Semester at Sea in GIFs

Finding the words to describe a four-month around-the-world-on-a-floating-university experience is often hard. And also, expressing things in GIFs is so much fun, so here you go.

How you feel when the ship sets sail for the very first time:

(You’re going to have that song stuck in your head all day. You’re welcome.) Continue reading “Semester at Sea in GIFs”

Weekly Photo Challenge: Street Life

Linking up with The Daily Post’s Weekly Photo Challenge.

I took this photo while relaxing at a wonderful social enterprise, Sozo, in the backpacker’s area of Ho Chi Minh City. It was a day that I just wanted to relax and observe, and I found a good vantage point from their balcony.

vietnam street life

“Water, Water, Every Where”


I live in a water-scarce country on a water-scarce continent. I grew up with a little ditty, “Kinders moenie in die water mors nie, die ou mense wil dit drink” – “Children, don’t mess with water, the old people want to drink it”. Parts of my country has had water restrictions in the years that I have lived.

And yet, I have never really wanted for water. When I open a tap, there it is. Cold and ready to drink, albeit chlorinated. Cape Town has some of the cleanest drinking water in the world. I could run through sprinklers as a child. I could swim in swimming pools.

Continue reading ““Water, Water, Every Where””

Book Review: Last Night I Dreamed of Peace

I bought this book while in Vietnam with Semester at Sea. Last Night I Dreamed of Peace by Đặng Thùy Trâm is the wartime diary of a young Vietnamese doctor during the Vietnam War (or the American War for them)  – 25, barely graduated, a female doctor in the 1960s.

Thuy was an incredible young woman. She grew up in Northern Vietnam, but was posted in the South at a civilian clinic for the war effort. She had to do many things she was not comfortable with, and soon took the role of a “war surgeon”. In addition she was responsible for training young nurses. I was hooked by the first line:

“Operated on one case of appendicitis with inadequate anaesthesia.” Continue reading “Book Review: Last Night I Dreamed of Peace”

Africa Needs More Books

I was walking through my home suburb (read:village) with my brother the other day. We went to the local library, sampled some books (slim pickings) and as we walked home, I asked about such-and-such a bookshop, and such-and-such a used bookshop. They were all closed down. Anyone wanting to purchase books needs to go to town (literally). A town which, incidentally, has only generic chain bookshops.

And I said to my brother, “This place needs more bookstores.”

And then, “Our country needs more bookstores.”

And then, “Africa needs more bookstores.”

morebookstores3 Continue reading “Africa Needs More Books”

Booking It Around The World

Last week I posted about books for travelers, and I realised I never wrote about my forays into bookstores while traveling. Most Semester at Sea students decide to collect ONE THING in each country. One girl decided to buy a copy of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice in every country, preferably in a local language. Another chose Alice in Wonderland. I thought this was cool, except that a) I don’t have an all-time favourite book and b) I prefer books that I can read. So I decided to buy a book in every country, either about that country or by an author in that country. In English.


Continue reading “Booking It Around The World”

Medical Monday: Disabled in Vietnam

In my Semester at Sea reflections, I return often to Vietnam. I think it was the first country to shock me, well and truly. It was not very easy to make my SAS experience medically-oriented, and I had to do a lot of hard work to learn about medicine in various countries. Vietnam was the country where the medicine came to me without having to be asked (much like the vendors, and the traffic).

We had a field lab for my Illness Narratives class (definitely one of the best classes OF MY LIFE, but more of that later). We visited an orphanage for disabled children and an elderly women’s home.

Continue reading “Medical Monday: Disabled in Vietnam”

Weekly Photo Challenge: From Above (Floating Market, Vietnam)

It is the eve of my examinations, and I have been back in South Africa for exactly a week. It has been incredibly difficult to focus on studying. Fortunately I don’t start with the most difficult subject (which is not to say that I am not incredibly nervous).

Anyway, taking a break, this week’s theme for The Daily Post’s Weekly Photo Challenge is “From Above”. I did not anticipate difficulty in finding a good picture taken from above, but it was difficult! The picture here is from our visit to Vietnam in February. We went to a large floating market on the Mekong Delta one morning. It was a little quiet, because it was the end of the Tet holiday. Many people sell in bulk at this floating market, and many, many little children help their parents with the daily work.

Continue reading “Weekly Photo Challenge: From Above (Floating Market, Vietnam)”

Weekly Photo Challenge: Sailing to the Future

This week’s weekly photo challenge with The Daily Post looks to the future. In my immediate future is touching on home base! In fact, right now we are sailing past the East Coast of South Africa, and just a few hours I was giddily staring at the lights of Durban’s coastline. I even have cell phone reception! But it is night time, so I do not have a decent photo to offer of that, at this point.

Continue reading “Weekly Photo Challenge: Sailing to the Future”

The Mekong Delta, Southern Vietnam

The river is their use-all depository, but they would never dream of disposing of rice husks here, because that would pollute the water. It is filthy, they know, but clean enough to bathe in. Clean enough for the catch of the day, “elephant-ear fish”, a local delicacy sold for cheap. That is, if you consider $8 a fish cheap. Fortunately it feeds more than one.

It is the old system here: most things are made by hand, and machines are hand-operated, in a short assembly line. Steaming coconut candy is served, and we watch how the locals make the ubiquitous rice noodles.

Honeybees contribute to our tea, and we have delicious tropical fruits while tasting local music too. Did I mention there was a python? There was a python, and that was not my happiest moment. Continue reading “The Mekong Delta, Southern Vietnam”