Saturday, November 13, 2010

November 13, 2010 - Singapore


After 4-1/2 years in the Southern Hemisphere, the boat crossed the Equator with a gleeful cheer from Ellen around 6:00 am, about 75 miles south of Singapore. Tom was asleep, after a long night with a misbehaving autopilot. We pulled into a harbor in Indonesia’s Riau Islands for a crossing party with boats from Australia, the UK and Switzerland.
While we loved Indonesia, we can’t say it’s much of a destination for sailing. We had more wind than we expected and it wasn’t much. The only relief from the beastly, ghastly heat was the movement created by the engine moving the boat, and to a small extent, nightfall. After sailing the entire Pacific Ocean rarely spotting another vessel or debris, it was a shock to get used to continuous ship and small boat traffic, not to mention the plastic garbage.
Singapore! From our luxurious country club life at Raffles Marina on the western edge of the island, to the quiet subway that puts us to sleep, the glitzy architecture, the lush landscaping, the brightly painted housing projects radiating out from the extensive transit lines, the go-go economic bubble, the opportunities to eat and shop til you drop, the heady mix of Indian and Malay culture accenting this predominantly Chinese city - Singapore feels like it’s straight from a textbook on how to be a world class city. While it lacks charm, it’s clean, well-organized and impressive in its Disneyland meets New York/utopia meets the big city way. If this is the Asian economic tiger, it is truly formidable.
Locals complain about the restrictions on freedom – and there are many besides no gum chewing. It feels a bit like George Orwell’s 1984. It’s often subtle. This year Singapore’s first two casinos opened. (One - with the "spaceship" on top - is pictured above.) Singaporeans must pay an entry fee of $100 per person per day just to enter the casino. Show your foreign passport, and you get in for free.
For three weeks, it’s been a good place to catch up on the world, work on the boat, provision, take in the sights, visit old friends, and beat the heat in the air conditioning and the swimming pool. Onto Malaysia.

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