Trip Start Jan 13, 2009
Trip End May 13, 2009

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Tahitian Princess

Flag of Singapore  ,
Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Today we stopped at a port that was located on an island just 1 degree north of the equator. It is the commercial center of Southeast Asia and one of the busiest ports in the World. We had stopped at the fabled port of Singapore. Singapore is both a city and a country. It is the only large city in the world without a slum. It also has the lowest crime rate in the world.  Although it is a democracy, they have given up some rights to create a society that is more controlled than a normal democracy. Housing is regulated as to who can buy a home; this is also true with automobiles. It has a well educated population with generally good incomes for this area of the world.
All of the ports that we have stopped at are unique in a certain way. This is also true of Singapore. Like Hong Kong which also is a large shining tall city in the Orient, so is Singapore. It is a new shining city that even though constrained by limited land size like Hong Kong; it does not appear to be as congested with buildings, traffic and people like Hong Kong. It has open spaces that allow the building, traffic and people to have their own space and not appear squeezed together in a small tight area.
Being so close to the equator the temperature was high in the 90 degrees and this was accompanied with high humidity. When we left the ship at 07:00AM in the morning it was hot, humid and the sun was shining. Within a few hours of being in the city we were treated with a heavy summer thunder storm with heavy rain. The luck of the White Lady did not hold for this day. It was significant for us as our Captain was leaving the ship for a vacation that will keep him away from the ship until Stockholm which is our last port of this cruise. Captain Ravera is a special officer that besides being a very capable seaman was a leader that was well liked not only by his crew, but by all of the passengers on the ship. Was it the White Lady's Luck or the captain's that has kept the weather at all of our ports so good? We will see as we continue our cruise on the White Lady without Captain Ravera. The rain lasted for about an hour and actually it was a welcome relieve to the high heat and high humidity.
The ship docked in the downtown area of Singapore. We were located by Harbor Front Subway station. To adventurers such as Harriet and I, this presented a challenge that we could not ignore and would willingly accept. So at 7:00AM, when the ship was cleared to disembark passengers, Harriet and I were one of the first to clear immigration and begin our Singapore adventure. The ship was docked at the Star Cruise Ship Terminal which meant that we would walk into the terminal thru covered hallways that were similar to the ones used to board airplanes. We quickly moved thru the building to our first stop; a money exchange booth, where we changed $100 US for $155 Singapore Dollars. We were now ready to head out on the first leg of our personal tour. To begin our journey; we went down to the subway or MRT, two layers beneath the terminal. We placed money into the ticket machine and we were rewarded with two tickets that would allow us to travel for two stops of the Purple Line to Chinatown. The price was $2.40 Singapore Dollars, but $1.00 Singapore would be returned for each ticket when we redeemed the subway tickets at the Chinatown stop. The subway train was a long, modern and very clean train that traveled quickly and smoothly thru this long black tube in the ground. Within 2 stops and 20 minutes time we were at the Chinatown stop. We disembarked the train and these two seasoned Singapore Subway traveler walked up the stairs toward the sunlight and Singapore's Chinatown. As the majority population in the city is Chinese, we did not see any a big change in the people and shops that were at our previous stops. But as we walked thru the many Chinese eating stands, we were amused that a city with this many places to eat quick foods is basically populated by thin people.
Once on the streets we could see the tall modern buildings of downtown Singapore. A large gate of oriental construction crossed the street on our left and both sides of the street were large office buildings and hotels. Rather than take the Hop on Hop off bus, we decided to walk to downtown. The distance wasn't that far and the clouds showed signs of summer showers that would make the open top bus less than enjoyable. We walked down Bridge Street to and across the Singapore River to the River Walk. The temperature begins falling as we turn onto the River Walk and dark clouds gather over the entire city. We begin to hear thunder in the local area that we were walking. As we walk past the Boat Pier where you can take a river cruise, we turn and headed to the old Parliament Building. It was up a narrow street about a block in front of us. About half way up the street a local resident told us to quickly find shelter as it is about to rain. At the end of the block we saw an enclosed area filled with chairs and tables for use as a bar area. Just before we enter our area of shelter the rain started. Gradually at first the rain came down but quickly the rain increases into a downpour with flashes of lighting accompanied with deep rolling base tones of thunder. And it rained heavily for about an hour. It felt like a summer shower because the temperature lowered about 10 degrees but it was still comfortable. We waited while the rain ran its course from heavy rain to a drizzle and finally it stopped. It was still cool, but we can feel the temperature gradually rising as we collected our maps and cameras we used while waiting for the rain to stop.
With the rain over, we headed further into the heart of the city as we walked to the Chijmes Shopping Mall. It is a large modern mall of 4 levels and name brand stores. This will be one of the first times that Harriet has had time to do some shopping. The organized tours from the ship did not included shopping. So we spend some time shopping. It was still threating to rain as we walked thru the downtown of Singapore. We reached our furthest point of the walk as we crossed the street to the Raffles Hotel. The drink that is legendary in the Orient is the Singapore Sling. And it was invented just across the street at the Long Bar in the Raffles Hotel. No trip to Singapore can be complete without a taste of the Singapore Sling. And a stop at this fabled location was not included on any of the ship's organized tours. But we have learned that when visiting a port, you should pick the attractions you want to see and then see how best to see those sights.

So we marched out of the mall and across the street. It is now 11:00AM and the Long Bar is open. They have another famous custom at the bar. On each table is a square bowl heaping with small peanuts. You eat the nuts and throw the shells on the floor. Harriet orders a Singapore Sling and I settled for a small taste of the sling. Now that I have tasted the sling I can drink what I feel tastes better; a pint of Tiger Beer. Harriet enjoyed her sling and I thoroughly enjoyed the pint of cold Tiger Beer. What can be better than cold beer and peanuts? So we spend an hour enjoying the drinks and peanuts. We also met about twenty of our fellow cruisers. It was a good and relaxing time. One of the cruisers tells us that just a few blocks away is the Fountain of Wealth which is the large fountain that was featured as a rest stop on last season’s Amazing Race. The rain clouds are still over the city and we feel a few drops falling, but we feel sunny and are enjoying this walk in Singapore.
We are off to the Suntec Shopping Mall which is the location of the Fountain of Wealth. The fountain is an extremely large structure that begins above ground level and falls to a sublevel in which the perimeter at the base of the fountain is small restaurants forming a circle of eateries below street level. A few photos and we were ready to continue on the adventure of exploring Singapore. It past noon and the rain clouds are still above us, so we decided to walk back to Chinatown while shopping and just enjoying the city. We can take the subway from Chinatown to Harbor Front and the ship. We know of closer subway stops but we wanted to enjoy the walk back to Chinatown. And we did enjoy the walk back. We encounter a few small sprinkles but most of the buildings have covered walks. We found a new way to get to North Bridge Road which is our main road back to Chinatown. There is a large underground Mall that stretches for over 4 blocks. It was a good walk as we had shops to visit and being underground there is no worry about rain.
Once on North Bridge Road, we had a short walk to Chinatown. The time is passing quickly, but we are on schedule to be back on ship by 4:30PM which is our All Aboard Time. After arriving at Chinatown it is but a quick trip down to the MRT subway station. This is an easy chore for us now as we are seasoned subway travelers in Singapore. The subway again is quick and efficient. We now reversing the steps we had taken earlier in the morning. We stopped and sold our Singapore Dollars. Then it is just a matter of shopping our way back to the entrance to the ship. Back thru Customs and onto the White Lady.  Our day in Singapore was complete and we left with favorable feelings about this port that is just a degree north of the equator.
The ship pulled from her berth and began it’s journey thru the harbor and to the open sea where we will stay until we reach Kula Lumpur tomorrow. Our new captain, Captain Justin Lawes came over the ships intercom to welcome us back and to add a little excitement because the ship will be passing thru an area that has pirate activity on our trip to Kula Lumpur. The ship strategically placed extra personnel around the ship and had small armed patrol ships to provided extra security in this area. We will sleep thru this and wake up as we are entering Kula Lumpur in the morning.

Where is Harriet? Hunt 
Last port we changed the hunt by having two individual hunts. Today's hunt is more normal with Harriet waiting in Singapore to be found.

Shelby Roy on March 24, 2009
is she sitting underneath the awning in the very back right hand corner facing us?
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