Published: April 19th 2012April 19th 2012
M/S Nautica left Bangkok at 5am and headed south into the Bay of Thailand bound for Singapore. It will take two days sailing to get there. We will follow the east coast of the Malay Peninsula to just north of the equator. Singapore lies just 85 miles from the dividing line between northern and southern hemispheres. The air and water temperature are now the same, about 86 degrees F. I just came into the cabin from our small deck where I could look out on a smooth sea on a clear, balmy night. The stars are visible but the heat and humidity create a bit of haze. I can see the lights of small fishing boats in the distance. They appear to use bright strobe lights to attract fish to the surface where they are caught in nets. The curtain in the sliding glass door of the stateroom is dancing in the relatively cool sea breeze. I just had cocktails and dinner in the grand dining room with new friends from Mexico, Great Britain and Minnesota.
This is a very, very pleasant way to travel. I can almost imagine how it must have been in years past when the only means of overseas travel was by ocean liner. This ship is an elegant reminder of a time when the pace of travel was slower with more time to actually savor the experience of passage through strange new lands. Today we mostly fly over the top at tremendous speed, stuffed into a steel cigar with a couple hundred other people trying to find a way to get comfortable with one’s knees under one’s chin. Then suddenly we are deposited in a cavernous airport, thankful to have arrived but certainly not overjoyed with the journey to get there. We sacrifice so much for the sake of speed. Travel by ocean liner on the other hand, is a perfect example of the truism that it is the journey, not the destination that is most important.
Not all is placid aboard Nautica. There have been reports of unfortunate incidents in the laundry room. Marie, a Canadian expat living in Argentina, warmed me last cruise, “Never get between a woman and her laundry.” Apparently she is quite right. A couple of women nearly came to blows yesterday over use of a washer in the laundry room on deck seven. This evening another lady announced at cocktails in the lounge that she had been chastised by a fellow passenger claiming she was taking too much time at the ironing board. Good heavens! Such a fuss over laundry of all things. Another lady informed me at dinner last night that she always brings along disposable underwear. Of course that was an opening for me. I inquired as to how long she had been wearing the present set. That led to quite a number of other inquiries round the table. A very good time was had by all.
Our next stop is Singapore. One of our lecturers warned us that the government of Singapore is very strict when it comes to littering, graffiti and other kinds of public nuisances such as unclean restrooms. Many men’s restrooms have the outlines of feet painted in front of urinals to indicate how close a man must stand before peeing. You don’t want to be caught piddling on the floor because if reported, you can be fined a couple thousand Singapore dollars. At an exchange rate of $ 1 U.S. = $1.25 Singapore, they mean business. It is said that in some women’s restrooms you may find a sign that says, “Please stay seated until the task is completed.”