March 15 was our second day in Singapore. I let Elvon sleep a very long time, as going out in Little India, had turned out to be quite an expedition for him. Today was to be a easy day, consisting of not much more than a half-hour at Kandu VC, Singapore’s Dr. Fish. I ordered breakfast from Room Service and let him sleep for 12 hours. We then went to the gym and worked out. But when it came time to leave the ship, he wouldn’t budge. I do wish he was more adventurous, but I set him up in a deck chair and set off with my computer in tow.
There is an ASUS store right next door to the fish spa, and I wanted them to test my power supply. They couldn’t do it. They didn’t have a plug adapter. I did browse the Transformer Books, though, and one of those will tide me over, while ASUS in the states, checks the computer out. It’s behaving beautifully, with its amazing kludgey power supply, but I want to be sure it’s OK, and I want a more compact power supply, at a minimum.
Before I got my feet in the water at the fish spa, I met a delightful lady named Carol Farber. We are sure we have met before on some ship or other, and we likely will again. The fish were voracious and my feet came out just beautiful. I had a neck and shoulder massage, while I was there, used their Internet for an hour, and went back to the ship. The entertainment was Filip Wojciechowski, a concert pianist gone commercial. He was very good.
Back at sea and at my desk on the16th, it was business as usual. Michael Holt came by with the interesting news that Stein Kreuse’s son, Alexander was having a birthday party tonight in the King’s Room. He had wanted the back room in the Pinnacle, but I had it reserved for a thank you party, for all who had helped my computer back to health after its software and hardware problems. Lucky Michael was invited to both, but he’s sticking with his first invitation, which would be mine.
We were eating in the Pinnacle and “The Best Dam Tech Team” party went very well. The 14 of us drank 9 bottles of wine. I want to recognize everyone that helped me, for the record: Nicola Smiljovic, HAL IT Manager, who was my sounding board and advisor, when Windows crashed, and my consultant, when I was considering a new machine; Michael Holt, who gave me a day of his life in Picton, NZ, downloading, installing, rebuilding Windows, MS Office, Outlook, etc.; Kristen O’Shea, HAL’s Digital Workshop Manager, who helped me take an Image backup, when we thought the newly rebuilt computer might never run again, as we couldn’t charge it, and helped me load MS Office on Wells’ computer; Wells Westcott, who lent me his spare computer, until I found a power supply that worked; Connie Fischer, cruise of ’14, who lent me said power supply, until I found one in Cairns; Jack Parker, who lent me a plug adapter that worked some of the time, when the one they sold me in Cairns, wouldn’t fit the desk, which had lips over the outlet; Michael Innis, Bridge Instructor and Bus 2 Monitor, who lent me a three way plug, that worked better, to extend the plug adapter they sold me in Cairns out over the lips. SOTs, Spouses of Techs, included, mine, Kristen’s, Dee Westcott, Maggie Parker, and Gail Hanson. Jim Detwiler wasn’t well.
We all had a wonderful time. All these very nice, very smart, people liked each other, a lot. The computer came too, and showed its slide show all night.
It was St. Patrick’s Day, in Thailand, and nowhere on earth is it more ignored. You wouldn’t think there were that many places to dock in Phuket, but this was at least the third for me. It was hot and the market on the pier was under low tents, which made it very close to insufferable. I made a quick reconnoitering pass at it, and took off on foot. I probably should have hired a taxi. The only place within walking distance in that heat was a SevenEleven. At least it had very cold bottled water. That helped on the way back. I bought some clothing on the dock and called it a day. It was getting near sail away, anyway, I had not started very early.
I put on the Paddy green top I had acquired in Singapore and went to sailaway and dinner. The entertainment was Joe West, who sings, tap dances and plays a bunch of wind instruments. He was pretty good.
March 18 was a sea day, and I worked on Internet minutes back for one of my people, signing them up for various things, and giving what shore advice I could. Our next port, Hambantota, however, I did not have a clue about. Not very many cruise ships have stopped there, ever. I finished and delivered a newsletter. When I was delivering Shorex’s copy, I found out that HAL’s tour supplier was happy to take over our wine tour, but with its own bus and guide. I didn’t think that was exactly nice of them, after my guy had done all the work of organizing and pricing it, and I had put it in presentation format and handed it to them on a plate. Oh, well. Far be it from me.
Happy Hour was well attended, dinner was nice and the entertainment was Grafitti Classics, a dancing violin quartet. It’s a formula act, and last year’s troop was better. It was still fun, though.
Still at sea, on March 19, we had a kitchen tour at 10:00 am. Twenty-three people attended. It was shorter than it has been in the past and they didn’t give us a crumb, while the smell of the bakery made our mouths water. I went back to my desk, sorted out a bunch of things and tipped her staff for the Tech Party.
We had 20 people attending the Murder Mystery, and it was a lot of fun. Michael and I won 200 Grand Dollars each fr guessing who did it. We are putting them, with the $2 that Elvon has collected, into a bank to help anyone in the group reach a prize he or she wants.
On March 20, we docked at a very new port, Hambantota, Sri Lanka. As usual, by the time we had had a big breakfast, been to the gym, and I had done some work, I was late getting out. I took the shuttle to the gate, with just a couple of crew members. It was 7 miles to town, and I had no one to share a taxi with. It was not that expensive, but I was a little afraid of setting out alone in a tax. I suppose it’s silly, but the older I get, the more of a chicken I become. I hung around the gate for a couple more buses, but no partner appeared. The people who had gone out early were coming back. I did find out that there was a National Park, where they saw a lot of elephants and had a wonderful time, with a $60 taxi.
It was a sad little day for me. It did have a bright spot, though. I got back to a recorded message from the Front Desk, that my passenger had been refunded 228 Internet minutes, when I had requested 109. Noelle had actually gone back through her sign ons and offs, and identified more waste. Good for her. I like Noelle.
Sailaway was nice, and the entertainment was a half dose of Joe West and a half of Michael Bell. We had missed him on Murder Mystery night. He was very, very good.
The next day, March 21, was our first in Colombo, Sri Lanka. While Elvon was showering and dressing I put the “On Location” channel on the stateroom TV. Barbara was waxing poetic about the Galle Face Hotel, very near the ship. It had had a face lift since we were here last year and she could not wait to see it. It is Colombo’s Grande Dame Hotel and I always like those. I did some work on my computer, while it was plugged in, and took off with it on my back around one PM. There was no rush. We were here for two days. I considered walking, but succumbed to a $5 tuk tuk. Good thing I did, too, as I was pointed in the wrong direction. It’s odd. You see a thing from the ship, but by the time you are on the ground and walking, you can’t see it anymore and I got turned around. The tuk tuk dropped me off, five minutes later, and I entered the very beautiful Galle Face.
It’s right on the beach, of course, and all marble and dark wood. They showed me to the bar, where there were pictures on the walls of famous writers and actors who had stayed there. You know, Somerset Maugham and his lot. That man went everywhere. I chose to sit inside, where it was cool and the tables looked more conducive to working, but the patio outside has wonderful rattan furniture and is right on the sea. I noted the lunch area, and made a mental note to bring Elvon here tomorrow.
I got a lot of work done in that quiet bar, with its excellent Internet. It’s not the only good place, either. Colombo is in the middle of a growth spurt, and now has a Taj and a Hilton, too, and there’s an enormous hotel, mall, apartment, office, etc. complex going up, just across the road from the waterfront. The anchor hotel is a Shangri La. It’s Chinese money and they are doing what worked in Hong Kong, when we were there, 25 years ago.
On my tuk tuk ride back to the ship, we witnessed a typical Colombo accident, of the kind described by Barbara. We had stopped so my driver could explain the parliament building to me, and right in front of us a motor scooter just fell over. The driver and passenger, both girls in their twenties, got up, brushed themselves off, and laughed when they saw that their rear wheel was all bent and hanging by a thread. These things happen all the time, apparently. I’m just happy no one was hurt.
When I got back, I called Marilyn and Stan and invited them to lunch at the Galle Face Hotel. We still owe them from Club 57 in Singaopre in 2012, and this looked like a good way to pay back. They already had a car and driver booked to go to the market and lunch at the Taj, which no one had seen yet. We were amenable to lunch there, too, but it wasn’t on the beach. Marilyn and Stan decided to go with our idea.