Thursday, March 6, 2008

Middle of the South China Sea

Yep... I am going to add another star on my map of Asia in a couple of weeks. And that will definitely be a very special one. I hope you will be reading this blog then. I am going to be right in the middle of nothing else than... the South China Sea. I know… it sounds very exciting… I have been way too lucky this year with my travels! I am going to have to settle down after these great 7 months in Asia... or … may be not!.. But for the present, the destination will be Spratly Islands.
The Spratly Islands are indeed intriguing. Discovered in 1791 by Henry Spratly, they are a series of islands, located between the Pacific Ocean and the Indian Ocean, claimed by EVERYONE (China, Vietnam, Taiwan, the Philippines and Malaysia)! Why? Because of their strategic location and the fact that it was thought for a while that there could be oil there.
We will be in Layang Layang, one of these islands.
Not an historic place, but rather a long and narrow reef… truly tiny (around 25,000 square meters!)… A paradise for divers and underwater photographers it seems... and amateur radio operators, like my husband Ed (and I, yes, newly licensed to be able to go to places like this with him). The amazing thing is that the island is practically man-made! The Malaysian government, who operates the island, created it by filling the channel between two isolated reefs with sand. It also managed to build on it an airstrip, a dive resort AND a military installation.
So today we got the authorization from the Malaysian Navy to go there. Everything is finally in motion. We ARE going! And as you can see, it is not an easy place to get to: controlled by the Navy, with limits for how much luggage we can take, limited internet access, etc. But I am really excited!!.. Does it show? I am even planning to buy a little underwater camera I saw advertised on TV.
For more information on the amateur radio stuff, see our expedition website at www.N1URspratly.com.

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