ARAGORN ... Not all those who wander are lost (JRR Tolkien)

Singapore

We stopped for some different life once we got to Singapore. The world changed from cruising through the poor countryside of marine Indonesia to the hustle and bustle of the major city of Singapore. Singapore gave "retail therapy" to all the women on the rally, and the men found the services and goods irresistible too. The range of cuisines is incredible, especially the street food in the "hawker stands" in the government-mandated, health-inspected areas.

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To get to Singapore from Nongsa Point, Indonesia (our prior rally stop), we had our cruise's shortest leg, 26 nautical miles in less than three and one-half miles, thanks to a strong tidal current. But we had to cross the traffic lanes of the Singapore Straits, probably the world's busiest waterway.

At one point in time we counted over 75 ships within visual range, underway, or near anchorages (watch for the ones weighing anchor to get underway), plus dozens of smaller vessels to keep an eye on. "Lookout" became a position, a task and an alarm.We had to come closer to some ships than to others.

Size matters. (For scale, see the large tug at this supertanker's bow.) When the VTS controller had a supertanker come through the straits, they alerted all other vessels that such-and-such a vessel was coming through with a 66-foot draft. Under the "gross tonnage" rule of the road, everything gets out of the way.

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Among the urban benefits of Singapore was the historic Long Bar at the Raffles Hotel. Being good world cruisers, a bunch of us from the rally decided we needed to repair there for a true Singapore Sling (the pink drink). From left to right, Leslie, Alistair (NADEMIA), Peter (ISHTAR), Helen and Ed (TAHLEQUAH), Dick, Sue (PAROO), and Carolyn (NADEMIA).

 

We did go to see a sporting event in Singapore - the "Dragon Boat" races. These boats have eight to twenty men or women on paddles, a helmsman (standing aft) on a steering oar, and a man beating a very large drum in the bow for cadence. The drummers get very excited toward the end of each race, beating harder, faster and louder. To start the heats, the helmsmen had to hold on to a line strung from a bridge (out of sight on the left).

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In Singapore, people work hard, eat hard and shop hard. Not to be left out, we did the last two of three.

The food stalls in Singapore have been moved off the streets to clean locations in various neighborhoods. This "hawker" area is about eight times larger than photoed. You go to a stall, order your food, go to another for a drink, and they deliver it to the table you are sitting. The food is good, clean and, for us, authentic. This one in a Chinese community offered food not usually found in a Chinese restaurant in the West.

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Actually, we were there for Thanksgiving, so the two American boats (ARAGORN and TAHLEQUAH) went to a hotel restaurant for turkey with all the trimmings. As you can see, they already have started placing Christmas decorations.

Ed, Helen, Michael, Leslie and Dick

As to shopping, Singapore has so many luxury stores; can you imagine multiple locations for Cartier, Bulgari, etc., just across the road from one another. Leslie wished she had bought more than four pairs of shoes in her first twenty minutes in Takashimia.

Leslie starting taking photos of outfits she liked.

Another Singapore "must do" is SimLim Square, a six-story mall with small shop after small shop devoted to electronics, especially computers and computer components. Every part for computers is sold there, and you could have a computer built on site. All the people working there are very knowledgeable, and they all seem to enjoy their work. While some other Asian cities have similar locations, it is hard to imagine SimLin being duplicated.

This is just one small picture of one short hallway ... there are many on each floor.

These men from Storage Solutions were heros ... they were able to recover all the data off my hard drive which had crashed in Darwin, Australia! In appreciation, I recommended them to other rally boats. All told, I think there were at least six rally boats who bought storage devices from them. Their small store specialized in things that have to do with storage ... hard drives, thumb drives, etc.

You don't have to worry about running out of land in the little country of Singapore. Unlike the Will Rogers maxim, here they make more land when they need it. Many of our charts were out of date - channels were now industrial zones - as ships like this pour out dirt bought from Indonesia to create new land. No wetlands activists need apply.

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Copyright Richard W. York, 2005