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Around the World in 80 Days

Day 38: 1 November

Michael Palin - Around the World in 80 DaysUp on the bridge the pilot and the captain are lit by a spectral blue glow from the instrument panel. The pilot speaks softly but clearly into a walkie-talkie. We are to be taken straight into our berth at Keppel Harbour, which is good news for those of us hoping to catch the Neptune Diamond before she sails, but it'll be a close thing. I can see no sign of her at the dockside.

Down on the deck, I'm grabbed by Ivan who is soaking wet. There had been a leak in the engine's seawater cooling system, but he had plugged it. His face shines with achievement but his eyes are red and tired. He insists we have a last rum together in the engine room. When it's time to go, he says to me, 'You know for me the best sound in the world? Is the motor of aircraft,' and he looks up to the flashing lights in the sky, which one day will be for him.

After fond and emotional farewells all round I totter off the Susak and onto Singaporean soil at a quarter past midnight to be told the Neptune Diamond has already sailed.

I feel rather glad I've had that last rum. It helps to cushion the blow. But Roger, who has taken over the direction from Clem, is rushing me away from the dockside as if my life depends on it. What's going on?

They tell me as our minibus rushes Nigel, myself and our baggage to customs and immigration. It's to be another night at sea. Such is the power, might and influence of the BBC that the Neptune Diamond has agreed to wait for us, four miles out in the roads.
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PALIN'S GUIDES

  • Series: Around the World in 80 Days
  • Day: 38
  • Date: 1 November
  • Country/sea: Singapore
  • Place: Singapore
  • Book page no: 125

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