Arcadia Cruise, Final Day, Thursday 13 March 2014

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Singapore at 6.24 am

I was up at 5.15am, showered and out by 0600, only to find that we’d already arrived.  It was still dark but we were turning 180deg. and backing very, very slowly into the wharf.  It took nearly an hour, with the dawn light slowly increasing.

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The Singapore Marina Bay cruise terminal. It leaves Fremantle looking like the 1960s shed that it is.

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At 6.45 am

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The Pan Pacific Hotel at 6.47 am

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At 6.53 am

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At 7.08 am

There was a lot of haze, and of course, as they announced, it’s from Indonesian forest fires. This is a bad situation. It goes on year after year, caused by clear felling and burning of dense native forests for profit, both for the timber they cut and to plant palm oil plantations.  It’s changing the entire ecology of the region.  I noticed today how dry all the lawns and plants are looking in Singapore and apparently they haven’t had much rain for two months.  I can see it.  This is highly unusual.  This is climate change in the flesh.

Breakfast at 0830, then final packing.  I couldn’t put my suitcase out at 6pm last night as they wanted us to because I needed my CPAP stuff overnight and my diabetic stuff in the morning.  I told them this at the desk and they sucked their teeth and looked disapproving.  Bloody hell, surely it should be obvious that we can’t always do what they ask.  This morning I put the case out in the passage and it was gone when I came back, so someone took it ashore for me.

Then there was a long boring wait until 10am when my cabin group was called to disembark. It was a long walk along the airconditioned catwalk and into the terminal, and there was my case, with a trolley next to it. Good stuff.  After a short walk through X-ray inspections, then through the “Nothing to Declare” channel, I was out.  There was another long walk to the taxi rank, then I had a Mercedes taxi to the Parc Sovereign Hotel in Albert St, Little India, arriving about 11am.  Room 915 is on the ninth floor, but my only view is of the tower block of flats next door.

The room is tiny but perfectly formed.  It’s small, but not claustrophobic.  It has a Queen sized bed, but no fridge!  And Wi-Fi, but I have to pay —  S$10 for two hours, I think. (No, update, the $10 is for a full 24 hours, so that’s good.)

I headed out about 1.30pm after an hour’s good sleep.  I asked at the desk about getting daily ice for my insulin and the guy couldn’t seem to understand what I was asking.  Another guy did understand, suggesting I try the 7-Eleven shop next door.  I have enough ice in the Esky from the ship, so that can wait.

I took a tourist map from the desk and asked the young guy for directions.  He was bamboozled!  He couldn’t even find the this hotel on the map. As for directions, he had no clue.  An older guy had to step in and circle this hotel and the nearest MRT.  Amazing.  The young guy is way behind.

Off to Little India MRT, buying a stored value card for $30. Lots of walking!  Ooowww.  I took the MRT to City Hall via Dhoby Gaut.  I had a very nice lunch of “cereal fried rice” and iced lemon tea.  It turned out quite expensive when GST and 10% service was added – the bill was nearly $20.  Ouch.

Then I walked to Coleman St and saw lots of delicious camera gear,  but it’s more expensive than home prices!  I’m very tempted by the Fuji X-T1, but the body only price is S$1950.  The Australian on-line price is $1250!  Anyway, I’m not really serious.  I have enough cameras.  You never thought you’d hear me say that, did you?

The windows are full of delectable second hand gear, but it’s not the same as 10 or 20 years ago – It’s stuff I used to covet, but I can’t use it any more.  It’s all film gear and different lens mounts from a different era so all the fun has gone.  I used to spend hours gazing at all the second hand bargains but there’s no point any more. Pity, a big pity.

Then to the Funan Centre for a power plug adapter and 16GB SD card, a bit cheaper than Perth.

Then across to the Adelphi building where I found the KEF headphones I was looking for – “Yes sir, we have them in stock, would you like a demonstration?” In Perth, it would have been,  No mate, but we can get them for you.

I said to the guy, “Every time I come to Singapore, I seem to buy another pair of headphones.”  It’s true. But these are special.  They should be, at A$325.  I’m happy.  The sound, especially the bass, is incredible.  I had been using a tiny, tinny pair of Koss  HP1s, but I tossed them in the bin, they are so bad. (But I retrieved them later – waste not … )

Then a I made a loooong walk and MRT rides back to the hotel.  Bloody hell, my feet are aching, especially the left foot.  I’m hobbling and later had to use my stick.  I had a lot of trouble finding the hotel – I took a wrong turn out of the Little India MRT and got lost. Even with my TomTom GPS, I was disoriented.  Which is surprising, given I’m in the Orient.   It seemed everywhere I turned was the wrong way.  Eventually I made it, hobbling, almost dead.  It wasn’t a hot day, or even especially humid, but I was bushed.

When I got back to the room, I found they had installed a fridge for me!  I am very pleased.  At last, someone has listened to me and acted on my problem.  I had been grumping to myself about this, but they’ve regained their brownie points with me.

Then, after sorting myself out in the room,  I walked up to the Albert Street night market.  I was ambling along looking at the restaurants when I heard someone insistently asking me if I was from some cruise ship (insert name here – can’t remember).  I said no, but they seemed to want to talk and it transpired that they were on a cruise and thought they recognised me from their ship.

Anyway, I joined them for dinner, so that was nice.  John and Carol from near Dover in the UK.  He used to be an Operations Technician at one of the Dungeness nuclear power stations. Retired now, of course.

My meal was bloody awful.  My spring roll was good, but the salt and pepper squid was just squid rings deep fried to death in a sweet batter on a few limp lettuce leaves.  Awful, chewy, boring.  To me, salt and pepper squid is big chunks of diamond scored squid, dusted with salt, pepper and flour, then very quickly shallow fried so as to remain tender, no more than 30 seconds or so.  Served on a bed of crispy rice vermicelli. Even I can do that.  This was terrible stuff.

Two big Tigers dulled the disappointment somewhat.  The bill came to S$30.07, and I handed him a $50 note.  I would have given him the 7c, but he took off too quickly. I thought he’d bring me a $20 note as change, but no, I got $19.95.  What a weird …

Dead tired at 1030pm, but the music on these new headphones is great.

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