1998 Diary

MAY


1st May

Welcome to May .... Andy Quinton is here and has taken over my diary but before he starts talking about what happened today I'd like to say ......* # $$

.......Right then I've got the controls now!

Todays' entry is the first of a three part special taking us from Friday to Sunday evening , and because it's a "special" I think I'm going to title each part. As you may have gathered, these specials are in depth so they will be a long read, but I'm sure you will enjoy them as they are fun packed, funny, scary, but above all true. So stick with it and enjoy.

POPEYE AND OLIVE SET SAIL.

I should have known that today was going to be different. Things started strange when I visited my, by now local coffee house. This particular morning I ordered a change from my usual, today I ordered a cappuccino. When I did the lady said to me "tall". Now at home I'm not, but the Singaporeans are all quite short so I said to the lady "yes I suppose I am around here". She looked puzzled. Then at a quick glance I noticed that the cappuccino cup sizes were written on the board. "Small, Tall, and Grand".What a plonker. I hastily confirmed a medium sized drink and went outside to drink it.

Having strolled around the shops for a while, I decided to return back to the apartment, and earlier than usual John returned. He had been to an Oliver rehearsal, of which I now know all the words and am thinking of applying for understudy.

The subject of dinner was as always first and as usual we went through the options;

John: ..right then....dinner.

Andy: Mmm. What do you fancy?

John: You decide..Indian?

Andy: Nah..had that last night.

John: Chinese?

Andy: Erm..had too much of that already. Nah.

John: How about Indonesian?

Andy: Indonesian. Hey that sounds a bit of alright ....yeah..Indonesian. Do you know a good place then.

John: Erm...how about Indonesia.

And guess what? he was deadly serious. A ferry to some of the nearby Indonesian Islands departed from the harbour at Singapore. So we threw a couple of t-shirts, some shorts, and a toothbrush into a rucksack and made our way to the ferry terminal. On arrival we asked at the check- in when the next ferry left, regardless of where it was going. It turned out that we could be on a ferry in 10 minutes if we got our skates on. So we did, and sure enough 10 minutes later we were on a Ferry to the Indonesian island of Palau Batam.

There were two things we hadn't planned on in our spontaneous moment, the first being that it was a bank holiday weekend and all of the Singaporeans went away for the weekend and usually they took up all of the hotels on the bank holidays. Guess where they all go?.....................yes Palau Batam! and guess who hadn't booked any accommodation before jumping on a ferry..............yes us. The second thing that we didn't take into consideration, became horribly apparent when we read what it said about Palau Batam in the lonely planet guide. Roughly translated it said that it was a dog hole, very expensive, dirty, smelly and "orrible". In fact it went on to say that the only reason that people go there is to get to somewhere else. Oh bloody brilliant we thought. here we are riding on the Titanic to some dog hole with nowhere to stay and nowhere available. Funny how conversation just kind of ends isn't it.

The ferry ride was about 45 minutes or so. Unfortunately for us it hadn't hit an iceberg and swept us away in the South China sea. We arrived at the port, and yes it was a dog hole. As we stepped off the boat we were greeted by a lady giving away Camel Lights (Cigarettes), oh thank you very much I thought, make my death here even quicker why don't you. Well now was as good a time as any to smoke myself stupid so I had some. John didn't though. Look where doing things without thought gets you, he'd had enough of irrational thinking today. Shame he didn't have that same thought an hour ago. We entered immigration where we presented the officer with our passports and boarding cards. They had miss-spelt Johns middle name on his boarding card, and it read John Olive Tranter. As we stood at the immigration desk the man read it out "John Olive Tranter" I couldn't resist it and began a Popeye laugh "huh guh guh guh guh guh..." the immigration officer looked up at me disdainfully and the cartoon laugh turned into a very serious cough. He stamped something and let us through to the arrivals lounge.....and then whollop!..Jeepers, creepers, I couldn't believe me peepers as Popeye used to say.

We were surrounded by little Indonesian Taxi drivers, all in need of a good shower, and some dental floss. They were all clambering for our business , pulling us, poking us, shouting at us, all frantic to have us in their car. My immediate reaction was... !*@+*$" Off !. And guess what John said?.....

"hello everyone".

We huddled together (the two of us ) and decided that one of them should take us to the finest hotel on the island where they served these little crettins poached for breakfast. We didn't care how much everything cost we just wanted out of this Indonesian version of The price is right. Finally we chose the shortest of the lot as we could beat him up if we needed to. And by co-incidence he was also the ugliest, and had the worst teeth, and for all we know he may have been without a bath longer than his dirty colleagues. He brought his car to us and that wasn't any better.It was a nail, and the interior looked like it had been used as a temporary home for the camels at Palau Batam city zoo whilst there enclosure was being painted. It had the odour of it too.

Our driver, Egor, as we naned him spoke a little English, which is fair play really because our Indonesian is below par these days, so we asked him to take us to the best hotel he knew. He reached down (godknows where) and pulled out a tatty, creased, dog eared pamphlet. It read: " Nice and Easy Hotel". mm I thought what kind of luxury hotel is this then. I flicked through the pamphlets pictures and it was the cheesiest, sleaziest place I'd seen since the open day guide book to the Soho "best massage joint 1983".We asked if he had anything a little more upmarket. Believe it or not he did. The laminated card described the "Batam View Resort". It was S$120 per night which suggested an improvement on the Nice n Easy knocking shop. We asked him to take us there, he murmured something and proceeded to the Batam View Resort. He obviously got commission on the other one, so was a little peeved that we opted for something that wouldn't give us cholera..

As we drove through the countryside, which consisted of grass, with a few trees, Egor turned to us and said:

"You want woman".

Oh no here we go we thought. He didn't mean to "cut us up some sandwiches". We turned to each other and laughed.

"No thanks" we replied.

"oh" he said, somewhat disbelieving us. He paused for a minute or so then added:

"I can get you one you know"

Yes I thought he probably could........but I bet he couldn't pull one.

Again we declined his kind offer, no doubt she lived at the Nice n Easy. We obviously made our point because he didn't mention it again. Well not for at least 10 minutes anyway. Finally we arrived at the"Batam View Resort ". It was a beautiful place, but was there going to be any room at the inn? Pray we did. This, after all was the busy weekend. We prayed a little more.......Please, please; let there be room, I don't want to go back to the Nice n Sleazy. John went in to see. He returned with his thumbs up. It was good news, there was room. We paid off Egor, and went into the hotel.

Yes Yes Yes this is it. The Hotel was massive all done out in a traditional Indonesian decor, fountains, air conditioning, warm friendly people. We had certainly landed on our feet. Thank goodness. The rates were very reasonable. We made our way to our room. Every staff member who passed us said hello with the warmest smile and they meant it. There gentle "good Evening sirs" was such a departure from Egors" you want woman?".

We booked a table for two at the Indonesian Bar-b-que, where we ate exotic food and watched traditional dancers perform in national costume. The Palm trees were lit by the flaming torches that burned from the poolside, and the waiters and waitresses smiled and served and made us feel right at home. It turned out that Indonesian food was a good choice.

Good job I didn't want baked Alaska for pudding !

Goodnight Indonesia...............Q

Andy in pool


2nd May

MAD DOGS AND ENGLISHMEN, FOOLS AND HORSES.

We awoke this morning to a bright, sunny and relatively humid free day. The view from our balcony overlooked the sea, with white sandy beaches to either side, palm trees and blue sea, only interupted by a tiny island or two. The outline of the downtown Singapore skyline was just visible on the horizon.

Our hotel price included a breakfast, so not shy in the food consuming department we made our way to the dining room. We were greeted with the usual smiling faces of the staff , who were more than willing to help us stuff our fat faces. Our breakfast was a buffet style with cereals, English cooked, continental, Chinese, Indonesian, Fruits, Fruit juices,tea and coffee..........................so we ate all of them.

We managed to pull ourselves away from breakfast to try and find a sunbed poolside. Even though it was still very early the sunbeds were going quickly, luckily we managed to get a couple with an umberella, for John's sensitive, baby bottom pearly white skin. (Iam soon to regret saying that)

The pool was big , blue and inviting, an invitation hard to resist. So in true English reserved behaviour I ran along the poolside shouting "come on ye Wolves" before jumping in causing a tidal wave. John, not seeing the funny side took the "pufta" approach, which is to make his way to the little "baby ladder" and lower himself backwards nice and gentlly down into the pool, and on being in up to his chest, looses the ladder turns and starts an immediate breast stroke. Well at least he was in. Whilst John continued his steady breast stroke up and down , and up and down the pool, I could be seen doing the usual Brit thing , like headstands underwater, where all is visible above water are two white chunky legs swaying all over the place, and because the pool didn't have any of those signs you used to get at the baths which read " no running, no bombing, no petting, (whatever that meant), and no smoking, I managed them all exept for the petting bit.

We spent up to lunch sunbathing, well I was in the sun, and John read the paper in the shade. (Does this guy know how to party or what). All morning we spent ordering drinks and signing for them, putting them on the slate, 'till we settled up on our departure at the end of the weekend. The final bill was to be put onto my Visa card, and I wasn't worried.........yet.

Surley it must be food time again. Ah yes it was, it was 12.30. John had seen in the hotel brochure that there was a seafood restaurant on the beach that was built on stilts and was literally on the sea. This was a good idea. As we made our way to the restaurant I noticed that I had become quite richly bronzed ...........sorry bright red from this red hot sun. So much so that the lobsters in the restaurant shouted "Daddy" as I walked in. The eatery was very nice all wooden, on stilts, and about 40 or 50 feet into the sea. There were tanks of fish in the entrance part, which was pretty, but a bit cramped for a couple of the bigger fish. We took our seats and ordered. Now John is not the biggest of seafood eaters so he was certainly entering into the spirit by ordering a Thai seafood soup to start and a funny sounding fish for his Entree. I had a similar starter, with a seafood and rice entree, only when my rice came for my entree I was waiting for something else to arrive like a sauce or something. I'd only ordered this particular meal because it said that it was topped with "fish floss" which I thought would be worth seeing. It wasn't, it was just rice with a couple of bits of shrimp in it, and I couldn't for the life of me find the fish floss. John was a little happier with his choice, especially when his plate came with MOBY DICK on it! My God this thing was huge. It was covered in a luscious dark sauce, and green herbs. It was a monster. The grin on his face was huge (Johns, not the fish). So he continued to tuck in to his Blue Whale whilst I proceded to eat my pathetic fish floss rice. Eventually we had finished, we settled the bill and left. On the way out of the entrance area I noticed something a little odd, a little different, what was it?...oh my goodness. Remember the squashed up fish when we arrived?....there were two of these big fish together in the small tank. Well there was only one now, he had the tank all to himself. There was no doubting it, they looked exactly like what was staring back at John from his dinner plate. John screamed and proceded to run from the restaurant, whilst I looked to see if there was a fish swimming around without any floss.

We made our way back to the pool and spent the rest of the afternoon ordering waiter service and sipping cocktails. Tough, but someones gotta do it.

By now it was getting on for 4pm, I was a bit knackered so what did John suggest we do, a snooze perhaps, a jacuzzi ?...no a blinkin' walk. So we strolled to the beach and round about. We sat and watched a woman having a windsurf lesson. She was hopeless, but she looked cute in her skimpy bikini so it was worth seeing how she faired.

By now I was very knackered , you know that sleepy kind of mood, a nice little snooze would have gone down nicely. So what did John suggest we do now?........a cup of tea. O.k I could just about manage that I suppose. We sat in the dining room had had a nice cup of tea, there was only us in there. The waiter, after serving our tea showed us some pearls his friend had gathered from the sea bed. They were beautiful, all different sizes. John asked him if he could see one. The waiter gave him one and John proceeded to do his "dissapearing though the hole in the elbow trick." When the pearl dissapeared the waiter was dumbstruck and proceded to laugh like a hyena. He grabbed Johns arm to take a closer lok at his elbow, he was totally baffled. However the witnessing of a magic trick is one thing, but the loss of a pearl is another. The waiters face turned from an innocent joy to a "where's my bloody pearl gone" on noticing the waiters concearn, John reached into the teapot where he pulled out the................tea-bag...........no sorry, the pearl. This was it. The waiter had just whitnessed a minor miracle. He was jumping around all over the place laughing his head off. He immediately went across the room to some fellow staff, and we could hear him jibbering away in his native tongue telling his colleagues what had happened, whilst re-inacting the magical moments step by step. John was very pleased with himself , this was the first time he had done the trick without some sceptic saying "ah that's easy, its up your sleeve".

After all the exitement surley it was time for a snooze. So what did John suggest.....a bloody bike ride!!!!!!!!!!! He jumped up before I could say anything, and ran out of the dining room, returning some five minutes later with a crash helmet on. "Right then" he said "we've got a couple of mountain bikes for an hour." Oh Lord why me ? He'd hired them from the hotel sports department, so we walked through the hotel looking like a couple of melonheads pushing bikes' I was slightly embarrased to say the least.

We hit the road, it was dusk by now. John suggested we cycle to the next beach resort, and I moaned like a little kid. As I have already pointed out, the scenery in this part of the world is supprisingly dull, and that's comming from a bloke who lives in Wednesfield, Wolverhampton, and travels to Morrisons in Bilston once a week. We continued, me moaning, and John saying how fresh the air was, how good cycling was for sunburn, wasn't that a pretty sunset, wasn't the chasis on this bike quite lightweight for such a sturdy handling response. We continued, past trees, past trees, past trees, and past the odd local, staring at us as we passed wondering what the hell was on the road. Tourists don't venture out of the resorts here (I wonder why?) so the locals don't see many outsiders, especially two fat white ones wearing pumkins on there heads, trying to do mid flow wheelies on bikes, whilst singing songs from the Billy Joel collection. I repeat, they must have been "confused".

Our hour was nearly up, so we headed back to the hotel, thank goodness, and guess what? .......I managed to get a nap.

We took a taxi ride to the next hotel for dinner. You wouldn't believe who came to pick us up to take us there. Egor! laughed, I nearly went for another bike ride. We made our way to his car, and as we approached it a lady got out of the back. Oh no we thought, he's brought a sample with him. Luckily it was his wife, and his young kid followed. Actually she was quite nice, and said hello to us. He took us to the next hotel where we enjoyed a meal, and were entertained by some local traditional dancers, and at one point they joined the diners from the stage and grabbed some of the audience members to join them on stage, this was time for my exit, but Lionel Blair with me couldn't resist a little footstomping, so pictures are enclosed.

After our meal we returned to our hotel where the Kareoke was taking place in the main bar. During the day we had been talking with a chap from Doncaster who now works out there, and has done so for a few years. He was o.k but a bit of a no-all kind of bloke and a bit of a wide boy. He was in the bar with two couples from Nottingham. They were jolly enough, and were saying that beer from there respective towns was the best, I got my two penneth in by saying Banks's was tops. They laughed and proceeded to take the mickey out of the accent, can you believe someone from Nottingham thinking we have funny accents. Anyway it was time for the wide boy from Doncaster to get up on the Kareoke. He sang "My Way" and we thought we'd get our own back on these gits. So we quietly and un-noticed took the flowers from the vases off the tables until we had a good handfull each, and at the climax of the singing Del Boys song we ran to the front of the stage and threw the flowers at him, showering him like they do with Pavorotti. The audience laughed, clapped and cheered at our antics, but Del Boy wasn't too pleased. We didn't stick around. We ran through the corridor laughing, and decided to turn in for the evening.

We didn' see Del boy again!

Goodnight Indonesia...........Q


3rd May

SPRITE, WITH NO ICE.

Well today is the final installment of this weekend special, and our morning began as it usually did...with lots of good food, and a fight for a sunbed. We are led to believe that a fight for a sunbed only takes place in Europe. This is not the case, infact the Singaporeans would give the Germans a run for their money. Today however, lady luck was not with us. All of the beds had gone poolside, so we had to settle for a couple of chairs and a table. This time I had to follow John in the shade under the umberella, as I was a nice painful shade of dark pink. We continued our decadant pleasure of ordering waiter served drinks and signing them to the slate.

You may recall the diary yesterday when John performed his dissappearing pearl trick. Well today he topped it, and he topped it big time. Today John walked on water. Yes you read correctly, ..just look at this picture I took of him:.

The plan today was to check out at midday and visit a town near to the harbour before catching our returning ferry to Singapore. After a final few laps of the pool, sorry did I say pool? I meant pool bar, we showered, and whilst John made taxi arrangements I settled the bill by visa, John would pay me his half in cash. I checked out and the lady gave me a bill for $409 dollars. "Hello" how much? I enquired if I now owned the hotel. Actually the shock was short lived because it translated into real money as "quite reasonable" at least that is what she said. I heard giggling when I left. John by now had hailed a taxi and guess who it was to take us to the city?...........................sorry no it wasn't Egor.

After a 20 minute ride we arrived at the Town of Nagoya. Now Nagoya is difficult to describe, not because I don't have a long repotoire of adjectives, it wasn't a matter of words, it was more a case of smells. Imagine muck spreading the roses at the local sewerage farm on a hot summers day. Yes? now you now what Nagoya was like. Just for the record though, there was a busy maize of roads chocka with cars, buses, bicycles, people, dogs, rats and probably botchulism. Streams of stench ridden water flowed through the streets. Street vendors would call us in to their emphoriums to browse their wares. No chance mate. The streets were dirty, the shanty buildings were in disrepair and the people looked as if they'd been to the Egor school of hygene. So did we get the hell out of there?........no..........we decided to find a dirty eating house, and guess what?.....eat there.We found a place. The waiters didn't speak English, we asked for a Sprite "with no ice" and a menu. We got our sprite but no sign of a menu. Then, two waiters came to our table with arms full of stainless steel plates containing all kinds of food, well at least I think it was food. They put all of the dishes on to the table. We looked at eachother. Did we miss something here? Does Sprite in Indonesian mean "GIVE US EVERYTHING ON THE MENU, WAITER". We looked around and noticed that everyone else on the other tables had the same as us. We were later to find out that you eat what you want, and they only charge you for what you do infact eat. The waiters know how much food is on each platter and at the end of the meal, count whats left, deduct it from what you had, and charge you the difference. Sounds complicated, so we've enclosed a picture.

This however raised a question with John and myself. Do they put what you don't eat, back on the shelf and put it on a fresh plate for the next customer. After observing we found our answer.....................YES! We were infact eating leftovers. My mom had always told me that hot food is supposed to be hot, i.e cooked and hot. This food, which by the way we had half eaten was..well..warm...well ..warmish. I'm still here to tell the tale and John as Iam writing this is singing his favourite song......"You gotta pick a pocket or two" so he must be o.k. Needless to say we didn't eat too much of the food, so we paid our bill and hastily left.

We had a walk round the town. It was the same on pretty much all of the streets, Dirt. So we hailed a car and asked the driver if 20,000 rupiah (indonesian equivilent of about 2) was enough to take us to the harbour. He muttered something and said "O.k misters" The drive was no longer than 10 minutes, but when the car got there he didn't pull in past the security gate, he stopped well short, leaving us about a 100yard walk, John enquired " Can't you go to the departure check in?" after all, all the other taxis were. He turned to us and said "Only for Taxi". We looked at eachother and looked puzzeld. "Aren't you a taxi then?" I asked. "No" he replied.

As we left the car we laughed, as this was an ordinary bloke, probably doing his Sunday shopping, when two white fellas jump out of nowhere and want to be driven to the docks for 2. We had assumed his dark car was a taxi. Well at least he earned a few bob.

We checked in o.k and had a quick wander around the duty free shop, and then waited for our ferry at the departure gate. Remembering my packet of Camel lights I was given on my arrival, I decided to light up, but the departure lounge was a no smoking area. The seats faced two big glass doors, through which you could see the jetty and the ferries docked thereto. I got up and asked the chap at the desk (who looked about 15 years old) if I could go outside for a fag, pointing to outside. At this he jumped up in a panic, ran through the glass doors, and along the jetty, chasing after a departing ferry. At the end of the Jetty he gave up the hopeless task of trying to stop the ferry. He turned to me, by now 50 or 60 feet away and shrugged his shoulders. I was gob smacked, I don't know what the hell he thought I said to him, but I didn't have the nerve to ask him again when he returned to the departure lounge, so I said "aah, never mind I'll have a cigarette outside while I wait for the next one.....alright mate?"

The ferry came and took us back to Singapore. We slept like babies on board. We had had one hell of a weekend. One surely never to be forgotten. It was certainly action packed, and if you managed to follow it, we hope you enjoyed it too.

Well its back to the last few days as Johns guest writer in the diary tomorrow but I plan to take it easy so you won't have to put up with me jibbering on. Mind you I said that last week!

Goodnight Singapore.......................Q


4th May


Today is "Star Wars Day" .... (may the fourth be with you!)

Deep concentration is now needed before my flight home on Thursday. Careful planning, and attention to detail are of utmost importance. Am I the new Prime Minister of Singapore, I hear you ask. Am I gathering top secret informaion of worldwide security. Have I been asked to save this crumbling world from a certain ecological disaster? In short the answer is, No. But it is nearly as important as that. You see the problem I have is....I need a suntan. The weekend saw me going pink, and I need to redress this imbalance, so today was beach day.

With my swimwear in my saddlebag, and two bottles on sun tan lotion, strapped to my legs like a cowboy, I pulled my stetson (baseball cap) down, shading my eyes. I saddled up my pony (shanks's) and made my way to the saloon (Starbucks coffee house). For all the people tuning in, now would be a good time to whistle the theme from the good, the bad, and the ugly. I pushed open the saloon doors, walked up to the bar (counter). My spurs were a janglin' (velcro straps on my sandals). I looked the lady straight in the eye. "Gi' me a red eye ma'am" (capuccino with chocolate sprinkles). She slid my drink down the length of the bar (actually it was self service). I took one gulp, and the saloon doors opened again. There was a deathly silence, on lookers left the bar in horror (probably late for work). It was a stranger from out of town (another tourist). I continued to drink my drink, and mind my own buisness. When suddenly the stranger spoke "cun yow mek us a a couple o cups a tea luv". I couldn't believe it, a couple of brummies. I quickly snapped out of John Wayne mode, finished my drink and hailed a taxi. Would you believe it, all this way and I run into someone who sounded like they lived in my street.

I visited the beach, again on the island of Sentosa, this time on the ferry, and not that horrible cable car. I found my spot and gathered the rays. I had fried bean hoon for lunch, sadly not topped with any fish floss.

I will keep you posted of how the sun tan goes, if at all.

Later that evening we did the obligatory "Raffles Hotel" thing. When we arrived we first took a look into the Jubilee hall at the hotel. Actually we sneaked in the back, as there was some scenery work going on at the time. Now I don't know if John has mentioned this to anyone, but he's playing Fagin in the school production of Oliver.................oh he has........................what every day? Well has he mentioned that it is being performed at the world famous Raffles Hotel?.............oh he has...... Well for all you listeners out there Jubilee hall isn't as grand as it sounds. It is a store room in the basement where they keep the fish floss. It could hold about 12 or13 comfortably. There are other grandly titled places there too. The mens toilets on the first floor are called are called " The Palace Waterfalls ". The janitors cupboard is called " The Ajax Arena ". The odd job mans shed is called " The Black and Decker Forum", Even the tea urn is called " The Brooke-Bond G-Mex Stadium", so don't be fooled by all of this Jubilee hall, Raffles hotel buisness.

Only kidding, the hall is quite a size, and it should be quite a production. There are posters outside, which exited John. So much so he bought dinner.

We couldn't visit the Raffles hotel without having the famous Singapore sling, in the Long bar. The bar is very colonial, bamboo, banana leaf fans on the ceiling, giving you the spirit of the Empire days. The custom is to eat the monkey nuts from the dish on your table, and throw the shells on the floor. Hitherto there is a constant crunching as people walk by. We ordered two "slings" and sipped merrily, whilst listening to the resident band. We decided to have another "sling" each before we left. It was time to leave, and as John bought dinner I thought I'd buy the drinks. BIG MISTAKE. Guess how much the drinks cost?... go on, roughly. Whatever you're thinking, doule it. $76. Yes thats $76. Nearly 40 for four drinks! I wish I'd have seen a price list. I had to pay by credit card, as I didn't have enough cash. Luckily I had it with me or we would have been doing the washing up in the "Jay cloth conference suite" ( the kitchens ).

Johns advice was to "wipe it out of my mind", what as apposed to my wallet! Anyway I have retitled the Singapore sling, to the Singapore "sting". We travelled back to the appartment where I headed for the " Slumberland Palladium ". You guessed it, bed.

Goodnight Singapore.........................Q


5th May

With all the excitement thats been going on lately I have neglected to take many pictures. So I thought I would catch up and re trace some of my steps around Singapore for the sole purpose of snapping the sights. I knew what I wanted, so I just jumped on the M.R.T underground and visited the sights quickly. It had to be quick too, as I wanted to get to the beach again to continue the sunbathing.

Having visited and clicked, there was only one place left, then I was done. "Raffles". Do you know how much 4 drinks cost me last night?..........oh you do. Sorry I'm supposed to wipe it from my mind. ($76)

I managed to stand in the middle of the road, without getting killed, and snap the main entrance to the Hotel in all its splendour. But all the time I could hear my Moms voice in my head, a bit like Norman Bates really, saying "didn't you get any photos of the inside". So I relented to the voices in my head and made past the Rolls Royces', The Mercs, and Jags to the entrance doors and lobby. Now John and I had had a conversation about the polite staff at the Batam Resort Hotel last weekend, about how they cope with arkward guests, or guests that are in the wrong, and need to be told, yet in a charming and polite way. Well today I found out how they do it. Bearing in mind that I was wearing my sunglasses on top of my head, shorts, open toed sandals, a whopping camera round my neck, and a Jamaica world cup football top, there was no way they were going to let me in the front entrance of this joint. As soon as my foot stepped into the lobby, two young bell boys appeared from nowhere, immaculately dressed, came to me. The taller of the tww put his hands together, as if in prayer, bowed his head and said " Please forgive me sir...but..". I stopped him right there. "No, I know" I interupted. He smiled and I winked my eye. I could have been arkward, and mentioned the $76 I paid for....... oops sorry (wipe it out of my mind). So thats how they do it, they just blame themselves!

I turned and left as all the rich people standing by whitnessed my humiliating exit. I held my head up high and thought "I've been thrown out of better places than this". Groucho Marx once said "Any club that would have me as a member, I wouldn't want to join". As this place didn't even let me in the door I hope I could return in time and hire the Presidential Suite. Yeah RRRRRRRight!

Later that evening I met John at an electrical goods shopping Mall across town, where he wanted to buy a portable video c.d. player. We clambered through 6 floors of shops, I was looking for a micro c.d. player, but had no joy. John got what he wanted at a great price too. He resembled Fagin when he was bartaring. Typecast.

We had a great Indian meal in Little India, then caught the bus home. Where I managed to watch some football on the t.v. (Arsenal lifting the title at home to Everton). I didn't see John, he was playing with his new toy. Ah bless him.

Goodnight Singapore..............................Q


6th May

Today is my final full day in Singapore. "Thank goodness" I hear you cry, no more of this inane waffle. Well its been fun for me to make a keepsake diary, so I can look back when the photograghs have faded, and recapture moods, events, thoughts, and above all, fish floss. By the time I finish, and fly home tomorrow evening, I would have been sitting at the computer for around 30 hours. These hours have usually been pre breakfast, although I have found myself tapping away well into the early hours. Todays entry shall be followed by an "entryette" tomorrow, a farewell paragragh or two, so if you can get past today, you're pretty much home and dry.

Todays entry however is going to be a little different. If I may I would like to recall some moments that didn't make the diaries, a kind of an out-take page if you like, little things I have noticed during the week that caught my eye, or my nose in the case of Nogoya.

Having been on the beach today, and seen some sights of the island, I met John at the ferry terminal where we made our way to Boat Quay to have dinner. Now Boat Quay is a quater mile long strip that runs along the riverside, and is littered with restaurants and bars. Outside the restaurants the owners, shove menus in your face, and try to persuade you that their restaurant is the best. With every step you take someone is trying to drag you into their eatery. At first it is quite amusing, but after a constant barrage of it, it soon becomes a nuissance, well it does to me anyway. John told me to smile and enjoy it. That advice was good............for all of 30 seconds, so I thought I'd change tactic, reverse the roles, and give them a little of the salesmans patter. The next person to pester me was going to get it. "...Hey mister you look like you need food, come sit down, I get you drink, nice cold beer sir, what you like to drink, here menu, lovely food mister....I give you good price mister......" Right then. As he shoved the menu in my face and flicked through the pictures of the food, I said "oh those are nice pictures, where did you get them done?" The guy was a bit confused. "These pictures are nice, but the lighting is all wrong. Your food could be made to look even more appetising simply by using a more complementary lighting." The man by now was looking around very confused. "Now then mate, I'm a photographer" I proceded to take out my camera."I can re shoot your menus, at a good price, what do you say? I can start tomorrow, I'll drop by at what....8 in the morning..9.. you like to sleep in huh lazy bones, o.k make it 10, get the cook to rustle up his best looking scoff, and I 'll bring all the gear tough guy, what do you say, come on talk to me," saying this at top speed threw him, by now he was just hoping I would leave him alone. John was cracking up, but before I could have another go he dragged me away.

Earlier in the week, I was walking through a market close to China town. I was browsing through the little shops and outside stalls. Now, in John's guest bathroom he's got a photocopy of some pages from a book, that prints lists of funny signs in shop windows or in hotels, that are written in English but don't make a lot of sense,or they are worded wrong because English isn't their first languuge, I'll give you an example, so hang on I'll just go and fetch it.............................................................................................................

.....................................................................right got it. Here goes. Outside a Hong Kong tailor shop the sign read " Ladies may have a fit upstairs ". In a Yugoslavian hotel room it said " The flattening of underwear with pleasure is the job of the chamber maid ", and on the menu of a Swiss restaurant it read "Our wines leave you nothing to hope for". Well you get the idea. Anyway I was walking through this market place, and outside a bag and luggage stall there was a sign that read " For sale, umberellas, for rainy days only". Yeah, no kidding Sherlock.

When I ride around on the underground here, my stop is called Somerset, but the next stop after mine is called Dhoby Ghaut. Everytime I pass it, and read it, I have to chuckle because it sounds like something icky that grows on your foot.

John has a maid who comes in twice a week to do the washing, cleaning and generally makes sure the house is tip top. I met her the other day, Tuesday I think it was, she is very nice, and she does a fine job. On Monday I realised that I had run out of clean underwear, as I am one of those strange folk who likes to wear two pairs a day. One for the morning, and on for the afternoon. I know it's silly. I decided to wash them in the washing machine and dry them outside. I did, and on Tuesday after the maid had gone I went into my room where all 14 pairs of underpants were ironed and placed on the bed, and get this..in colour order, From the darker charchoal grey through the shades, right up to the pearly whites. That is someone who takes there job seriously. Good on ya girl.

Well I think I'm going to leave it there. Well done you made it. The worst is over. Now all you've got to go through is the goodbye tomorrow, and because I'm not into the big, long, huggy huggy, kissy kissy goodbyes, you have only a little more reading to do before I sign off and hand you back to John.

Thats all from me today, thanks for tuning in.

Goodnight Singapore................................Q


7th May


Well today is the day. I'm off back to Blighty. I've just got time to do some last minute shopping, and get my things together before I depart. I leave Singapore airport this evening, and fly to Frankfurt with Qantas, and then pick up a British Airways flight to Manchester, arriving at about miday on Friday 8th. Have you noticed that there is no "U" in Qantas. Strange that.

I hope you have enjoyed the journal, as I've enjoyed sharing the experience, and if anyone is interested I may do the same when I spend two weeks in Clacton in July. However because I'm not on the internet at home, I will be displaying the diaries of that trip in the For Sale display cabinet at the Stars newsagents in Wednesfield.

Finally I must thank my host, Johnsi boy, For putting up with me for the last 10 days. It's been real. I hope his Dhoby Ghauts clear up before the opening night of Oliver.

So you surfers, you can get back to uninterupted coverage of the JT homepage, so be good, and for the last time, Goodnight, and Goodbye Singapore.............................Q


8th May


Phew! He's gone .... so it's back to my dreary twaddle! .... I'd better count the silverware first though .........

Today was a staff training day at school (no kids) which was followed by a tree hour Oliver rehearsal. One very tiny boy from Finland is taking the whole thing far too seriously. He's one of Fagin's gang and the distinction between the show and real life is not clear to him. He has been bringing me little trinkets he's stolen from other cast members!

Following the rehearsal we went for a drink and meal in the Hard Rock Cafe. It was still happy hour so prices were reasonable. Will we go back there for Sunday brunch though ?... Freeflow beer!!!

Happy Birthday Mom!


9th May


Went shopping ...to Malaysia!! Yes you can catch a bus into Johor Bharu which is just across the causeway. Bought some video CDs for my new player (very cheap). I am now the proud owner of digital copies of the films: Goldeneye, Mr Magoo, Scream 2, The Second Jungle Book, Waterworld, Moby Dick, Volcano, The Man in the Iron Mask, The Birdcage, Star Wars (Special edition), Evita and The Very Best of Sting and the Police.


10th May

 
So I got home, and the phone was ringing. I picked it up, and said 'Who's speaking please?' And a voice said 'You are.'


11th May

 
Another public holiday here in Singapore .... Vesak Day!


12th May


 
Holy flying vermin .... found a dying bat at school today ... so since I've been there I think we can claim more species than Madras Zoo (a terrible place).

Poured with rain between 3pm and 5pm ... I got absolutely soaked!


13th May



Hey Jaz ... if you are reading this before you leave the UK.. I've got your group a great deal for their stay in Singapore next week. I've booked you rooms at the Merchant Court Hotel. The guys who live in my apartment block and work at the hotel have got us staff discount!! It works out at 28 per person per night for a very nice, centrally located hotel with pool, gym, sauna, jacuzzi etc


14th May


Everyone got really excited when we heard the Oliver orchestra for the first time. This evening the main cast rehearsed their songs with the orchestra and despite the fact that it was the very first time the members of the orchestra had met each other it sounded great.


15th May


Found a good web site for getting cheap air fares from the UK:

Cheap air fares


16th May


Full, intensive day of Oliver rehearsing ... the last one at school .. the next one will be in the theatre itself. Only 5 days to go


17th May


So much to do and so little time to do it ... No time to write anything in the diary today .. woops I've just done it.


18th May


Things are looking pretty bad in neighbouring Indonesia at the moment. many of our students are Indonesian and their families live near the troubled areas. Shirley, the middle school secretary, received an email from her friend in Jakarta.

"Thanks for your email and your concern and prayer. How do you know that I sent email to Peter? I have been worrying about him. I left his and your telephone number at my office, so I couldn't ring you guys. Anyway, I am glad that Peter is home safe now. You should see the airport today, a lot of people get stranded. Because there is no flights. Many people are queueing for tickets. They also had problems with foods. The restaurants at the airport ran out of food. Shops and markets are all closed. Many malls were burnt down, including two shopping malls near my housing complex - about 500 meters. Luckily the crowds didn't go into the housing complex.

Cars passing are stopped and the passengers are asked to egt out and they burnt the cars. The crowds even went in to the toll road (the one to the airport) stop cars and robbed the passengers especially foreigners. At the business district, they took the cars out of the showroom and burnt them.

Tonight, I will be doing night guard joining all the other tenants to prevent the crowds from coming in. Just as a precaution. I tell you, yesterday was really scary for most of us. I must be careful too becauseI look chinese. Fortunately, in my housing complex there are only about

5 Chinese families. That's why probably the crowds just went pass. The shops at the street side at the front part of our housing complex were smashed. Last night, my wife and I took turn to guard the house. We did'nt want both of us go to sleep. One has to watch. My sisters live some where else in Jakarta and they are fine.

Yesterday, when the incident broke I went to work. My wife told me not to, because the night before when it was first started, I didn;t get home until 23:00 hours. That night I was supposed to meet Peter but we cancelled it.

You know 15 minutes later after I got to the office yesterday morning, the crowds were on their way to the chinese business district (near where my office is located). I then told my staff to go home and I left as soon as possible. On the road, all traffics from the other direction were asked to turn back. I was caught up in the traffic for about 15 minutes. At the street sides crowds stared to flock. It was scarry. Road block everywhere. Fortunately, I managed to escape the traffic and straight through the toll road. I got home at about 11:30 in the morning. By 12:00, one of the shopping mall near my place were smashed. Very lucky. The whole day yesteday, all we did was just listening ot news on the radio and tv, calling friends see if they are alright.

I mentioned above that there are many shopping malls were burnt and people steal all the things inside the malls. This morning they found nearly 200 dead scorcth bodies (of those people who steal).

At this time, it is drizzling. The situation in Jakarta is still quite but safe, so far, hope it will stop.

Anyway, thank you very much for your concern. Please send my regards to your family and please let Peter know that I am glad he is home safe.

God bless you, "


19th May


Dress rehearsal for Oliver!... and I've got the flu !!


20th May


One day to go .... Aaaargh ... we sat in the Long Bar at Raffles till after midnight getting more and more wound up about the show.


21st May

OLIVER! Opening Night


22nd May

OLIVER! Final Night


23rd May


The reviews:

"Brilliant Acting" Straits Times
"Best night's entertainment in Singapore" Singapore Independent
"Excellent performances" The New Paper
"Wow, that Fagin was hot stuff" Buisness Daily
"This show is an excellent catch" Angler's Weekly
"Bishop runs away with Vicar" Sunday Sport

Click here for some pictures taken at the show... not very many as I was a little busy sticking by beard on hair by hair at the time!


24th May


What a weekend... Still high from the show and Jaz's crew staying here for the weekend ... bedtime has been put back to 5am and the town's being painted a deep shade of red. How on earth am I going to get up for work at 5:55am tomorrow morning!

We've done all the major Singapore sights this weekend and bought four more VCD players and two camcorders when we lingered too long in a particular shop in Chinatown.


25th May


Jaz's crew have gone off to Batam for a couple of days giving me a chance to catch up with the jobs that have been neglected over the last few weeks.... (and to sober up)


26th May


Oliver cast and crew party. Jelly, trifle, balloons, pop and a sneak preview of the video they'd made of the show.


27th May


Jaz and friends return from Batam ready to fly back to KL this evening. They certainly went out in style ... as I got in from school at 3pm they had a drink waiting for me. By 4pm we were in my local pub playing pool, darts and drinking happy hour beer by the jug. 6pm back to my house for some shorts (alcoholic not tiny trousers) then straight to the bar at the airport.

After they had left I got on completely the wrong bus from the airport and ended up feeling rather ill on the wrong side of Singapore island!


28th May

 


No uniform day at school. Students had to dress as teachers and vica-versa


29th May


The professional photographs taken at Oliver arrived in school today (not too brilliant). I've scanned a few of them but they don't come out too well.


30th May


Hmmmm... a little problem. Because alcohol is so expensive here in Singapore, everytime I have been out of the country I've bought back some duty free (very cheap). Also visiting friends have brought bottles and I even won a bottle in the school raffle. I have now got less than three weeks left here and I cannot take more than one bottle out of the country. Is three weeks long enough to drink: 1 bottles of gin, 2 bottles of scotch, 1 bottle of vodka, 1 bottle of Bacardi, 1 bottle of brandy, bottle of Tequila and two bottles of wine (and a fridge full of beer!)


31st May


daysun.gif (220 bytes) There are over 11 thousand restaurants in Bangkok!

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