Browse Month: April 2011

Conrad’s Voyage: A journey back in time

Inspired by the writer Joseph Conrad and adventurer James Brooke, Conrad’s Voyage is a 2 week journey that takes you from the port of Singapore to the islands, rivers and jungles of Borneo.

antique_map_east_indies

A voyage for an ambitious adventurer, it is a journey that reminds us of why Southeast Asia holds a mystique matched by few other areas on earth: A crossroads between Eastern and Western civilizations, with its ancient spice routes, amazing cultural diversity and, at it’s heart, the jungles of¬†Borneo, with its history of headhunters, traders and explorers.

The journey begins in Singapore, a port the young Conrad was very familiar with during his time working aboard the trading ship S.S. Vidar as first officer. From Singapore we sail to Kuching, the capital of the state of Sarawak, Malaysian Borneo (ancient land of headhunters), where we visit the remnants of the Brooke Raj (a dynasty of British men known as the “White Rajahs”).

Borneo is also an opportunity for Wildlife and Rainforest adventures. This is the overland section where you visit the UNESCO World Heritage Mulu Caves, and the discover the spectacular wildlife of the Kinabatangan River. The Kinabatangan is one of Borneo’s largest rivers, where you can see Orang Utan, pygmy elephants, pythons, crocs, and other wildlife up close. Our guests rejoin the Raja Laut in Semporna and the journey continues to Sipadan an oceanic island with world class scuba diving once described by Jacques Cousteau as “an untouched piece of art”.

Finally, we sail from Sipadan to the Berau islands in East Kalimantan (Indonesian Borneo), including Kakaban, Maratua, and Sangalaki. The area has a variety of dive sites including pristine reefs, wall diving, drift dives, caves and lagoons. Manta Rays sometimes gather in great numbers on Sangalaki, which is also a year round nesting site for turtles. On the mainland is the Berau river, the original setting of Conrad’s first novel Almayer’s Folly. For those who want to continue the journey there are proboscis monkeys in the delta, and further up river the town of Berau (formerly the seat of the Sultan of Gunung Tabor, who had bestowed William Lingard with the “Raja Laut” title). Further still, in the heart of Borneo, are indigenous Dayak people who live in longhouses and love to share with you their love of rice wine and dancing.

Day 1: Embarkation in Singapore. Sail to Riau islands.
Day 2: Riau islands
Day 3: Riau islands
Day 4: Sarawak, Kuching. Explore the remnants of the Brooke Raj
Day 5: Fly to Miri and then to Mulu National Park
Day 6: Mulu caves tour
Day 7: Fly to Sandakan for Kinabatangan river and wildlife tour
Day 8: Kinabatangan river and wildlife tour
Day 9: Rejoin the vessel in the Semporna Marine Park
Day 10: Mabul and Sipadan islands
Day 11: Mabul and Sipadan islands
Day 12: Maratua and Kakaban islands
Day 13: Sangalaki island
Day 14: Transfer to Tawau Airport for return flight home

Further Reading:
Conrad and the S.S. Vidar
Almayer’s Folly by Joseph Conrad
The White Rajahs
William Lingard
Borneo Wildlife and Rainforest Tours
Berau/Derwawan Marine Park
We also recommend this account of overland travel from Singapore to Berau by Eric Madeen called
“In Conrad’s Wake”

Behind the scenes look at the filming of Emden Men

A behind the scenes of the filming onboard the schooner Raja Laut for the feature film ‘The Emden Men’ (working title) that was shot in January 2011 in Galle, Sri Lanka.

See the video on You Tube

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The story is about the historical events that happened in 1914 when 50 German marines, who were stranded on the Cocos Island, after their ship the SMS Emden was sunk by the Allies, set sail on a dilapidated schooner called the ‘Ayesha’ in an attempt to make it home to Germany.

The schooner Raja Laut was chartered to play the role of the Ayesha by the German production company Behrengar Pfahl who chose to film in Sri Lanka because the Dutch fort in Galle and the natural beauty of the Sri Lankan coastline allowed them to represent both the Cocos and the port of Padang in Sumatra (which was where the Emden Men ultimately sailed to and which was at the time a Dutch colony) without having to change locations.

The Emden Men’s journey was an incredible one. They not only crossed the ocean with no charts and very little supplies, they then fought their way through the Arabian desert to arrive months later, and against all odds, to a heroes welcome in Berlin.

The ultimate tragedy in the end was that most of these men would perish in the Battle of the Jutland the following year.

The Filming Begins

What an exciting start to 2011 for Raja Laut with the first charter of the year taking her to the exotic port of Galle in Sri Lanka.

A German film production company are planning on using her as a set in a WW1 historical drama about a landing party of 30 German soldiers from the SMS Emden who are sent ashore in 1914 onto Keeling island, in the Cocos. After landing onshore they find themselves stranded as the SMS Emden is attacked and sunk by the HMAS Sydney.

Titled “Die Manner der Emden” or “The Men of the Emden”, the film retells the real odyssey they undergo to make it home to Germany after they commandeer a schooner called the Ayesha which is to be played by Raja Laut!

The film’s director is a guy called Berengar Pfahl who incidentally last made a film in 2007 called “Shanghai” Baby with starred none other then one of the “Bros” duo, Luke Goss (in case you were wondering where this original boy band star had disappeared to that is!).