Singapore

Singapore

Singapore 1980 – 1984

..I had been to Singapore several times in the previous 15 years. In 1965 we celebrated New Year on board the ship, during my days with Lufthansa in Perth I had to visit some tour operators in Singapore and I had reasons to visit again from Taiwan on short stopovers. The change which had taken place in this city was quite remarkable but it always presents a different picture when your visit is short term…

…Singapore as a market was very tough. There was plenty of manufacturing and export going on but we had too many local competitors who employed cut-throat rates and very expensive entertainment of all kinds to get and keep a business…

…Calcutta was totally run down. Since the British Empire had left India the most paint anybody had spent on houses or bridges was represented in colourful political slogans which decorated every prominent wall in the town. Potholes in the street everywhere, hardly any lights at night on the streets, heavy rainfalls during the Monsoon season flooding the streets…

… I was dropped off and thought a hot bath was in order to get rid of the stench and clean my feet from all the soot collected on the streets. It was not to be. The waterspout over the bath tub worked reasonably well but was dribbling out black water which looked and smelled like mud from the roads. I just dipped my feet into this mess and decided some fortification was needed to prevent any diseases which I might have contracted during this awful day. In fact I even used whisky the next morning to clean my teeth as there was no improvement in the water quality…

… One day I wanted to visit the largest Jute factory in Bangladesh…

…When we arrived at the factory I was not sure if I was still in the same century. Industrial revolution in Manchester in the mid-1800s came to mind. Twenty-six thousand people worked in that place; most were born there and would die there…

…Right and left of this little path leading to the river I spotted many little huts or open sheds where I could see children as young as five or six years old working on some mats or carpets for which they used the off-products from the factory. I really counted my blessings when back in the very comfortable hotel; I took a hot bath and headed for the bar to have a couple of whiskies. The Lottery of Life came to mind again…

…. The urge to make money was normal but the urge to show off with that money was border-line. After we got a bit more familiar he actually invited me to a bar after hours and was beaming when he introduced me to his mistress, a rather young and nice-looking Chinese lady. I knew the Director was married but that was not my problem. I knew that there were a number of Chinese males who just needed to show they were wealthy and once they got a nice car the next level was a nice mistress….

…My relationship with Rosalind was not exactly good. Pressure was on to go back to Australia as she had finished her extra studies and wanted to go back to work as a teacher. I was lost in space and still looking for work in Asia if available. We made preparations to pack, get the children out of school and booked accommodation on a small Russian cruise ship going from Singapore to Fremantle in West Australia. Timing was good as the school year had just finished in Singapore in mid-1984…