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Around the World in 80 Days

Day 38: 1 November

Michael Palin - Around the World in 80 DaysThis afternoon the wind drops. A feeling of lassitude hangs over everything. A long, lumpen, heavy day, in a lazy, hazy sea. The sort of day when you fear you could stick fast here for ever. The sort of day when the Ancient Mariner was 'sad as sad could be, and we did speak only to break the silence of the sea'.

Down in the engine room Ivan is getting very drunk. 'I believe in whisky,' he confides to me. 'But in my cabin you will see Jesus picture and the Virgin Mary.'

At a quarter to eleven after a last round of backgammon Nigel and I would normally be taking a last Zlatorog and heading for bed, but tonight an adventure is about to begin. The solitary days on the Bay of Bengal seem like another life as we make our way slowly closer to Singapore, just one in a long line of southbound ships, whilst another line, north-bound, slips past us on the port side. There is very little noise but an enormous, almost frightening amount of movement. Our maritime progress is mirrored in the skies above as a constant succession of jets, their navigation lights flashing, descend to the airport. There is a feeling of heightened excitement - we are coming into the centre of things.

At eleven o'clock precisely a launch emerges from the darkness and puts the pilot aboard. Two hundred ships are processed every day through Singapore and things are done in a brisk, businesslike way.
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PALIN'S GUIDES

  • Series: Around the World in 80 Days
  • Day: 38
  • Date: 1 November
  • Country/sea: Indian Ocean
  • Place: Malacca Strait
  • Book page no: 124

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