It’s surreal to see, and it makes me worry for the snorkeling we’ll see.

Dinner is a bit awkward. Rob turns out to be a bit of a troll and likes getting people’s hackles up, especially when he’s had some drinks. The other guests are better off than I think most, and the conversation can turn a bit pretentious at times. Jane and Jenn though have hit a bit of a rapport talking about horses as Jane does fox hunting. Rob starts in on a bit of trivia and doesn’t particularly get that no one is interested in guessing answers to his sometimes ambiguous questions, most of which seem to be aimed and showing us he knows more about our country than we do. “How many cities in the US have a population of 1 million or more?” which devolves into what defines a city. The conversation also turns political, often aimed at America. I’m especially put off by the statement that America is on the decline coming from someone from England. And more than once statements are made like “You know the bureaucracy in India used to run with just 6,000 people, but when we left they replaced them with 60,000”. I’m proud that Jenn and I just kept from engaging on stuff like this instead of being rude back instead just whispering about it in our cabin after dark.

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