Labelled with a sticker on our lapels dispatched from the hotel by taxi to the quay our status as tourist recognised we are personally escorted aboard the junk. Encouraged by our Chinese lady captain we help ourselves to coffee or coke.
Beyond the skyscraper surrounded harbour ships anchor offshore in the South China Sea. While passengers sit in plastic seats or test their sea-legs on the swaying deck, the captain reels off streams of statistics stressing Singapore’s financial standing over Hong Kong, its trading rival.
Past the shoreline of Sentosa, the sky darkens; the rain comes down; canvas curtains are lowered; the deck awash, we move bags onto chairs, drift towards the drier, sheltered decks, balancing cups.
Braving the downpour, at Kuso Island, we run along the gangway, through dripping trees to the temple. A television plays in the kitchen where a girl prepares food; a snake slithers in a cage by the shrine. Incense mixes with the moistness.
Dressed only in tee-shirts, sandals, shorts, after the rain sun soon steams us dry.