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Diary entry by Gertrude Bell

Reference code
Bell, Gertrude Margaret Lowthian
Creation Date
Extent and medium
1 entry, paper
Swettenham, Frank

1.352083, 103.819836

Thurs 12. [12 March 1903] When I woke we were near the shore and
Singapore island was in sight. After breakfast we entered some
narrow channels - very pretty passing between the main island and
the wooded islands which lie close in. Some had houses on and
these few have fresh water. Passed under a house belonging to the
Sultan of Johore [Johor]. Extraordinary amount of shipping - Dutch,
English, Chinese. Fine harbour. Recognised the familiar blue funnel
of Holt's and the red of Jardine Matheson. Some Jap gunboats lying
in port. We anchored about 10 and were told a govt. launch was
coming for us. The Chinese family got into a revenue launch, the
youngest boy carrying a trumpet and a hen! The launch appeared
and a Govt House servant and took us ashore. I got into a cab and
drove off leaving H [Hugo] to do some things in the town first.
Wonderfully green - lovely stretches of grass. Population all Chinese.
A mass of junks and barges, big sampans, on the Singapore river
over which I crossed by an iron bridge. All the houses look mouldy,
the stucco covered with streaks of damp. Got to Govt House about
11.30, Mr Bosanquet the private secretary, made me welcome and
took me up to my big comfy room with glazed verandahs. Outside my
window a gorgeous red tree was flowering and a bird singing like a
thrush. It's a black and white bird with a sticking up tail. I had a bath
and changed. H came in and at once we lunched. The party was Sir
F. Swettenham, Mr Bosanquet and Captain Barry the ADC. Sir F is a
curious saturnine creature but very good company. We get on
famously, I assuming a light and jocular tone. After lunch we went to
our rooms and read novels till 4.45 when we found an excellent tea in
the big drawing room. Scones to which we did ample justice. Sir F
came in in polo clothes to see we were all right. Drove down to the
polo ground where we talked to Sir F and Captain Barry between
times and to a nice Mrs Sugden who promised us a letter of
introduction to one Ramage in Batavia [Jakarta]. A white full moon
hung over the east, it was deliciously soft and cool and pleasant.
About 6 it was too dark to play any more and we drove home. Wrote
letters to Hongkong - the exertion of writing makes one drip all over! I
had a letter from Gerard Collier here which he left in passing, making
plans for Japan. We dined at 8 and spent the evening in the billiard
room at the end of the dining room. The evening went very well. We
talked much of books. Both Sir F and Mr Bosanquet much on the
spot. To bed about 11 but did a lot of odd jobs and didn't sleep well.
Very hot and lots of mosquitoes.

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