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Date Posted: 11/06/10

October 23, 2010 - Decision to skip Vietnam to head home

By: Arturo Valdez

1:41 PM - After consultation with the crew, we came to an agreement not to pursue traveling to Vietnam, our last country of destination. More than nature/weather, it is the stringent imposition on a boat like the Balangay now treated like a regular ship/vessel by maritime authorities that makes it very difficult for us to reach Ho Chi Minh City.

Previous countries we visited accommodated and gave us some leniency us a cultural vessel, thus sparing us from the high cost levied against regular maritime ships but somehow we cannot avail of the same concession in Vietnam . An example of these regulations among many others i.e., our Balangays cannot cruise the river on our own power but must be pulled by a tug boat to reach our destination. On top of this, we have to pay for very high anchorage and docking fees. Doing so will cost us a fortune which we can hardly

We would have even settled to have at least our passport stamped as having entered and exited Vietnam in Phu Quoc Island but after discussions with everyone, we thought that spending roughly $1500 just for that stamp may be too much. We could use the funds better for our other needs. One should also learn lessons from our Austronesian forefathers in their wave of migration. In islands that provided warmth, friendship, hospitality, and of course, plenty of food - they stayed longer. If otherwise, they skipped the place.

Besides the weather has now improved and the northeast wind is already blowing hard,
favorable wind that will push us tomorrow Oct 24 from Sihanoukville, Cambodia towards Terangganu, East Malaysia on our way HOME!

3:42 PM - The Balangays' homeward route will bring the flotilla from Sihanoukville, Cambodia to Terangganu, East Malaysia crossing the Gulf of Thailand with a distance of over 340NM. From Terangganu, it will cross again the open seas between East Malaysia and the island of Borneo in the City of Kuching, Sarawak State covering a distance of roughly 500NM.

After gathering supplies, it will sail again to the northern tip of Sabah in Kota Kinabalu for another 430NM. Kota Kinabalu is the last foreign port of departure before reaching Puerto Princesa, Palawan 280NM away.

The homeward journey will cover a total of 1550NM. Weather and God-permitting, the Balangay flotilla will be back in Philippine waters in 3 weeks time at most.

Here are the weather maps today (October 23, 2010). There is a sort of clearing of clouds from the Cambodian side across the the Gulf of Thailand to East Malaysia. That is the window we have to seize which, hopefully, can give us 2-3 days before the incoming typhoon will affect South China Sea. By then, we hope we are already safe in the Malaysian side of the Gulf. The crossing will take us 3 days continuous travel.

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