A Slow Boat to China part 1

Singa pano 1OK, I’ve been writing a diary for the past three weeks but being unable to post as I go, I’m having to start at the beginning. There’s a lot! Sorry if I bore you but this is my diary and “book” and souvenir and record of trip and everything rolled into one. It’s for me as much as you, but I hope you enjoy.

Friday 24 October 2014

Hooboy, I am so tired! I’m writing this in the cabin on the ship at the Singapore ship terminal at 7.30pm, almost too tired to stand. Getting to the ship has been two long, tough days. Thursday was all day packing, then trying to grab a bit of sleep before the taxi at 2am (a limo taxi, actually). Our Singapore Airlines flight was at 0630 so we had to be there at about 0400. Ugh. From then on it was through the building site that is Perth airport. What a mess! What a mess!! An embarrassing, ugly, dysfunctional, uncomfortable, shit hole of an airport. The total contrast with Changi is too depressing.

At last, after going up to the departure area, then having to negotiate those awful stairs back down to the boarding tunnel, we were on the Singapore Airlines A330 and off at 0625, about 5 mins early. We later discovered the plane was probably only half full, and we had two seats in a row of four. Jan was able to shift across so that I had a tray table free between us.

The in-seat LCD entertainment was amazingly comprehensive, with a choice of over 100 movies, but so maddening. Every time a captain’s voice announcement came on, at the end the sound track would revert to Japanese. Crazy. It seemed the only way to restore English was to stop the movie, use Mode to go to the language selector, select English, which was selected anyway, then try to pick up where you were in the movie. So frustrating that I gave up in the end. I was watching Railway Man with Colin Firth and Nicole Kidman. It looked good enough to try to pick up later.

One interesting thing on the flight was, about 30 mins out, BANG – just as if we’d hit something, or as if the wheels had thudded down or similar. Just once, and nothing was said by the crew, so it must have been a small isolated pocket of air turbulence. I’ve never heard it before and it was a little frightening.

So we reached Singapore airport and got a Mercedes taxi to the passenger terminal. As we drove in we could see the ship at the wharf from the stern, a monstrous floating tower building. Looking at the diagram, it’s around 16 to 20 stories above the waterline. It’s a floating office building.

We entered the shipping terminal and I hadn’t thought it would be difficult. But from then on it was queues! And form filling. It took us at least an hour to negotiate the passenger terminal formalities. endlessly moving down and around the webbing barriers. My back muscles were killing me. Shuffle shuffle. Wait. Shuffle. I was so tired of it. Then some other barrier would appear, with more papers to be shown.

Finally we reached the Princess Cruises counter among the thousands of passengers and were given our plastic card allowing us to board. But they took our passport away from us. I don’t like that.

Then it was another long, slow shuffle up the steel and glass ramp to the ship, showing our pass over and over, shuffling through, being shepherded, until finally we reached cabin 429 on deck 12. Whump. I nearly collapsed. This is a holiday??

That was about 2.30pm. At last we could relax for a while, then go for a beer and some dinner and at about 7.15pm the ship ever so slowly, almost imperceptibly, glided out from the wharf, turned 180deg in the harbour and we were off.

You’d never know it was moving. Even out in the straits, there’s no rocking or swaying at all. That’s stabilisers.

So we glided past many lit up ships, with a vast coastline of lights out to the south. That must have been the industrial island off Singapore. Then by 8.30pm I was becoming monsyllabic and dull because I was so tired. I collapsed onto the bed and slept like a log until 7am.

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