view from Fort Siloso
So I didnâ€™t manage to update before we left Singapore, but here is what I did while I was there (or as much of it as I remember). The first day I was there I stayed on the boat all day, as all the staff rotated having off time and that was my day onboard. The next day my computer actually worked and I was able to call my brothers and talk to my niece and nephews! It was great, except that my computer died the next day when I tried to do it again. I spent that morning exploring Sentosa Island, aka Disney. I got on one of the island busses and saw a bit of the island before my stop, which was the fort. Fort Siloso was actually a real fort, which I have to say I wasnâ€™t expecting. Like it was used in battle during WWII and became a POW camp under the Japanese when they invaded Singapore.
The fort itself wasnâ€™t wildly interesting, i.e. no cool architecture or anything, but the displays were interesting and I learned a lot walking around and reading on my own. Next I went to see a 4D movie, which I know is really lame, but I was intrigued by the concept. Turns out it wasnâ€™t that great, but not because of the concept, it just turned out to be a 15 minute long kids movie. The 4Ds were the normal sight and hearing, plus motion and feeling. The seats moved at various points (actually quite jerkily, my back ended up hurting) and water sprayed at us from the seat in front. The place was filled with kids, half of which ended up screaming the whole time because it was a bit scary for them. But anyway, next it was off to do some more exploring on the mainland.
more Fort Siloso
I had planned to take the cable car across and go do some sightseeing, but when I got out of the movie it was raining. I still took the cable car across but ended up in the mall because it was indoors, lame, I know, but actually the most Singaporean thing to do if you want to argue about it. I spent a couple hours shopping (quite blissfully, I might add, the Asians really know how to do a good mall) and then I headed back to the boat for dinner. Dinner was on your own that night, so after the squeeze everyone headed their separate directions and I went and got takeout for the crew. That was a bit of an experience. I went to what I can only describe as an outdoor Muslim food court (I say Muslim because thatâ€™s what the sign said and thatâ€™s who was predominantly there, I was definitely the only foreigner).
gun at the fort
It was dinner time so it was crowded, and Iâ€™m there in my bright red foul weather jacket walking around to like ten booths trying to pick out undistinguishable food for everyone to eat. I had like twelve little Styrofoam containers in eight plastic bags and it was a bit silly overall, but I made it back to the boat and we ate on the dock. The next day we went to the aquarium on the island as a group, which was fun, and then a shipmate and I went provisioning. I knew provisioning would be good in Singapore because they would have everything, but I was so excited to get to the Carrefour and discover an almost U.S. style grocery store. Like it was huge, a normal super stop and shop size times two floors (with moving walkways to the different levels so you can bring your cart upstairs).
I know it's blury, but I loved this street on the island that the bus drove down every day
They had a huge produce and fresh food section that was divided into little shops and there were awnings and displays and it was great. We spent quite a long time there stocking up on food. By the time we were checking out it was almost three, and the free delivery service that we had been looking into stopped then. But we persuaded them to deliver that day for us because of the sheer amount of food we were buying. So I spent a while running up and down between the checkout counter and the delivery office upstairs trying to sort it out, while in the background a sort of contest is going on in the mall and some guy is like yelling into a microphone and the crowds of people are all cheering. As I paid though, the credit card needed to be verified so I spent about a half hour on the phone with the bank while all this was going on in the background.
entrance to the yacht harbor, advertised as "the world's most desirable address.." it reminds me of Florida, maybe that's why I liked it so much
Eventually we got it all sorted out, and the shipmate and I wheeled our carts of fresh food outside only to find a thirty minute taxi line. The nice Carrefour people called us a taxi though and we got in one ten minutes later. It was about 4:30 when we finally got back to the boat, and the rest of the food arrived about an hour later. The next day I went back to Carrefour to do some personal shopping and explored the area a bit more. I found the worldâ€™s largest fountain, which was cool except would have been slightly more impressive had the water been turned on. I think maybe they only run it from 8-10 at night when they have a laser show. The next thing I did you can make fun of me all you want for, but I have always wanted to do it and figured why not now- I went on a duck tour, one of those vehicles that drives around on land and in the water.
view from the bus area over the marina
They have them in Boston and Iâ€™d always wanted to go but never have. I figured I was only getting around the city by the MRT (subway), and therefore never seeing it above ground. So I stood in line with about thirty Malaysian families with screaming children and bought a ticket. Unfortunately I was the last one in line, so I got screwed and got an aisle seat, while all the toddlers got the window seats and then fell asleep. Oh well, it was still fun. I was the only American onboard, there was a couple from maybe Australia and three backpackers from Scotland, but the rest were Singaporean families I guess. We drove around on land to get to the water, and then toured around the bay a little before getting back on land and seeing some sights. The commentary was pretty ridiculous, but I did learn some very interesting facts, such as: there are approx.
I forgot to mention that I took the cable car again, in the sun...
three trees for every Singaporean (about 15.2 trees) and there are strict laws that come with them. If you hit a tree, even by accident, you pay $5000. If you are caught defacing or cutting down a tree, you pay $10,000. Apparently there is a saying in Singapore that if you get into an accident, check the tree and then your car. There are 7,193 windows on the Esplanade theaters on the bay. The tallest buildings in Singapore are all 280 meters, any taller and the airplanes will hit them. The largest ferris wheel is being constructed in Singapore, which will overtake the London Eyeâ€¦ for twelve days, at which point the Chinese will have completed their worldâ€™s largest ferris wheel. There is a site being considered for a Singapore Disney, which will be all indoors and air conditioned.
I liked this view of the tugs pulling the cruise ship around
The St. Andrewâ€™s cathedral has been hit by lightning three times, and is not the highest building in the area. The water in the worldâ€™s largest fountain all flows inwards towards the center of the fountain, as it symbolizes keeping your wealth internal (itâ€™s called the Fountain of Wealth). There were some other inspiring comments, but I think you get my gist. The tour only took an hour and I saw a little more of the city, so I had a good time. The next day was our last day in Singapore, and I was going to do some fun things like go to the zoo, but there was some boat shopping that needed to be done and I needed to get a new computer. My computer is done for, at least until May when I could maybe get it temporarily fixed again only to have it break during the summer, so I decided to get one there to use for the rest of the trip and beyond.
the other end was at the top of a business building
Eliot knows a lot about computers so he came shopping with me and pointed out good and bad things, and eventually I decided on a sweet Compaq laptop that I am writing on right now. I absolutely love it, and the freedom it gives me. I can write whenever I want, I can upload my pictures and musicâ€¦ itâ€™s great. Iâ€™m looking forward to future wireless connections so I can add some more programs and get on skype again. The next day we started our longest passage, which only turned out to be about two and a half days because we actually had really good wind for most of it. Going through the Malacca Straits I guess was a bit unnerving, because of the history of pirate activity and the amount of tanker traffic, but it turned out to be fun and a really nice passage.
view down onto an empty cruise ship
We were in sight of land for a good portion of it, to stay out of the way of the tankers, but even then we had to adjust course and speed frequently to make sure we didnâ€™t cross paths. We averaged about nine knots under sail for a good day of it, and even got up to 12 knots during a squall at night. We got in Pulau Penang yesterday evening, and moved to the big city of Georgetown this morning to clear in and go provisioning. I went to the grocery store with two shipmates and had a bit of an adventure as always. The grocery store was huge and really really nice, but at first glance didnâ€™t have any shopping carts. Everyone in it was using hand baskets.
some of the 15.2 million trees in Singapore
We asked around and were pointed like eight different ways, but still no â€śtrolleysâ€ť appeared. I was just about to give up hope and start using hand baskets when we finally got our point across and they managed to pull some carts out of like a back room. Another fun thing was that my shipmates kept seeing rats running around (I never saw them, but I believe them). When we got back to the dock and called the dinghies in to pick us up, we found out that they were going to charge 5R per person every time we dropped someone off at the dock. Weâ€™d already had 8 people go ashore, and everyone was going to go later that day and tomorrow, so it really would have added up. It turns out itâ€™s cheaper to put the boat on the dock than make dinghy runs. So while I was putting the food away we pulled up anchor and headed towards the dock.
the world's largest fountain
I came on deck just as we were in the middle of a really tight turn to get the boat facing out of the slip, with a ton of current and almost no room on either end, when the engine died. Boomer raced down from the helm and turned it on in about ten seconds so it was ok, but then a minute later it did it again. This time I was standing right there so I turned it on and it was ok, but it couldnâ€™t have come at a worse time. The whole thing was a bit stressful but we had a good laugh over it afterwards. So now people are ashore and Iâ€™m hanging out on the boat for now, maybe a little later Iâ€™ll go ashore and send this.
my duck, Darlene
I remembered something to write about... in one of the malls in Singapore I happened upon one of the funniest things I've ever seen.
As a sort of a promotion, a guy dressed in a green jumpsuit, motorcycle helmet (complete with visor down), and stop signs in hand (they actuall said "shop") was paid to dance upon a pedestal in the mall. And the clincher- there was no music. So this guy just dances for hours while people shop around him. And not just dance, but like dance. Like the craziest dance moves you've ever seen, from like decades ago. I mean you have to be pretty inventive to stand there and dance for hours at a time. I video taped it on my camera for a couple mintues it was so funny. I knew there was no way to describe this to anyone on the boat later, but numerous other people had seen it and were talking about how it was the best thing they'd ever seen.
It really was fantastic. I am here on Penang right now at an outdoor Chinese food court, of all places to have free wireless. So if you read this today I will have email contact, so email me!
some of the 7.193 windows on the Esplanade theater