I learned this afternoon from Barbara on S/V Destiny that the volcano on Tanna Island, Vanuatu has had a major eruption. Google search provided news that the officials are considering evacuating the 6,000 inhabitants. There was a 7.2 magnitude earthquake on 31 May 2010. A tsunami warning was issued, but apparently nothing developed because I don't find any news about it on the internet. Barbara and Frank had hoped to sail from Fiji to Tanna Island in a few weeks and do the popular tour around the volcano crater, but doesn't look like they will be doing that now.
Mt. Yasur volcano has been unusually active for the past 3 months. Now there is an ash plume/cloud almost 2 kilometers high spewing up from the volcano and the local water supply is contaminated by ash. Our thoughts go out for the villagers on that tiny island. We visited the top of Mr. Yasur last May. Thankfully the 'old man was asleep' on the night we visited the crater...........meaning that the century-old continuous eruption was very slight. And that was active enough for us! As I said at the time, walking around the crater of an active volcano was not the most intelligent thing we have ever done -- but I sure am glad we had the experience. We hope the 'old man' goes back to sleep very soon and the lives of the jungle inhabitants are not too disrupted by this latest display of the Ring of Fire.
It appears that we will be taking the grandchildren to Thailand after all. The recent political protests by the Red Shirts is apparently over, so it should be safe in Bangkok again.........at least as safe as any large city normally is. This afternoon I sent email inquiries to the appropriate offices about purchasing the train tickets. Our plans take us on an all-day train from Johor Bahru to the Butterworth station at Penang; spend one night in Penang; and the next afternoon board the overnight train to Bangkok. This should be an adventure for our two 9-yr-old grandchildren. We will spend 4 nights in Bangkok before taking a daytime express train to the northern city of Chaing Mai. After 5 nights in Chaing Mai we take an overnight train (hopefully with private sleeping compartments) to Bangkok. That is as far as we are willing to commit to at this point. We have also reserved the Bangkok hotel for an additional 3 nights on the return trip, but we will see how much we enjoy Bangkok before finalizing that portion of this trip.
Bill and I are each over the age of 60 so we qualify for the senior ticket price on trains in Malaysia, which is the same price as a child's ticket. Unbelievable to us, the total price for all 4 of us to take the trains from Johor Bahru to Bangkok (about 1250 miles) is a whopping $165 USD!! And that is in the top class of service available on each train. Malaysian trains and Thai trains are not of the same class or new age of the trains we rode in China, but the grandkids should enjoy the novelty. They are both from Texas and trains are not a normal mode of travel in their world.
Less than 2 days until we move the boat from Malaysia back over to Singapore! I am so excited about this. Seems rather silly to be excited about motoring only 22 miles to another marina, but we have been docked here since Nov 3 and it will be wonderful to be out on the water again for a few hours..........even just motoring along the coast to One Degree 15 Marina in Singapore.
Looking forward to seeing granddaughter Elisabeth (a/k/a BeBe) and her mother Lynn at the airport around midnight Saturday. And then meeting grandson Zachary at the airport at 05:45 Sunday morning. He is flying as an unaccompanied minor and is routed through Moscow. Do hope he stays awake during that portion of his flight so he can see Moscow from the air.