Singapore Adventure

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

The Love Boat
by venitha

"Hi, there!" Brian's good-natured tenor skips playfully down the boat's railing and into my cabin. He's performing his usual graceful routine on the balance beam of charm, dipping first a bashful tippy toe, next a tickling twirling finger into the bay of smarm below.

"How are you tonight?"

I can't hear a response, and I wonder as I lie in my post-hike, post-swim, post-shower, pre-nine-course-supper siesta to whom he's talking. Perhaps it's smiling, soft-spoken Bay, whom Brian has dubbed Captain though he is clearly the Vietnamese love child of purser Gopher and cruise director Julie and flashes, inexplicably, bartender Isaac's smile. Or maybe Brian's merely spotted a flasher of a different sort, Jim, through the angled slats of our bathroom wall.

"How much for a big water?"

Woo hoo! It's a guest star! Flashy perhaps, who's strapped on her flamenco guitar and rowed an enticing display of Oreos, Pringles, and ChocoPies out to our boat, currently anchored for the night in a peaceful lagoon along with several dozen other cruisers.

"Twenty!" Mock horror. "That's very expensive. I paid much less in Hanoi."

"Is that beer? How much for the beer?"

"How about thirty for one big water and two beers. No? Okay, well you just let me know if you change your mind."

"Go Brian!" Jim encourages from our shower. I take a swig from my own water bottle, then snuggle deeper into my pillow, softly singing The Love Boat theme. Before I even get a chance to wonder what comes after We're expecting you, however...

"Hel-lo! Are you ready to negotiate again? How much? Oho! That's more than where we stopped before!" That silly Charo.

Jim and I both laugh aloud, and from within Brian's cabin emerges a very loud cough.


The next morning, returning to the Pacific Princess Dragon's Pearl from our shore excursion to the amazing caves of Hang Sửng Sốt, I pause along the jetty for some Kwik-E-Mart raft shopping of my own.

"How much for a big water?"


"Will you take ten?"

The raft-clerk shrugs and tilts his head in the universal signal for Yeah, sure. If I say no, you'll keep walking, and as I pass down the money, he passes up the water.

"Thank you. Er... cảm ơn."

"Okay, so in about ten seconds, you just got the same price Brian had to bargain for for how long?" Andrea shakes her head.

Yeah, but I think Brian probably had more fun. I mean, Charo! Cuchi cuchi!