Day 19, Year 4: Last Day in Singapore

Day 19, Year 4: Last Day in Singapore
Date: Monday, November 10, 2008
Weather: Rain All Day
Location: One 15 Marina, Sentosa Island, Singapore

It rained ALL day today and as I walked around with my new umbrella, a “gift” from the grocery store on Orchard Road for spending so much money there using our Mastercard, I knew for sure that it was time to leave here. When your umbrella is advertising Mastercard, you know you have spent more money than you should have. So tomorrow morning we will be moving on unless the weather is just too terrible. It would have been no fun at all to head into the Singapore Straits today with pouring rain and low visibility. If it is that way in the morning, we will possibly stay put, but since that means going through the check-our procedure a second time, it will have to be pretty bad to keep us here.

Mark spent his morning going to the “One Stop Shop” to get us checked out of Singapore. I have no idea why they call it that because you still have to go out to the anchorage area and get your final clearance there. After braving the pouring rains to get that done, Mark then headed to the Sim Lin “technology” Tower to buy a battery charger. Between the Sim Lin Tower and Sim Lin Square you can buy almost anything electronic that you can think of, and he was successful in getting the battery charger for us. Since we have not been able to get a converter to work with our inverter, we have no real way to keep our freezer and other electronics going without running our engine. That will be impossible when we get to Langkawi and have the boat out of the water to paint the bottom. So yesterday when Mark visited another boat that uses a battery charger without going through the inverter, he decided that this is what we should do. The case was made even stronger when we found out that the battery charger will be more expensive in Malaysia, so now we are the proud owners of three-stage battery charger. While Mark was doing all of this, I was here cleaning the outside of the boat in the pouring rain. Rain in Singapore comes down bringing all the pollution of a big city with it, and everything white on the boat has turned an ugly shade of gray. While I was at it, I took down all of the sun screens and scrubbed those. Once Mark returned, we headed back into the Vivo Center to do that last bit of grocery shopping and then came back in time to check-out with the marina. We paid $525 Singapore for twenty nights here, including electricity and water, which is less than $18 US per day. Not bad for the type of accommodations and free transportation in and out of the city. You can’t stay in a backpacker here for much less than that, and One Fifteen is hardly a backpacker. We actually sprung for dinner here at the club tonight. Tina and Robert of Shirena joined us. The food and the company were both great.

During dinner we talked about our future plans. Shirena will be spending another year here in Southeast Asia before moving on to the Mediterranean. Robert was giving us a sales pitch for going through the Med rather than going around South Africa. Being from Poland, he has traveled extensively throughout Europe. As has Tina and most other cruisers we have met from around the world. In our experience, it is only the US cruisers who have very little travel experience out of the country. Most Australians and Europeans have backpacked through part of Europe at some point just after college while Americans are more concerned with just getting a job. This led to a discussion of why that is the case. Is it finances that keeps young Americans from doing this, or is it just attitude.

081110 Day 19 Singapore–One15 Marina

Day 18, Year 4: Definitely Time to Move On

Day 18, Year 4: Definitely Time to Move On
Date: Sunday, November 9, 2008
Weather: Rain Early Morning and Early Afternoon; Otherwise Sunny
Location: One 15 Marina, Sentosa Island, Singapore

When you say you have finished shopping and then go out and come back with more than you ever have previously, you know it is time to move on. We talked to our daughter and son-in-law via Skype last night and got some great ideas for things we could buy for Sam to play with when he visits Windbird in Thailand. It is so easy here to find UV protective swimwear and hats for children and not so easy in Massachusetts at this time of year. So we had the ‘grandchild impetus’ to set us off on a shopping spree as well as the obscure food items, Christmas decorations, memory foam pillows we just had to have, and on and on. It is amazing the things that are available here. I even found Earth Balance, a butter substitute for those who can’t have dairy (my daughter and Sam). Singapore has it all if you have the energy to travel around the city to find things. We did most of our shopping on upscale Orchard Road, but we also made a side trip to Little India for a last minute purchase of a battery charger. Unfortunately the place that has the chargers was not open today, so we will make yet one more trip to Little India before leaving Singapore.

This evening we went to Rendezvous Cay for dinner with friends from Scot Free II and Freebird. When we were in Little India this afternoon, I bought a wreath of orchids. I just had to buy it because it was so beautiful and only cost $10 Singapore. This garland had at least a hundred orchids, maybe more. I took that to Rose tonight to thank her (and Tim) for having us over for dinner. When we had been in Little India with Tim and Rose a couple of weeks ago, I noticed how she admired the flowers. She was delighted with the wreath of orchids and we all got to enjoy the beauty.

081109 Day 18 Singapore–Dinner on Rendezvous Cay

Day 17, Year 4: Saturday Shopping in Singapore

Day 17, Year 4: Saturday Shopping in Singapore
Date: Saturday, November 8, 2008
Weather: Rain Early Morning; Partly Sunny Day
Location: One 15 Marina, Sentosa Island, Singapore

We made another trip to Orchard Road today. That street is amazing. There are more huge malls and hotels in one small area than I have ever seen in my life. We went there to go to our favorite Singapore supermarket just one more time. It is called the Tanglin Market Place and shopping there is just like shopping in the US. All the familiar brands can be found there. We probably won’t see that again until we get home, so this was the last chance to stock up on favorite things.

We also made a stop at Toys ‘R Us just a couple of blocks from the supermarket. This took us into the Forum Shopping Mall and we couldn’t believe what we saw. On one end of the mall, all three stories are dedicated to kid’s stores. And being a weekend, it seemed like all parents in Singapore were there with their kids. There were puppet shows for kids, body painting, magic demonstrations, you name it-all kinds of entertainment for the wee ones. Mark and I don’t remember ever seeing so many families
out shopping in the United States. I think it is the national weekend pastime here. We stopped in Border’s Bookstore and found the same thing. The children’s book section was so jam-packed with kids and parents on the floor reading that you could hardly make your way through.

Our time here is dwindling. If tomorrow (our Sunday) is sunny, we might stay here at the marina and enjoy the pool and internet access for most of the day, and then make our way to Little India for one last dinner in our favorite part of this town. The street markets there also have the best looking veggies in the city, so I will do my departing fresh food shopping at the same time. Monday is check-out day and a chance to pick up anything we have forgotten, and then early Tuesday we will head
for Malaysia.

Day 16, Year 4: Chinatown

Day 16, Year 4: Chinatown
Date: Friday, November 7, 2008
Weather: Beautiful Day, No Rain
Location: One 15 Marina, Sentosa Island, Singapore

My tired feet are testament to the fact that we did DO Chinatown today. Actually we started our day in Little India. Mark wanted to buy a remote microphone for our VHF radio, so we had to return to the Sim Lin Tower. We walked through Little India to get there and I found some great buys on the way. I bought a couple of pair of pants for $10 and then I found some cotton material from Indonesia that looks like Ikat weaving. It will make wonderful gifts, so I bought a couple of pieces of that.

When we got to the Sim Lin Tower, our store was still not open. So we walked down the street and found a great little store with some things that our grandson Sam will enjoy when he arrives in January. After the purchase of the remote microphone, we got back on the MRT and headed for Chinatown. Little India is just street after street of small markets, so we thought Chinatown would be the same. But we were so wrong. Chinatown is upmarket. There is a strip of touristy type small markets, but mostly it is modern malls. I really love Little India and had hoped to have the same type of experience in Chinatown. But regardless of its modern touch, we visited mosques and temples and really enjoyed our time there.

Our first search in Chinatown was for the Chinatown Heritage Center. This took us through the small market area. I had my trusty camera around my neck waiting for a photo op, but instead we were ‘invited’ into a camera shop that had things we didn’t know we needed. The guy was a super salesman and I left with a couple of additions to my Canon Powershot. He assured me that I needed a UV lens to capture better pictures when we are out to sea and sun is shining brightly as well as a polarizing lens that will allow me to take better photos through glass and into the water. Whether I needed them or not, I am now the proud owner of these two new lenses.

We then got back on track to visit the temples and mosques on our list. Our first stop was the Sri Mariamman Temple, the oldest and largest Hindu temple in Singapore. The entrance-tower or gopuram was beautiful and the mammoth wooden entry doors were bedecked with brass bells. We arrived during a noontime ceremony where people worship and are then blessed with holy water and fire, and then they line up to receive food from one of the Hindu monks. Almost next door to this Hindu temple is the Jamae Mosque, not elaborate and quite a contrast with its Hindu neighbor. From here we trekked a few blocks to see the Nagore Durgha Shrine built by Tamil Muslims, the Thian Hock Keng Temple or Buddist Temple of Heavenly Happiness that is dedicated to Ma Chor Por, the Protector of Sailors. This temple has always encouraged teaching of the masses in the Confucius tradition and is a “teaching” temple today. There were many school groups visiting while we were there today. This is the oldest Chinese temple in Singapore and it is a national monument. And right next to this temple is the Al-Abrar Mosque.

We walked on to the Fuk Tak Chi Temple. This is one of the oldest buildings in Singapore and it has been creatively connected to the ultra-modern Far East Mall. We went through the temple to the mall and walked back a couple of city blocks within the mall to get back to the MRT.

It was a good day and we decided to take the monorail back to Sentosa Island to do a little sightseeing there. Sentosa Island has been our home for the past couple of weeks, but we have been isolated from the tourist end of the island. We did a bit of a fast walk-through, enjoyed the fountains, and caught the bus home. Once back at the marina, we did the requisite late afternoon swim in the pool and shower. I came home to do laundry and Mark fixed a curry dinner. We have three more days here and then we are definitely out of here. So we have to make some tough decisions as to what we will see and what we will not. You could spend a couple of months here in Singapore and still not see it all. It is quite a city.

081107 Day 16 Singapore–Chinatown
081107 Day 16 Singapore–Sentosa Fantasy Land

Day 15, Year 4: A Day at Home

Day 15, Year 4: A Day at Home
Date: Thursday, November 6, 2008
Weather: Sunny Day with Periods of Rain
Location: One 15 Marina, Sentosa Island, Singapore

I can’t believe it, but we actually stayed here at the marina all day with no trips into Singapore. I’m still trying to recover from this cold and it felt good to just stay on Windbird with trips up to the pool to refresh. We spent our evening visiting with friends and just returned to Windbird to fix a late dinner. Mark filled our fuel tanks today by having the marina golf cart take our jerry jugs to be filled on the fuel dock and then returning them to us. He emptied the first round of jugs
and then called for a second round. The marina staff is so willing to help. We are used to doing all of this ourselves with no help, so having a marina staff willing to do the work for us was great.

Late in the afternoon I cut Mark’s hair while he was sitting in a chair on the gyrating dock. Our neighbors on Wave Runner from New Zealand took pictures and invited us over for drinks. After another run to the pool and showers, we visited with Wave Runner and learned that they might be leaving Phuket in January for the Red Sea. But like us, they are still deciding whether or not to spend another year here in Southeast Asia. So depending on our decisions, we might be traveling with these new
friends from here to the Mediterranean. After our visit with Wave Runner, we headed down to the catamaran world to return a borrowed jerry jug to Rendezvous Cay. We ended up having drinks with Rose and Tim and returned home to find that it was 9 pm. We had no idea it was so late. Today was Robert of Shirena’s 56th birthday. Happy birthday, Robert! He and Tina were having dinner here at the marina and we had invited them for dessert afterwards on Windbird. But we were so late getting home that
it was way past dessert time. We will just have to have that dessert on another night.

Tomorrow will be a tourist day. We will visit China Town and possibly finally visit the other end of the world here on Sentosa Island. It is so comfortable here that you could be tempted to stay for a long, long time, but we know we have to be ready to leave early on Tuesday morning. We have a “date” for a haul-out in Langkawi, Malaysia on November 25, and we have a few miles to cover to get there. So the Singapore countdown is underway.

Day 14, Year 4: We Were Watching

Day 14, Year 4: We Were Watching
Date: Wednesday, November 5, 2008
Weather: Rainy, Rainy Day; Sun in Late Afternoon
Location: One 15 Marina, Sentosa Island, Singapore

After months of not seeing or hearing any news other than what we received from family in emails, we sat in front a TV screen for almost five hours this morning watching the US election results. This was after starting our early morning watching CNN Live on one computer and listening to New Hampshire Public Radio on the other. We then moved to the plush lounge located above the pool. Big screen TV, very comfortable chairs, ice water served to our little table at no cost, and the general manager
of the One15 Club visiting to watch the election returns. The GM is a Canadian who was in Hong Kong and has been here for two years. He was an American political science major in college and was very interested in the election returns. So we had a great setting for watching the returns. No matter what your political leanings might be, I would think you would have to have been moved by the fact that Barack Obama has been able to energize the youth of our country. He gives hope to so many people
from all around the world, especially the young, and that is so exciting. The fact that the American people elected an African-American, an African-American with a white mother and a black father from Africa, to its highest office sends the message to the people of the world that the United States really means what it has always said. We do embrace all and we are the melting pot of the world. It is so wonderful that Obama can be claimed by Kenya, by Indonesia, by Hawaii, and by Chicago. He exemplifies
the best and brightest in today’s world and let’s just hope he can continue to energize all American people to meet the challenges ahead. From this side of the world, it was a proud day for the USA.

After watching the election results we hurried to the Immigration Center to extend our Singapore Visa. Otherwise, we would have to leave here in the morning. But we were successful in getting the extension. We also learned that we will not be able to leave here on Monday because we have to check out with Customs twenty-four hours before leaving and that office is not open on the weekend. So Tuesday is the new date of departure which gives us five more days to enjoy Singapore.

While we were in the lounge watching the CNN election coverage this morning, we met a young couple from Essex, Massachusetts. They were as captain and mate on a really big sailboat that came in here yesterday and is the home of twenty college students each semester. They are not connected with SEA in Massachusetts, but their organization is SEAmester. It’s always great to meet people from back home and they invited us to visit their boat for a tour. The boat is only two years old and I’m anxious
to take a look. And when we got home late this afternoon, we saw the boat Matairea on our pier. That boat is also out of New England and is captained by Danika (a woman) and her partner Sten. Danika and Sten worked in Boston but kept their boat in Rhode Island. We met them in Darwin but haven’t seen them since. So tomorrow we will connect with some “fellow Americans.”