Singapore visit

Hi Everyone,   We’re back at the boat after our quick trip to Singapore.  It was a rush but a good trip.  Ru

Singapore October 2009

Just a few photos from our very rushed trip to Singapore. We went Saturday morning and returned on Tuesday morning. Randal needed some boat parts and we both wanted to load up on books. We also wanted to see friends and that was the most rushed part of the trip: just enough time to say hello and good-bye. But we’ll see Marie-Louise and George again other places during our travels. Foolishly I left our contact info for Steve and Valerie on the boat and emailing didn’t work so we missed them, RATS!

We left Puteri Harbour at 9 am when the courtesy van took us to a nearby bus terminal where we could catch the Causeway bus to Singapore. Though Singapore is only over the river and down the road, it is a separate country so that meant exiting Malaysia and entering Singapore with all of the paperwork involved. The bus drops you at the Malaysia immigration building and you go through, get your exit paperwork done and then go back to the bus. We had forgotten to fill out the short exit form because we have been changing countries by boat for a while now and the paperwork for sea travel is different than by land travel. By the time we had filled in the short form we got caught in line behind a crowd from a tour bus.   Our local bus didn’t wait so Randal and I had to take the next one coming through that would take us to Singapore. It came in about 20 minutes. Next we had to get off that bus and go through customs entering Singapore. Finally we caught a bus to take us to the Singapore MRT which would get us to Little India and the Broadway Hotel on Serangoon Rd. We have stayed there on previous visits and love the area. Our short trip had taken us the entire morning.


Little India was decorated for Deepavali. According to our Rally info sheet, the Hindu holiday of Deepavali was celebrated on October 17th and is the celebration of the triumph of good over evil. Called the Festival of Lights, it is always celebrated in the 7th month of the Hindu calendar. The streets of Little India were still full of the decorations.

Saturday we met Marie-Louise our cruising friend from the boat Dessert First for an early dinner at the Vivo City Mall. Marie-Louise has been “working” in Singapore as a volunteer consultant helping to develop the type of retirement facility for the elderly that she worked to establish in San Francisco for the Chinese community. Singapore is using the model that Marie-Louise developed so they are picking Marie-Louise’s brains for ideas. Luckily Marie-Louise has lots of brains so she can afford to let them be picked. My brain was not working and I forgot to get out my camera before we parted. But you can see lots of Marie-Louise on our website and see the wonderful slide show she created from our time in Singapore early last spring. We ate in a restaurant called Marche and it was very good. Luckily we went early: when we finally left there was a very long line waiting to get in.


Scene from the Vivo City Mall where they were already reminding shoppers that Christmas will be coming. An image very different from what you see in Little India or Chinatown. This could be any big city mall in any country.

Sunday we went off to meet George who is married to my college friend Eileen. During our trip back home to the U.S. this past spring we visited them and had a really good time. George was in Singapore on business. He brought us wonderful stuff from home: books, booze and real Ghirardelli chocolate! Eileen and George had chosen a selection of books that should keep us busy for quite a while. The new Dan Brown, Paul Theroux travel books and some old favorites so I can discover Nancy Mitford. We spent a wonderful long lunch with George where we toasted the absent Eileen, back home working and attending to their new very adorable puppy Rambo III.  Mid-afternoon George went off to his business meeting and Randal and I walked back to one art supply shop and another art supply shop looking for copper powder that Randal needed , but “no have” as they say here. Then we went back to our room in Little India and began to read. We’d eaten such a huge wonderful lunch that even I didn’t want dinner. Well maybe a few of those pieces of chocolate!


George and Randal

Monday Randal and I went off on our separate tasks. Randal was off in search of boat stuff and I went off to look for an instructional drawing DVD. I knew that Kinokuniya, the largest bookstore in SE Asia didn’t have any because Randal and I had been there Saturday afternoon. He had gotten American Caesar about Douglas MacArthur and General Patton: A Soldier’s Story. I got the new AS Byatt, The Children’s Book. It follows the fictional lives of children’s book authors and I thought it sounded interesting. Those books plus the pile from Eileen and George will set us for a good long while and make us the envy of other cruisers. We’ll share when we finish. Anyway, I decided to walk to the Borders Bookstore in Wheelock Place on Orchard Road. It took me about an hour of steady walking but I like walking in Singapore. I was disappointed to find no instructional art DVDs of any kind so instead settled for some of the new Watercolor magazines, “The International Herald Tribune”, and “The Columbia Journalism Review” so I could read the articles about how well or not journalists cover the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Oprah was tempting but I decided to save my money for coffee and a cranberry muffin in the coffee shop. Then rested and fed I started back to Little India. My mission there was to find a replacement for my recently dearly departed white blouse. I walked and looked and said, “no thank you,” a thousand times. Just couldn’t find anything I loved so that will be a quest for future travels. But walking through Little India is fun and I really didn’t need anything so it was easy just to look but not to buy anything.

We spent Monday evening resting and reading: Randal had walked a zillion miles too and did manage to get most of what he needed.


The room did have a TV. The main English language channel was CCTV, Central China Television which was what we watched during our time in China. It was nice to see “familiar” faces doing the news. But mostly we read.


A slice of Singapore. The view from our room in Little India.


Randal checking the Street Atlas while a local looks on. Often people will come up and ask if they can help direct us.


We walked past the Singapore Art Museum. Hard to imagine that his sculpture was moved here and Randal almost had me convinced that it was so huge that it must always have been there. But I had been to SAM several times during our 7 weeks early in 2009 and remembered it not being there. I was right and it is part of a traveling exhibit. I guess it is almost sacrilegious to say it reminds me of those horrible creatures representing chest phlegm in the cough medicine commercial on U.S. TV. It is pretty impressive when you pass by.

“Li Chen is regarded as one of the leading sculptors working in Asia today. His powerful, large-scale bronzes fuse Chan (Zen) thought with contemporary art practice. Li, who lives and works in both Shanghai and Taiwan, began his largely self-taught career by producing traditional Buddhist sculptures. In the 1990s, he freed himself from the restraints of the traditional canon while retaining a profound spirituality in his work. This was further deepened through his study of scriptures in Confucianism, Buddhism, and Taoism. In 2007, a large scale exhibition of Li Chen’s work was presented at the 52nd Venice Biennale and in 2008; his work was recognized at a major solo exhibition titled In Search of Spiritual Space at The National Art Museum of China in Beijing.” From the SAM website.


I thought it was funny that they called the “Walk” symbol the “Green Man.”


Bus terminal in Johor. Actually the small station with the several food stalls was at my back. Not sure what is structure was across the small yellow bridge. But it is definitely a much different scene from Singapore

Arrival in Puteri Harbour

It was a really fast and calm trip other than for the hundreds of commercial ships we had to negotiate past, around, behind and in front of.   I’m not kidding when I say hundreds.  Our AIS system lists up to 100 ships in the vicinity of where you are and the list was always full up to the 100 limit!  But we arrived early and there were 4 marina workers to help catch our lines.  They seem to really be trying here to attract cruisers though the place is really in the initial stages of development.

  Tomorrow we’re off to Singapore.  The marina will drive us to where we can catch a bus in town.  How’s that for service!


Zam Zam Islamic Restaurant

Hi Everyone,

  Tomorrow, Friday,  we head off to Puteri Harbour where we will stay until we join up with the West Malaysia Rally.  Puteri Harbour is about 50 miles from here so we’ll leave early in the morning to get there before dark.   But the wind is supposed to be light and the seas mostly flat so we should have an easy time of it.  We’ll leave the boat at Puteri and take the bus across the causeway to Singapore for about 4 days.  We’re going there to see friends and buy supplies, boat and book.  Our friend Marie-Louise is at One15 Marina in Singapore and we will visit with her.  Also cruising friends Steve and Valerie Calpin will be there.  Steve is a full time cruiser who we have linked up with at several of our stops.  Valerie lives most of the year in their home in England but was in KK during our first visit there in July 2008.  Valerie and I had adventures and it will be nice to see her again while she is here to visit Steven.  Valerie joins him during the year and Steven goes home during the year.  Valerie isn’t ready to give up her part-time teaching job and be a full time cruiser so this works for them.  We also will be meeting up with an American pal, my University of Massachusetts sometimes roommate Eileen’s  husband George who is in Singapore for business.  While we’re not socializing, Randal will be looking for boat bits and I’ll be looking for book bargains!  I’m going back to my favorite Brash Basah complex and the bargain book stores to load up.  Randal and I will also go to the new bookstores because there are a few things I want to find: the new AS Byatt book and one about/by Florence Nightingale, and a drawing video.  We do splurge on books, not clothes or souvenirs. This morning during our trip to Sungei Rengit  I spent 20.70 ringits (about $6 US) on three sleeveless tops for me and 31 ringits (about $9 US) on two pairs of shorts for Randal.  These aren’t even designer label knockoffs, at least not my tops.  They are two pieces of print cloth sewn together and very simply finished at the hem, neck and armholes.  But they are cotton and get soft and are the best thing for hot weather.  Sadly, my absolutely favorite white cotton top that I have had at least 10 years finally fell to shreds.  I just noticed the hole today so had at least one extra wearing of it yesterday.   Sadly no patch can fix it: the material is just worn out.  But it had a good life. 

  I have some final photos from Miri.  We had eaten several times at the Zam Zam Islamic Restaurant and would always chat with the owner.  If I knew his name, sadly I don’t remember.  Maybe he will email and remind me!  I have mentioned him before in my email but hadn’t taken any photos.  The day we left, we stopped for lunch to say good-bye and he genuinely looked sad: like he was losing friends.  It made us sad too.  I hope he gets a chance to visit the US because he really does seem to like Americans.


Sometimes we ate roti canai and sometimes we ate the buffet.  They had the best rice, yellow and flavored and the eggplant and other veggies were really good.  Randal always ate rice and chicken and cucumber salad.


Our friend is Pakistani.  He looks to me like a Rabbi.  I think if you mixed all of the middle eastern people together with no label you wouldn’t know, by looking who came from where. 

Randal is wearing one of the bargain shirts he bought in Kota Kinabalu…very bold. 


Like most restaurants Zam Zam opened onto the street.  We parked our bikes right in front.  The woman in the pink top made the roti.  I discovered that I like my hot roti with sugar sprinkled on it.

So that’s it.  I probably won’t email again until we’re back from Singapore.  I’m trying to write an email about our AIS system which helps us identify exactly when and how near we will pass large ships.  We haven’t always had it and just relied on radar which works, but not as well.  I’ll have Randal “correct” it before I send it so I’m not making things up.

And since my nephew lives in Philadelphia I’m rooting for them to win the Series.  Our friend Carol lives in New York, but I just can’t see myself rooting for the Yankees.  Sorry Carol but I do send 2,200 hugs!

Arrived in Sebana Cove

Hi Everyone,

  Randal and I left Miri Marina at midnight on Wednesday.  We arrived here at Sebana Cove about 5:30 pm today, Monday.  It was a long tiring trip but though the first few days and nights were rough with “the wind on the nose” we have encountered worse weather in the past.   I’ll email more tomorrow.  Tonight I’m having to get my land legs back.



Hi Everyone,

  “The blow torch wasn’t cooking the pig leg!”  I should have let Randal read my email before I sent it instead of later. He guesses they were just burning off hair or, well, whatever they burn off.  But it wasn’t being cooked.  Randal grew up in the country where they grew/raised lots of their own food.  I grew up in the city with Stop & Shop and things that came wrapped and packaged or from cans.  Except fish which we bought fresh since we lived in New Bedford with its fishing industry. 

Sadly, the Red Sox did get cooked.  I’m still sad and probably will be till the Series is over and we can begin to look at next year though I’m sure the Sox front office has already started to do that.  RATS!!!

The weather is turning perfect here in Miri.  It was 78 degrees at 6 am this morning and the humidity has eased.  The seas are calming and we will be off before the end of the week. 



Our day in Miri

Hi Everyone,

  For the past several days the Mari Marina has been full of boats.  They came to participate in the Miri to Kota Kinabalu Race, The Borneo Challenge.  Many of the cruisers we’d met in our travels were taking part and it was nice to see them while they were here.  Randal and I are heading in the opposite direction so we didn’t go along.  It’s a pretty informal race where sailboats sail and/or motor depending on the conditions.  Early this morning we biked over to see the race begin at 8:30 am.    I thought 14 boats participated: Randal said 30.  It was somewhere in between. 


Randal wishing we were going too!


The thing I love about this photo is that except for my bike, it looks totally fake.  It looks as if paper boats are stuck onto the top of the water and the tree is iffy too. 

After the boats left Randal and I biked into Miri center to go to the Sunday morning market to get some fruit and veggies.


This is actually just outside the fish market. 

Randal had gone in to look around.  But we were really just looking: we have enough in our freezer for now.  There are always a few vendors selling some produce here but there are really two big public markets that we go to.  One is just across the road and we usually go there go get cabbage and carrots for my cabbage/carrot salad.  Today we biked to one a few blocks away.  Behind it discovered a pork and chicken market.  Randal asked if I had my camera.  You could see whole pork heads (they were no longer pigs) with the ears still on them. And then there were the hoofs and legs hanging there.  When someone wanted to buy some the vendor took out a blow torch and cooked? it.  It seemed as if every conceivable part of the pig was there for sale.  I told Randal that butchered animal photos weren’t very popular among our blog readers so I skipped it.  It really is almost enough to make one a vegetarian.  Though the concept of not wasting anything is good.  When we bought our pork from the stationwagon man in Sungei Rengit it was past looking like it had ever been part of a pig; it just looked like ready to be cooked food. 

Next we walked our bikes the block over to the Zam Zam Islamic Restaurant for a roti cani.  Randal had an egg roti with a side dish of curried dipping sauce garnished with small pieces of what tasted like a slightly curried version of my mother’s pot roast.  I just sprinkled sugar on my plain roti and it tasted kind of like funnel cake, Islamic style.  The owner of ZZIR is a young man who runs it with his uncle.  They are from Pakistan not far from the border with India.  We like them and they like us.  That’s the way it should be.  Another favorite restaurant is Pete’s Deli, a 15 minute walk from the marina.  There you can get chicken pot pie, hamburgers, macaroni and cheese, apple crisp and ice cream, banana chocolate chip muffins and yogurt that they make.  The owner and his son are Chinese.  We like them, they like us.  Lots of school kids go there for lunch since it’s just across from a huge middle and high school complex. 

We biked back to the boat with our veggies and some frozen chicken breast and meat from another small market we’d tried once before.  We hadn’t been on the boat long when Randal spied some young adult aged kids looking at the boat.  He invited them in for a tour.  Their dad, who worked for the Marine Department had come to the marina.


Emy 20 , Azreen 15,  Randal 61,  Arzliey 11,  Fetty 18

Emy had been to university in Kuching and worked trouble shooting problems with radio station transmissions.  Azreen was a cousin and is still in school.  Arzlie is also in school.  Fetty just finished high school and wasn’t sure what her plans will be.  I hope I have it all right. 

Now I’m working on this email and Randal is plotting our course through West Malaysia.  We have signed up to do the West Malaysia Rally which is run by the same people who did our East Malaysia. Even though the rally chooses the stops, cruisers have to get themselves from each stop with their own skill and knowledge. is the web site if you want to read ahead about it.  We had planned to go to most of the stops anyway so decided to just join on.  One of my favorite cruising friends Ken Jenkins from the boat Penache is also signed up for the rally.   Ken was actually parked next to us in Sebana Cove but it wasn’t until the East Malaysia rally that we really got to know him.  He’s cool. 

My Red Sox aren’t doing so well ( an understatement if there ever was one except that in the past they have come back from being even further behind!)  It certainly put me in a sad funk when they lost the second game.  Of course if you look at their pattern since 2004 they weren’t even supposed to make the playoffs this year.  2004 won the Series, 2005 got swept in the first round, 2006 didn’t make it at all, 2007 won the Series, 2008 lost in the second round ; so 2009 meant they weren’t even going to the playoffs.   But they are there and I WANT THEM TO WIN!!!!  

Now it’s time to make dinner.  Then we’ll read since the reception from our new TV dish isn’t so good.  Our neighbor boat said theirs wasn’t so good either.  Then we’ll go to sleep and start all over again tomorrow.

video clips

Hi Everyone,

  There are now some video clips posted on our website  that I took with my little camera not a video camera.  I am just learning how to do it so they aren’t great but do give the flavor of our travels just a bit.  There is also a slide show created by our friend Marie-Louise using photos that she and I took during her visit to us in Singapore.  She did a really good job of it.  One thing I will try to do is add more commentary when I create a video so you know more of what is happening.  The problem is getting them on our site.  I had to save them to a cd and mail them to Audrey our webmaster in Subic Bay.  Our connection was just too slow to send the clips by email.  Maybe that will all change but for now you can see what we have posted.

  We’ll be in Miri for about a week longer before we head back to Sebana Cove in West Malaysia.  This morning we have the Yankees-Twins game on ESPN on our new satellite TV.  Tomorrow it’s the Sox!  Go Sox!!!



We have TV !

Hi All,

  Randal and I now have television.  Randal and I now have a satellite dish which is why we finally have television.   Buying satellite service when you live on a boat and aren’t always in any one place very long had been impossible so far.  Here in Miri they seem to understand that even though cruisers move around, they are good customers who will maintain the service which subsidizes the real cost of the satellite dish hardware.  A cruiser here in the marina sent us to the shop he had used.  We biked there all excited and heard, “no have.”  “Never had.”  Hmm and RATS!  Then we biked over to our favorite hardware shop and asked their advice.  We were given the card of a satellite dish dealer and Randal called.  We also biked over to a second dish service storefront at the Mall.   They too were helpful but needed our passport to set up service.  We planned to return the next day but the first service called and that afternoon came to the boat to see us and set us up.  The next evening, Saturday, Peter and his wife Lena came with the dish to get us all connected. She had just come along to keep Peter company.   It took several hours of juggling wires and testing the best combination to get the best reception.  While Randal and Peter worked Lena and I talked.  Lena teaches piano and was very interesting to talk with.  At one point she had to drive home to feed their dog Lucky.  Finally everything was finished and they were able to go off for their Autumn Moon Festival celebration.  They were a lovely couple and it was more like making friends than having a satellite dish installed.  And now the Sox better win it all because we can get ESPN and they have the playoffs listed on the schedule.  We bought the Sports, Learning, and News channels.  We paid for a year’s service when we installed the dish so that’s all taken care of.  The total cost for the dish and 12 months service was $367 just about a dollar a day.  Hopefully we’ll be able to use the dish even outside Malaysia; Peter did say they were expanding their service but we will be in Malaysia through November anyway.


Peter and Lena

In December they will be going of to the US to visit LA, Las Vegas, the Grand Canyon and Hoover Dam.  They are connected to Amway and the entire company of 700 people will be going!

They had been to the US before.  But Lena was saying that since 9/11 it is more difficult to get a VISA.  They had wanted to drive the short way to Brunei to get a visa there, but since they are Malaysians and Brunei is a different country they must go to Kuching in Malaysia instead.  That means a flight there and back and perhaps an overnight stay.  Too bad paperwork makes things so complicated.  We encounter paperwork too even changing from one city to another if they are in different provinces of Malaysia. 


We do take it down when we make a passage and it can only be used at a marina.   At anchor the boat moves too much which interferes with the reception.  Apparently according to the Astro literature, rain also interrupts reception. 



Miri weather

Hi Everyone,

  I received a few emails asking if the horrible weather in the Philippines and other parts of Southeast Asia was effecting us.  No and Yes.  No, we are not being flooded and we are in safe marina.  But yes it has effected our travel plans a bit.  We can’t/won’t leave Miri for Sebana Cove until the waves calm down in the South China Sea.  Another super typhoon is supposed to hit the Philippines and that might cause us to have high winds even here in the marina.  During the last storm we did have strong enough winds that Randal put an extra line out to the dock to hold us steadier. The waves outside the marina that hit the beach next to us are pretty big: too big for us to want to mess with.  So we’ll stay here and wait it out. We knew the weather for crossing changes in mid-October so sort of factored it in.  For the most part our weather here is sunny and hot.   Yesterday cruiser friends came from Kota Kinabalu.  Their passage was bouncy but okay.  But just before they left the marina in KK had taken a hit. The fuel and pumpout station dock was uprooted and blown ashore and one boat broke lose so things did get a bit wild there.  Miri is a bit more protected with a spit of land between us and the sea.  We are supposed to be in The Land Below the Wind here in (Borneo) Malaysia after all.

  We have been thinking about our friends in the Philippines. Our friend and webmaster Audrey emailed that Olongapo had flooded very badly even weeks ago from heavy rains.  Our friend Carol who lives in Manila said her home in Manila was surviving the storm.  Yesterday I met a young man at the Miri Library who is from the Philippines.  He has come here to work as many Filipinos do because there is too little work in the Philippines.  He had studied to be a history teacher and was very articulate and sweet.  So was his K-9 dog Oscar.  (At least I think I have the dog’s name right.)  Chris’  family lives near the Philippines’ largest lake, Laguna de Bay 13 miles southeast of Manila.  He had called home and the family home had been flooded but they all seemed to be ok.  We certainly hope that all of our friends in the Philippines are safe and will continue to stay safe. 


Chris and Oscar.  Oscar is 7 years old and she is very calm.  Chris was working just outside the library and I stopped to talk because of the dog.  A very nice young man.


The library is the building in the back of the photo.  The small open-sided building on the right is where I met Chris and Oscar escaping the intense mid-day heat. 

It was school vacation and there were lots of students in the library sort of doing work but things were quiet because the computers were downstairs in a different room.  It was nice to see all of them actually and having all of those people in the room seemed to keep it from being as freezing as in my past visits.  On my way home I saw these two young boys taking advantage of one of the several pools that surround the library plaza area.  Can you see the hands making peace signs poking out of the water?  When the young boy surfaced he asked if I wanted to trade a ringgit for a dollar seeming to imply he’d give me the dollar though I’m sure he meant the other way around.  I told him that would be a bad deal since the dollar was worth more.  He knew he hadn’t a prayer I’d swap so he just smiled and waved as I walked away.  And come to think of it I only had ringits with me and no dollars which I do usually carry.  I really do like the library and spent 3 hours looking through art books, sketch books and books about Islamic law relating to women.  Wish I had a library card.  The collection isn’t large but it is very well thought out, up to date, “liberal” in its views and the books are in very good condition.  There is an older “circulating” public library about as far from where I am standing as the new library.  The plaza is sort of in the middle.  The old library is colder, noisier and they don’t let you bring in your back pack.  The art collection isn’t as good either though the staff is very friendly and helpful and very public library oriented.  The problem with both is that they are an hour walk from the boat.  If they were closer I’d go every day.  I walk because I’m not sure about leaving my bike though I think next time I will bike because there is a food stand just outside the door and a guard just inside the door so maybe my bike will be safe. 

So that’s it.  Thanks for thinking about us.