Burma Vacations

Later that day I watched the pilot climb up the gangplank as the ship prepared to leave port. It was pulled up after him and we sailed out through the fiords. On high vantage points along the spits of land overlooking the channel I saw cars parked here and there and realised that they had come to watch us leave. On the last headland a line of people stood waving. The crew waved back and I fluttered my hankie, the ship hooted a last farewell and we sailed out into the Southern Ocean.

Soon after that we passed a lighthouse, as lonely as anything could be, on a narrow outcrop of land. From there, there was nothing more until Antarctica. We came to Timaru at about 10 pm, drawing closer to a line of pretty lights, and we were met by a well-lit tug. There was no shore leave here; we were leaving as I got up. But the sunrise was magnificent. At sea it’s more impressive due to the open space and the water. This one began with a blood red crimson line along the horizon that lightened and spread upwards until it hit the clouds. Then spectacular rosy streaks streamed all over the pale-blue sky and sea.

Burma Vacations Photo Gallery

Now the weather was warmer and the ship was steady, weighted with the extra cargo we had taken on.

We arrived at Littleton, the port of Christchurch, on Sunday afternoon to be told that no work could start until after midnight Monday. Was this because it was the Queen’s birthday long weekend or don’t they work on the Sabbath? We anchored in the bay to wait. It was a dreary rainy day, but the calm sea was a lovely pale milky green that became a true aquamarine as the sky darkened later.

Finally we went alongside, passing through many small islands. This bay is the crater of an extinct volcano. Closer in to land there were bare, steep hills that looked mostly uninhabited, and I saw only a couple of houses.

I was so keen to get ashore that I hung over the side watching the gangplank being lowered. But it was atrocious on land. I had to walk a distance to collect the wharf van and the wind nearly blew me into the water. It turned my umbrella inside out and I got wet and cold. Not happy. But the van driver was a cheerful sort who took the other passenger and I through the gate and up to the town without making us stop for a passport check.

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