One of the things that is screamingly obvious to me, now that I am a cruising expert with an impressive four nights under my belt, is the fact that there is extreme cruising politics, of which I am quickly realising.
Now this cruise that I am on is a small, intimate affair with only about 45 guests on board. 98% of them are retirees while 2% of us are the babies of the group. And when I say babies, I mean we are in our forties. Yesterday was a changeover day, which meant that we said farewell to half of the original gang and HELLO to some newcomers.
Brian, the Aussie chef, informed us that we were welcoming one American, a couple of Swedes and a handful of Germans.
We joined the American gent for lunch. He was a retired surgeon. One of the comforting things about being on the boat in the middle of nowhere is the fact that there are a lot of surgeons and doctors travelling as guests. So far I have resisted the urge to get medical advice, but I am only one cocktail away from ripping off my shirt and obtaining an expert, yet free, skin check.
Mike, who left yesterday, was a retired Urologist from the UK who specialised in incontinence issues so I had many questions for him, which he was only too happy to answer. He loved his job and his little eyes would light up when he would tell me stories about his triumphant procedures. He literally had the power to change people’s lives by injecting botox into slack and lazy bladders. I adore those passionate people.
The American Surgeon used to be an aneithetisct. Oh, and a pilot and a Pulitzer prize winner. He also happens to be eighty and one off the most amazing storytellers that I have ever met. I could listen to him for hours, which is not a bad thing because here on the boat, I have time on my side.
But that’s the thing about cruising life. You can be anything that you want to be. I mean, you could go about life on board telling people that you won Australia’s Next Top Model back in 1994 and no one can dispute it. You could be the person that you could only dare to dream of when it comes to real life.
And the other thing of note is rudeness. Getting on board a boat doesn’t necessarily mean that it is all sunshine and lollypops and rainbows everywhere. I understand that when you are retired, time is of the essence, but does that allow you to push in at the front of a line, bark orders at smiling, patient wait staff or yell at someone because they are about to sit in a seat that you have saved for your travelling partner?
And then there is the total killjoy that is the serial complainer. That one person who will not only find fault with absolutely everything, but will take extreme pleasure in telling you all about it. Yesterday I sat there and listened to him complain about how the water tastes so much better back home, and had to resist the urge to inform him that he should de-commission his passport and never leave his house again. But I smiled and nodded and internally rolled my eyes.
So I learn whose table I am welcome to join via trial and error. I am lucky to be travelling with my Mum, who could charm the pants off a brown snake.
Today we farewell Cambodia as we cross the border into Vietnam. Cambodia has been quite the emotional rollercoaster. I spent yesterday afternoon at The Killing Fields and have not even started to mentally address the stories and sights that I experienced. A lot of people opted out of this excursion, but I nominated to put my big girl panties on and get myself a little informed about the Pol Pot Dictatorship. In hindsight, I should have stayed on board and played canasta, but I didn’t.
To be continued…