Sunday, 12 January 2020

Johor Bahru

Wednesday 8 Jan 2020
Strait Swimming

Ann was feeling a little stronger, and anxious to see something other than her bed, and Edwin was keen to see another country. I was tired after much walking over the last two days, so they went together by road over the bridge to Johor Bahru, just over the border in Malaysia. It was an interesting town, with many old cafes and little shops. Ann usually reads avidly of places she intends to visit, by only later when they got back was Ann finally able to do her research. It made sobering reading. Malaysia has made it "up there" with countries such as Guatemala, Venezuela and South Africa as among the world's most dangerous countries, and in 2013 Johor Bahru was ranked the fourth most dangerous city in the world. Edwin had been waving his iPhone about to follow the maps, but now they learned this was especially dangerous and he was lucky not to be mugged. He is very tall and muscular compared to the average Malay, and perhaps this gave them second thoughts before marching boldly through the city. Although they didn't see any specific examples of crime, but they would definitely not have visited had they read the reports first. We all went for an Indian on their return, to unwind and celebrate their survival.
Practising the dance

Thursday 9 Jan 2020
A robot eyes Ann
Our last day, so Edwin and I walked the mile to the beach for him to swim in the Straits of Singapore. Edwin commented that Singapore Straights was a bit exclusive, but later he saw a Baptist church flying the rainbow flag, with a sign outside: "Don't just come out, come home" which looked a bit more inclusive. Opinions in Singapore are slowly changing. The beach is huge, with regularly spaced picnic tables and places set aside for barbecues. I watched a girl practising her Indian dancing while I waited, looking smooth and beautiful. She kept consulting a phone and then doing a new move, as though following a DIY procedure on YouTube. By the beach too was an array of gymnastic equipment for public use, which Edwin worked through systematically. He is determined to stay fit.

Edwin works out
Our flight was not until 23:00, but we left for Changi airport mid-afternoon to admire the newly opened Jewel, a multi-story shopping mecca with a roof garden, walkways and mazes for us to enjoy while waiting. On the way in, we were scrutinised by a security robot, patrolling the pavement outside the entrance. It spun its eye round to give Ann a special once over, but decided to let her leave.

We read of the news of the downing of the Ukrainian  Boeing 737-800 over Iran. Edwin remembered it was the identical plane we had flown on for our visit to Kiev to see the Eurovision Song Contest in 2017. We had been scheduled to overfly Iran, but following the crash, we were rerouted over Pakistan and Afghanistan, clearly considered much safer. Next day, waiting for our luggage on the baggage carousel, Edwin lunged for his case but missed his footing, and landed on his back on the carousel, where he proceeded to go round with the bags. He jumped off again quickly, but no one seemed to notice or offer to help. Our case finally came off; it had been squashed flat and badly damaged, so Edwin went to customer complaints. They said they will send someone to our home to assess the damage. Finally, we were through customs and glad to see our Charlie and our taxi to get home.
Ann at the Changi Jewel ready to fly home

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