Sunday, March 18, 2012

The Doust Files - Albany Advertiser 13/3/2012

I am writing this in Singapore. I have not been here since 1973. It has changed.

The first thing I noticed on landing was that the plane took almost 20 minutes to taxi to the terminal tentacle and out my window, below the runway, I could see highways full of domestic traffic.

On terra firma I expected to be buffeted by multitudes but was pleasantly surprised to discover there was space for me, my baggage and a lot of other folk.

My hotel room is just right and the breakfast on offer is an interesting mix of European and Asian. I have settled on a fried rice base, with yellow dhal and alfalfa shoots, followed by fruit.

On my first morning I was joined by Sir Michael Somare, the ex-PM of Papua New Guinea. We talked about the current situation in Port Moresby and how hard it was for old men to give up power, read a book, go fishing, or learn backgammon.

All right, Sir Michael didn’t join me but he did sit three tables away and I would have spoken to him but he had eight men and one woman guarding him, following him and carrying his crockery.
I wanted to say: “Mate, if you can’t carry your own plate, you’re not going to manage a country?”

The big news in town this week seems to be that foreign maids will henceforth get one day of a week, or pay in lieu. One maid was proudly photographed with her bosses and revealed that not only did she already have her day off but she also borrowed the family car and went on holidays with the entire mob. Sacre bleur!

Highlights so far include the bright eyed children I have visited in schools, one of the finest laksas I have eaten and an island tour by Singaporean poet and Albany regular, Alvin Pang.

I have a feeling I will return.

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