World Tour Revisited: The brothers say goodbye to Bali and return to Singapore

Charlie and Syd at the airport in Batavia, April 18th, 1932

Before leaving Bali, the brothers’ immediate plans were to backtrack through Java and return to Singapore where they would catch the boat to Japan on the 24th. So on the evening of Sunday, April 17th (the day after Charlie’s 43rd birthday), they departed from Buleleng, in northern Bali, aboard the SS Van Der Wyck and sailed to Surabaya, arriving the next morning. In order to avoid a hot, 13-hour train ride to Batavia, the brothers chose to fly over Java instead. Charlie, who was never a fan of flying, later told a reporter that the loud engines made him nervous but he enjoyed the scenery.

At the airport in Batavia, they were greeted by the Sultan of Pontianak and his wife. The Swedish cameraman Henk Aalsem once again filmed their arrival. An article in the Bataviaasch Nieuwsblad (Batavian Newspaper) noted that Charlie was very warm. “Above his blue shirt, his red face and salt and pepper hair formed a peculiar combination.” The reporter also noticed Charlie’s luggage which was “plastered with all kinds of labels from the most famous hotels in the world–from London, Paris, Berlin, and Amsterdam.”

Before driving to Tanjung Priok to catch the boat for Singapore, Charlie suddenly remembered that he needed to purchase a helmet, telling the reporters that he couldn’t go to Singapore without a hat.*

In Priok, a small crowd, consisting mostly of women, had gathered at the quayside to see the boat off. From the rail of the Ophir, Charlie waved goodbye to the crowd–and to Java & Bali. He was so moved by the departure that he was seen dabbing at his eyes with a handkerchief.

Henk Aalsem’s footage of Charlie and Syd’s return to Batavia.

Coming up on the 20th: The voyage to Singapore is a rough one for Charlie and their plans to sail to Japan are temporarily put on hold.


*Charlie had a pith helmet in Bali, so I’m not sure why he needed a new one–perhaps he left it there.

Bataviaasch Nieuwsblad, April 18, 1932
De Indische Courant, April 18, 1932

1 Comment

  1. From the rail of the Ophir, Charlie waved goodbye to the crowd–and to Java & Bali. He was so moved by the departure that he was seen dabbing at his eyes with a handkerchief.I never cease to be amazed even today, at the things that would still 'move' Charlie to a tear.I just finished watching a Ken Burns PBS special about troubled young adolescent boys in a group home. It was rather a large place in the South and most boys were white. It was Gettysburg Day and 34 students were to recite Lincoln's famous address. A very few chose different excerpts from other speeches of commanders or rulers. Then I heard "I don't want to be an emperor…", and couldn't remember why the words sounded so darn familiar. This emotionally disturbed 14 year old finished the entirety of that dialogue before I realized it was taken from The Great Dictator. The teenager was very somber in relating it ….as if it were a genuine Churchill or FDR fireside talk.

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