Taiping Voyage finds forceful end

Per my previous blogs you know that i sailed on the Princess Taiping from San Francisco to San Diego, and then visited them again in Honolulu. I was stoked when they invited me to come all the way back to Taiwan. And i couldn't go because of my probationary status in the Harbor Community. Well i got voted in last month, and now have to type the sad news that the Princess Taiping got hit by a freighter early morning last Sunday. they were on the last leg from okinawa and already could see the lights on the coast of Taiwan. Accounts vary but they were between 42 and 25 miles out when the boat got cut in two by a big freighter who then lingered around a bit but didn't offer assistance and instead steamed off. All 11 crew, many of them my friends, survived. they managed to cling onto the wreckage for several hours. the activated EPIRB alarmed the US coast guard who then relayed the distress call to Taiwan. the taiwanese coast guard came with a cutter and a helicopter. all 11 were airlifted to Taiwan. you can google the incident to find out more or look at pictures and footage. i am floored. The one image shows their route from Okinawa to Taiwan, the second the rest of the bow section. the main mast is gone, but the anchor windlass going thwardships and the emergency rudder are easy to spot. the jib is still working driving the partial hull. chinese watertight bulkheads do work! all the crew managed to hold on to the stern part, i don't have a photo of that. but you can see it up online. My heart is with my ship mates!

germany and back - that went by fast!!!

March 23-April 6
My Mom sold the house i grew up in, so i (we) needed to pay a last visit, lend a hand - and make sure nothing i intended to "inherit" landed accidently at the salvation army. First chance for my american family to meet my german one - last chance to actually walk the rooms i grew up in. exciting, a little bit sad...

week 1:
All went smooth, we got packed, we got up in time, we got to the airport in time... only to discover that we forgot to
 take the carefully packed snack-bag - bummer! Nothing else got forgotten, though and we enjoyed a fairly easy
 flight to London where we spent about an hour walking through the airport to the next gate, another hour waiting to then hop on a short flight to Hamburg.
Our friend Bax picked us up from the airport and drove us to the trainstation. we bought tickets, had the first german pommes (french fries) with mayo and then enjoyed the 3.5hr ride through flat and green northern germany to Emden. Mama was waiting for us at the track.

The weather sucked. is was cold, often freezing, we had mostly rain, but also snow, hail and sleet! oh and finally some sun on the last days.
so the sightseeing and walking around was kept to a minimum and the living room transformed to an obstacle course for playing. we had a lot of fun. we went to the sauna twice. that was nice warm!
i got to show my highschool, my "hunting grounds" in the reeds, and actual things from my childhood, teenage years.
the second half of the week was helping mama to pack, dismantle cabinets and plan the layout of the new apartment. and unpacking and repacking all my stuff that has been stowed in the attic for the past 20 years. needless to say i had a huge trashpile. i also got to pack a box with memorabilia and household items from my childhood as well as my first own apartment. it is nice to have that stuff here now.
My mother looooved my family Kim and Silvio and really enjoyed the company.
On friday night i went out for a drink with my school friend (Birgitta) since first grade. at the bar she told me that she told others, and sure enough 2 more friends showed up. we had a lot of catching up to do, it was great! We'll have our 25th highschool reunion in june and i won't be able to make it, so it was extra special to hang out after all this time.

week 2:
then it was time to say goodbye and we took the train back to Hamburg. Bax picked us up again and this time we went to her house where we would stay in her and Julia's guest room.
Now it wasn't all about me anymore and i started arranging playtime for Silvio, alone time for Kim to visit a museum or two and seeing/meeting all my friends of course. it went by so fast, we got everything accomplished that needed to be done, saw everyone who needed to be seen and had a whole lot of fun! I even got to hook up with my highschool friend Frouwa who happens to live in Hamburg now and happend to have contacted Birgitta just the week before for my info. it was really good to see her and reconnect. 
We went to the DOM, a huge fun fair, an art opening, a burlesque bar in the red light district, a dyke club in a pool bar, barbequed in a playground, hung out at the afterschool program where Nikolai goes to play ping pong and learn to spin a plate on a stick, watched wallace and grommit, some cartoons on tv, went for walks... but it was really was too short. At least the weather was playing along this week, we had sunshine, even t-shirt weather, and friday night we sat outside the greek restaurant until 10 pm. Sunday we got to go to the beach and enjoy the sand between our naked toes. half Hamburg was there to do the same, of course, this was the first real day of spring!

the flight back was longer, more boring and less comfortable.
going through immigration was unpleasant, even though i have a greencard for years now and usually get greeted with a "welcome home" the dude took all my ten finger prints, and a foto, and then just slapped the passport back on the counter without saying anything. Kim and Silvio who were there with me and have american passports got their "welcome home"  - that wasn't nice!