Paddling Through Singapore and Vietnam

Paddling Through Singapore and Vietnam


Date sent: Mon, 23 Dec 1996 09:10:46 +0800
From: Sylvio Lamarche

Kayaking The South China Sea, sounds great.....


As you may remember, last winter saw me flying into Vietnam for some great kayaking, as well as some military detention which actually was quite good, where else can you get arrested and be taken out for giant shrimp and beer...

This winter sees me kayaking in Singapore for a few days, another quick visit to Vietnam before going paddling South East Sulawesi, the land of the boogeyman

Here are my first 2 updates for this years adventure:

Greetings folks,

Just a small note from the tropics, from the garden city, which is really what Singapore is, one lovely city/state...Weather here is around 30'C, maybe even warmer a bit, 'specially yesterday, and today even hotter.

Folks here are super friendly, everyone speaks English...My welcome here has been totally wonderful, a very nice bunch of folks. I arrived here 4 days ago, after a 24 hour flight as we were delayed for 3 hours on the tarmac in Vancouver due to a fuel leak...

It is so fantastic, I have had no time to rest from the jet lag...first day here was dealing with my Vietnam visa, which I get tomorrow morning, and fly out tomorrow afternoon...The second day I used up to visit the city a bit, Chinatown and Little India, I much prefer the former to the latter area..

Being that they are such friendly folks, there was a dinner party 2 nights in a row with the paddling group, perhaps 10 people, that is it as kayaking is a very new sport here...The food is excellent as is everything else...

Day 3 saw me paddling the straight of Johor, between Singapore and Malasia, which is but 1/2 km at times, and paddling the center line was quite something else, sometimes closer to Malasia than Sg...My first paddle buddy, Arnold, a 28 year old Singaporian paddle freak, was a very good guide so to speak. We doubled in my yak... We circumnavigated the island of Ubin, the last of inhabited [almost] island of Sg, being a reserve for now, there was loads of birds singing in the trees, saw a few golden eagles, one of which must of been a undercover police officer as it was flying around with a small bamboo stem in its claws...The water is warmer than a regular bath, and the waves quite small on this first day [the channel is quite protected, which made for an easy paddle, even with the winds which in part were blowing quite good. For lunch we had some cold fried sugared noodles [yes sugared with orange sugar]; quite a good energy boost. After rounding the last edge of the island we pulled at the Outward Bound school property and put up the sail and sailed home to the Changi sailing club where we put in. Great first day, about 30 kms, a good way to break into the tropical waters and tropical heat...

Yesterday was another story, there were 6 yaks for 7 people, my excellent host Peter was my front passenger/paddler, actually his first time out. We went back into Ubin, this time into a small inner channel that saw us paddle the mangroves, what a blast, but this time there were very strong head winds which made it quite choppy, but extremely fun...This small foray into the mangrove was very good for me as I was quite worried about such areas [In Indonesia where I will be paddling in a couple weeks has lots of mangrove which may be populated with crocs; none here though]. The spicy foods sure make a nice lunch while out on the water, got to see a few flying fish of fair size, and many more birds of all colors...My favorite though is still admiring all of the lush plant life on shore, it is so darn beautiful...I also got to try a out Derek Hutchison SIRIUS fiberglass kayak; quite interesting I have to say.

My kayak is now drying out, and getting ready to pack up today for travel into Vietnam tomorrow afternoon...And tonight a dinner out for totally Singaporian food [steamboat dinner, no idea what it is, but sure to be delicious]...

I was quite overwhelmed at being a honored guest to such friendly folks, so friendly in fact that I have been talked into leaving some time on my return for more paddling with my new friends, this time into Malaysia...

I would have to say that this is an excellent place to get into the heat and get ready for any Southeast Asia paddling destination. There is no permit needed nor any restrictions. I am sure to think of this place a lot as I pull into shore to primitive/minimal campsites with no amenities, as it is sure nice to come home here to a great shower and home cooked food [ the 2 maids/cook are 1 Thai lady and an Indonesian lady, who make totally fantastic food].

All in all , this is truly the start of a great winter adventure which I am extremely glad I traveled this way.

Malasia sure sounds like a great paddling destination. I am told it is a place where paddling is very welcome by the authorities [I do keep this in mind as we know about last year's military detention in Vietnam...This reminds me of my first day out, 2 days ago when the military helicopters flew above us, Arnold got quite a chuckle over my short lived paranoia, which he quashed rapidly, and knowing that his step mother is Ambassador to Indonesia made me feel quite reassured...

This is truly a wonderful time and place, which I will remember for a long time, and have made some very good friends, most of whom travel to Canada every so often, where and when I will be able to return the great hospitality which they have so openly extended to me, which goes to show that it is possible to meet some fine folks through the net...

Hoping that you are all having as great time as I am

Sylvio Lamarche

WHERE IS THE BOOGEYMAN ????

He's in Celebes [Sulawesi] of course...

the expression boogeyman was was inspired by a tribe of people from Sulawesi known as the Bugis people, who were a fierce bunch of ocean going pirates that pried the waters of the Celebes Sea, they were so fierce that it inspired the boogeyman will come phrase that still is with us today, not so much for the folks but they are still in South Eastern Sulawesi [which is exactly where I am going] although they are not pirating anymore, it should fuel the wackiness and craziness of my travels there...

quick, paddle away the boogeyman is coming...

I just read this in Asia Week Magazine this morning, and had to share it with you...

So by mid January, when wondering where I am, I will be with the boogeyman

Off to get my visa and catch a plane, leaving Singapore in about 5 hours...Dinner at the banana cafe tonight in Ho Chi Minh City, and beers at the Rolling Stone Bar..


Date sent: Fri, 18 Apr 1997
From: Sylvio Lamarche
To: adventures@cyber-adv.com
Subject: Asian Paddle Part 2

After 1 fantastic week in Singapore, i find myself flying into Ho Chi Minh City[Saigon]. this being my 3rd visit in as many years, and having left there only 9 months ago, I have prepared myself for the same tenfold increase in tourists, but not much else. I sure was not prepared, and was even a bit horrified, to find a huge chunk of stores and stalls torn down, making room for development [foreign development that is].

But as usual after checking into the Bao Chau Hotel [355 Pham Ngu Lao street] I was off for a stroll to examine this total destruction...Not more than 30 seconds into my contemplation of the big gaping hole where once stood the Banana Restaurant [ a friendıs] that a cycle driver came to me and told me where it was relocated at [ESP]...

After a visit with my friends at the newly reopened Banana restaurant, I strolled down to my favorite haunt, the Rolling Stone bar, to my horror, a whole new crew was there, none of my old friends were working there any more, good thing I was tired, I walked back and went to sleep...

The next morning saw me book a same day flight to Dannang [Going to my Vn home for xmass]. Back at China Beach for xmas eve dinner, with 17 other tourists and the vietnamese crew, fantastic....My welcoming home was fantastic...Jumbo prawns for dinners and bonfire on the beach for xmas and new years eve...My 3rd new years eve on China beach...

First week of January saw me back to Nha Trang city, with my Vietnamese partner [ M. Hoa from Tan Toan guest house on china beach, the best little guest house in Vietnam], and many more adventures to go in that country...]his first time on a plane was quite exciting...

Hoa, having never been on a boat, let us take him on Mama Hanhıs boat trip out of Nha Trang city...This is a 45 ft[15meters] motorized junket, where about 30 tourists go out for the day, swimming, snorkeling, all the seafood you can eat for lunch, followed by a floating bar [ where everyone floats on a life ring and eats fruit, drinks mulberry wine and smokes local ganga (rolled in cigarette tubes with filter), back to a beach bar and return late afternoon, for USD 7.00, all inclusive...Hoa was mindblown, eyes like loonies[CDN 2.00], he was truly enthralled...

The next day, we headed for Doc Let beach, a few bungalows on the beach 50 kms north of Nha Trang city...where we found a boat man willing to sneak me out to a beach farm 3 hours out on the end of a peninsula, no road, and no tourists allowed...[If you remember last yearsı adventure, this is where I was arrested and detained while kayaking around with no permits and all that]

Even Tam our boat driver had never been that way, I felt like a tour guide to these locals...After asking permission to the farm folks, we settled in for a couple of days...

There are 6 families living there, which makes for 26 people in total, 14 adults, of whom not one of them had ever had a can of pop or beer, and did not know how to open the beer cans we had, they also turned down some great tasting steamed crabs in favor of the extra large oranges we had.

Imagine the amazement at my "Kelty""Thinsulate" sleeping bag...

This place is paradise, about 10 hectares, fronted by 1 1/2 km of white sandy beach, and backed by steep jungle mountains with 3 creeks coming down the mountains, carrying al the fresh water needed for the gardens and consumption...We are now trying to buy the leasehold on the place...

A few days later, we were back at Nha Trang city, Hoa going back to China Beach, Hoa was quite nervous at taking the plane by himself, a couple beers took care of that, and I headed for Ho Chi Minh city, where I was to make arrangements to get to Indonesia [ Bali and Sulawesi]

But that is another story...

Sylvio Lamarche


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