The ongoing travels of Phil and Shirley

Below is this month’s travel log from the wonderful Phil and Shirley, which they have been sending through to Shirley Burke from St Michael’s.

We’re just approaching the island of Bali, Indonesia. This beautiful island has become an Australian playground and is more famed for its nightlife and alcohol consumption than for its beautiful people, scenery and culture.

One gets the first hint of this when, approaching and about 10 miles out, the ship passes through a sea of plastic bags, Mcdonald cartons and paper cups. The trail leads us right to the port, and it is the first time we have seen such a thing on our journey.

Generally the seas are much cleaner than they were – at least to the casual observer. Every country and port has strict regulations and most people seem to be very aware of their heritage and their responsibility.

In contrast to Bali, yesterday we were on the island of Komodo. This is a World Heritage National Park famous for its dragons. We had guards and guides, and very strict rules regarding how we behaved and dressed etc. The only “pollution” was from the dragons, but when you’ve just spent a week digesting a whole wild boar, perhaps that’s acceptable!!

A trip like this would be wasted if it did not give one a bigger picture of the world. It’s not about the small, niggling differences between individuals in the ship’s laundry, or whether the food onboard is better or worse than “on my last cruise”. It shows contrast between different geography, different religions and cultures, and it shows how inter-connected we all are – how much we depend on each other and how easily we could spoil it for others, and for ourselves.

A lot of our crew are Balinese, so they are very excited at the prospect of six or seven hours with their families in the middle of a ten-month tour of duty. I feel guilty that our pleasure is dependent on their estrangement from those they love, but I’m also aware that they and their families depend on our dollars.

So the world goes around – it’s a beautiful, wondrous place and it’s a privilege to be seeing it.

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