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With the RV SONNE to the South China Sea: Research in a natural laboratory under climatic and anthropogenic stress

2nd September - Views from the Chinese colleagues

As you know as a reader of our blog, our science crew consists not only of German (or European) scientists but we also have Chinese colleagues on board, two bigger delegations from the Guangzhou Marine Geological Survey (GMGS) and the Shanghai Jiao Tong University (SJTU). At the end of the cruise we asked them for some statements about the cruise and this entry will be about what they have to say.

We got some short statements as well as two longer letters that we will try to summarize without too many omissions. The first letter says:

"Looking back on the past month on the FS SONNE, I feel this cruise will be one of the most important experiences of my life that I can never forget." ... "I remember the moment I first saw SONNE. It was a sunny morning and I was so astonished by this gigantic, clean and brand-new looking ship, painted in typical German black, red and yellow colour under the blue sky. What a beautiful picture! After so many days living on board I have got to know more and more about her and I am still amazed by its thoughtful design in every detail. I believe all the Chinese participants would agree on this point because I hear from them the complimentary words that they never use for other ships."..."The stability of the vessel is just so great that sometimes I even cannot feel I am at sea."..."The equipment we are working with is advanced and running smoothly and quietly. I barely hear any noise in my cabin, so that I can focus on doing some other work when I am not on duty.

The scientists and crew members are also quite friendly. We cooperate very well. Joanna, the chief scientist, is a very professional and hardworking leader. Thanks to her organization, everything is very well arranged for the whole period. The young people from both Germany and China are easygoing and warmhearted. They work and talk together, and sometimes teach each other about their language. The culture is usually the most popular topic since there are a lot of differences between these two countries. It is very interesting, like opening the window of a new world for each of us. It is way much better and truer than those you can learn from public media. For example, more than one of our German friends told me that they are surprised when they see us Chinese drinking milk because the public media says that Asian people cannot digest milk. I also enjoy seeing the way of our German friends using knife and fork at meal times, which is really graceful like making a handicraft. During some leisure time, I taught Theda the Chinese Mandarin. She is surprisingly good and quickly masters the pronunciation after only a couple of hours’ learning. She also taught me some German, which is really hard for me. Now I am kind of thinking German is actually much more complicated than Chinese. What do you say about that, my dear friends?"

The second letter is of similar praise for the ship and the work on board:

"I have been engaged in marine studies for 7 years and have participated in many cruises. This is the first time I have participated in a cruise conducted by a foreign vessel, and it is also the most extravagant cruise I have ever experienced.

On the first day in Singapore I already loved the vessel. It is so big, with a large deck. After boarding the vessel with a happy mood, I felt so great, so luxurious. This luxury is first manifested in daily life. I am so happy that I can eat authentic Western diets every day. After about twenty days, I found I was wrong before. My stomach is too homesick. Except that, I enjoyed this cruise very much. I enjoy a big room alone on the vessel, with a desk, a comfortable chair, a washroom, a lot of space, a beautiful landscape picture, two windows that can see the sea, and open wifi allows to communicate via WeChat. One month cruise is too short, it should be longer."... "Even in high winds, the stability of the SONNE is beyond my imagination. Owing to this stability, the cruise members didn’t feel seasick and uncomfortable, and we did not need to take shelter from Typhoon, so we have done more work than last year. I am engaged in marine geology work. Another very extravagant thing to me is that before choosing the right geological site, the vessel can do all kinds of geophysical works as we need. The benefit is that we can find the needed geological cores easily."

Some of the short statements read:

"A marvelous research vessel, professional and friendly crew, a group of hardworking and respectable scientists, and a treasurable memory that I’ll never forget!"

"It is a wonderful cruise. Every day I think I am on an ocean liner for my vacation. Everyone on board is very friendly. The RV SONNE is a very good designed scientific research vessel under excellent management, also quiet and comfortable. The scientific research work is very professional and smooth. I enjoy everything here."

"New vessel, new colleagues and new friends make for an even greater Sino-German cooperation."

"I was inspired by the living conditions of the ship and everyone's prudent academic attitude. This is definitely a fantastic cruise worth remembering for a lifetime."

The SONNE certainly is a fantastic research platform and working with the crew is a pleasure. I am sure that the German science crew learned as much from the Chinese one as the Chinese science crew learned from the Germans. We all will remain connected by the common experience of research cruise SO269 on the SONNE.



(photos: IOW/Ralf Prien, Yinzhao Wang - click to enlarge)

Expedition: SO269
Project: MEGAPOL
Start: 31.07.2019 - Singapore
Destination: 03.09.2019 - Hong Kong

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