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Around the World in 80 Days

Day 38: 1 November

Michael Palin - Around the World in 80 DaysAt breakfast the captain announces that the Susak will pick up the Singapore pilot at 11 tonight, and will be in berth by midnight. 310 containers will be unloaded and 150 loaded. Departure from Singapore will be 3 p.m. tomorrow. Audible groans.

The crew disappear to their various jobs. To pass the time (breakfast having been cleared away by 8) I look for a while at the framed map of the world, courtesy of Transjug, Rijeka. Looking at my route from London to the Equator I can see a symmetry. The Adriatic, the Red Sea, the Persian Gulf and now the Strait of Malacca, are all splits in a land-mass, all aligned N.W. to S.E., giving the impression of progress, by a series of down escalators, from sea to sea - the Mediterranean, the Arabian, and, to come, the South China, where it's typhoon season.

A small seabird is trapped for a while in the kitchen. It flies, foolishly, into the oven. But before Nino can turn the gas on, Jimmee has chased it out with a brush (the only one that survived the Dylan impersonations). It flies down towards the engine-room, then up again, fluttering along the passageway until one of the engine crew (who looks like Trotsky) happens to step in off the deck, whereupon the bird flies out past him, leaving him quite confused.

In the radio room, where tapes by Tiffany and Samantha Fox lie about the desk, I at last make radio contact with Singapore. Odd to hear guttural Yugoslav talking to tinkling Chinese using English alphabetic identification. I become 'Mike India Charlie Hotel Alpha Echo Lima, Papa Alpha Lima India November', and Roger, whom I'm calling at Raffles Hotel, becomes, much more exotically, Romeo Oscar. The news is that I shall not be spending a night in Singapore. A container ship, the Neptune Diamond, leaves for Hong Kong at 11.30. I tell Roger that we shall not berth until 11.30, and explain the problems of the head current. He says I shall just have to ask the captain to put his foot down.
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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: 121

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