Saturday, April 30, 2011

Saturday, April 30, 2011 (Singapore)

THIS GROUP'S CHANCES FOR A GRAMMY JUST TOOK A HIT; THIS PHOTO MIGHT COME BACK TO HAUNT THEM: We went to Singapore's fabled Long Bar at Raffles at 9:30 p.m. to meet Andy Lim and his daughter Rebekah. Both are part of Tembusu Partners.
They had invited us to listen to the hardworking band Moodique, which has been playing nightly (mostly songs from the '70s and '80s) on the second floor of the bar for about 15 years.
Sam was a good sport. He had the signature Singapore Sling--his first one (right, with Rebekah in the background). He had only one Sling. It's quite sweet, as the recipe shows. He quickly sought refuge with the more refreshing beer for the second round. Every bar, of course, wishes they had a Singapore Sling-type drink in its repertoire. We heard that the drink accounts for about $5 MILLION of the hotel's annual revenue. (They cost $25 apiece.)
We were joined briefly by a moth (right), which perched on one of the ledges of the half-yard of beer that was on the table. Still not sure what the attraction was. Nobody was wearing wool.
The photo above, taken by a bar patron, shows the five of us (Andy, Rebekah, Sam, Sandy and me) mixed in among the wonderful players on stage. The brief "fantasy camp" was available because Andy worked closely with the band (and the other musicians at Raffles) for a few years. I can't believe the saxophonist let me hold his instrument all by myself.

ISLAND HOPPING: Despite the threatening rain, we forged ahead with a scheduled outing on a speedboat.
The boat, called Passion, had two 250 horsepower motors, enough to easily power us out among the ferries and container ships crisscrossing the waters to the south of Singapore. On board were Cambridge employees Alvin Tay, his wife, Stella, and son Joshua; Laura Rieber; Mark Dalton and Fei Tan; nephew Sam Truesdell; Sandy and me. (The photo above shows, from left, Alvin, Sandy, Mark and Laura.) In command was a cheery and knowledgeable Captain Elvis (left).
We headed to some of the Southern Islands (see map at right). We stopped for a stroll on Kusu Island--waiting to see if the rain would come or go.
We saw the Marble Tortoises and the Da Bogong Temple. And we tossed some coins into the wishing well and watched tortoises lumber around a sanctuary. The wishing well apparently worked because the rain held off. So, we then wove our way around to the west end of Sentosa Island and came back to Lazarus Island, where we anchored for a lunch, which included the improbable--but tasty--shepherd's pie. That's also where some of us swam--and found out why some beaches remain sparsely attended in these parts at these times.

WAS IT SEA LICE? WAS IT JELLYFISH LARVAE? SINGAPORE STING REPLACES SINGAPORE SLING This is speculation. But as soon as we jumped in the water in a cove on the southeast shore of Lazarus Island, we started feeling repeated light stinging sensations in our skin.
I felt it. Sandy felt it. Mark felt it. Fei felt it. Alvin (the last in and first out) felt it. It was a good idea to get out. The amazing thing is that it took some of us (meaning ME) about 20 minutes to decide to get out of the water. After all, the water was wonderfully refreshing. The buoyancy gave an extra bounce to my backstroke. The setting was calming. Well, if you could ignore the stinging. As we treaded water, conversations went something like this:
"Do you feel anything, like little needles?"
"Yeah. It doesn't really hurt, but it feels odd."
"What do you think it is?"
"I dunno. Maybe it's a reaction to the salt."
"Maybe it's something chemical from all the shipping around here."
"I don't see too many other people swimming."
"Maybe it will go away. I didn't feel it when I first jumped in."
"Did the Red Sox beat the Mariners this morning?"
"Is something biting us?"
"Maybe something is actually eating us."
"Not sure. Maybe we'll get used to it."
"What if we swim closer to the shore? Maybe there will be less stinging."
"They seem to be following us."
"How long before they have had enough of us?"
Through all the discussion, I heard nobody really mention actually GETTING OUT OF THE WATER.
The real trigger for fleeing the sea was that Sandy got stung on the leg by something of a gelatinous nature that seemed to wrap itself across her knee. That has jellyfish written all over it. The stinging could have come from "sea lice" or jellyfish larvae (shown here). It could have been. Too much Googling over this began to lead to symptoms that I really don't want. I stopped Googling. The symptoms disappeared.

A 50-50 DAY: Things have evened out at Tanjong Pagar Container Terminal here in Singapore. The Singapore Crane Index Limited Economic Indicator, shows an equal number of up-and-down cranes. This is on the doorstep of Singapore's national labor holiday. Here's the latest look-out-the-window tally:

Date: May 1
Time: 10:30 a.m. (Singapore time)
Cranes Up (inactive): 13
Cranes Down (active): 13
CRANES MISSING (puzzling): 2

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