15th-17th March – Nha Trang, Vietnam and Singapore, Malaysia
Having departed Hong Kong, we set sail across the South China Sea towards Nha Trang. The haze/fog had cleared from the Chinese mainland, however the preponderance of fishing boats had to be negotiated again, not only off Hong Kong but Vietnam also, their coastal waters are relatively shallow and thus ideal fishing-grounds.
The port of Nha Trang lies a short bus ride from the city itself and a shuttle-bus took those guests who visited the city. I didn’t go ashore, or rather, into the city, as today we exercised in a full fire and boat drill. I did however venture off the gangway later and browsed the goods in the adjacent market stalls. Everything from knock-off watches (want a Rolex?) to suitcases, materials, shirts, hats…..too many to list here. Suitcases seemed to be a popular purchase, perhaps our guests need additional after buying so many ‘goodies’ during our cruise thus far.
Departing the port, we sail under the cable-car which links the mainland to the holiday park of Vin Pearl. The authorities stop the gondolas and then tighten the cable, to ensure we have sufficient clearance, or ‘air draft’. Safely under, we disembark our pilot and set course towards the eastern end of the Malacca Straits, the busiest shipping lanes in the world and on which Singapore lies.
Again we go to ‘yellow’ manning; the abundance of vessels increasing enormously, all heading for the narrow inward-bound traffic lane, whilst multitudes of vessels, having transited the straits, are ‘scattering’ in various directions, depending where their destinations are. The 5 hours, from approaching the straits until our pilot embarkation, are busy for the bridge-team, masses of shipping are transiting and as they are so narrow, (due to depth restrictions), we are in close proximity to many vessels; we are mainly overtaking them, however occasionally, some poor soul has to try and cross the lane in order to get to one of the many sub-ports surrounding Singapore and we have to alter speed on several occasions. Crossing these lanes could be likened to someone trying to cross a busy motorway (highway) whilst pushing a cart and carrying shopping…….
Respite at last as we turn into the pilot boarding station and embark our pilot at 1230 and then proceed towards Cruise Bay in Singapore where we are docked by 1354. The Malaysian immigration officials have sailed with us and we are therefore cleared reasonably quickly. It is hot and muggy, 91F or 33C. In the evening, we go ashore and take in some of the ‘sights’, Clarke Quay, where we take a river-boat ride, the ‘flyer’, a massive Ferris wheel, the largest in the world and Marina Bay Sands Skypark, an astonishing hotel/resort which towers over Singapore, has 3 towers and is topped by, what appears to be, a ship. It is in fact bars, restaurants and pools. From here, they have a laser-light display every evening, quite spectacular.
We sail at 11 tonight, once more having to negotiate the Malacca straits, on our way to another Malaysian port, Malai, Langkawi, where we arrive on Wednesday.