Puteri Harbour and Singapore

Wed 15 Feb 2017 07:04
Entering Puteri Harbour, with bamboo sculptures and the endless construction.

Puteri is an oasis in the midst of a desert of construction. It’s surrounded by restaurants, shops, a hotel and, wait for it: Hello Kitty World and Thomas The Tank Engine Town! The grounds are full of tasteful sculptures, hooded crows swoop  overhead stealing the left over food at the restaurants, 5ft long iguanas swim around the bay. Everywhere there are fascinating things to watch: Chinese families on holiday, local engaged couples having photo shoots in their wedding clothes, live music by young super cool men of Indian descent. But we were un-enchanted. 

View from the rooftop ‘infinity pool’, Sinapore is across the water to the right, in the distance on the left are the buildings of of Johor Bahru

We were downhearted. Life seemed hard. Our three week passage, that should have taken 8 days, had left us deeply fatigued. Our beautiful boat wouldn’t go into reverse and had a four foot scrape running down it’s bow. We were hot - stupidly, dripping wet, no-air-to-breath hot, and we had no shore power to plug into so we couldn’t run the fans much. And, on top of all that, just to make life more exciting, we had a resident rat. 

We’d acquired him in Kalimantan, which is surprising as we’d not been alongside a dock since Australia, but we worked out that he must have come on board through the galley port from Adi’s motorboat when he was delivering diesel. Now a rat in your house is a horrid thing but a rat on board is worse. He’s not going anywhere, you and him are confined together, sharing your space as best as you can. This wouldn’t be too bad except that rats make a pastime of chewing, not just food but anything they come across: plastic containers, wires, pipes… a little exploratory chew on the wrong pipe and he could sink us. He left confetti in his wake. I would lie there on my off watch and listen to him chewing and running in the space between the deck and the headlining above our bunk. I’m not good at rats: they simply freak me, it’s a deep seated 'jump on a stool and scream when you see a mouse' type response, in my bones and body by-passing my mind. I hated that rat.

How he got on board.

Right! We had to catch the rat, fix the gear cable, repair the bow and move ourselves to a proper berth so we could get some shore power. So, of course, we ran away. Just for a night, just for 36 hours, just long enough to recharge our batteries and gird our loins. 

Old Singapore streets.

We needed to visit Singapore anyway, to get a new gear cable and epoxy to fix the bow damage, so the idea of staying the night and treating ourselves to some stylish living was irresistible. Raffles Hotel, Singapore Slings and pure luxury called. Of course, being yachties, we weren’t going to waste our cruising kitty on anything as extravagant as a taxi so we emerged from the bus, towing our suitcase on wheels, much to the surprise of the doorman, who was rather more used to people stepping out from their Mercedes. 

It was bliss, from the first sip of a Singapore Sling in the gracious colonial lobby, through to the deep blissful bath in the cool, fan swept suite they upgraded us to, to the exquisite meal served by wonderfully friendly staff. They were intrigued by our sailing adventures and slipped us goodies as we left - more of the delicious ‘proper’ bread they served, english lea leaves, and even a bottle of wine to enjoy back on board. Anyone else out there been to Raffles and left with a goodie bag?!


We returned recharged and ready to solve our problems, which we did, though that rat took some catching. We couldn’t poison him as he’d then go and die in some inaccessible recess of the boat. We tried our rat trap - like a large version of the type of mouse trap you see in Tom and Jerry cartoons, but he simply stole the cheese and avoided springing the trap. We’d had glue traps recommended: shallow trays filled with super sticky glue that rats are supposed to get stuck on, so we gave them a try. All that happened was we got to find out just how huge our rat was: those foot prints were enormous! But we had no choice but to persevere so each night we baited the trap with something new and spread more glue out on cardboard with tempting delights in the middle to try to catch him. One time the trap sprang! Half the bait was gone but there was no rat. Being a super strong rat he’d dragged himself out of it. He lay low for a couple of days then was back to his usual tricks. I was starting to wonder if having a decaying rat full of maggots somewhere on the boat in 35 degrees would be as bad as people say when finally I woke to a clunk! The trap had sprung again. “Phil! Phil! The rat trap’s sprung!” “Good, good, I’ll look in the morning….”. I lay there, my heart beating at the thought of what squished rat remains awaited day light, when I heard a smaller clunk. “Phil! Phil! He’s getting out!” I rushed to open up the companion way whilst my Knight in no armour at all went to battle the dreaded half dead rat. Giant Rat had extracted himself from the trap again, but this time was lying trying to recover next to it, still breathing. Phil picked him up by the tail, calmly stepped out on deck and flung him as far as he could out into the middle of the marina! Happily he didn’t surface: no swimming back for our stowaway! Once again I was filled with awe and gratitude at the bravery of my Captain. Imagine! By the tail! He could have twisted up and bitten at any moment.

A few of the delicacies on offer in the Chinese restaurant in Puteri. Sea Cucumber is a polite way of saying Sea Slugs!