Cruising in the South China sea

The longer you stay on a cruise ship, the harder it is to get off. Champagne and corned beef hash at breakfast? Why not? Not me, but I’ve also seen at least three tables sporting bottles or tubes of Vegemite, the black breakfast spread most of us are addicted to.

You’d think that being on a cruise ship, I’d be blogging daily. But no. There is too much to do, not including lying by the pool. By the time breakfast is finished – a prolonged affair involving too many pastries, eggs and myriad juices, it’s time to nip down to a lecture on, say, espionage, and then, suddenly, it’s lunchtime. After lunch each day, I promise myself a good, hard loll by the pool. But lunch turns into a gasbag with one of the interesting people on board, be it a magician or a former political mover and shaker…

The other morning, I made time for a lecture by the jeweller whose gorgeous shop is on board. Rodney Rahmini talked us through rare gemstones of the world, such as star sapphires and cat’s eye christoberyl, mined from the troubled grounds of Sri Lanka and Myanmar. And ladies, I have found my new career – jewellery model.

I came over all Delvine Delaney (for those of you formerly addicted to Sale of the Century) and had several thousand dollars worth of rubies draped on me. The catches all seemed to be broken, because I couldn’t get them off after an hour. But that’s ok, the police pried them off and no charges have been laid against me…

Today we stopped at the Malaysian city of Kota Kinabalu. Not the most exciting of ports, but I should have taken a tour. It’s a weird part of the world: Chinese clothes shops sit beside Muslim restaurants – Hong Seng and Bismillah side by side, with of course the ubiquitous KFC and a ribs house called Texas.

There were many markets: the wet, the dry, the handicraft, the night, the Sunday... Malaysians love a good shop, obviously.

But it was not enough, it appears.

“We’ll see you back on the boat in an hour,” said one cruiser, who was returning to the boat on an early bus this morning. I get the feeling many are just waiting for Hong Kong, when the real fun begins, and the countries include Egypt, Israel and then Europe. I’m heartbroken I’m leaving at HK...

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