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Thursday, June 6, 2013

June 6, 2013 – More Venting & Another Visa extension to Singapore!

We are having real problems here. Boats only get 6 months in Thailand before they have to be "imported". Destiny's 6 months runs out the 20th, so if we aren't gone by then I don't know what we'll do.  Most of the other cruisers booked on the transport are European and have flown out to their respective homes, leaving 7-Star to hire captains to load their yachts at 7-Star's expense. There is no way we are going to leave the sealing and  loading of our boat to anyone else.

We are so disappointed and a bit angry - have spent beau coups $$$ fooling around with the darn visa extensions, and only had until June 11th on our final one. Now the ship is not due here before the 16th. So we were trying to figure the easiest and least costly way to extend from that date. We found that the minimum cost (just a couple hundred $) would be if we rent a car and drive to the Thai border, take the boat to Burma (again), but will only get 15 days, and that is a horrible trip. We never want to do that again! Meanwhile the others who are really griping and making a fuss are getting all kinds of things paid for, such as extended marina fees and so forth, by 7-Star. We really don't know what amount they are getting but do know that paying for a captain to load their boats and paying their boat fees here in Phuket are not cheap.

That's not our style, but finally we told the local 7-Star Rep. about our issue with the visas. She called Frank and told him they had a surprise for us for my birthday. They said they would pay for our air ticket to fly to Singapore to get our passport stamped for 30 more days. That was a very sweet gesture and one that we appreciated, but if we had done it ourselves, we were just going to fly to KL, in and out in one day. We want to spend our money on a trip to Hong Kong on the way to Turkey during our 3+ weeks off the boat while it's being shipped.

7-Star booked the plane ticket for us (we did not get a choice of where or what airline or date - probably b/c they were looking for the cheapest airfare from Phuket). They booked us for an overnight stay - out on the 5th and back on the 6th. Frank asked if they were going to pay our hotel, airport transfers and meals and they said NO.

For some crazy reason we had a real hard time finding a hotel for one night in Singapore - everything was booked or required minimum 3-night stay, except for some backpacker hostels in Chinatown. We finally found a room at the Swissotel. That plus meals plus all the airport transfers ended up costing us over $500 (and we used the train - no taxis!!!). The air ticket that they paid was under $300 for us both on Tiger airways. We have never been on a plane with seats so small. Frank's knees would not fit into the back of the seat in front of him because his legs were too long! He had to sit sideways. Our ticket was not upgradable or refundable. He was NOT HAPPY.

I know they were trying to be helpful and in spite of the frustration, we did have a good time (at least I had a nice birthday), but Frank grumbled the whole time about this being our most expensive visa extension and not what he would have planned. Frank said my present from him was the hotel. Now we are back in Phuket waiting and waiting. I sure hope that getting to Turkey is worth all of this because right now, we are ready to ask for our money back. It would have been so much cheaper and less stressful if we had sailed back to Penang that second week of May and sat out the season in the nice marina there, where at least I could do my own laundry and be in walking distance of groceries, etc., which was our original 6-month plan. But then we thought we would have been shipped between the 14th and 25th of May too.

OK, so we did really enjoy our quick trip to Singapore. Enjoyed a wonderful dinner on the Singapore River. Our room had a nice river view, and we visited the astounding Botanical Gardens before returning to Phuket.
views from our room of the river

travel docs for Singapore

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