Thursday, January 17, 2008

Hot, sweaty but fun

Used to heat ,it was still a shock stepping off the plane at Singapore airport and walking the 10 min's to the terminal buildings. The humidity was so high you literally ran with water in that short time, it was also early morning. (I am not sure of the spelling, 40 odd years have passed) Pyah leba, air port has gone today and most, if not all of the places ,I knew then have disappeared several times as Singapore has grown. Nothing from my child hood memories remained on my last trip over, although the names quite often haven't changed. W e moved into a small bungalow in Jahore Bahru, for a short time until my fathers orders were confirmed and we knew from what base he would be operating from and for how long. Jahore, the tip of the Malayan peninsula,scarcely 1km  from Singapore, just a narrow shark infested straight separating them. It was a lively smelly, dirty ,bustling city.  The Sultans palace  a place of beauty on the shore front. (We were to be held in the hotel several years later there, when my South African passport and visa expired . I wouldn't mind being kept in detention again if it is still as it was.Probably well out of my price range today.) Down the centre of Jahore ran a canal, laughingly called the sweet water canal, anything but. It was an open sewer the toilet pits, sewerage and industrial and commercial waste slopped about emptying to the whims of the tides. These huge open ditches were necessary, most of the shore line is barely above high tide and is true of Singapore, the majority of which is man made land. These drainage canals are necessary to carry monsoon rain run off.  Monsoon rain is like taking a full bath standing up, it is so wet that you feel like you could drown just standing there.
The people are a hodgepodge of nations, Indian , Malay, Chinese, Thai, Indonesian making up the majority. With a smattering of Eurasians and other races thrown into the mix. At the time the principal industries was, rubber, palm oil, copra and coconut products, rattan furniture. Fruit and fruit products and of course commercial trade, the centre of Asian commerce and shipping. So Jahore was one big open market.

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