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Sunday, June 25, 2006

June 25, 2006 Singapore Flashback

Judy Chills Out

Thirty-seven years ago I sailed into Singapore as a petty officer on the US Aircraft Carrier Hancock. I went ashore back then and walked around for a day. I remember three things from that visit: Orchard Road, The Singapore River, and Raffles Hotel. This year Judy and I decide to go looking for those same places in today’s Singapore.

Thirty-seven years ago Orchard Road was a narrow street which headed out of the city into the countryside. Back then I walked out Orchard Road until I was on a dirt road lined with small residential houses behind hedges and muddy runoff ditches. Orchard Road is now all high rises and upscale shopping malls. I don’t see any thing which rings a bell in my dusty memory lane on Orchard Road.

Thirty-seven years ago the Singapore River was a transshipment center for rubber exports. Sampans and lighters were loaded with bales of raw white rubber by skinny, mostly naked, Chinese coolies, and then unloaded onto ships waiting in the roadstead. As I wandered the back alleys at night back then I caught glimpses through doorways of the coolies reclined on narrow wooden benches, the thick smell of opium smoke mixed in the air with the exotic cooking smells from the streets. The Singapore River is now lined with trendy restaurants and skyscraping buildings of multinational banks, and tour boats ply its waters.

Raffles Hotel

Thirty-seven years ago I walked into Raffles Hotel and had a Singapore Sling. I remember Raffles as a cool, quiet, shady, and very pleasant haven of relaxed elegance with more than a few impeccably dressed bell boys, waiters and concierges moving silently through the lobbies and bars, ready for the slightest glance or wiggle of a finger from one of brits who made up most of the guest list and whom were always seen lounging nearby. At Raffles Hotel this week I experienced a flash back: It’s the same as I remember it. Judy and I wandered in, sat in big chairs in a cool inner courtyard, and each had a glass of white wine. White-hatted chefs prepared exotic foods under a green awning, bartenders swizzled drinks in tall iced glasses, and waiters hovered nearby. It was a nice flash back. I saw the Singapore Sling on the drink menu, and I remembered it from 1969, but we’d already ordered our wine.

Maybe in another 37 years we’ll go back again and have that Singapore Sling.


Click here for another Singapore view

Fred & Judy, SV Wings, Singapore


Wednesday, June 14, 2006

June 15, 2006-Landed in Singapore


Not too much to say right now; we’ve landed in Singapore, and we’ve found a place to stay. We’re starting to find our way around, trying to get established here, and we’re looking for jobs.

For us, this is what cruising is all about. We sail into a new place, park the boat, and start to make a life for ourselves. This time we’d like to stay a while, two or three years, maybe more.

Thanks to Neil and Ley, our friends on Crystal Blues, we were able to find a good marina to stay in, ONE15 Marina at Sentosa Cove. It isn’t finished yet. The marina is in, but the shoreside facilities are still under construction. Some time next year there will be a fitness club, a pool, laundry, and WiFi, even stores. Right now we have to rough it without any of these. Tough life, huh?

We’ve started to get around a bit. We have passes for the mass transit system, have found some grocery stores and a laundry (albeit very expensive). We’ve discovered that Singapore is more expensive in some ways than other places we’ve been; that’s the price we pay, I guess, to be in this big and booming city.

We’ve started to look for jobs. Judy is looking again in the legal field, and she had made contact with a court transcription company, like the one she worked for in Hong Kong, that may turn into something. I’ve been talking to recruiters in the IT industry. There seems to be some activity in this market, job wise, but we’ll have to see. Salaries seem OK, not high though.

WINGS is OK. We have a few problems to deal with, like a leaking water tank (again), a leaking transmission, and a B&G instrument system which demands constant attention to remain operational. Actually, it’s all very typical; boat fix-it lists never get to zero.

What is not typical is the likelihood that we won’t be sailing much for a while. We really want to focus on employment and our general living situation; going sailing isn’t high on the priority list. Plus, Singapore apparently does not allow foreign registered yachts to move around in their waters. In other words, we can’t take the boat out.

Right now that’s OK. We’ll see how we feel in a few months.

Fred & Judy, SV Wings, Singapore


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