02 January 2018 | Clan Jeti Anchorage, Georgetown, Penang Island, Malaysia
Tom and Lilly
Almost every day we read stories in the international press relating the horror and hopelessness experienced by young girls, often barely teenagers, as they are abducted and thrown into the abyss of prostitution and forced drug addiction. Likewise, the human tragedies created by the refugee crisis of the Southeast Asian country of Myanmar (formerly Burma) is constantly in the news. Yet how many of us have any direct connection or understanding of these very disturbing human events? Cruising under sail in the Developing Countries of the world is not always swaying palm trees, and white sandy beaches. As sailors, we brush up against a world much different than Suburbia USA; the land of equality, the rule of law, and the economic opportunity we grew up in and take for granted. Sometimes we even immerse ourselves in this other world - and are faced with the stark and uncomfortable reality of raw poverty. After spending the last eight months in a boatyard in the backwaters of southern Thailand we were challenged almost every day by that uncomfortable fact of life; and found that under the guise of economic displacement, slavery still exists right here, right now, in the Twenty-First Century. This is the story of a girl and a woman who came together from different worlds - East meets West - who developed a bond of love, and who will never be the same again. This is the story of Dala and Lilly...
MODERN SLAVERY - Refugees are created by all sorts of horrid events: war, famine, religious persecution, natural disaster and the insidious poverty created by corrupt governments. We met Dala's mom Mrs. So at the PSS Shipyard in southern Thailand, where we were hauled-out to conduct a major refit of TIGER LILLY. So (she only has one name) is a Burmese "guest" worker, and she is employed by PSS as a yard cleaner for the equivalent of about ten US Dollars a day. She, and her family of 4 children and a sickly husband, are economic refugees; her ten dollar a day cleaning job is far better than anything she could expect up in her home country of Myanmar. We are not referring to light sweeping and dusting, but rather heavy industrial clean-up; lugging large barrels of stinking marine bottom scrapings and trash, stacking heavy steel scaffolds, and working in a dangerous polluted environment six and sometimes seven days a week. There are no paid vacations or medical benefits for these Burmese laborers, and we often saw them working while sick or injured - no work, no pay, no food... So is a tiny thing at less than 90 pounds, and just under 5 feet tall; she has never had a day of school in her 34 years, and when her husband is sick and unable to work (often), she is the sole bread-winner for her family of six. But she is a mighty woman of character; she lives her life with her chin up, a smile on her face, a spring in her step, and a deep sacrificial love in her heart for her family. Truly a woman of substance.
TOWIE - Lilly's first contact with So's family was with the little boy who would come into the shipyard after working hours each evening with a rice bag slung over his shoulder and make his rounds; collecting anything not nailed down which his mom could sell to the scrap dealer. His physical presence was that which we would expect of a six year-old back in the States, but he was eleven years-old, and his left foot and right hand were deformed from birth - an Oliver Twist like fellow. But Towie always had a quirky smile and a twinkle in his eye for Lilly, and they quickly became chums as she escorted him around the shipyard and helped him collect scrap metal. When he and Lilly walked around the shipyard together, she always made a point to hold Towie's deformed right hand and reassure him... Towie's shy and withdrawn 16 year-old sister Som usually stayed home to cook for the family and take care of his little brother Mon. His 14 year-old sister Dala would come to the shipyard and fetch him for dinner each evening, and that is how Dala and Lilly met. Spirited Dala was obviously her mother's daughter, and the combination of her striking beauty and intrepid personality were stunning. At 14 years-old she was already turning heads; and unfortunately the recipient of overt sexual comments from the men of the village and the crews of the fishing boats hauled-out for repairs. Dala was clearly headed for the Third World version of the "ME TOO" sorority - or worse, much worse...
THE SHACK - Absolutely incapable of minding her own business, Lilly invited herself to their home one afternoon after work. We had seen pythons and cobras in and around the PSS apartments where we lived across the road from the shipyard, and feral dogs regularly maraud the outskirts of Chebilang. Lilly was very wary as she followed the over-grown narrow foot path through the low jungle scrub that led to Dala and Towie's home. The family of six lived in a two-room tumble-down shack built of industrial scrap and tree limbs on the edge of an extensive mangrove forest. They have no running water, no electricity, the roof leaks during the monsoonal down-pours, and the area is infested with snakes and rats. Conditions such as these are reality for refugees all over the world... Lilly was welcomed warmly by the entire family and invited to share in their dinner - no one (much less a foreign yachtie woman) had ever come to visit them. And thus began a wonderful relationship between So's family and Lilly.
A TOUGH LIFE - So's children are exceptionally close, and especially Towie and Mon. They have no other playmates because they do not go to school, and the local Muslim kids persecute them horribly. We have seen this intolerance in Muslim communities throughout Indonesia, Malaysia (both Islamic theocracies), and southern Thailand which is about 90% Muslim. Up in Myanmar, the majority Buddhists are pushing out the Muslim minority - the ancient hatreds go so very deep... As the children of Burmese temporary immigrant workers, none of So's children had ever attended school. Life is not easy for them, and they live an isolated existence between the mangroves and the shipyard. Lilly took all four of So's children to a run-down playground in Chebilang - it was their first such experience, and they did not know how the rusty swings or teeter-totters worked - a pretty emotional situation for Lilly... But they quickly learned, and had a great time. Lilly had to get up on the trampoline (at 59 years-old) and teach them how to do a drop-seat swivel hip... She taught Towie how to ride a dilapidated bicycle with warped rims; and last seen, he was enjoying his new-found freedom on two wheels. One day Lilly heard Dala scream, and saw little Mon being taken by the hand and led out of the shipyard and into the village by a stranger off one of the fishing boats. Lilly jumped on a motor scooter and gave chase. The five year-old was being kidnapped for God only knows what nefarious purpose, and Lilly challenged the man right in the middle of the village, and then scooped up Mon. There was quite a joyful celebration by So and her family when Lilly brought him back home.
MENTORSHIP - Lilly and Dala hit it off from the very start; Dala became Lilly's shadow, and Lilly became her mentor. Lilly knows hard work and sacrifice; as a young woman she was a pioneer in woman's athletics (she was one of America's first professional women triathletes), she raised a son as a single mom - and educated him to the university level on her own, and she founded and operated a very successful carpet cleaning business. Lilly had a lot to give Dala, and Dala was an energetic protégée with a sharp mind. In the nearly 7 months they were together their friendship (and Dala's command of English) blossomed. But Lilly was disturbed that neither Dala nor her brothers or sister were getting any formal education, and she knew that in their case it would lead to a life of back-breaking poverty - or worse. Teenage sisters Dala and Som were very much at risk as they grew up poor and pretty in a world full of predators (with zero legal protection for immigrants), and Dala was a spirited and lovely young woman - just what the sex sharks were looking for. As Lilly and Dala worked on TIGER LILLY projects in the shipyard together, they went into the village each day to pick-up lunch, and Lilly was a first-hand witness to the persecution (and thinly disguised danger) which pretty Dala suffered from the local men - usually while keeping her head held high, and turning her back on the cads who brazenly called out to her...
A THAI ANGEL - Lilly was convinced that something had to be done - and it needed to be done before TIGER LILLY left the boatyard and sailed away from Thailand. (Since Lilly was convinced - THAT made it Tom-Tom's problem to solve...) Who can better understand what a profound difference an education could make to a person's life than a person who lacks one? But Mrs. So did not have the resources, or a plan, to make it happen for her children. And then our Angel Auntie Aor (pronounced like "Awe" as in AWESOME) appeared...
Auntie Aor is Lilly's particular friend - they hit it off the moment they met in Satun at Auntie's Gleam Resort. The Siri family are leading lights of the southern Thailand region - Tom-Tom calls Auntie Aor "The Queen of Satun". We were privileged to be adopted by them and to have the titles "Auntie Lilly" and "Uncle Tom" bestowed upon us by this wonderful family. Although born into a family of means, Auntie Aor (Sirikul Limsakul) has a heart of gold, is modest to a fault, and she actively pursues a life of giving - starting each morning at 0430 when she prepares breakfast for the local Buddhist monks. She is a highly educated person. She received her first bachelor's degree from the beloved King of Thailand when she was 21 years-old. (In those days the King conferred all the university degrees on Thailand's graduates.) She went on to earn additional degrees in the United States at Lamar University in Texas, and her Masters in International Law from Temple University in Philadelphia - she is an extraordinary woman!
FRIENDS - Lilly and So became great friends even though neither could speak the other's language. As we say in the Navy, they both came up through the hause-pipe (a tough life). Because of the language barrier, we asked Auntie Aor to meet with us and So to try to untie this Gordian's knot and make a plan. In addition to being a lovely multi-lingual problem-solver, Aor is a practicing lawyer and could steer us through the legal rocks and shoals. Understandably, Mrs So had all she could do to just keep her head above water and feed six people, and she had no idea how to advance her children's station in life; the situation seemed absolutely hopeless to her. But she fully understood the practical reality that without an education her daughters' likely fate (there were no choices) was to become prostitutes, or to spend long hard hours at menial labor - or first one, and then the other... She knew that at 14 and 16 years-old, Dala and Som were so very vulnerable, but what's a mother to do?
THE PLAN - After some serious discussion between the crew of TIGER LILLY, Auntie Aor, and Mrs. So (and not a few tears), several phone calls back to Myanmar to determine what was possible (60 minutes of cell phone time between Thailand and Myanmar costs So almost a day's pay), and a heart-wrenching and courageous decision by Dala and Som, we were able to collectively come up with a plan: The girls would return to So's home in Myanmar (to a small town east of Rangoon); her sister Khuntoh would become their Legal Guardian; and Som and Dala would take vows and enter the local Buddhist nunnery to be educated. TIGER LILLY committed to fund the repatriation of the sisters to Myanmar, and a return trip for So to escort them on their journey. Auntie Aor (who already was sponsoring and mentoring homeless Thai girls in Satun) agreed to manage any funds that could be raised to provide for Som and Dala's ongoing educations. After they receive fundamental reading, writing, and math instruction at the nunnery, they will need additional training to become employable. As Myanmar comes out of its dark time, tourism will surely become a major industry in this beautiful country with a rich cultural heritage. There will be a place for educated and personable young women like Som and Dala to make their mark.
TODAY - It is so heartening for us to report that in early November 2017, after a 38 hour four-bus journey from the town of Satun in southern Thailand, to the little village of Koh Pun, east of Rangoon, Myanmar, the girls have been interviewed and accepted for entrance to the Mueri Haa Ra-Rong Pun temple school. They traded their thread-bare street clothes for robes, and they sacrificed their long beautiful hair to become eligible for enrollment in this safe haven for children. How many teenage girls do you know that would make such a sacrifice? This was a very tough decision since the next day their mother would leave them and return to her job and the rest of their family at the PSS shipyard in Thailand. The sisters and their mother have never been separated, and this courageous change was a tough decision for all concerned - including Lilly. The last report we received was that the girls were happy and doing very well in their studies, and they were enjoying being around other kids at school.
This miracle became reality because three heroic women, from three completely different walks of life - a Burmese laborer named So, a Thai queen named Aor, and an American yachtie named Lilly - came together, and worked as one to change the world they live in - against some very difficult odds. We have read recent news stories that predict that 2018 will be "The Year of the Woman" and we think that this lifting-up of two young Burmese women is exactly the kind of thing that can happen if someone takes the time and effort to get involved. It takes so much more than money to make this happen - first, people must care for one another... This is the story of the magic of mentorship, the power of prayer, and cooperation across cultural lines and international boundaries.
Auntie Aor has a heart for animals as well as people; she adopted her rescue eagle after he fell out of a tree as a fledgling; the helpless Rex would have been killed by the local songbird collectors had she not intervened. If you visit the Gleam Resort in Satun - one of the most comfortable accommodations in southern Thailand - you will no doubt be greeted by this gentle soul's grateful menagerie of friendly rescue dogs and cats!
TOMORROW - Auntie Aor has graciously volunteered to manage any funding that may be donated for Som and Dala's continuing education. The Buddhist nunnery where their school is located has hundreds of underprivileged students whose families cannot afford to send them to school. It costs the equivalent of about $120 US Dollars per month to provide Dala and Som with educational materials, room & board, and clothing. There is nothing fancy about the facility, but we understand that the Buddhist nuns provide a basic education and a safe haven for these at-risk children. At 14 and 16 years-old respectively, Dala and Som will be ready in just a few years to go on to more advanced training - perhaps in the tourist and hotel segments of the economy as Myanmar opens up to the world. Like her mentor Lilly, athletic Dala would certainly qualify for a university scholarship - except there are none available in the Third World to a young woman who cannot read or write. But that can be changed... Just two months ago these young girls had nothing; no education, few material possessions, sometimes only a single meal a day - and very little protection from the vicissitudes of life... Today they are safe, and happy, and well fed as they study and learn with other children; and they can dream of a wonderful life to come - as we all did as young teenagers. Do you suppose that an opportunity to help secure the future of these two young ladies - who themselves have already made a huge leap of faith and sacrifice - would be something that you would want to be a part of?
AN OPPORTUNITY FOR YOU - If you decide that you would like to be part of Dala's Story, there are two ways you can donate:
Direct Bank Transfer
Name - Miss Sirikul Limsakul (aka "Auntie Aor")
Bank of Ayudhya (Krugsri)
Swift Code - AYUDTH BK
Account Number - 269-1-27640-7
(Note: If you use a USA credit union, this may be difficult, as US credit unions and offshore banks don't seem to play well together - or at least that is our experience...)
This is an organization that supports charitable giving - with no administrative costs deducted from your credit card or debit card donation (they do take separate donations to meet their operating costs). The following link will take you to the YouCaring site to donate specifically to Dala (her birth name is Darabaam Naam) and her sister Som's education fund which will be administered by Auntie Aor:
As you can imagine, getting the funds from these accounts in Satun, Thailand to the Mueri Haa Ra-Rong Pun temple school in the little village of Koh Pun, east of Rangoon, Myanmar will be a challenge; but if anyone can accomplish this daunting task, it will be Auntie Aor and her extensive Thai network of banking and legal contacts. If you are so inclined, please pray for Auntie Aor as she strives to do the most good with these donations.
According to data compiled by the YouCaring folks, each SHARE of DALA's STORY will generate, on average, donations amounting to $37 USD. Hey, that's a no-brainer, and it doesn't cost anything to the person who takes just a moment to SHARE DALA's STORY on Facebook, Twitter, or email. It costs about $120 USD each month to educate these young ladies (including room & board, educational materials, and clothing), so for every three SHARES you have raised almost enough for another month of their educations. Please SHARE and get the ball rolling for Dala and Som's futures. You can be absolutely assured that any funds donated will directly benefit these deserving young ladies.
LILLY SEZ - The sex sharks are not going to get these young girls. My prayer for this Christmas is that together we can make it possible for both of these lovely sisters to have a bright future, that they may have the opportunity to make a positive contribution to their world - and then to lift up others. That is exactly how it works - we just pay it forward.
Ladies: Think about Som and Dala, pray for them, then SHARE DALA's STORY and become part of this wonderful Christmas miracle...
Lilly & Tom
S/V Tiger Lilly
Penang Island, Malaysia
OK, if you go to our PHOTO GALLERY and click on DALA’s STORY you can view the captioned pics that go with this post. See you there!
TIGER LILLY - SINGAPORE IS SPECTACULAR!
03 November 2016 | Singapore, Southeast Asia
Tom & Lilly
We just returned to TIGER LILLY after a four day tour in Singapore - and it was a most enjoyable experience.
LILLY SEZ: We had a GREAT time seeing the sights, meeting the people, eating in restaurants, sleeping in a real bed, enjoying the comfort of air conditioning, and just playing tourist! I liked seeing that Singapore has a population of energetic young athletic people exercising - or at least they were dressed in Lycra and looking the part. There were actually a few roadies in town zig-zagging their bicycles through the busy streets of the Central Business District - but starting and stopping every couple of blocks at the traffic signals must be very frustrating.
TOM REPLIES: I certainly did enjoy our visit to Singapore - one of the great seaports of the world, and visiting this unique city-state was on my Bucket List. But Lilly, we are NOT rosy-skinned, rolley-polley flippin tourists, we are seamen on shore-leave! Every five years or so it is probably beneficial to leave the boat for a short period, and have it reaffirmed that I NEVER WANT TO LIVE ASHORE! It was so good to return to TIGER LILLY and get out of that damned air conditioning... And oh by the way, the MAMILS in Singapore (Middle Aged Men In Lycra) - look just about the same as those in the States...
LILLY SEZ: Tom-Tom wants to die on the boat, but he comes from long-lived genes, and the chances are pretty good that I will be selecting HIS rest home! I really do love the wide open spaces of the Great American Desert, and I can see us retiring to the dry heat of New Mexico once we swallow the anchor! Hey Maria - be sure to keep his AC on HIGH, I am off to the pool!
And so it goes friends - the Ying and Yang of marital bliss aboard TIGER LILLY...
Singapore is a First World city-state at the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula, and it is home to some 5.5 millions of people - packed (stacked?) into only 269 square miles; and over 20% of the land area has been reclaimed from the sea. Singapore's icon is the Merlion which is half lion (an animal not indigenous to the region - but it certainly does represent Singapore's strong business acumen), and half fish, which reflects the island's initial habitation as a fishing village. The evolution of this small island in just a few hundred years from a native fishing village scratching out an existence surrounded by a swamp and impenetrable jungle, to a Malay Kingdom ruled by a wealthy and powerful Sultan, to a crown jewel in the mighty British Empire, to today's First World city-state is quite extraordinary - and unique in the history of the world.
WHAT WE THOUGHT OF SINGAPORE:
CLEAN - This huge city is swept up, picked-up, and painted-out; when we rode a transit bus through the outlying communities, they were just as clean and squared-away. Of course, the cost of this order is some loss of personal liberty. You may recall the incident a few years ago when an American teenager earned himself a canning for spray-painting graffiti (which was notable by its absence during our visit). There was a lot of liberal hand-wringing regarding this youngster's fate back in the USA, but we supported it.
SAFE and ORDERLY - Anyone, man or woman, can safely walk the streets of Singapore at any time of the day or night - and the police keep a low (but very effective) profile.
HARMONY - The population of Singapore is multi-ethnic salad bowl, and it appears that race or color does not seem to be a common basis for discrimination: 3/4 of the population is Chinese (with most signs in both Chinese and English); Malay (up until 1965 Singapore was part of Malaysia, and today many Malaysians cross the border each day under special work visas), East Indian (anywhere in the world there are shops and merchants, East Indians are likely to be found running them), Arabs (millions of barrels of crude oil and refined products are transported through the Singapore Harbour each day), and various other cats & dogs and ex-pats of the international business community that make the money flow. These folks are all living together on a very small island, yet they seem to maintain their own special identity in places like China Town, Little India, and Arab Street. The remnants of the former British Colony are epitomized by the Victorian Raffles Hotel.
Tom-Tom the Sailor Man and his consort Tiger Lilly visited the Long Bar at Raffles to partake in virgin Singapore Slings, eat peanuts, and of course, to see and to be seen in this paragon of power and influence. As you can imagine, Tom-Tom was in the persona of Commodore Hornblower of the Royal Navy, reliving the Golden Age of colonialism; while Tiger Lilly accosted the nice Australian couple Howard & Gaynor at the next table, exchanged email addresses and pledged eternal Facebook fidelity. Everyone seemed to enjoy themselves...
VIBRANT - Singapore is the busiest seaport in the world; it is the gateway between the Pacific and Indian Oceans. It is an international hub of finance and business. The office towers of the world's big banks define Singapore's downtown skyline, and this place absolutely BUZZES with capitalism. At the consumer level, tens of upscale malls seem to dominate the retail scene - the multi-level malls get the most stores on the smallest footprint (sans the usual acres and acres of asphalt parking lots); this seems to be the way to go in one of the most expensive real estate markets in the world.
PROSPEROUS - With an average per capita income of $61,400 USD, Singaporeans enjoy a very high standard of living. However, just recently we read an article on the BBC site that ranked Singapore as having the highest cost-of-living in the world. Tourism is a $7 BILLION USD industry in this little country - absolutely amazing! We tried to contribute as little as possible to this statistic by staying in an Airbnb room (double bed, private shower & toilet, air conditioning, central location) for $63 USD per night - which we were quite happy with. How cool are we, using Airbnb and the Internet to get a good deal - thanks to Gen-Xer James of S/V Mahiti who provided adult supervision with the Internet and app download.
ATTRACTIVE - Singapore has been planned and engineered to a tee, with seemingly seamless transition between living spaces, mass transit, working spaces, utilities (finally a Southeast Asian country where the tap water can be safely consumed), entertainment, and fantastic recreation facilities. We LOVE the modern and varied styles of Singapore's architecture, with the use of art, form, and color in their predominantly understated conservative neo-Asian style. (We just made up that term, but it seems to fit...)
CHILI CRAB EXTRAVAGANZA
In the tourist literature much is made of "Singapore's signature dish, the Chili Crab" and the town was plastered with attractive eye-level pictures of this colorful dish. After walking around town for two days and looking at dining scenes of the delectable chili crab, we came to the conclusion (sub-liminal suggestion?) that we could not live another moment without eating one.
LILLY SEZ: "WE?" I was resisting these expensive, difficult-to-eat, spider-like creatures quite nicely, thank you very much!
Through an oversight, we had inadvertently let our on-line subscription to the "Lonely Planet Restaurant Guide To The Orient" lapse. Of course, one would not expect our $63 USD per night hostel-like room to come with a concierge (and if it did, smart money would not listen to a $63 dollar concierge anyway); so we went into the Cheap Charlie Cruiser restaurant selection mode, and were pretty much on our own in un-surveyed waters - so to speak. Knowing that real estate in Singapore is dear, and reasoning that since the most expensive restaurants were located on the top floor of tall buildings - Tom-Tom cleverly focused low, and looked for a sea food restaurant in a basement. As luck would have it, we found such a place right next to the Singapore River - the Jumbo Seafood Restaurant. The first clue should have been the "market price" sticker on the menu next to the picture of the Chili Crab, but the lovely lady handing out the menus assured The Captain that her crabs were the best, and sweetest, in town; and besides she was so very pretty with long shiny black hair, lovely almond shaped eyes, a complexion that reminded one of cream in your coffee, and a tasteful red silk dress with a delicate neckline. We said, "What the heck - you only live once, let's eat her crabs!"
LILLY SEZ: That "delicate neckline" sported a pair of store-bought double-dees, which she skillfully, and seemingly accidentally, brushed against his forearm (being only about 4 feet tall), and Himself actually began drooling. It looks like I will be getting "lucky" tonight...
Little Miss Suzy Wong demurred with a practiced eye flutter and informed us that she was "so-sorry" we did not have reservations, but we could be immediately seated at one of their large round tables in their public room - so we accepted. We were shoe-horned into a dark back room where some nefarious looking characters were already seated. After perusing the pictorial menu, we decided that perhaps a single crab was not enough for the two of us - so we ordered a chili crab and a pepper crab; to enhance our dining pleasure through both diversity and volume.
LILLY SEZ: According to the conversation I inadvertently heard while Hot Shot was checking out the Chinese waitress and telling me sea-stories about some floating restaurant in Hong Kong (which happened 40 years ago) those "nefarious looking characters" were in fact medical doctors - surgeons to be exact...
While waiting for our dinners to arrive, who should be seated right next to us but THREE of the loveliest young Air Taiwan flight attendants a sailor ever did see! (Note: Unlike US based equal opportunity air lines which are dedicated to taking all the fun out of air travel by hiring grandmothers and homosexuals as flight attendants, Air Taiwan still goes by the tried and true hiring practice of selecting their girls on looks and age.) They were absolutely delightful "Hello Kitty" versions of the lady out front handing out the menus, and we had a most convivial dinner conversation with these charming young ladies.
LILLY SEZ: Ladies, it was just too pathetic for words, Grandpa missed his mouth and put a crab leg right in his ear as he attempted to inconspicuously look, smile, and eat at the same time... Luckily, the restaurant dressed him out with one of those ridiculous looking paper sea food bibs; which Miss Suzy Wong was only too happy to tie for him - while working her double-dees across his shoulder... I think that the average age of the young Taiwanese flight attendants was perhaps 19; and yes, they did all have genuine "Hello Kitty" cell phone covers, which of course they never once put down during the meal...
When the $203 SD ($150 USD) bill came Mister Man of the World, swallowed hard and cheerfully paid the bill - while trying to divert Tiger Lilly's attention from the credit card slip - which of course did not work.
LILLY SEZ: OK, been there, done that, and I didn't even get a chili crab tee shirt for $150 flippin dollars!
SINGAPORE's QUALITY OF LIFE and the roll of GOVERNMENT
As Americans travelling the world, we have seen first-hand several ways the United States could increase the quality of life of its citizens by adopting elements of other First World economies which are actually working - today. In the recent past we have reported to you on the wonderful culture that the Australians have created through a national medical care system, a practical minimum wage that a single person can live on, and government-funded post-secondary education. Australian students have access to low interest student loans which do not have to be paid back until their incomes rise well above $50,000 AD. Australian society benefits from a trained and educated young work force not financially burdened by student loans early in life. Likewise, during our visit to Singapore we witnessed the actual results of several government policy issues which SHOULD be a part of the national dialog in the United States during the current election cycle - but sadly are not. Here are some of the effects of government policy we observed first-hand during our short stay in Singapore:
Mass Transit - The bus and train system in Singapore moves millions of people each day in safety, comfort, and efficiency. Inefficient private vehicles are discouraged by a tax and quota system. This is the sort of government policy that can actually make a difference - in the short and medium term - to improve any urban environment now. While we were in Singapore we did not see a single teenager (or his daddy) out cruising the roads in a huge jacked-up, vee-eight powered, four-wheel-drive pickem-up truck...
National Medical Program - Medical care for its citizens is an integral part of Singapore's high standard of living, and it is a critical element in providing the energized workforce that this country needs to compete successfully with the larger countries of the Global Economy. Universal medical care is not only a quality of life issue - it makes good business sense by improving the labor force.
Guest Worker Programs - Singapore has an effective guest worker program to obtain the needed demographics for their labor force, and prevent the country from being straddled with the liabilities and disadvantages of illegal immigration. People come from all over the world to work in Singapore - to their personal advantage - and then they return home. It's called a win-win...
Border Protection - Like Israel (after which the Singapore Government has chosen to pattern their defense forces) Singapore is a thriving secular country surrounded by large Muslim theocracies. They take their defense very seriously; and in fact, as we write this post we can hear the FA-18 Hornet fighter aircraft of the Singapore Air Force overhead on training exercises. They understand that they must be strong to maintain their national security (and to keep good relations with their neighbors) in an increasingly dangerous world.
Business Policy - Singapore is home to thousands of multi-national corporations because it is stable, and it provides a healthy and vibrant environment in which businesses can thrive. Business is not a dirty word in Singapore, and importantly, the fruits of business are used to provide Singaporeans a very high standard of living. It is all about balance in government policy...
Leadership - The vast majority of the Singaporeans we talked to are very proud of their country, and they all expressed a belief in the strength of character and the morality of their leadership. They did not all agree with all of the Government's policies, but there is a strong consensus endorsing the quality and the honesty of their leaders. It was refreshing for us to hear this confidence voiced by the citizens of Singapore.
WHAT's NEXT for the crew of TIGER LILLY?
The Sail Malaysia Rally is coming together to cruise up the west coast of the Malay Peninsula, and based on our very positive experience with the Sail Indonesia Rally we have decided to participate. We intend to settle-down for a year or so on the Malaysian island of Langkawi; this island, just south of the Thai-Malay border, is an international resort area, and a Duty Free Zone. We plan to do some much-needed boat maintenance, and to tour parts of Southeast Asia. Well, that's the plan, Stan!
Since our private helicopter is currently grounded for routine maintenance, we hooked some pics off Google Images and included them in this post so that you could get a bird's eye view of this spectacular place called SINGAPORE. Please don't call the Internet Police on us! Check out our Sail Blogs PHOTO GALLERY for some pictures of SPECTACULAR SINGAPORE!
Here's a thought for some of you adventurous souls: Next year, rather than visiting Disney World for the umpteenth time, or going to sit on your in-laws couch in Des Moines, why not consider an INTERNATIONAL vacation of a life time? Fly to Singapore (depressed oil prices have reduced air fares); then zip over to the Indonesian Archipelago to see the Komodo Dragons, take the ferry to the north shore of Bali to experience the Lovina Festival and their unique Hindu culture, and hop a fast-ferry to the Kumai River in southern Borneo to see the wonderful orangutans. Finally, fly back to Spectacular Singapore for a whorl-wind wind-up in a world class city. See TIGER LILLY's recent Face book posts for some unique possibilities to expand your horizons. Hey, at least think about it...
It is all part of the places we go, and the people we meet while cruising under sail in TIGER LILLY...
Tom and Lilly
S/V Tiger Lilly
Puteri Harbour, Johor Bahru, Malaysia
TIGER LILLY - BORNEO ORANGUTAN
02 October 2016 | Kumai River, Borneo
Tom & Lilly
We took a guided boat tour up the Sekonyer River to southern Borneo's Tanjung Puting National Park - the orangutan's were absolutely FANTASTIC! We saw orangutan - wild in the forest and at park feeding stations, gibbons - the acrobats of the jungle, proboscis monkeys - an entire troop of these Jimmy Durante look a-likes flew out of the tree tops and into the river as we passed them, and of course the ubiquitous macaques. We prefer to take TIGER LILLY up tropical rivers and explore on our own, but unfortunately foreign yachts are not allowed in the park; however, we likely saw much more with our guide Andi than we would have on our own. The three day tour aboard the Klotok Kelimutu (riverboat) with five other couples from the Sail Indonesia Rally will certainly go down as one of the highlights of TIGER LILLY'S world cruise.
TIGER LILLY - DRAGONS LIVE HERE!
24 August 2016 | Rindja Island, Indonesia
Tom & Lilly
The soft light of dawn bathed the cloven hills of Rindja Island in an amber glow as we picked our way through large lava boulders in a deep ravine. A remnant of the cool night breeze drifted down the hillside, and we followed our guide Sofina with attentiveness, and a subliminal expectation of adventure. We were here to see the Komodo Dragons; but these bolder-strewn hills, covered in a course, thick, thigh-high grass, are the habitat of a few other nasties as well. Javan spitting cobras favor the grassy knolls and wooded ravines. Emerald tree vipers tend to drape themselves on tree limbs; and the green death awaits the inattentive bush bird (or yachtie) who ventures too close. The bad-tempered white-lipped pit vipers, hopeful that a young Macaque monkey will scamper into striking range, lie in ambush amongst the grey boulders.
We were like fish out of water in this harsh and unforgiving environment, and our primary defense is Sofina's watchful eye and keen bush sense. (Poppa, Mum, stay close please.) He carries a well-worn two meter long forked stick to push against the shoulder of an aggressive dragon. Sofina, nearly toothless from a lifetime of chewing betel nut, told us before we left the Ranger Station that the Dragons have very poor eye sight, and their primary sensing organ is their long, forked tongue. Our guide, and protector, who has spent all of his 41 years living amongst the Dragons, thinks that as he presses the forked tongue-like stick against the shoulder of one of these huge reptiles that they sense that a really big Dragon must be attached to it, so they back off. That's the theory anyway: walk softly, but carry a big tongue! Visualize this: the only thing between you and hundreds of kilograms of bacteria-laden razor-toothed carnivorous lizard is a slight quiet-spoken man, whom you have just met, with a theory on animal behavior - and a 20mm diameter stick in his hand. Now that's an example of faith...
As we diverted from the ravine and entered a dried creek bed, quite suddenly the sweet aroma of the dew-laden grass was displaced by the unmistakeable smell of death. It hung like a pall over the tropical scrub-bush. We had already seen the young "house lizards" which skirted the periphery of the ranger's quarters in anticipation of a hand-out; but we were eager to come into the presence of a full grown Komodo Dragon in his natural environment. As we stood atop a large bolder and peered down into a putrid depression of muck and black slime, just a few meters away a young "teenage" Dragon was ripping the decaying flesh off a very ripe water buffalo carcass. The stench was quite powerful, but we stood in awe and watched this holdover from the age of the dinosaurs tug and claw, rip and gulp, and utter deep guttural hissing epitaphs at the human invaders to his kingdom. The young Dragon occasionally stopped his feast to raise his head and "taste" us with his long pink forked tongue, and then returned to stripping the tough hide from the water buffalo. We were mesmerized buy the power of this young fellow. Nearly defenseless, we became very much aware that in this place we no longer enjoyed a perch at the top of the food chain; we were clearly on the menu...
Sofina told us in his broken English that old or sick buffalo will seek whatever water is available - and the Dragons instinctively know they are in a weakened state. (An obviously intelligent person, he had to communicate in his self-taught English, as we cannot speak Indonesian.) Our young Dragon seemed to assess the tall, bald, Sailor Man peering at him from atop the boulder. Perhaps that hitch in the old man's gate as he moved amongst the rocks foretold of a day - not far off - when he too would be ready to be taken... We watched for several minutes - this is exactly what we came to see; we wanted to experience the sight, sound, and smell of this wonder of the natural world. Just before we reluctantly departed, we noticed that the young Dragon seemed preoccupied, and was lifting his head and sensing the air behind us. Sofina told us that we must be very careful as we worked our way back along the creek bed; it is common for several Dragons to feed off a single carcass. If a Dragon comes down the narrow steep-sided creek bed, the traffic is only going one-way - his way! Sure enough, we were just out of the creek bed, and no more than perhaps 50 meters up the ravine, when we met the Grand-Daddy Dragon heading right for us on the trail - and we were between him and his next meal. Crossing his bow was not a good option, and after a bit of scrambling, we gave way and took up station on his starboard quarter; we would follow at a respectful distance and see how the situation played-out between Grand-Daddy and the Teenager.
By the time we had retraced our steps and returned to the buffalo carcass, the Teenager was making his exit and cresting the creek bank; only to have been replaced by a third Dragon, a mature adult, and he was now in sole possession of the buffalo. With his blunt head buried in the bloated abdominal cavity, his powerful legs and splayed claws anchored the heaving carcass as he ripped flesh and crushed bone. We watched in anticipation as Grand-Daddy approached the just slightly smaller adult Dragon. Safina was now keeping us well back; he warned that if the Dragons decide to settle this with a fight, they are capable of moving very fast for short distances, and there was no-telling what exit route the vanquished may take. The two bulky adversaries were head-to-head and shoulder-to-shoulder on top of the disputed buffalo carcass as they sized-up each other. They were braced-up on their powerful forefeet with splayed claws ready to do battle in an instant. However, after a bit of head shoving and grunting, they somehow came to the mutual decision that Grand-Daddy would take his meal later; and he ambled off, down the creek bed to his nap in the morning sun.
There is plenty to do and see at the Komodo National Park, a designated United Nations World Heritage Site. We anchored TIGER LILLY at five different places at Rindja and Komodo Islands - with each one prettier then the last. Rather than making day trips from Labuan Badjo, Flores, as do the tourists, like a turtle, we brought our home to the park and lived here day and night. By being here around the clock we had the opportunity to see Asian red deer, large flocks of bats, huge manta rays, brilliant blue backed kingfishers, sea turtles, Macaque monkeys, spinner dolphin, wild water buffalo, beautiful coral reefs for snorkeling, wild boar on the beach, and of course the iconic Komodo Dragons themselves.
LILLY sez: OH MY GOSH - we loved visiting Komodo National Park and seeing the Dragons! We hope that our experience has wetted your appetite for learning more about Indonesia - there is so much to see, and so many new things to learn here. For an enjoyable read, and lots of insightful information about this area of Southeast Asia, pick up a copy of Lawrence Blair's excellent book "RING OF FIRE". He and his brother Lorne spent years travelling extensively through Indonesia, living with the native people, and learning the ancient ways of these exotic islands. These modern-day adventurers cum academics lived with cannibals in the western mangroves of Irian Jaya, sailed with the Makassar Pirates of Celebes, made the first underwater films of the famed Banda Sea pearl divers, and delved into the spiritual nature of the Hindu Mystics of Bali. Their work was also the subject of a PBS video documentary of the same name. We enthusiastically recommend "RING OF FIRE" - this book has certainly brought an added dimension to TIGER LILLY's cruise through the Indonesian Archipelago.
We hope that one day you will have the opportunity to come and see this amazing place for yourself...
Tom & Lilly
S/V Tiger Lilly
Gilli Banda, Indonesia
TIGER LILLY SAYS FAREWELL AUSTRALIA - HELLO INDONESIA!
22 July 2016 | Fannie Bay, Darwin, Northern Territory, Australia
Tom & Lilly
Three weeks ago we were anchored off Airlie Beach, Queensland when we decided to sign up for the Sail Indonesia rally; today we are at Fannie Bay, Northern Territory and are ready in all respects to sail for Kupang, West Timor, Indonesia. We will go into the Darwin Sailing Club this morning, clear Australian Customs and Immigration, and be on our way on the ebb tide this evening.
It took an intense 1500 mile passage to get here - we call it the CAPES - CORAL - CURRENT run up the Tropical Queensland coast, around Cape York and through the Torres Straits, and then across the top of Australia.
Without much of a break we went right to work in Darwin.
LILLY SEZ: You can sleep when you are dead Tom-Tom!
Our Pre-Sail List included: repairing the refrigeration control system, dumping and flushing the potable water tanks, scrubbing the underwater hull, applying for Indonesian visas, loading-out 4 months of provisions / stores / spare parts / fuel / potable water / consumables, and finally Southeast Asia inoculations for all hands.
LILLY SEZ: I feel like a pin cushion - but my shot-card is up to snuff!
Darwin is completely different (but interesting) from the Queensland region we have grown to love. Darwin, and Australia's Northern Territory, has both the social culture and the topography of "Alabama meets New Mexico in the tropics"; but we were here in the voyage prep mode, and the town met all of our needs. Apparently, we are Queenslanders at heart!
It has been a hectic time getting ourselves and TIGER LILLY ready for an extended cruise, but it is done, and we are ready to sail. (Don't forget the toilet paper Lilly!) Super-Shopper Lilly and all of our stores and provisions are inside the life lines. However, the weather forecast for our passage across the Beagle Gulf is light and variable - very typical for this corner of Australia. We will have to work hard to keep TIGER LILLY's twenty tons moving; but hopefully the light air and easy seas will keep Lilly's mal-de-mer down...
LILLY SEZ: It is certainly a bitter sweet experience to depart this big beautiful Land Downunder called Australia. We will miss the wonderful Australian people who have warmly received us, and shown us so very many kindnesses. Australia is a beautiful country, and the Australian culture is the nicest we have experienced anywhere in the world. Anywhere. We encourage everyone - and especially Americans - to come and see a First World country where people of all colors and backgrounds seem to get along together. This country is a land of opportunity for the economically disadvantaged, and a guiding light for freedom in this part of the world. (Bernie described Australia pretty well during his recent presidential campaign when he described what America could become.)
But it is a sailor's lot to say farewell; moving forward is the style of cruising we prefer. Like delicate sea birds, always on the wing - we lead a dynamic lifestyle at the interface of sea and sky. Chasing the horizon is what we do...
The voyage up to Kupang is only about 500 miles, but culturally it is a world away from Australia. We are headed towards South East Asia and the largest (by population) Muslim country in the world; just when many people in the United States are talking about building walls... Sailors who have cruised the Indonesian Archipelago have wonderful stories and warm memories of the friendly Indonesian people and their many beautiful islands.
We are eager to be sailing into a new adventure. In general, our Indonesian cruising plan is to sail from Darwin to West Timor, then west across the Indonesian Archipelago some 500 miles to the mystical island of Bali (early September), northwest some 400 miles to the south coast of Borneo (to see the orangutan), and finally 500 miles west and across the Straits of Malacca to the bright lights of Singapore. In November and December we will cruise the west coast of the Malay Peninsula up to the Malaysian island of Langkawi - arriving in time for Christmas. We are excited about cruising the waters of Southeast Asia, and we will check in on Facebook as Internet access permits.
SEE YA! WE ARE OUTA HERE!
Tom & Lilly
S/V Tiger Lilly
Darwin, N.T. Australia
TIGER LILLY - SHE IS BACK!
14 June 2016 | Pancake Creek, Queensland, Australia
Tom & Lilly
On Sunday TIGER LILLY was raided in the dark of the night by the Australian MOVIE COPS, and Lilly was taken into custody. They had read our FB post discussing movie swapping in the cruising fleet, and decided to make an example out of the Cheeky Yanks. I mistakenly predicted that they would bring her back in three days - but it only took two days (and one night) for her to wear them down. The MOVIE COP helo just deposited her back on the beach, and she is frantically waving and jumping up and down - still in her PJ's. But I must admit that the peace and quiet aboard TIGER LILLY is really kind of nice; and besides, the dinghy is secured for sea on the cabin top. Perhaps one of the other boats in the anchorage with a dinghy already in the water will fetch her... I just read in the online version of the Auckland Fishwrapper and Ambulance Chaser that the famous Kiwi producer/financier J. Scott Pryor is already writing the screen play and is putting together a Hollywood consortium to document the lasses heinous crimes against The Big Screen...
Here is a recap of the pirated movie situation that went down two nights ago aboard TIGER LILLY:
At about 0200 last night we heard the distinctive whomp-whomp of a helicopter - it had "MOVIE COPS" stenciled on the fuselage in reflective red paint. They came in nose down, fast and hard, landed on the beach here in Pancake Creek, Queensland, quickly inflated their pink Zodiac, and were coming up the side of TIGER LILLY before we knew what was happening. They were wearing sequined Elvis Suits, flamingo brooches, and Ray Bans. The senior agent, Inspector Clouseau, whipped out an iPhone with our FB pirate movie swapping post on it; and thusly confronted with the evidence of her criminal activity, Lilly quickly broke down and confessed. They had her in handcuffs and orange coveralls as quick as you can say "Bob's your uncle!" They tumbled her into their inflatable and disappeared into the dark. All over the anchorage splashes could be heard as fellow cruisers were jettisoning THEIR pirate movie hard drives and purloined soft back books. The clicking of keyboards was clearly audible across the water as the geek cruisers were frantically polishing their Apples. It was absolute mayhem. The last I saw of my Lilly was her tear-streaked face pressed against the window of the MOVIE COP helo as it lifted off; she was sobbing uncontrollably...
Well, it has been pretty quiet aboard TIGER LILLY; I am reading a 1993 Tom Clancy book with no cover on it, drinking coffee, and listening to 30 knots of wind whistle in the rigging.
I have a pretty good idea how this is going to play out. The last time something like this happened, they brought her back after 3 days - the cops just wanted some peace and quiet! As per usual, she had made Facebook friends with all the cop wives and their cop girlfriends, knew all of their extended family members (and some of THEIR extended families), and had invitations to a cop wedding, a cop barbecue, and the Police Academy graduation...
Apparently the law enforcement folks have cleared up all the shenanigans that Slithery Hillary and her friends at Goldman Sachs were involved in, and now they have plenty of time to focus on the really serious criminals...
Mom & Pop cruisers take heed - they could come for your illegal movies and books too!
Tom & Lilly
S/V Tiger Lilly
Pancake Creek - still watching the wind blow