Life on board the Nippon Maru

Photo supplied by Ky Chamna
  • Ky Chamna
  • December 22, 2019 6:29 AM

Ship for Southeast Asian and Japan Youth Program

PHNOM PENH - You know you are not on land after you wake up in the early morning when the ship cruises across the western Pacific Ocean. That kind of feeling is the most personal and memorable aspect of traveling on an ocean liner — in this case, the MS Nippon Maru, which  belongs to Mitsui OSK Lines. 

When someone converses about Nippon Maru, we usually associate this vessel with the Ship for Southeast Asian and Japan Youth Program. This 2019 is the 46th time that the Cabinet Office of Japan invested in the continuity of SSEAYP which allows participation for youths across Japan and the ten nations of ASEAN. Participation of 317 youths  was conducted both on land, and most importantly at sea. 

That 22-day cruise is the total days counted being at sea. The ship normally travels from one seaport to the other which requires between 2 to 9 days. After arrival at each port, the ship docks for several days before cruising towards the upcoming destination. Speed is not the priority. You have almost as many things as a hotel — a theatre, a bar, a swimming pool, a gymnasium, a spacious deck, a bedroom, a salon, a restaurant, a grand hot bath, a mini mart. 

As the ship propels itself through the water, you start to feel the rolling effect created by the immense force of Mother Nature. The ship sways up and down, right and left, as desired by the ocean current. On some days, the wind can be as strong as a mild storm. Sometimes, you can get splashed by the breaking waves if you are not careful enough. The waves are like mountains, transforming shape across the horizon. 

After rain, there will be a rainbow. The sea is not always in a bad mood. Sometimes, she can be gentle and calm. Sometimes, she can be relaxed and peaceful. During this time, the sea can be as smooth as a blue carpet. You can hardly believe your own eyes. The wind is slow, and the sun bright. No rain and no fog, just Nippon Maru trying to navigate its position through the middle of the Philippines near Mindanao Island.

Though the ship is not quiet, it is not as loud as an airplane. The two diesel engines deep down in her hull produce a decent amount of noise and vibration and it is not too complicated to get used to it after a short period of time.

At night, a blanket of stars, constellations and shooting stars entertain the darkness. The ship lights illuminate the deck. Sunrises and sunsets can be seen in extraordinarily clear detail.

Seasickness is inevitable to most passengers. It is like riding a small roller-coaster, a ride that runs for 24 hours non-stop. Sometimes, it can go for days without seeing another ship. You can feel minuscule compared to the colossal body of the ocean. You are just a tiny and insignificant being, drifting along the deep blue abyss.

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