Saturday, September 24, 2011

Week 26

Monday as usual was spent in the shop. I forgot my shoes this morning so I had to work all day in jandals, which turned out to be quite amusing as I had to go to extraordinary lengths to avoid being seen by any of the bosses!
Had my first go at arc welding today. I must do more practice as that could be a very handy skill to have.

Wed. Sept 26    Wittenoom
Getting quite settled now and having no difficulty with the work. The mill takes a bit of getting used to but I am finding my way around better now.
After getting no mail since Singapore, I received 11 letters on Tues. Worked for 20 hours on Tues. That was worth 15 pounds 10s. I wish I could get a few more like that, then we could be back on the road much sooner. I should be easily in the financial clear by Xmas.
The intervals between diary entries seem to be getting longer, as there is less to write about. Had my first go at oxy-acetylene cutting today and found it to be dead easy, so I must practise some more.
That is one thing that I really like about Australia, If you can do a job, you are allowed to do it. There does not seem to be any of the stupid demarcation that has totally stuffed the shipbuilding industry in U.K.
I have spent less than 1pound since last payday. This is surely a record for me.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Week 25

Tues. Sept 18    Wittenoom
We worked until midnight on Sat. and then had Sunday off. Spent the morning reading and then went up the gorge for a swim after lunch to a really good pool with good diving places off the cliffs at the side. The water is wonderfully cool compared to the air temp.
Attended the Sunday night special at the movies; all seats 2/6s.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Week 24

Mon. Sept 10    Wittenoom
Not a great deal has happened since Wed, just work, sleep, and eat.
I must admit that things are not as rough as I thought they would be. About the only day’s work I have done was on Sun. in the mill. That is where the asbestos fibres are separated from the rock bands either side of them.
The process involves the material passing through a series of crushers and vibrating screens. Down at the bottom of the mill the pale blue fibres emerge from the last screen and are bagged and stacked ready for transport to Roebourne on the coast.
The mill is a shocking place to work in, as the level of dust in the air has to be seen to be believed. Apart from Sunday, I have just been acting the goat since I arrived here.
There are a few people here who have done the overland trip in one form or another.
Stan, the storekeeper did it in an old Austin, which was apparently quite an epic. Terry, one of the other fitters, did it in a V.W. while Allan Strachey hitch-hiked.
They are all up here with the same idea ― make a pile as quickly as possible and then depart.
The blokes in the next cabin to mine have not been sober one night this week. Noisy sods! They must be spending all their pay on booze.
Went for a walk this afternoon and climbed a small hill to get a few photos of the Gorge and the township. It was very quiet up there, as nobody else seems to have similar ideas of fun as I do.
Today has been a paid holiday-race w/end. The guy next door had his radio stolen last night and another chap had a rifle taken, probably by one of the hordes who have all come into town for the races.
I have decided to just write the diary up every 5 or 6 days.

Fri. Sept 14    Wittenoom
I have spent all week in the machine shop and am finding my feet well now. This is a really lazy job with at least half the time spent doing nothing at all.
On Wed. I moved from the camp to Steve Dykstra’s home. Another 2 pounds a week but it is well worth it. I now get all my washing done, a good lunch box, and first-rate meals. I also have a bed with sheets on―an unheard of luxury.
Old Steve is 62 and one of the fittest men of his age that I have ever seen. It is nice to be in a home again.
I received the news that Isobel and Roy Wood are to be married. Quite a shock.
The weather is starting to get warmer now, though the nights and early mornings are still cool. I received pay for one week today - 28 pounds clear, which is not bad. I will open a bank account after next payday.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Week 23

Mon. Sept 3    Perth 
Picked up my air ticket this morning and bought one or two items, such as overalls, socks, books, and food for tonight.
Back to the flat and got all packed up, ready for the morning. Spent the evening talking and listening to the radio before going to bed early for a change. Tomorrow sees another first; my first flight.

Tues. Sept 4    to Wittenoom
Up at 4.30. John ran me into Perth and I took the bus out to the airport. Boarded the plane at 6.15 and away we went via Mt Magnet, Meekatharra and Mt Vernon to Wittenoom.
The flight was a bit bumpy at first but it soon smoothed out.
There is a big change in temperature as this place is only about 100 miles from Marble Bar, which is the hottest place in Australia. Had to buy a bloody mattress!
The accommodation is rough and the food is bloody rough. I expect the work to be just as bad.
How will I cope? It is over 5 months since I last did any work, and I am not looking forward to the experience.

Wed. Sept 5    Wittenoom
Up at 6.30 and away to the machine shop, where I did nothing all morning and overhauled a gearbox in the afternoon. Back to camp. The toilets and showers up at the mine are better than those at the camp.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Week 22 - end of part 4

Mon. Aug 27 At Sea
All day spent, once more, on deck swimming and sunbathing. Went to the fancy dress ball as a Sultan and a good time was had by all. Finished up drinking with Colin and, later on deck with a wench.

Tues. Aug 28    At Sea
Colder today. Did not spend much time on deck, but spent more time reading and nattering. We attended the ship’s concert in the evening and played Scrabble until midnight.

Part 5 - Fremantle to Christchurch

Wed.  Aug 29    At Sea Into Australia 
Picked up the pilot off the mouth of the Swan River at 2.45 and spent the next hour or so exchanging addresses with different people.
Finally got off the ship at 5.30. Waited until 6.30 in case John came to pick me up. Gave up and took a bus into Perth, found the Y.M. and booked in.
No sooner had I done this than John arrived, so I booked out again. Went to a party at the home of some Manchester folk and finally got to bed at about 1a.m.                     

Thurs. Aug 30    Perth     
Up early and down to Perth City, and the offices of Australian Blue Asbestos where I got myself a job. Spent the rest of the morning getting chest x-rays and various other medical procedures.
On Tues, I will fly up to a place called Wittenoom Gorge. Apparently it is a very hot, unpleasant sort of place but the money is good.
Incidentally, I heard about this job while staying at Connell House in Singapore.

Fri. Aug. 31    Perth  
Had a lie-in this morning and, after a lazy breakfast, loafed around the flat and sat on the porch reading until 1.30. Went into Perth and walked along Riverside, very pleasant, too. This area of Perth is all greenery, and very clean. There is a big stretch of grass between the banks of the Swan River and the edge of the City, which is, itself, very clean and tidy.
Prices seem to be high but it may just be these 'cheap' pounds and us not being used to them!
Did some shopping and then came back and cooked a leisurely meal. John is working overtime.

Sat.. Sept 1    Perth           
John was working so I just lazed away the day.
Went for a short walk during the afternoon and watched people playing tennis, football and bowls. These Aussies seem to be a very active bunch.
Went into Perth for the evening, trying to find some nightlife. A task that turned out to be quite difficult. We eventually found a good pub, the Nedlands, where we had a jug of beer and then went for a coffee and a feed of fish and chips.
Perth nightlife is not up to international standards.

Sun. Sept 2    Perth 
Lay in and had a late breakfast. Afterwards drove around the Riverside areas of Perth, mainly Peppermint Grove and Nedlands, which is a very pleasant part of Perth.
The Swan River is very clean and there were a lot of people sailing. We drove to the coast and along the W.Coast road to Scarborough.
Drove back to City Beach where John had a swim, but not me. He has been out of the tropics a bit longer than me. Went down into Perth via Ocean Beach and had fish and chips for dinner – again!
We then went to the Lakeway drive-in cinema to see Tiger Bay. These drive-ins are a really good idea. And so to bed.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Week 21

Mon. Aug 20    Singapore
Picked 30 pounds up at the bank and bought my ticket. That was a huge load off my mind. I also picked up 25 pounds from home. At this rate I will have more money than I know what to do with.
Had to move back into Connell House ‘cos the old bitch upstairs was complaining about noise, drunken antics etc.
Saw some of the old Mack Sennet and Charlie Chaplin films in the evening.

Tues. Aug 21    Singapore
Up early and spent the morning reading and writing, then went out walking around town, arguing, haggling and buying nothing.
This had become a favoured occupation. We would decide on one item, say a National 10 transistor radio, and then go around all the shops we could find that stocked this particular item. Then we would haggle to find the lowest price possible. While this was going on, the shopkeeper would feed us cups of tea, coke etc. and it helped to pass the time, too.
After dinner read and then went to the Paradise Bar where I met a very nice Siamese girl called Stella. Nothing doing.

Wed.  Aug 22    Singapore
Spent all morning in the swimming pool. Ian and Margaret came down in the afternoon and we swam again. Margaret got thrown out for wearing a bikini. Had a few drinks in the bar and then dinner, on me for a change. Went to the Paradise Club later, with a bit better luck this time.

Thurs. Aug 23    Singapore
Very tired. Slept all morning and swam all afternoon. Bought a watch in the evening; Rolex Submariner, for 29 pounds.
Back to Connell House to see the film 'The Key'. Good, too.

Fri. Aug 24    Left Singapore                       
Spent the morning in the swimming pool. After lunch went into town to tidy up a few loose ends. Took some photos and then went back to Connell House to pack. This did not take long! Very sad.
Joined the Iberia and settled in at about 6 P.M. Went back to Connell House for my jacket and then rejoined the ship.
I then stood on the deck as we sailed and watched Asia disappear into the dusk.

Sat. Aug 25    At Sea
Spent the morning reading and having the odd beer. After lunch I got myself settled near the swimming pool where I swam and sunbathed until about 6.
Had dinner and then met Colin, Dennis and Ian’s mate who had been unable to do the overland trip with them.
Also met Rosalyn, Kay and Margaret, all Aussie girls returning home. I had met Margaret before, in Innsbruck, five months ago!!
Had a couple of drinks and then turned in.

Sun. Aug 26    At Sea
All day spent on the sun deck, swimming, sunbathing and idly solving the world’s problems. Had a couple of drinks with Ann in the evening and later watched a short film on life in Australia.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Week 20

Mon. Aug 13    Singapore
Spent the entire morning swimming, had lunch, and then snoozed until 4.
Don Wood picked me up and took me to his place where I had dinner with him and his wife, Barbara. They are a very nice couple.

Tues. Aug 14    Singapore
Went into town and picked up a letter from John.
He seems to be doing O.K.. If all else fails, John will work long enough to bail me out and buy me an air ticket to Aust.
While walking along Collier Quay I met an old school friend from Wallasey called Brian Laurence.
I did not recognize him but he stepped in front of me and asked “Are you Tony Stead?” As I saw no profit in denying it, I confessed that I was, indeed, Tony Stead.
This was the point at which doors started to open and my situation started to look much healthier.
Went to the Australasian Shipping co. and have to go back tomorrow - fingers crossed.
Had a few drinks at lunchtime with Brian and then went swimming in the afternoon. Had more drinks with a large American sailor. After dinner got taken to the Singapore Cricket Club where we had lots more beer with Brian and an Australian called Graham.
Eventually finished up at the house of Ian and Margaret Cavanagh. They have invited me to stay with them. A somewhat alcoholic day!

Wed.  Aug 15    Singapore
Didn’t get the job. Spent the entire morning walking around all the shipping agents in town, again. Very tiring.
After lunch made an abortive attempt to get onto the Leise Maerske.
Packed my gear and rang Ian. Met him at the Cricket Club and we had a game of snooker before he took me home. Met Art Creasy and his blonde, English girlfriend, Margaret, who seems to be quite a globetrotter. She is also a bit of a liar.

Thurs. Aug 16    Singapore
Lay in until 10, and then went downtown to the G.P.O., where I collected a letter from Roy Wood. There is 30 pounds in the system somewhere. No money at the bank. Tried a couple of shipping agents, no-go. Went back for lunch. Visited the Straits Steamship Co., no-go.
Went back to Connell House for a swim and then to Mt Elizabeth and the Cricket Club for dinner. Had a couple of drinks, a game of snooker, and so to bed.

Fri. Aug 17    Singapore
Things are looking up. Got the offer of a passage on a ship to Fremantle, sailing on the 24 Aug. Apart from the general lack of shipping between Singapore and Australia, there is a long waiting list for cancellations. However, during one of our more alcohol-fuelled evenings I was introduced to the manager of Thos. Cook who told me to visit his office.
When I did, he said, “What list?”  and promptly offered me a berth on the Iberia which I have provisionally booked.
Still no money, though. Didn’t go anywhere during the day and went out boozing in the evening to Gavin Needs’ place.

Sat. Aug 18    Singapore     
Stayed in for the morning. 30 pound has arrived from U.K. so I have confirmed my booking on the Iberia. Went to the Club and had machan there and a few beers then early to bed. Oh, the relief - to know that I am getting out!!!

Sun.  Aug 19    Singapore
Lay in until 10ish. Late breakfast and down to the Club for curry Tiffin. Very good, too. Started drinking at 2 and carried on until 10. Very drunk. Disgusting.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Week 19

Mon. Aug 6    Singapore
Up to Fort Canning in the morning to get my cholera vaccination renewed.
Met the girls in the afternoon and went swimming at Connell House. Spent the evening reading.

Tues. Aug 7    Singapore
John took the land rover to the docks at 6 AM. and returned at 8.30 with it safely stowed and on its way to Fremantle.
Spent the rest of the morning arguing/bargaining and buying nothing. Went for a swim in the afternoon, as usual.
The girls had dinner with us at the Chinese Y.M. as it would be our last meal together, probably ever.
Walked back into town with them afterwards. We have decided to go separate ways.
John and Dulcie still have enough money to fly out to Australia, so that is what they will do.
Jackie has about 22 pounds left which she is going to spend on a ship to Hong Kong where she has some contacts. Talk about going out on a limb!!
As for me, well I am going to remain in Singapore and try to get a passage on a ship, or borrow enough money to enable me to fly out.

Wed. Aug 8    Singapore
Packed our worldly possessions up and I moved into Connell House. Living in the lap of luxury for $6 a day, all found.
Walked into town to try to open a bank a/c but, no-go so deposited money with Connell House.
Spent the afternoon swimming and reading.
Went to Raffles Hotel to see John and Dulcie off. It was very crowded at the airport so we did not stay long. Walked about town for a while, had a meal at a roadside stall, and then walked home.

Thurs. Aug 9    Singapore
Walked down town and there was a telegram for me from Roy Wood: “Belay. Top rope follows” That is encouraging.
Got my passport stamp renewed and met Jackie. Did a walk round the arcades and then back to Connell House.
Read and dozed after dinner. Jackie came down to the house for the film show in the evening. We saw 'Third Man on The Mountain', again. Walked into town afterwards.

Fri. Aug 10    Singapore
Went into town early but no money, only a letter from Joan. Spent the rest of the morning answering same. Had a nap after lunch, and then went in the swimming pool until dinner time.
Sat in the mission reading and then took myself off to the Straits Cabaret. Nearly clicked, but not quite.

Sat. Aug 11    Singapore
Went to bank and P.O. in the morning but nothing doing in either place. There will be no money until Tues. at the earliest now. Dennis still knocking about town. Went back for lunch.
Met Jackie again at 2p.m. and we set off in search of the M.V.Laos, me carrying a cardboard box on my head like a bloody coolie.
Saw her settled in for her trip to Hong Kong, and then discovered that we were at sea.
Finally got back ashore in the pilot boat. That was a close call.
Spent the evening in the Y.M. talking to an American, an Argentinian, and a German.
That place is a regular league of nations.
And then there was one.

Sun. Aug 12    Singapore
Went to the Y.M. and picked Dennis up. Spent the morning swimming at Connell House.
Had lunch and then a snooze. Read until dinner time then wandered across to the Flying Angel Club for the evening. Saw several interesting film documentaries and afterwards got myself invited to dinner on Mon. night

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Week 18

Mon. July 30    Penang to Butterworth

Woke to find it pouring with rain and us very wet, so we moved under the veranda of the hut and cooked breakfast. Had a swim afterwards in a really rough sea. It started to get wet under the veranda, too, so we went and had some fish and chips in Georgetown. They were good, too. Went from there to the British Council reading room to read and write letters. We did our shopping and then crossed back to Butterworth where we reoccupied our old campsite.

Tues. July 31    Butterworth to near Ipoh
Drove to Ipoh and had a look at some of the famous cave temples. You climb hundreds of steps to get into these enormous caverns, which are all richly decorated with dragons and various statues of Buddha.
Found a camp-site in a jungle clearing and settled in. Dulcie says there were tigers and bears crashing about near us. I don’t believe her, myself.

Wed. Aug 1    Ipoh to Port Dixon
Late start. Drove to Batu Caves outside Kuala Lumpur. Again, very impressive limestone formations with huge stalactites. Passed through K.L. without stopping and made straight for Port Dixon.
Set up camp on the beach and swam, lazed about and just generally enjoyed being in such a beautiful spot. It is a great pity, but our little holiday is almost over.
It has been so good to travel so relaxed, without any sense of urgency and to be just tourists. When we get back to Singapore we have all the headaches of getting the land rover on a ship and then trying to find some way of getting ourselves to Australia.

[First diary ends here]

There is a 5-day gap in the diary now. I guess not very much happened in those first few days back in Singapore.


Friday, July 22, 2011

Week 17

Mon July 23    Cameron Highlands to Butterworth
Miles 206
Spent the morning looking around the Highlands and then motored on to Butterworth through really beautiful country.
We are camped right on the beach here and we saw the most wonderful sunset this evening.
However, we have a new hazard in our lives, coconuts. It is necessary to exercise great care when deciding where to set up the camp beds to make sure that we are not in the line of fire. You hear them falling all around and the evidence is there in the morning.
Figure 4.14: Butterworth

Tues. July 24    Butterworth to Trang
Miles 243 
A beautiful run, first along the coast and later through thick jungle. The people are embarrassingly friendly. Drove via Alor Star to Trang. The last stretch of the trip was through a national park. Very scenic country.
We started to pitch camp by the roadside, as usual, when a whole lot of villagers came out and started picking up our gear and carrying it into the village.
We thought it would be a good idea to follow it, which we did.
The headman shepherded us into a hut, some of the women brought food, and they showed us a makeshift shower that they had rigged up just outside the house area. They were extremely kind to us.

Figure 4.15: Thai villager

Figure 4.16: Trang

Wed. July 25    Trang to near Takua Pa
Miles 253
Up early and had a traditional Thai delicacy prepared for us. It  consisted mainly of fried bananas and it was very nice, too. Got away and then drove like hell until nearly at Takua Pa.
Had lunch and discussed our chances of making it through to Bangkok. It was going to involve some serious driving and there was always the chance that the monsoon rains would render the road impassable as the next 400 miles was unsurfaced. We decided to go back and enjoy a leisurely drive around Malaya instead. This seemed a much more sensible option as we had a deadline to meet to get the land rover on a boat in Singapore.
So, we about turned and drove back to near Krabi.
We are camped for the night in a garage attached to a house.
Drove through some interesting limestone country today.

Thurs. July 26    Krabi to Phattalung
Miles 141
Had a leisurely breakfast and a late start. Drove to Trang where we did our shopping. From Trang we carried on to Phattalung. Just as we were passing a little village we got a puncture. We had a hell of a job getting the inner tube back in, It took us about 2 hours.
The villagers invited us in and gave us covered sleeping space in the market and then brought us food.
Terrific people, dead friendly. Since entering Thailand we have met nothing but kindness.

Fri. July 27    Phattalung to Songkla
Miles 84
Up early to find ourselves surrounded by what seemed like the whole population.
Had breakfast, took photos and hit the road. Drove via Sadao to Songkla, where we found a very fine beach. Spent the rest of the day writing letters, reading and sleeping.
Bread and potatoes are impossible to get here so we are existing mainly on fruit, which is astonishingly cheap. About 4p for a whole branch of bananas!
Our beach is quite something and, so far, we have not been troubled by any malignant marine life, though we have heard rumors about sea snakes.

Sat. July 28    Songkla to Butterworth
Miles 145
After an early dip in the sea, on the road in a sharpish thunderstorm. Drove to the Thai border and got through after a lot of argument. It was an expensive crossing.
Carried on to Alor Star where we did our shopping. Made tracks to Butterworth and reclaimed 'our' bit of beach.
Once again, we had a beautiful sunset.
Figure 4.15: Butterworth
Sun. July 29    Butterworth to Penang

Lazy breakfast and across to Penang on the ferry. Drove along the beach until we found a fresh water stream crossing it. Did all our washing and had a swim, then took a tour right around the island. Great scenery. Went for a Chinese feed at the Hong Kong café. Had a marked difference of opinion over the bill. We won. Went to see Blood and Bones at the pictures and bloody awful it was, too.
Drove back to our bit of beach and turned in near the scout hut.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Week 16

Mon. July 16    Singapore
Hospital again for a change of both treatment and doctor. Swelling still getting worse―down to my wrist now.
Met the girls and did the usual round of travel agents and banks, very tiring. Eventually signed on in the Chinese Y.M.C.A.. We can stay here for about $2 a day - all found. It is full of interesting, young travelers, mainly Australian. Had a good Chinese meal for $1. Had a haircut after tea and then got dragged out to go bar crawling.
After a strange sort of evening we got to bed about 3 AM. Some of the others had a rough time, getting beaten up, chased by gangsters, and then robbed into the bargain.

Tues. 17, Wed. 18, Thurs. 19 July    Singapore
Time spent in and around Singapore making arrangements for our trip to Australia. At least everything is very central here. The girls are getting their land rover repaired after all. My arm is responding now that I am having daily treatment.
We have a few problems, such as finding a boat to Aust. for us and the land rover that is not booked solid for months to come. Another difficulty is money as the shipping end of things is way more expensive than we had been expecting. I have been making inquiries about working my passage but I will need to stay at Connel House for that to happen.
Another possibility is the great cod-liver oil caper. Where you wear a white coat and travel round with a Chinese salesman who introduces you to prospective buyers as our chemist from London, Zurich, Munich, depending on your nationality.
It seems as though John has enough cash to get himself and the land rover out and I can always look after myself, one way or another. Almost all the travelers at the Y.M. are waiting for funds to bail them out!
One thing is clear; staying in Singapore is not a good idea ‘cos it is too dear.
With that in mind we have decided to head away up country for a couple of weeks. We have unloaded some of our gear to make extra room and Dulcie and Jackie will travel with us while their land rover is undergoing repairs.
Sally has disappeared and Dereck left us in Calcutta to hitch-hike back to U.K.

Fri. July 20    Singapore to Malacca
Miles 167
The hospital signed me off so I met the others downtown.
We got on the road by 12 and crossed Singapore Island to Johore Bahru. Entered Malaya and drove up the coast to Malacca.
This was a beautiful drive, which took us to a beautiful town. It was good to be on the road again!
Found the Malacca Swimming club and sweet-talked our way in where we swam for ages. In fact, we are camped for the night in the club grounds ― right on the beach.

Figure 4.9: Mallacca

Sat. July 21    Malacca to Port Dixon
Miles 61
Drove in leisurely fashion to Port Dixon and selected the best bit of beach. After buying food we settled down for a day of lotus-eating.
We swam, slept, sunbathed and read, while occasionally eating banana butties. A very pleasant day spent on a really beautiful beach.

Figures 4.10,11,12: Port Dixon

Sun. July 22    Port Dixon to Cameron Highlands             
Miles 225
Rolled off our camp beds and straight into the sea to start the day with a swim. Then breakfasted, packed up and headed off towards Kuala Lumpur. Got to K.L. about 12 and had a very bad chicken and rice.
Drove on up into Cameron Highlands which is a hill station about 5000 ft above sea level. We are camping in the jungle just outside the town. It is pleasantly cool.
Figure 4.13: Cameron Highlands

Week 15

Mon. July 9  At Sea
Usual lazy time. Weather bad, so no sunbathing. Read, slept and talked. Nothing new to report.

Tues. July 10    At Sea
Another day, just like yesterday, with nothing at all to do, smashing!
Played cards; rummy and seven-up. Slept in the afternoon and then played cards again until after midnight.

Wed. July 11    Penang
Got ashore after lunch and went to see the Chinese snake temple.
John and I photographed each other with vipers coiled around our necks.
Figure 4.5: Snake temple, Penang.

From there we took a trip on the Penang hill railway. There were terrific views from the top but it was a bit overcast for photography.
Back to the ship for chow and then ashore to the Mariner’s Club. Met up with the cook and the chief steward off the Maron and got wonderfully drunk. Also present was Jimmy, the Aussie junior eng. off the Santhia. Went back on board and carried on drinking with some of the 1st class passengers. Had words with Neil, the other Aussie junior. His mouth is a bit too big for my liking.
Thurs. July 12    At Sea
Ate, slept, drank, played cards, as usual.
Some of the friends we made: Toby the Dane, Sherwood the American, and not forgetting Dennis and Ian from Brisbane who will appear again in this story.

Figure 4.6: M.V. Santhia from Singapore

Fri. July 13    Into Singapore
Ship docked early and we went ashore as soon as possible to make inquiries about the next stage of the journey. We found several leads that looked promising. We will follow some of them up later.
Made inquiries at the Y.M. re accommodation but it was much too dear for us.
Land rover unloaded O.K. and is stored in a warehouse overnight.

Sat. July 14    Singapore
Left the ship early in the morning and, after a fantastic amount of messing about, managed to get the land rover off the docks by about 12.
Took myself up to the British Army Hospital to get my elbow seen to, then we motored up to Changi Beach. I was feeling so ill that I had turned in by 4.30. 

Later in the evening a whole lot of people arrived and started having a barbecue with loud music, dancing, and general jollification. Eventually we gave in and moved away.

Figure 4.7: singapore

Figure 4.8: Singapore

Sun. July 15    Singapore
Up early and away to the hospital, as I am still feeling lousy. Found Connel House (the Seamen’s refuge) where we had a good lunch and the use of an excellent swimming pool. All this on the strength of my merchant navy discharge book.
Felt ill again in the evening. We drove for about 40 miles looking for a place to sleep. Finally slept out on a patch of grass right in the middle of town.

Week 14

Mon. July 2    At Sea
6 A.M. bed tea. It was too hot to sleep so I got up and did a pile of washing. Breakfast was at 8.30.
Afterwards we loafed and read and walked about the deck until lunchtime. By this time we were moving down the Hooghly River. Turned in until 4.30 P.M. then sunbathed on deck until dinnertime.
We spent the rest of the evening in the lounge and on deck.
We went down into the hold this morning to look at the girls’ land rover, which had been dropped by the wharfies while loading it. Apparently it had landed across a coil of wire and the chassis is badly bent. It will be a big job.
Weather - hot and cloudy.

Tues. July 3    At Sea
Passed the morning reading, talking, and sunbathing. Arrived in Chittagong at 12 noon. It is a mangy looking place if ever I saw one. Passed the afternoon in slumber and the evening in writing.
Weather – hot.

Weds.. July 4    At Sea
Spent the afternoon in my customary fashion.
Later, John and I got mixed up in a booze-up with some of the engineers. Finished up in the 3rd engineer’s cabin at about 2.30 A.M., drinking with him and the Chief engineer. We were all quite drunk. The 3rd engineer was later found asleep in the W.C.
Weather - can’t remember but I think we had some.

Thurs. July 5    At Sea
Left Chittagong about noon. John and self not at all well this A.M. Dulcie decidedly unsympathetic!
Spent most of the morning in bed, and then the afternoon sunbathing. Sea getting quite rough by teatime.
Had an early night.
Figure 4.1: Sunbathing aboard M.V. Santhia

Fri. July 6    At Sea
Sunbathed and scratched about as one does at sea. Read a bit, slept a little, and just plain sat for a bit. Sea quite rough today, great.

Sat. July 7    Arrived Rangoon
Got in at 8 A.M. and anchored in the river. The morning was spent getting Burmese visas so we could go ashore after dinner. John, Reg, Sparks and the 3rd mate invited us up to the Rangoon Yacht Club.
We had a marvelous afternoon sailing up and down the lake, must have another go at that sometime.
We were sitting on the terrace afterwards, having a beer when a great rattling noise broke out. It sounded just like kids throwing gravel on the tin roof.
We looked around to see that we were the only ones still sitting at our table, all the others being under theirs.
The noise was rifle fire over by the university. Later we saw the tail end of a skirmish between students and police when we followed a jeep back into town, which was carrying two people who had been shot, one through the back.
Back on board, we went up to Reg’s cabin to drink beer and view slides. Got waylaid on my way back to our cabin by a Scots couple who insisted that we go back with them and drink more beer. It’s a hard life!

Sun. July 8    Rangoon
Wet morning so we stayed on board. Staggered ashore after lunch and made our way to the Shwei Dagon Pagoda, which is also known as the golden pagoda on account of its being covered in fine gold leaf.
The whole area was interesting as there were lots of smaller temples and pagodas, with people coming and going all the time. Bought a new pair of straps for my ying-tongs after a lot of bargaining.
Figure 4.2: Rangoon

Figure 4.3: Shwei Dagon Pagoda. Photo by John Ireland

Figure 4.4: Shwei Dagon Pagoda

Monday, June 20, 2011

Week 13 - end of part 3

Mon. June 25    Calcutta
Went to the bank in the morning. Our money had arrived so, after a lot of formalities, we cashed it.
After lunch we went to the swimming club and got ourselves signed in without too much trouble.
Halfway through the afternoon it started raining with a vengeance. For the first time we were out of the water before dark. Spent the evening at the Y.M. writing letters
Weather - warm and wet.

Tues. June 26    Calcutta
Went to the shipping office and paid for our tickets. From there we went 'home' for lunch.
Lay around after lunch and I eventually drifted out. Walked around the market, then the museum and met Jackie, Dulcie and Dereck.
Had a snack and then went to meet Leslie. Took her to see Psycho and she found it rather scary. Afterwards we had a meal at the Kwality restaurant and I took her home in a taxi. Later found John and Dulcie in the Mogambo Club, from there we repaired to Isaiah’s. We saw Dulcie home and then went for a meal.
Weather - hot and humid.

Wed. June 27    Calcutta
Spent the morning shuttling between the shipping office and The A.A.
After lunch managed to get into the swimming club. We are becoming quite expert at this!
Met a lad from Wallasey off the M.V.Rosebank.. He invited us back to the ship for a look around this evening.
Left the pool about 6.30 and set out for the wharf where we found the wrong jetty and had to pay to get out to the ship.
Once on board we had a couple of beers and a conducted tour of the engine room. We left the ship at 11.30 and went for a snack at the Lahore. And so to bed - a very pleasant evening
Weather - hot and sticky.

Thurs. June 28    Calcutta
Spent the morning at the botanical gardens and found the great Banyan tree, 200yrs old and with so many roots that you can’t tell one from t’other.
Back to the pool after lunch at the Y.M and gained entry with little difficulty, and immediately became involved in a rum and coke drinking competition with Les and Doug, 5th engineer and Chief electrician off the Rosebank. We had a very enjoyable afternoon.
Back to the Y.M. and then took Dulcie to see 'The Big Country' after tea. After the pictures went for a walk down Chowringhee. Saw an owl, Dulcie got very excited.
Weather – hot a.m.., overcast p.m.
Fri. June 29    Calcutta
Went to the shipping office to make final payments and then straight to the pool for a swim.
Had a gorgeous steak lunch with an American guy called Marty. Spent the afternoon loafing, and then went back to the club in the evening for the social and dance. A very enjoyable evening was had by all.
We have scored a visit to a jute-mill tomorrow afternoon and another evening of drunken merriment on the Rosebank to follow.
Weather - fine morning and wet afternoon.

Sat. June 30    Calcutta
Met Leslie at the market and took a taxi out to visit a Jain temple, which turned out to be a really beautiful building.
From there we went back to Chowringhee and thence to the Victoria Museum. It was very hot.
Leslie gave me a silver 'laughing Buddha'; a Bengali good luck charm, and we said goodbye.

Sat. June 30    Calcutta
Met Leslie at the market and took a taxi out to visit a Jain temple, which turned out to be a really beautiful building. From there we went back to Chowringhee and thence to the Victoria Museum. It was very hot. Leslie gave me a silver “laughing Buddha”-a Bengali good luck charm-and we said goodbye. 
Figure 3.23: Leslie at Jain temple
Met Johnnie Davis after lunch and he took us out to Jardine’s Jute Mill. After showing us round the mill, he introduced us to the swimming pool and gave us an excellent meal before dropping us off at the docks.
We went aboard the Rosebank but nobody else was there, so we had it to ourselves. Went back ashore. On the way had an argument with the boatman - we won. And so to bed.
John took the land rover to the docks this morning. It was like saying goodbye to an old friend
Weather - hot and sultry.

Sun. July 1    Leaving Calcutta
Had a lie-in until 10 a.m.., and then went to the swimming club. Swam and loafed until lunchtime when a beautiful salad appeared, which we made short work of!
Swam and played until 3 p.m.. then did the round of goodbyes to all our friends: Mr and Mrs Mukerji, Dipak Roy, Mr and Mrs Sinclair (The Chief Engineer of the Rosebank and his wife) and all the other friends who had helped to make our stay such a pleasant one.
Took a taxi to the Kidderpur docks and, after the usual formalities, went on board the M.V.Santhia and settled in.
Quickly found the bar and made the discovery that beer only cost 62 pice a bottle. (approx 10p) We thought that maybe we had died and gone to heaven without our noticing!!
Had a couple and then went to dinner. And very good it was, too. Spent the evening drinking beer.
Weather - hot and sunny.
Figure 3.24: M.V. Santhia
A Confession
The only time we got seriously ripped off financially was in Calcutta.
The official exchange rate was 13 Rupees to the Pound, but we had been getting 23/24 to the pound in the bazaar. Just as we were about to change a large sum of money to pay for our passage to Singapore, we were warned that we would have to produce a banker’s receipt to show where we got the money. We could see no way round this so we changed at the official rate, at a bank..
Later we discovered that for about 5 pounds we could have bought a banker’s receipt! As they say, you live and learn.