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Around the World in 80 Days

Day 33: 27 October

Michael Palin - Around the World in 80 Days'Cotton fabrics . . . leather . . . some dangerous cargo.' These are the ones with skull and crossbone markings and the word 'hazardous' stamped on the side.

We have one and a half thousand miles to go to Singapore. The sea is calm, the sky clear and sunny.

Lunch on board the Susak is at 11.30, and supper at 5.30, which takes a bit of getting used to, but it's all based around changing watches.

The cuisine is relentlessly carnivorous, and comes as a complete contrast to the delicate vegetarianism of southern India. The tea and fruit juices of India and Arabia have only limited appeal on the Susak, which amongst its cargo has 3000 cans of Zlatorog Export, a high quality Yugoslav lager which sports a cheery looking mountain ram as its trademark and is available at most times of day, as of course is Ballantine's Scotch, a bottle of which seems to be in every cabin, storage locker and maintenance room. With some of the meals, according to Jimmee's mood, there is Yugoslav wine, bearing the government name Vinoplod.

Much of the talk at the meal centres around shopping. Where did you get your watch? Did you know that you could get seventeen track, triple re-wind, simultaneous play-back Dolby stereo music centres for 43 dollars in Singapore?

I find a place in the sun after lunch and lie on an unvisited deck, high up beside the smokestack and listen to Billy Joel and Leonard Cohen on my Walkman and read the excellent Travellers by Ruth Prawer Jhabwala, which tells me a lot about India, a country which it's not easy to put out of mind.

At half-past five an intense golden sun sinks beneath the horizon drawing with it all the light from the sky, which changes from off-pink to lemon to light eggshell to murky grey. The long evening, which stretches from 6.15, or earlier if Jimmee is being brisk, is devoted to Zlatorog, Vinoplod and backgammon lessons from Nigel.
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PALIN'S GUIDES

  • Series: Around the World in 80 Days
  • Day: 33
  • Date: 27 October
  • Country/sea: Indian Ocean
  • Place: Bay of Bengal
  • Book page no: 113

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