Fa – the Green Dragon

A Place for the Odd Musings of an Expat Bristolian

Trying to Express a Strange Feeling

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There is something about port cities that really touches something deep inside me.  I come from a port city and as luck would have it I had a job at one time in my life which took me to many ports.

The parent company of the company I worked at was called The 2000 Corporation of Montreux, Switzerland. This company owned and operated many companies among which were: Ocean Cruise Lines, Ocean Air, Travelers, and Pearl Cruises of Scandinavia.

Part of my responsibilities at Pearl Cruises was to research, explore and negotiate shore excursions and ground operations with various destination Management Companies, Hotels and Ground Transportation operators.

My office was located in the Ocean Terminal building in Hong Kong and it was from there that I travelled throughout Asia to do my job.

The Ocean Pearl was a refurbished Baltic Sea Ferry with a 12,000 ton displacement. We sailed a variety of itineraries around China and southeast Asia depending on the season. Our routes included the countries of Japan, China, Taiwan, Korea, Hong Kong. Thailand, Singapore, Myanmar (formerly Burma) and Indonesia. Occasionally we operated special sailings to Vietnam and Cambodia.

Probably among the many ports we visited, Shanghai was the one which conjured up thoughts of mystery and fascination. Other ports such as Beidaihe, Dalian, Tianjin,Qinghuangdao, Qingdao, Tanjung Aru, Port Klang, Kuching, Kotakinabalu, Bandarseribegawan and Yangon were places that most people were learning about for the first time.

Whenever I was in a port to meet with the harbormaster to discuss berthing, tides, customs, health, migration or other logistical matters prior to  the arrival of The Ocean pearl I always experienced the same feeling that I felt as a boy exploring the dockland area around the Floating Harbour in Bristol. It is difficult to express but no matter how many times it happened it was always a sense of wonder. The wonder stemmed I think from the idea that water connects the majority of people n this planet.

Looking around me I sometimes wondered about the vessels could  see, either berthed with several cranes loading and unloading cargoes, or lying at anchor at some distance from the port.

the feeling was always one of excitement. While the task of sailing might seem quite simple to some on the surface (no pun intended), navigating the globe is in fact a complicated task requiring sound training and broad knowledge.

I used to imagine what it must have been like aboard a wooden sailing ship in the days before ships had engines. Just casting off from the quay in Bristol and maneuvering a large vessel through the lock gates and into the river Avon on an outgoing tide must have required a skill developed with time and experience of the sea.

No two ports are the same. Kuching (Cat City) in Malaysia for example requires very precise timing in order to enter. There is a sand bar at the entrance to the port. Miss the tide and you sit and wait for the next high tide. A pilot is required for the 8 miles journey up the river Avon into Bristol. Kaohsiung the southern port city of Taiwan has a long straight concrete lined channel which leads in from the sea. Political tensions years ago across the Formosa Straits led to the construction of machine gun posts in towers along the channel.to be continued….




Author: Cethru Cellophane

I have reached the regrettable realization that I may have squandered my life. I did a quick count recently and figured that I have visited about 66 countries, and lived for more than 3 years in 3 of them. During this time I completed 14 corporate moves (relocations) and have changed my address more than 23 times. I should have settled on a profession that would have kept me in one place with no packing and unpacking. When I think of the time I have spent bundling my life into and out of boxes. Ah well, it's all water under the bridge. But I am grateful for the experience. At the end of the day I will be able to say with a certain authority, "been there, done that". A note about this site’s Header Image The Header image for this site is of the Smith Avenue High Bridge. The bridge was built in 1889 and carries Minnesota State Highway 149 across its span of 2770 feet, 160 feet above the mighty Mississippi River. The picture was taken from the river looking to the north-east and downtown Saint Paul. The bridge is about 1040 miles from New Orleans. One of the reasons I like this view is that I come from a city which has a spectacular bridge. It’s the Clifton Suspension Bridge http://www.ikbrunel.org.uk/clifton-suspension-bridge which spans the Avon Gorge and the River Avon in Bristol, U.K. It’s about 1350 feet long and stands 245 feet above the river below. Sadly it has claimed the lives of more than 400 people who have committed suicide by jumping from the bridge. As a side note, not all attempts were successful. two small girls thrown off the bridge by their deranged father survived the fall when they were fished from the river by the crew of a passing pilot boat. The bridge was opened in 1864 and was designed by the 24 year old architect, Isambard Kingdom brunel. It took 35 years to complete.

One thought on “Trying to Express a Strange Feeling

  1. You were very lucky traveling so much which your work.


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