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  • Published 20071102
  • ISBN: 9780733319396
  • Extent: 266 pp
  • Paperback (234 x 153mm)

BEN BASTER ARRIVED mid-afternoon in the city that his guidebook called an “exotic and teeming tropical metropolis”. After a long stopover at Changi Airport, followed by a turbulent three-hour flight, followed by a debilitating drive in an airless mini-van to a three-star hotel, he stood under a cold shower and sculled a can of mini-bar Heineken.

A towel wrapped around his waist, Ben opened the musty curtains and stepped on to the narrow balcony. Boulevard Central ran below. Directly ahead stood St Majestic’s, the iconic sandstone church where, fifty years earlier, revolutionaries had met to plot and pray. Ben sniffed deeply, delighting in the mix of smells: ripe mangoes, perspiration, freshly ground coffee, chicken and ginger frying in peanut oil, pigeon shit, the smoke from a million Marlboros, the river.

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