Two weeks in Hong Kong

Hong Kong, a unique phenomenon in Asia where the West meets the East. This harmony, which is on the verge of extinction today due to Chinese aggression, is living its last days of freedom and glory. Although it looks like China, there is no communism here. Here capitalism is in full swing. All the signs are also in English, you can see foreigners everywhere and the locals are aware of all the global news and events. This is one of the few places in China where locals can talk relatively free, where you have access to anything, and sites like Google, Facebook and You Tube are not blocked by the government…yet.

As luck had it, at the end of my 5 month contract at sea, our ship headed towards the Yiu Lian Shipyard in Hong Kong for it’s technical overhaul. A visit to the shipyard is the best thing that can happen to the deck crew due to the relatively low workload onboard during the stay.

To get to the site, the ship’s route takes us very close to land, under several city bridges and among some cute urban islands.

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Memories from my first voyage on the School Ship Albatros

It was the Autumn of 2008, I was in my third year of studies at the Romanian Naval Academy. Those wishing to go on the Albatros school ship (the only school ship of higher maritime education system in Romania) had registered long before and now were waiting for their turn to embark. The School Ship “Albatros”, was an ancient relic of the once great Romanian merchant fleet. It now sailed at the edge of legality only through “friendly” ports. No one risked entering a port in the West due to it’s many problems related to the technical condition and the certificates status. It was however understandable. This was a cargo ship built in 1977 under the name of “Dej”, already over 30 years old age.

Although it was technologically obsolete, and what you were doing there had little to do with what you do on a modern ship, many students still wanted to embark on it, being a good way to put some experience on their seaman’s book. The management of the Academy also wanted to put as many students on it as it could, being a safe method to check who has seasickness and who is able to withstand the conditions on board, thus being able to make cadet recommendations to large companies.

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How to find a ship position

For anybody who has family, friends or a boyfriend on board a ship out there on the high seas , now you can easily find and track they’re ship position at any time online. This is done using the AIS (Automatic Identification System) signal of the ship , which some sites track for free. There are several sites on the internet that do this , however i recommend , a free of charge site with an easy to use interface.  I present you below an example how to find a ship anywhere at any time. (You only need to know the ship’s name or it’s IMO number )

1. This is the home page , in the upper right corner you will see a search box

pozitia navei / ship position

2. Type the nave of the ship you are looking for , if there several ships with the same name , select by the type of ship

3.You will reach the ship’s dedicated page , here you will find in the left column details about the ship’s length, tonnage, age of ship , MMSI code, flag. A little further down you can see the port from which it left and the next port it’s going to along with the ETA (Estimated time of arrival) to the port. Scroll down further and you will see a separate window on the left that contains information about the ship’s position and the time when the ship’s position was last updated. If the ship is out at sea, the ship’s position will not be in updated in real time due to the fact it relies on shore receivers. You will see there also a button called “see live on map” . Click on it to see the ship’s position on google maps.

4. Track your ship live on the map , in this case the ship is underway from AU BNE (Brisbane, Australia), going to NZ AKL (Auckland, New Zealand). You can find out easily what each port code means on this site HERE. On the right window we see in this example that the latest position was received a day before on the 10th of July 2019. You can see also on the graphic map that the ship is already very far away from any shore, so the crew does not have a signal to their mobile phones. To speak with your loved ones on board, the ship has to be very close to a populated shore.

[Click pic for big]

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Check out other expat lifestyle articles: UK Immigration – how much does it costs to relocate to England? , First 30 days in Hull England UK as Expat , France one year impressions , How to get PACS in France ,  Expat beginner’s guide to moving to France , First 48 days as expat in France ,  After six years at sea

Check out other tripsThe London WeekFirst 48 days in Marseille France , Romania road trip across the country in 7 days Budapest Hungary road trip , Prague – dream vacation , Excursion Dobrogea: Enisala, Ibida, Histria , Vacation Madrid SpainTwo days in Jacksonville USA,  Paralia – Greece road trip,  Brasov 12.2014 ,  Buzau quick stop ,  Lepsa & Vrancea county ,  Chisinau city break ,  Nessebar Bulgaria ,  Bucharest weekends 2014 , Busan Korea ,  40 days in Cluj Napoca ,  Hunedoara Castle ;  Singapore 2013 ,  Brasov 02.2014 Istanbul 01.2014 , Cluj Napoca 08.2013 , Sibiu 07.2013 ,  San Pedro-Ivory Coast Bucharest 2013 , Varna 2012 , Los Angeles 2012 , Budapest & Viena trip , Salerno Italy , Cluj Napoca 2012Florence Italy , Brasov 02.2012 , Amsterdam , Antofagasta-ChileValencia Spain , Lima-Peru , Bremen Germany , Istanbul 2009 , Valletta Malta , San Juan-Puerto Rico , Barcelona Spain , Singapore 2010 , Los Angeles 2010 , Transilvania road trip , La Spezia , Bosphorus by ship , Sydney , Melbourne Australia , Auckland New Zealand ,  San Francisco USA ,  Tauranga NZ

Alternative tourism: Detroit , Georgia , Burning gate of Turkmenistan , North Korea , Pripyat & the alienation zone   , Nouadhibou graveyard

How the other half lives :  Karachi ,  Guayaquil  , Lagos


Every sailor has thought at least once during his career to quit sailing but many have been discouraged by the grim prospects of hiring ashore, especially in their home countries, in my case Romania. For seafarers, a professional conversion is a a much greater challenge than for others. It implies not just a change of job but also your changing your entire lifestyle.

It’s easy to think through out your contract on the ship about all those harbor workers you meet when the ship is in port and can’t help not to feel a little envy towards them. They finish their shift at regular times (more or less) and than go home to be welcomed by their families and sleep in their own bed with their wives. In the mean time, you just go 2 decks up to a small cabin where you have to rest quickly because you have to be back on deck for work after just 6 hours. On that deck you have to spend at least 4 to 5 months more before you will ever see your home and family again. For some, the decision not to pursue this kind of life, was taken as early as during their first voyage at sea. I remember clearly a cadet on the ship who decided after 5 months on board that this is not the life he wants to pursue and that he will never come back on a ship again. I kept in touch with him, and the boy kept his word. For others it took more than that, I was more persistent and after trying different companies and different types of ships, I took the decision explained in my article “After six years at sea” to quit. I really felt fed up with it and decided to make a change. Pursuing a career at sea was not giving me any satisfaction so there was no point in doing this…


After six years at sea

After six years of life at sea all I’ve got to show for it are a lot of white hairs, a car, a plot of land, a few good and plenty of bad memories. I dedicate this article to all young people who are considering a career and life at sea.

I did my first six months voyage in 2010, during my last year at the naval academy and I was among the lucky few who caught a cadet contract during the academy years…. Now that I think about it, I was among the lucky few from my class who caught a cadet contract at all.

I was happy and excited when I first left. This was my first grand adventure in life, the first time I was leaving home for such a long period, the first time I was going across the ocean to America and on my plane ticket was written Los Angeles. Los Angeles I didn’t get to see that time,  I only saw the highway from the airport to the ship. This turned out to be the usual case unfortunately. The enthusiasm vanished in less than a week, when I realized that I would spend the next six months sleeping in a narrow bed, in a narrow cabin, on a ship with a narrow deck, where everybody abuses you, where you work absolutely every day and where everyone only cares about their own skin.

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Dupa sase ani pe mare


Dupa sase ani pe mare m-am ales cu multe fire albe, o masina, un teren, cateva amintiri bune si foarte multe rele. Dedic acest articol tuturor tinerilor ce se gandesc sa plece pe mare.
Primul voiaj l-am facut in 2010, eram in ultimul an de facultate si am fost printre putinii norocosi care si-au inceput cadetia din timpul facultatii …daca ma gandesc mai bine, am fost printre putinii norocosi care si-au inceput cadetia in general.

Eram bucuros cand am plecat, era prima aventura in viata, prima oara cand plecam de acasa pentru o perioada asa mare, prima oara cand mergeam in America iar pe biletul meu de avion scria Los Angeles. Los Angeles nu am apucat sa il vad atunci, am vazut doar autostrada de la aeroport la vapor. Entuziasmul a disparut in mai putin de o saptamana, cand am realizat ca imi voi petrece urmatoarele sase luni dormind intr-un pat ingust, intr-o cabina ingusta, pe un vapor cu o punte ingusta unde aproape toti abuzeaza de tine, unde muncesti absolut in fiecare zi si unde fiecare isi vede doar de basca lui.

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Quick update

( English version of article below photo )

Dupa cum majoritatea dintre voi stiti nu am mai scris in ultimul timp datorita plecarii in voiaj. Am aproape 3 luni la bord , si mai am aproape 2 pana termin , va salut cu ocazia asta din Kingston , Jamaica , unde este un fum inecacios cauzat de incendierea gropilor de gunoi situate in imediata vecinatate a orasului , si desi nu este chiar atat de grav si vizibilitatea este buna , jamaicanii au decis ca este o scuza destul de buna sa suspende munca in port si sa se relaxeze , cauzand intarzieri in lant la toata programa navei , atat a noastra cat si la restul navelor port-container ancorate afara care asteapta in rada o dana libera ; in cazul nostru intarzierea se resimte mult mai mult , pierzand rezervarea foarte costisitoare de pasaj a canalului Panama ce urmeaza dupa Jamaica. Acestea fiind zise , voi reveni cu articole si reviewuri despre orasele Continue reading “Quick update”

Cum sa afli pozitia navei

for English version article ON HOW TO FIND SHIP POSITION click HERE

Pentru toata lumea care are un frate , amic , prieten , iubit sau iubita plecati pe mari si oceane in caz ca nu stiati astazi exista diferite metode de a afla pozitia navei sale si pe unde umbla respectivul sau respectiva , fie ca vreti sa stiti din motive de siguranta , curiozitate sau “de control” sa zic asa.

Orice nava din lume este obligata sa care in ziua de azi un transmitator AIS (Automatic Identification System) , acest transmitator emite un semnal ce contine numele navei , pozitia navei si destinatia urmatoare , si tot acest semnal poate fi captat de alte nave , statii de coasta dar si de radio amatori care intra pe frecventa potrivita. Exista pe internet site-uri care capteaza aceste semnale si le transpun pe o platforma de genul google maps. Pe internet exista mai multe site-uri de genul ,  dar preferatul meu este , un site gratuit , simplu , cu o  interfata usoara.

Continue reading “Cum sa afli pozitia navei”

Paused – back to work

[English version below]

Ok , vacanta s-a terminat , duminica pe 6 aprilie am taiat-o la aeroport , cu destinatia finala Busan – Korea  via Paris. Voi reveni peste 4 luni cu review-uri  din Korea , China , Singapore , India si…. cine stie pe unde mai ajunge nava , va fi o surpriza si pentru mine , charterul actual al navei fiind aproape terminat. Nava este asta ,si astea fiind zise  , va Continue reading “Paused – back to work”

How the other half lives: Karachi – Pakistan

[for English scroll down below photo gallery]

Pakistan- un stat tampon , creat artificial sub imfluenta britanica intre Iran si India , pentru a separa populatia indiana de religie musulmana de restul Indiei in speranta de a calma comflictele etnice , o natie de 180 de milioane de suflete , unde Karachi este principalul port si orasul cel mai mare. Am avut ocazia de a il vizita de mai multe ori la ultimul voiaj , dar niciodata nimeni nu s-a incupatat sa iasa din port afara in oras , mai ales cand stirile roiau de atentate cu bomba recente in oras. Desi PIB-ul si resursele tarii sunt impresionante , toata averea este tinuta in mana elitei coruote , majoritatea oamenilor traind intr-o saracie crunta , supravietuind cu cativa dolari pe zi , sau din agricultura sau pescuit. Pescuitul aici consta in mersul in larg cu zilele in niste barcute mici de lemn , Continue reading “How the other half lives: Karachi – Pakistan”