Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Silver's gold

Today I broke free from the sofa to get a typhoid jab at the Travel Clinic, which was remarkably full of jeans-wearing Baby Boomers studiously equipping their medical kits before heading off overseas on all sorts of adventures; and where the doctor, who has perfected the art of both reading and - more unusually - writing upside down so his patients across the desk can follow his annotations to the Clinic's rather daunting list of vaccinations, scrolled through his email inbox to show me how many people had been in touch with him recently having been bitten - by dogs, mainly, but also by monkeys. "And one man wasn't even a tourist!" he said, clearly thinking this was a dirty trick by the dog in question. "He was there on business!" But it's too late for me to get vaccinated against rabies, so I'll just have to spend my time in Viet Nam whirling like a ninja, fending off all the rabid mammals.

Then I collected our family photos from the North & South office, where they've been scanned ready to be laid out for the November issue with my Stalag Luft 3 story, which I'm really looking forward to seeing. We chose November because of Remembrance Day then, which was never much of a thing for most of my life, but has now become a minor Anzac Day here in New Zealand, with poppies and all. Interesting how the further away we get from the War, the bigger it has become: I wonder if the Vietnam War will ever stop skulking around at the back? And then I picked up my passport with its Vietnam visa, the first entry in its pristine pages.

Finally I trotted off to the the O'Connell Street Bistro for a very nice lunch indeed, thank you, hosted by Silversea and thoroughly enjoyed by a roomful of editors, and me. It was Silversea standard dining, which is high praise, because Silversea is the best type of ocean cruising you can do. Small ships - well, small enough to fit under Tower Bridge, but not so small that it feels at all cramped, and certainly not in the suites, which have walk-in wardrobes, a seating area and marble bathroom as well as the big bed - with around 300 guests. Compared with the massive, ugly cities that they're building these days, the Silversea ships are canoes. Canoes with personal butlers, bottomless champagne in the rooms, waiters carrying your breakfast buffet selection to your table for you... it goes on. The week I spent on Silver Whisper, from Hong Kong to Shanghai by way of Beijing's port, was pretty much the definition of sybaritic - with class. Happy to repeat anytime, Silversea!

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