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Full Circle

Day 104: Zamboanga to Sandakan

Zamboanga, Philippines 
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Sisal on the dockside, Zamboanga.
Michael Palin - Full CircleSelect a bunk on the open-plan upper deck. Some people are already curling up to sleep, others lie and watch the incredibly violent guns and Kung-Fu video on closed-circuit TV. A man called Bert is feeding his prize cockerels concentrate of yucca oil from a plastic bottle. Cockerel sperm, he confides, is where the big money is made.

I wander up to the bridge. The captain is 'resting'. The helmsman is beating his hands up and down on the ship's wheel in time to a Queen tape, and the first officer, a genial, portly man, secures a chart and shows me our route, south and west, parallel with the Sulu archipelago.

They ask me what I do. Playing it as low key as possible I say I'm a writer. They all seem vaguely impressed. One of them points at the book I'm holding, Robert Payne's The White Rajahs of Sarawak.

'You write this?'

I shake my head.

'What you write?'

'Er... well...'

It's too late. I've lost his attention.

'You give me your book. Yes? You give me your book. You sign it.'

Whatever I say will make no difference. I don't have any of my books with me. I have Rob Newman's Dependence Day, so I sign that and give it to him and he seems very happy.
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PALIN'S GUIDES

  • Series: Full Circle
  • Day: 104
  • Country/sea: Pacific Ocean
  • Place: Sulu Sea
  • Book page no: 146

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