Sunday, September 15, 2013

Anchors Aweigh!


It's hard to believe that I have been in Hong Kong now for nearly a month. Time is slipping through my fingers already! However, I have been doing a lot of exciting things.

I am finally getting into a rhythm with work. My new job is completely different from anything I have ever done before. What am I doing? My work week is pretty much divided between two locations, the container terminals in Kwai Chung, and the anchorage of Hong Kong.

I usually spend three days a week working in the container terminals which is a very dirty, hectic and overwhelming place. I drive around with a priest and we go aboard eight to ten ships a day, ministering to seafarers and selling them phone cards. The terminal is the third largest container terminal in the world and the amount of cargo that passes through this terminal is staggering.

You ready for this? 243 million tons of cargo and 25 million people enter and depart the Hong Kong container port terminal every year. This place is a madhouse, buzzing with massive cranes moving freight to and fro, and 18-wheelers running cargo from ship to ship. My organization, Mission to Seafarers, has an outpost right on the outskirts of the terminal that serves as an oasis of calm for the seafarers to relax for an hour or two before their ship departs. (It costs $50,000 USD to dock your ship in this container port, so you best believe that ships never spend more than a few hours loading and unloading).

A view of one section of the Hong Kong container terminal as seen
 from the deck of the Lantau Breeze.

When I'm not at the terminals, then I'm out in the anchorage visiting vessels via our ship, The Flying Angel. The anchorage is a very beautiful place. It offers a terrific view of the city skyline and it is packed with all different kinds of ships. I especially love going out in the anchorage because it is one of the few times in Hong Kong that I get to enjoy wide open space. In a city of 7.7 million people, a moment of solitude is hard to come by, so I really cherish my time spent on the commute out to the cargo ships.

Our ship, the Flying Angel, which we take out most mornings to visit
seafarers in the anchorage of Hong Kong. 

Once we reach the ships out in the anchorage, the fun really begins. Most of the time, seafarers will throw down what is called the Pilot's Ladder, AKA a janky rope ladder that looks as if it will unravel at any moment. The climb is usually around 25 to 30 feet high depending on the volume of cargo on board, and leaves you dangling over warm, tropical waters. It is a little dangerous, but I love it! Who else gets to play pirate priest for a living? (Just an FYI: I am not a priest, but I accompany priests aboard the ships each day.)

"Bro, you coming or what?"
The Pilot's Ladder
Once you reach the top, you are greeted with a warm welcome from the ship's watchmen and a beautiful view of the sea and surrounding islands. From there, we enter the ship's mess room (dining room) and speak to seafarers dealing with homesickness, unfair labor practices or whatever else they may be struggling with. We also sell the seafarers phone cards and sim cards, so that they may connect with their families back home.

All in all, I am loving my work so far. I love that I am able to go out into the ocean every day, and also that I get to meet so many people from around the world. On top of all that, my job is focused about making people's lives better, regardless of their religion, skin color, gender or job title. Who could ask for better? I look forward to sharing with you again soon. Until then, here are some more photos.

Cheesin' after a visit to the city dry docks.

View of Kowloon and Hong Kong from the anchorage. 

(Special shout out to Instagram for making it appear as if I am talented at taking photographs.)


  1. Love the update, especially your use of the word "janky." As many pictures as you can add, throw 'em on here! I want to see the car you drive around in, the priests, etc!

  2. Ditto what Alex said. We use janky & many derivatives daily! Lisa