I was awakened by nurse Sheila this morning. Well, she was the one who called on the phone. It was just about the time I wanted to get up considering the late bedtime I had. She called because Bryan wanted me to call him. He is our tablemate with emphysema (not sure if I mentioned his condition before but he has been carting oxygen around since day one). Bryan had left the ship in an ambulance (not emergency - just precautionary) yesterday morning. We knew he was going to the hospital. He has been fighting colds since the beginning of the trip. Well, it was beginning to look like the colds were winning and he had some scary moments onboard and the local medical staff were about out of options to get rid of his cold so it was decided he should get care in Singapore (excellent medical facilities here). Nurse Sheila told me Bryan had asked for me to call and gave me his number in the hospital. We had told Bryan before he and Pat left that if they needed anything to call us. I'll spare you the ugly details but after trying to call from my cabin and then waiting for a free phone on the gangway (two phones both being used by ship crewmen - they get my sympathy and I didn't begrudge them all the time they wanted to take) I wound up using a phone in the metro. Life is seldom simple but I got through. Bryan and Pat on medical advice had decided to return home and Bryan just wanted me to check on his luggage and assure it was being taken care of and shipped home. They had packed suitcases to get them home if need be and just wanted to make sure the rest of their stuff was shipped so they would get it back in Seattle. By the way, Bryan sounded much better than he had the day before onboard. He expressed great confidence in the docs he had. I think part of the reason he was having problems was the stress of being on the ship and not knowing if good emergency care would be available if he needed it. His company and wit will be missed here.
I had the presence of mind to take my laptop with me when I left the ship and went to Starbucks while I was ashore. You received my email (hopefully). Then I returned to the ship and checked on Bryan's luggage. Apparently it isn't the first rodeo for the ship's crew and they had things well in hand.
I returned to Singapore for the remainder of our time and realized it was lunch time. I tried to talk my stomach into something local. There was an amazing variety of food shops available in the terminal and adjoining mall. What I did was a Big Mac Extra Value Meal. The stomach just didn't want to hear it. Oh well, this is just the second time in over two months that I have taken the easy way out. I'll do better next time.
After lunch I decided to take the cable car which ran above the ship to an island with an aquarium and giant ferris wheel (ala The London Eye but higher). I found the ticket counter but the line was long (read 10 people outside the ticket office door. I looked into the office to see what it was going to cost and the cheapest price I could find was over $50 (Singapore Dollars). That would be about $40 or a little more US. Each price included a "tour" of something on the island. Since I didn't have time for much of a tour and just wanted to ride the cable car, I decided to forget that and go to Raffles Hotel. Some of you may know of this place. It was built (in the 1800's) by the British and was the place where many famous people stayed in Singapore (Somerset Maughm, Joseph Conrad, Noel Coward, Charlie Chaplin and even Michael Jackson). The Singapore Sling was invented here and it is traditional to go to the hotel's Long Bar and have a Sling. I did. On the way to the hotel a few Brits came up to me in the metro and asked me for directions. I guess I am comfortable enough that I looked like I knew where I was going. In this case I did. They wanted directions to Raffles! LOL!
Another fun thing was that while I was sitting at the bar in Raffles a threesome came up and sat next to me. We started chatting and they were two Americans from Colorado who recently moved to Singapore and a friend of theirs who for the past eight years ran the airport operation at Abu Dabi. During the conversation he mentioned something I found interesting and surprising. They have to adjust the computer landing system programming every week to make the planes land in a different spot or the runway gets dents in it. These systems are so accurate now that every plane touches down on exactly the same spot! Imagine! So if they don't change the spot periodically the runway gets damaged by all those heavy touchdowns in the same exact spot. The things you learn in a bar!
I visited the History of Raffles Museum in the hotel and took pictures of the hotel and surrounding area (right downtown near the City Hall metro stop). Then it was time to head home (I've started thinking of the Amsterdam as home. This is only a little scary....). Had dinner and then went on deck to watch the sail out. Singapore is an amazing city/state/country and I definitely would like to return some day to visit more of it. Just scratched the surface this time. This is clearly the safest place I've been and they say anyone can walk in the streets at any time of day or night without fear. How many cities can say that?
We gain an hour tonight.