March 14, 2016

World Cruise 2016 Day 69

Day 69 In port at Singapore. At sunrise the temperature is already above 80. It is partly cloudy. I decide to forgo either a rain coat or an umbrella for today's tour. This turns out to be the right decision.

My "Singapore Highlights" tour takes me past several areas that I had seen last night. A stop at the Orchid Garden is pretty and fragrant but the three "H's", hills, humidity and heat makes the tour excruciating. It is actually more humid here than it is in the inner city or harbor area.

We visit several ethnic neighborhoods including the Arab section, Chinatown, and a neighborhood occupied mostly by expatriates from India. We also make a quick photo stop at the Raffles Hotel, reported originator of the very popular Singapore Sling drink.

Singapore is very modern, and very clean. The architecture is very modern, especially compared to Hong Kong. Most of the world knows that chewing gum is banned in Singapore. According to our tour guide this is because when the mass transit system was started up, pieces of gum would be stuck on the edges of the sliding doors preventing the trains from starting. After an unsuccessful campaign asking people to dispose of their gum properly, sales were banned and anyone caught spitting out gum is subject to arrest and fines. Private use of chewing of gum is permitted.

We return to the ship about an hour and a half late. The pier next to us is now occupied by an Oceania cruise ship. I decide to remain on the ship for the rest of the day. I again have a tour in the morning.

For the nerds and mathematicians in my audience – Happy Pi day!

World Cruise 2016 Day 68

Day 68 – Arrival at Singapore. The temperatures are in the mid 80's, skies mostly cloudy with a slight chance of rain today. With winds from the North East at 15 MPH the seas are calm. Singapore is just above the equator and we are expecting it to be hot and humid.

We are required to carry our passports and visa documentation with us at all times, so our passports are returned to us this morning at the front office. Laws here are very strong and strictly enforced. Counterfeit goods are banned from being brought into the country to the extent that passengers were warned not to wear their knockoff Rolex watches.

The other day Kate Ross, one of our guest speakers, was on the same tour with me. I learned she is a retired high school history teacher from Utica, NY. (For Steve: she knows the New Hartford area well.) She will be doing a number of lectures as we travel between Hong Kong and Dubai. She learns which lecture she will be giving, and at what time, when she reads the daily program printed each evening for the following day. Unlike most other speakers, she was first contacted directly by HAL that heard of her through a friend of a friend.

The sea depth has been fairly shallow for the last 20 miles approaching the Malacca straits, less than 100 feet. We pass hundreds and hundreds of anchored ships. Tankers, bulk carriers, freighters, oil rigs, container ships, etc, all just anchored in the ocean because of a lack of business. If there is anyone that doesn't recognize that business activity has dropped in Asia only needs to look at the shipping industry. Billions of dollars of capacity sitting empty.

At 4:00 I go to the sports deck to watch our arrival in Singapore. Within two minutes the "slight chance" of rain turned into a torrential downpour. I retreat to the Crow's Nest where visibility does not exist past the window panes. At 5:15 I go to the Lido to grab a bite to eat before gathering for my 6:15 tour. Water is coming out of many of the light fixtures, the galley side of the serving counters are covered with numerous buckets catching leaks, and in some places the carpet is soaked from all the rain that is leaking thru the ceiling. I think this is the heaviest rain we have had on the entire cruise, but I find it hard to believe these leaks just suddenly appeared.

The A/C is not working, and the lido is jammed with passengers that have to eat here tonight because of scheduled tours. The line goes out to the stairwell, the longest I have seen any wait on the cruise. I'm glad I went 15 minutes before they officially open at 5:30.

By the time my tour leaves, the rain has stopped, and over the next few hours the skies clear and a sliver of the moon comes out. Temperatures drop to a reasonable 80 but with 99% humidity it feels very uncomfortable.

The Crystal Serenity shares our pier on the other side, but she leaves at about 5:30. There is also a Celebrity ship in Singapore, but at a different port.

My night tour touches on some of the Singapore basics. A ride on the "Singapore Flyer", a boat ride on the Singapore river, a stop at the Bugis Village night market, and a 30 minute ride on a "Trishaw". I find it of interest that My Trishaw driver used to work in DaNang driving Cyclos. He said he likes Singapore much better. By the time I get back to the ship I am exhausted but need to set my alarm for 6:30 for tomorrow's tour.