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Around the World in 80 Days

Day 10: 4 October

Michael Palin - Around the World in 80 DaysI've lost another half day on my schedule by the time we eventually pull away from the dockside, passing the stricken Algeria whose engine problems precipitated all these delays.

It's a 48-hour trip to Jeddah and our speed will not be much more than 15 knots, a much slower rate of progress than the Egitto. There are 650 passengers and 12 cars aboard (one of which is a gleaming Cadillac). Though Passepartout and I have comfortable cabins with plenty of portholes, we seem to be in splendid isolation, for most of the other passengers are squashed together in cabins below, and 200 of them are sleeping out on deck. The reason for this can be gleaned from a comparison of the per capita earnings of Egypt, 700 dollars a year, and Saudi Arabia, 8000 dollars a year. Saudi Arabia is a magnet for labour in the Arab world, and many of these passengers have left wives and families to earn a year's good money in the still booming construction, oil and agriculture industries of their wealthy neighbour.

Sadly the Mermaid Pub is now much reduced. The bar and bar stools are still there, but only non-alcoholic drinks are available. Tea, coffee and things like Viva-Up and Santa - a dreadfully sweet fizzy apple confection. Stick to water. Somehow drinking water in surroundings expressly designed for something more fun is a depressing experience.
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  • Series: Around the World in 80 Days
  • Day: 10
  • Date: 4 October
  • Country/sea: Red Sea
  • Place: Gulf of Suez
  • Book page no: 47

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