Travel Journal 1982 Day 5

Sunday June 20th 1982

Awake at 8:30am, got up and went for a swim. We were going to sunbathe but the rains came pouring down. When it stopped we went out for a game of tennis, but it started to rain again! Temperature was still 30˚C.

Suzie’s father came around this afternoon and we spent the afternoon chatting with him and Suzie’s friends. We’ve changed our itinerary, missing out KL and going straight to Penang and on to Haadai in southern Thailand. From there we’ll go on to Bangkok and Chiang Mai then back to Bangkok and over to Sri Lanka. We can’t go to Burma as it would take too long by boat and it’s expensive to fly.

We did end up flying in and out of Burma as part of the trip.

I met Wai Yin at 5pm. We went to the Wesley Methodist Church; great service. He’s a really nice guy. I didn’t know when I met him in London that he’s a doctor!

We walked alongside the river after church and Wai Yin showed me the poorer side of Singapore. Here, people live in small huts and it’s filthy. There is a mix of religious symbols and artefacts in the bushes with traditions from Muslim and Chinese faiths. Numerous altars lined the way. Wai Yin told me people used to come to die here, though not so much nowadays.

Half-sunk barges lined the river, mostly empty, but some with sacks of rice on board. Singapore was once a small fishing village until Sir Stamford Raffles landed in 1819. He brought the British over, who colonised it. It was taken over by what was then Malaya in 1963 and gained independence in 1965.

Skyscrapers are being erected throughout the city and the cost of living is rising. There’s no law against prostitution in Singapore and STDs are kept under control through regular checkups. Sadly, most of the girls in the sex trade are aged between 16-25 with many coming from across the border as the pay is better.

After the walk we met up with J, Linda finally and her friend Bu at the Satay Club. We ate from a steamboat where you cook raw food from scratch. Over the past few days I’ve eaten octopus, cuttlefish and pigeon’s egg. I feel sick at the thought of the last one. Tonight, I drank juice from a baby coconut which tasted different from what I expected. Wai Yin insisted on paying for the meal. We’ve hardly spent any money since arriving in Singapore and I’m beginning to feel guilty about it. Everyone we’ve met has been so hospitable.

It seems I didn’t write anything down for Monday 21st June so the next entry will be on 22nd.