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Old 03-05-2015, 02:28 PM   #476
Didace
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Re: chopstick goes for a sail

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We made our way to Sükhbaatar Square:


My wife has been there before for work. She's pretty sure her hotel was the building with the green roof under the horse's belly. Pretty cool.
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Old 03-05-2015, 02:29 PM   #477
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Re: chopstick goes for a sail

And what's up with those mini-cars on the lower left?
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Old 03-05-2015, 02:35 PM   #478
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Re: chopstick goes for a sail

Those mini-cars were popular in both Irkutsk and UB.

They rent them to kids for some amount of time. It's one or two dudes that hang out in a park or square with a dozen or so of the cars. Parents come by, rent one for their kids for 20 minutes or whatever, and sit down and watch their kids zoom around the square. The little Range Rovers were slick.
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Old 03-05-2015, 04:18 PM   #479
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Re: chopstick goes for a sail

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No clue what this says but I love the pictogram:



small child /facepalming in a yellow triangle?
Little girl crying. Sign says, 'Do not leave children unaccompanied.'

Thread continues to deliver. I like the way you're saving it up and pacing the episodes, because people don't want it to end.
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Old 03-05-2015, 04:39 PM   #480
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Re: chopstick goes for a sail

Cistern is a great word.
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Old 03-05-2015, 11:28 PM   #481
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Re: chopstick goes for a sail

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Little girl crying. Sign says, 'Do not leave children unaccompanied.'

Thread continues to deliver. I like the way you're saving it up and pacing the episodes, because people don't want it to end.
Me too but I'm also kind of torn. I want MOAR NOW, but also know it's coming to an end soon so am enjoying the slower pace.
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Old 03-06-2015, 01:39 AM   #482
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Re: chopstick goes for a sail

Thanks, glad you guys are still enjoying this. We've still got a little more of Mongolia, then Beijing, Hong Kong, container ship across Pacific, and I may even have a photo or two from the Amtrak ride across the USA. Also have some actual sailing stuff with helping someone from South Carolina to St Thomas, and maybe a photo or two from Vegas where I am now. Most likely heading to St Thomas in a few weeks for the sailing regatta at the end of March, and if the Panama -> French Polynesia thing works out, I'll be reloading on sailing stuff in April. Also committed to sailing across the Med and Atlantic from Turkey -> Caribbean later this year.

As long as people are still enjoying this, I'll keep updating it.
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Old 03-06-2015, 01:23 PM   #483
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Re: chopstick goes for a sail

Thanks for a great thread Chopstick.

I was also inspired by DeCaptain a few years back. Since then my wife and I learned to sail, bought a boat, cruised British Columbia, quit our jobs and sailed from Washington to Mexico. We are currently in Banderas Bay, Mexico waiting for the right weather to leave for the Marquesas. We are on 33' boat, so not much room for extra crew. Our landfall will be on Hivo Oa too. We will hopefully be leaving in the next two weeks.

Best of luck in your future travels.
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Old 03-06-2015, 07:03 PM   #484
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Re: chopstick goes for a sail

Chopstick, if you were to quit this thread, I'd have to come looking for you along that dusty Winnemucca road.

I know where Winnemucca is, too, right down the road from Lakeview.
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Old 03-06-2015, 08:49 PM   #485
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Re: chopstick goes for a sail

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Thanks, glad you guys are still enjoying this.

As long as people are still enjoying this, I'll keep updating it.
Emphatic +1
Will show appreciation in rootlette thread
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Old 03-06-2015, 11:40 PM   #486
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Re: chopstick goes for a sail

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As long as people are still enjoying this, I'll keep updating it.

not only is this thread enjoyable, it's extremely inspiring. I've lurked this thread from early on, but I want you to keep updating when you get the chance. This may truly be one of the best threads OOT has ever produced.
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Old 03-06-2015, 11:50 PM   #487
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Re: chopstick goes for a sail

Crewing in my first race tomorrow as a result of this thread and decaptains! I'm as nervous as a little girl!
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Old 03-07-2015, 02:28 AM   #488
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Re: chopstick goes for a sail



Thread still delivers.
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Old 03-07-2015, 08:17 PM   #489
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Re: chopstick goes for a sail

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not only is this thread enjoyable, it's extremely inspiring. I've lurked this thread from early on, but I want you to keep updating when you get the chance. This may truly be one of the best threads OOT has ever produced.
This. Thanks chopstick for your continuing efforts. I hope you're able and willing to keep it going with the Panama -> Marquesas adventure.
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Old 03-07-2015, 08:23 PM   #490
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Re: chopstick goes for a sail

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This may truly be one of the best threads OOT has ever produced.

it certainly is.
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Old 03-07-2015, 09:38 PM   #491
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Re: chopstick goes for a sail

such a sick thread. i'm pretty well traveled (for an american) and i'm insanely jelly of your lifestyle.

one question. when you talk to normal people (like people you grew up with, or normals from points in your life still talk to, or even people you haven't seen in ages), do you feel reluctant to share your stories out of fear of sounding 'braggy'?
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Old 03-08-2015, 11:20 AM   #492
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Re: chopstick goes for a sail

Zevon - Great news, glad to hear it! Our planned landfall is on Fatu Hiva, then a week meandering up to Hiva Oa, where I get off.

WindigoBob - I passed through Winnemucca last fall on the train ride across the US, believe it or not.

NHLNut / KDawg / Andro / golddog / wiper - Thanks guys, good to hear you are still enjoying the thread and I appreciate the kind words.

marknfw - How was your first time as railmeat?

PoundingTheUnder - Don't be jelly, be inspired! No reluctance to share stories, people usually want to hear more. I'm pretty good at not coming across as braggy because I focus on trying to inspire people to follow their dreams.
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Old 03-08-2015, 02:09 PM   #493
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Re: chopstick goes for a sail

It was good. I don't think racing is the thing for me, but I'll keep doing it for the experience! The local sailing club has a program where you can take out one of their 3 boats pretty much anytime you want for $425 a year, so for now my only goal is to get good enough to be able to pass their checkout sails.
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Old 03-09-2015, 03:14 PM   #494
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Re: chopstick goes for a sail

If you have been enjoying the sailing stuff, looks like there will be more coming.

I tentatively accepted a crew spot on a sailboat doing a Pacific crossing, departing end of March.

The vessel is currently near Colon, Panama. I'd be getting on there at the end of the month. We'd then transit through the Panama Canal, head to the Galapagos Islands, then across the Pacific to make landfall on Fatu Hiva in the Marquesas, which is the group of islands in the northeast section of French Polynesia. I'd stay on the vessel for another week or so, and have to get off at Hiva Oa, another island in the Marquesas.

After getting off at Hiva Oa, I'd be doing one of the following:
1. Crewing on another sailboat in the Marquesas (and onward to Australia / New Zealand) if I can find one that needs a crew.
2. Getting on one of the French Polynesia supply ships that circuit most of French Polynesia, then getting off at Tahiti and seeing if I can accomplish #1 from there.
3. Flying direct to Tahiti, then trying #1 from there.

If I don't find any crewing opportunities in either the Marquesas or near Tahiti, I'd then decide where to go from Tahiti. That decision is influenced by the fact that I've more than tentatively accepted a crew spot on a sailboat (the same one I crossed the Atlantic with last summer) going from Turkey to the Caribbean. We will depart Turkey at the end of August, with a tentative route taking us through Crete, Malta, Sardinia, the Balearics, Gibraltar, the Canaries, then across the Atlantic to somewhere in the Caribbean.

Worst case scenario, I get stuck in French Polynesia for a month or so. I've never been there, but I figure there are worse places to be stuck.

The most likely plan for post-Tahiti if I don't find a spot crewing a vessel to New Zealand / Australia / elsewhere from there is to fly from Tahiti to Sydney and explore Australia for a bit, then head up to Southeast Asia for a few months, then onward to Turkey. Maybe head to New Zealand before Sydney. Not sure what the SE Asia portion would look like, still evaluating destinations. Landing in Singapore and then taking a train through Malaysia, Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, and Cambodia looks like a good way to spend a few months. Want to fit the Philippines in there as well but not sure I'd have enough time to do everything justice. I also have a friend in Tokyo I'd like to visit but that seems a bit of a stretch at the moment given the current plan.
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Old 03-09-2015, 07:40 PM   #495
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Re: chopstick goes for a sail

Do the sailboat owners pay for you plane tickets or flat fee or what?
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Old 03-10-2015, 02:12 AM   #496
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Re: chopstick goes for a sail

Sometimes, not always. It's a case by case thing. Everything is always negotiable, including who pays for transport to/from vessel, food expenses, immigration expenses, etc.
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Old 03-15-2015, 10:24 AM   #497
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Re: chopstick goes for a sail

This is the State Department Store in UB:




It's a huge mall on the main street near the center of the city where everyone goes to shop for stuff. There is a large grocery store on the bottom level, a food court on the top level, and a bunch of misc stores on the inbetween levels. Went here a few times to stock up on food from the grocery store, including train food like:




Yes, mutton is everywhere in Mongolia. Pretty much everyone paid for their groceries in cash, and because the currency is so devalued, it was comical to watch people pulling out these enormous wads of bills to pay for a beer. Speaking of alcohol, I looked at the prices and while beers were cheap, any kind of imported spirits were about 4x the price of what you'd pay in USA#1.

I did pick up some fermented horse milk while there:




because if you're going to go to Mongolia, you have to drink fermented horse milk, right? It tasted pretty atrocious. Kind of like a slightly tangy curdled milk. I did not finish the bottle.




There are a bunch of temples in UB, including some you can drive right up to:




my favorite thing with the temples were the prayer wheels:



you are supposed to walk past them and spin them with your hand as you walk past. You can't really see it on those, but most of the ones I saw were much shinier in the center due to constant use.

For some reason there were also infinite pigeons near and around every temple I visited:




I didn't see anyone feeding them, so I have no idea why they were all milling about like that. I walked right through that cloud and sent them flying for a moment, then they immediately landed right back where they had been and kept on pigeoning.

UB is a very dusty and dry place with a lot of contrast between nice areas and not-so-nice areas. Here's a good contrast shot to show what I mean:




That was taken walking away from the pigeon/temple area in the north central part of the city, on the way down to the business district. You can see on the left and right it's a shanty town, then the uneven dirt hill gives way to asphalt and larger buildings. I never felt unsafe walking through the shanty areas but I was definitely sized up a couple of times and received some looks of curiosity.
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Old 03-15-2015, 10:51 AM   #498
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Re: chopstick goes for a sail

chop, how much background research do you do on the people whose boats you crew on? how much do they do on you?

is there sort of a sailboat community where you can check up on each other?

seems like a pretty big leap of faith to find yourself alone on a boat in the middle of the pacific with someone you don't know.

like, how much of a background check do both parties do? and how would anyone know what really happened if a sailboat shows up at a port with the owners saying, "yeah, dunno what happened to chop. he had his watch from 2am to 6am and when I woke up to relieve him he wasn't on the boat"?

does that **** happen?
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Old 03-15-2015, 10:53 AM   #499
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Re: chopstick goes for a sail

Remember how I mentioned the pickpockets on the buses? Here's a writeup from a blogger that got nailed on a bus in UB.

One of the places in UB I was determined to visit was the Black Market. The Black Market is an enormous open/closed air market southeast of the city center where you can find pretty much anything you can think of. It is notorious for pickpockets and knockoff brand name fakes. I didn't have any intention of buying anything, mostly because I had enough weight to lug around already with my clothes and sailing gear, but I wanted to check it out.

They charge a small entry fee at the main gate:



but it's not clear if this is an official fee or if someone just decided to start charging a fee to see who would pay it. From what I read, it's pretty arbitrary whether or not they attempt to charge you. This ended up not mattering for me as I took a taxi there and the guy decided to let me off at some back alley rear entrance near a bunch of broken washing machines. I walked through a bunch of mud with everyone else, then made it into the market.

The market is roughly organized such that like items are near each other. There is a section just for knock off clothing (saw a bunch of Norh Face gear, spelled just like that), a section for appliances, a section for electronics, a section for toys, etc. If it's something that gets sold, there was a section for it. The biggest sections were the sections for knock off clothes and for shoes.

The hat section had me coveting this masterpiece:




Yes, that's right. All 4 feet are still attached!

While I don't really care about clothes or fashion, these gutul boots were pretty sweet:




There were probably around 50 racks of boots like that, to give you an idea of the size of the market.

Cashmere is super popular in Mongolia (it is the #2 producer after China), and there were rows and rows of people selling various cashmere clothes:




of all types. Most popular were those pullover looking things you see on the far left, followed by socks and gloves. You could get pretty much any item of clothing made of cashmere. Lots of hats, too. The market was pretty relaxed about what cashmere was what, but in downtown area of the city there was a lot of "REAL cashmere" or "100% certified cashmere" signage, as a lot of stuff is sold as cashmere that doesn't meet the official definition. Cashmere comes from a certain kind of goat, and there are a lot of cashmere/other blends that get sold as being pure cashmere.

This is representative of what most areas of the market looked like:



though there were a fair number of covered sections as well.

Despite deciding in advance not to buy anything, I still ended up walking out of there with a pair of chopsticks and a badass leather wallet with a very displeased looking genghis khan etched onto to front. I should probably take a photo of that and post it, it's amazing how displeased with you he is.
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Old 03-15-2015, 11:06 AM   #500
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Re: chopstick goes for a sail

wiper -

Good questions.

Background research - It's all on a case-by-case basis, and different every time. I always say I'm happy to have a background check done on me, but no one has ever taken me up on it that I'm aware of. I have never done one on someone else, because my GoogleFu is pretty strong and I'm pretty solid at reading people in general. Chinese scammers aside.

There are lots of sailboat communities on the internet, and of course it helps when you can look at a profile that someone made, or better yet, find a forum they post on, and get an idea of who they are.

Emailing back and forth helps, and phone conversations are mandatory. Nothing beats meeting someone in person. I've declined more than one offer after a phone conversation. All my declines have been because I felt the person either didn't have the experience to be doing what they intended to do, or they were a dumbass; not because I got any nefarious vibes. I did decline one partially because the dude seemed fairly sketchy, but mostly because he was a moron.

You are definitely trusting someone else with your life when you do this stuff, no question about it.

It's certainly possible that someone could knife you in your sleep, toss you overboard, and have no one ever find out the truth. But it's also possible you could be killed by an asteroid or spontaneously combust. Probability is a lot more important than possibility.

The leap of faith is less about the other person not being a psycho and more about the other person not being a dumbass who will get you killed because they do something stupid.
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