Day 63

Today was the last sea day of this segment, before Singapore, where about 180 passengers will disembark, most of whom got on in Perth, and a fresh batch, approximating 280, will embark. This number will nearly refill the ship for the next segment to Cape Town. The afternoon schedule has changed slightly to accommodate those who need to pack their suitcases. There was an early show at 5:30pm with only a movie at 8:30pm.

Terry’s lecture this morning was on “The Fall of Singapore-1942.” He repeated some early history to set the stage. Britain had been involved with Singapore since the East India Company settled there in 1819. The decline of the Empire began with their tremendous losses of 17 million casualties in WWI, resulting in contraction of resources supporting the colonies. India left the Empire in 1930. With WW2 approaching, attention was focused on Europe, leaving the distant colonies on their own. This gave Japan the opportunity to move into Malaya for its rubber and oil reserves to support its war efforts.

On December 8, 1941, Japanese landed on the NE Malaya peninsula and worked their way south. British, Australian, and Indian troops were pushed back to Singapore by January. The Japanese advanced onto the island. All civilians were ordered to leave on whatever ships were available in the harbor and the Air Force planes ordered to leave on February 10. The next day, the Japanese commander asked for their surrender. With no prospects for an effective counter-attack, the British surrendered. History would later show that the actual strength of the Japanese was unknown. The commander admitted later that his surrender offer was desperation on his behalf. He had no more supplies for his troops. Immediately, the Chinese civilians were the victims of severe reprisals and atrocities, as well as everyone else.

At the end of the war, Japanese Singapore surrendered. The island achieved self-governing status in 1959 and independence in 1965. Today there are 5 million inhabitants, mostly Chinese, Malaya, and Indians. Social engineering has replaced segregation, with a mandated 70-30 mix for residential establishments. Two years of National Service is mandated for all 18 year-olds. Car ownership is limited and requires a government issued certificate. So only 1 in 10 own a car. It is one of the top five container ports in the world. The World Bank has declared that Singapore is the easiest place to do business. It is known as “The Lion City.”

The second lecture was on Dubai. Hassan Eltaher spoke on the brief history of that area and its strategic location at the Strait of Hormuz. Dubai and five other tribal districts formed the United Arab Emirates in 1950. He briefly spoke on several newsworthy topics that have occurred over the last 40 years, but spoke mostly as a tour guide promoting the features and growth of Dubai as an international city with pictures of the many mosques, museums, and malls. The end. You can see how interested I was.

We participated in the noontime games which was a type of Family Feud and scored a couple of points. After lunch, we gathered our group of five for a card game of Phase 10, which lead into the Trivia time. We placed out of the scoring. At 5:00pm, the shop opened for redemption of Regent points. Pat waited in line, with our 178 Regent point cards, and picked out several logo white t-shirts and an umbrella. The remainder of the points were replaced in the safe for the next redemption, near Cape Town.

Tonight’s early show featured Suzanne Prentice, a truly world class act, born in New Zealand, who sang songs from the greats with a fabulous clear and strong voice. During her 44-year career, she has made top of the list recordings, starred in stage musicals, and has written several books.

We had dinner in the Prime 7 with Lisa and her father, Morry, and Gwen and Dean. We stayed talking until the end and were the last table to leave. The women all ordered Singapore Sling drinks in preparation for our next port of call.

Yours in travel,

Pat & Mac