The name Singapore comes from the Sanskrit word “singa” which means lion, and “pur” which is a word for city or town. So Singapore is literally the lion city even though no lions ever lived here. The first settlers apparently mistook the local tigers for lions. At any rate Singapore today is a thriving city state located on 63 islands at the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula. It is an independent nation and has 5 million people. The port is huge and simply jammed with ships. Bill and I traveled around the city on a beautiful new subway system that is easy to use, clean, air-conditioned and state of the art. The air conditioning was a godsend since it was very hot and humid all day. We are less than 100 miles from the equator.
The highlights today included waiting out a downpour in St. Andrews Episcopal Cathedral in the heart of the city and taking in the futuristic architecture of the downtown skyline. This is a strikingly modern, diverse city. Most people who live here are Chinese but there is also a large Indian population, with Malays, Europeans, Australians and others mixed in. We met some friends for cocktails in the famous “Long Bar” at the Raffles Hotel just off the main square. This is the place which gave the world the Singapore Sling and of course we had to have one. The hotel is a grand example of British colonial days. It has been restored to its original early 20th century glory. I tried to imagine myself a British aristocrat in dress whites having drinks in the dark paneled bar with other chaps from the foreign office as we sat and chatted under ceiling fans slowly stirring the languid air. It was a once in a life time experience.
Later we ventured to Little China Town and then off to Little India where we sat out an even more ferocious lightning and thunder storm by lunching at a crowded but covered market. This is obviously the beginning of the monsoon season. When it rains here it really rains, but it doesn’t last very long. We are now back on Nautica and underway towards Phuket Island, Thailand. We will be transiting the Straight of Malacca tonight. It is a narrow passage between Malaysia and Sumatra where pirates have been active in the not too distant past. I am not going to lose any sleep over that. I feel perfectly safe and besides it adds a little more zest to the adventure.
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