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Oct 30

We hoped to time our overnight passage to Singapore to provide favorable currents to traverse the Straits. As usual we were plagued with numerous mariner hazards in the form of fish traps and nets. We encountered hundreds of upright bamboo poles constructed in groupings sticking out of the water about 3 feet, unlit and unmarked.

Dances with Ships

Oct 31  Singapore Straits is indisputably the busiest in the world. With countless blips on our radar screen, we crossed the shipping channel at the narrowest point. It was unnerving crossing over 6 lanes of freighter traffic from both directions with other boats merging from anchorages along the coast. We had to dip in behind one ship and parallel him, waiting for an opening to cross over behind the path of the next big freighter. It was certainly a dance of vessels but our partners were all huge and very intimidating!

Our convoy of Stardust, GWTW, and Ascension wove through the shipping traffic, the frantic jockeying for position as the bigger vessels definitely had right of way! And there was the poor visibility from the intrusive fog that made matters even worse.

Raffles Marina

We were joyous to reach Raffles Marina where we were greeted and assisted into our slips. It was overwhelming to see the modern facilities....clean, new docks, a classy resort with swimming pool, restaurants and even a hot tub!

After marina check in was completed, we all explored the fabulous grounds and headed for the pool!

Nov 1

Raffles Rally Welcome Party

A welcoming Dinner and Party was put on for the Rally Participants at Raffles Marina. We all enjoyed a great meal, drinks and visits with friends.

Annie, Tony, Liam Brian (Anon), Gord Victor (Drala Magic)

Liam & Ginny Gord & Annie Bob, Becky & Gord Tony & Ginny

T-Short were awarded to the Sandaq Net controllers in appreciation for all their hard work. Signing of the T's was the most fun!

Nov 2

We took the shuttle bus from Raffles Marina  to the Jurong Train Station. We got to know the efficient MRT bus system intimately as Raffles Marina was an hours ride from the city and we rode the trains every day. The trains are a marvel moving 4 million Singaporeans to work every day. To call the MRT a subway, however, well, it seems wrong. The MRT is clean, new trains, new seats, new everything. The trains don’t lurch and heave all over the place, they slide along smoothly, quietly. There was no talking, only the faint sound of an IPOD blasting through someone's head phones. There was absolutely no eating, no drinking, no durians (a fruit with an extremely unpleasant odor). It was very unnerving knowing that your every movement was being monitored by a camera to make sure everyone obeyed the rules!

Lots of Rules

And speaking of rules, there are lots of them....Chewing gum is illegal, if fact chewing gum is a banned substance in Singapore. You are fined if you forget to flush the toilet, or jaywalk, or litter, or spit. Smoking is forbidden and carries a fine of S$500. Even some lifts in the public housing blocks are equipped with urine detectors! Some foreign publications are banned and many of Singapore's dailies are government controlled.

We walked around the down town area, Raffles something or other. Everything is named after Raffles, an English lieutenant governor who helped secure trade routes in Singapore for the Brits from 1819 onwards. We visited the bar at Raffles Hotel, where beer was $18 US per glass!! I had water.

Pictured right is a view of the impressive courtyard surrounded by high end shops (Lots of Rolex stores), looking down at the bar.

As the train sped toward the city of Singapore, with its 3 million plus inhabitants, I noticed the absence on something. Houses. There were only huge communities of high rise apartment blocks, grouped together by a similarity in architecture or color.  Also was the notable absence of clothes dryers indicated by all the items hanging on poles out the windows even 15 stories up.

I was overwhelmed by how western everything appeared. The architecture, the roads, the cars, and yet everyone is Asian, or Indian, or Malay. Singapore is a small country, very multicultural, with people of different beliefs living harmoniously together. The streets were decorated for Christmas with a definite Asian theme.

Chrome and Glass

There are thousands of modern high rise buildings in the concrete jungle of the city but everywhere the landscape is perfectly manicured. All cars are new and expensive. Everything is very clean! Singapore is definitely a city of business and absolute efficiency.

The huge malls were a bit overwhelming actually. I went into shopper OD mode and could not think or make any decisions. But of course, ten minutes later I remembered my western capitalist consumerist roots and got over it and shopped until we dropped. And then shopped some more. We were all particularly impressed with the 6 story store that consisted entirely of computers and electronics. Becky, Annie and I ended up making a sweet deal on a Canon Camera in one such store.

Hop On Hop Off Bus

We hopped on an open air bus that toured around the busy city. We jumped off for a bit to visit different areas of Singapore including China Town, then a walk around Little India. We were astounded by the Indian temples, so intricate in their colorful carved designs and ornate detailing.

Back on the bus for some more sightseeing and then finally we departed at a waterfront bar for cocktails.

Night Safari

Nov 6  

Almost postponed because of pouring rain we all decided to visit the Singapore Zoo's Night Safari.

When we arrived there was a Fire Dance Show in progress which kept us entertained until everyone else arrived.

Snow Leopard

We watched several animal shows before boarding a little train that took us around the park.

The Recycling Otter

In addition to the leopards, giraffes, hypos, deer and countless other exotic creatures, we saw many animals that I had never seen, or even heard of before. They seemed to be just roaming free, but there was a mote that keep them restricted for our viewing pleasure from the confines of the train.

Afterward, we walked along the trails that led past enclosures with more animals including koalas, bats, birds, Tasmanian devils, large cats, dingos and more.

A Different Venue for Happy Hour

Almost every evening, a group of yachties could be found enjoying their Happy Hour(s) in the Hot Tub at Raffles Marina.

Finally all good things must come to an end though and we needed to press on. Only 550 miles to go to get to Thailand but lots to see along the way. We are now part of the SailAsia leg of the Rally which comprises Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand.

Return to Singapore from Thailand  March 25-28, 2007.

After our 3 month Thai visa had expired we flew to Singapore to obtain a new Tourist Visa. We stayed in a budget hotel in the older Chinese/ Buddhist Aljunied district of Singapore which was bustling with activity all hours of the day and night. Working girls (all on cell phones) poised barely 10 feet apart, lined every street. We were definitely the only tourists around and we found the experience very interesting, a totally different flavor than our first visit to Singapore.

The area was saturated with outdoor eateries, their plastic tables and chairs spilling out into every inch of the sidewalk, forcing pedestrians to walk on the busy streets. But we had quite a challenge finding supper, unwilling to settle for the menus offering delicacies like  Fish Head Stew, Crocodile Soup, Pig's Viscera, Cuttlefish and Snails, Sea Cucumber,  Pork Stomach and Organ Porridge, embryos in eggs. The restaurant that spoilt my appetite featured Live Frog Soup and all the frogs were lined up in baggies awaiting their demise.

When we finally settled for a bowl of rice, a man promptly plunked down at our table attempting to sell us huge tiger claws, complete with some dried hide attached!



To kill time waiting for our return flight we shopped in the amazing Sim Lim Square Computer complex and Sim Lim Tower Electronics superstore, wandered around Little India and took refuge from the persistent rain in the Singapore Markets.