We are becalmed, waiting our turn to use the port facility at Kelang, Malaysia. Although Kelang is a day’s passage away, we queue here because there’s space for the mammoth container ships at the mouth of the Malacca Strait.
Off to the starboard there’s a dense fog bank and I’m reminded of the Skull Island scene in the 2005 rendition of ‘King Kong.’ The comely Ann Darrow (Naomi Watts) is the gorilla’s prisoner; she definitely needs rescuing.
The reality is hardly less exotic, Sumatra is somewhere in the mist. It’s one of the most bio-diverse places on the planet. As I’m entertaining this thought a ladybug with one large black spot in her otherwise red carapace lands nearby. Could this be the legendary killer ladybug in which we all believed so profoundly in Mrs Scott’s 4th Grade? Maybe I’d better retreat into the wheel house. What perils next?
Screwing my courage I remain on deck to watch gulls thermaling in the hot exhaust rising from our central stack. A clue, the Ural’s main engine has been started. She quivers, then a great loping shudder as her propeller gains purchase and we are under way.
After Kelang, our next port of call is Xiamen, China, where I disembark. From there I’ll take the train to Shanghai, my Shambala. I wonder if I’ll be able to adjust to the change. I’ve lived for five weeks among twenty-five men. In that time, I haven’t heard a woman’s voice, a complete sentence in English, or the news in any language. No wonder I want to rescue Ann Darrow! She could read me The Examiner while I enjoy a nice cuppa.