Burma Map

The Olympic table tennis finals were won by the divine second officer, Handsome Harry, and the Ahn Do lookalike, and the Olympic Challenge was then held between the finals winners and the two male passengers, Dave and Rick. The passengers won, but I think it was rigged as an act of kindness. I should have backed them when the captain offered me the chance of a bet.

Now the ship was slowly ploughing past many islands, Timor, Maumure, Sumba, Sumbawa, Flores, Komodo, Lombok and Bali, and I started to feel that I had been on it forever. A volcano appeared one day out of the distant gloom of smoke haze that had been colouring everything for a couple of days. The haze was coming from fires that burn every year at this time in Borneo and Sumatra.

Then we began passing other ships that were heading, like us, to or from, Singapore. One evening we had a barbecue on the deck for the chief engineer who was leaving the ship in Singapore. I got the duchess treatment again and was photographed a lot. More karaoke in the crew’s mess followed. This ship was more democratic in the way the crew and officers mixed than other ships I had been on, due no doubt to the gregariousness of our captain.

Burma Map Photo Gallery

At last we arrived at Singapore, but only to an anchorage in the harbour where we spent two days waiting for a berth alongside. The ship sat rocking on a calm sea, and, without the breeze of our movement, it became hot and steamy. But there were beautiful sunsets and there was time for another party, this time to celebrate a crew member’s birthday and to farewell three others who were signing off in Singapore. Dave, Rick and I were also signing off and were told that immigration would come aboard at midnight when we docked to deal with us. What? Were they mad? Midnight! They did, but thankfully they didn’t need to see us, only our passports, which the captain had in his office.

From Singapore I planned to travel overland to Bangkok, where I knew I could get a quick Burmese visa, and then I would fly to Yangon. It had not been possible to obtain a visa before leaving home because the form required proof of arrival and a departure flight. Travelling by freighter makes dates and times movable feasts.

After breakfast we three passengers, farewelled by the crew, left the ship. Our communication with the taxi driver who took us was complicated by each of us wanting to go somewhere different, so he dumped us all in Bugis Street near the city centre. Here I ditched the blokes and as soon as I did, things improved. I found a nice security guard who directed me to the long-distance bus depot. It was close, only four Singapore dollars in a taxi. In fact it was five, but I had only four and the driver gave me a discount. Moral of the story: A woman is better off alone in Asia.

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