Pictures are of my Singapore hostel – beds scattered randomly on the roof and of my holding a monkey in my hostel in KL (the owner just was walking around holding his monkey. The poor little thing’s heart was absolutely pounding the whole time I was holding him – thank God he had his diaper on!)
I flew from Borneo to Singapore and was greeted by exactly everything I was promised: a clean, neat, organized, efficient, extremely developed city. I had thought I would really need Singapore and all of it’s western comforts after 2 months of “roughing it” in far more developing places, but I was wrong – it never ceases to amaze me how adaptable we, as humans, are. I’ve gotten so used to the developing world; I just love it. That being said, Singapore was great! It was like a city from home. And the best part is that it is by far the most international city I’ve ever been in. Well, NYC is honestly a pretty good competitor. Anyway, there’s not a HUGE amount of things to do in Singapore without busting your wallet completely, so I walked around a bunch – Little India, Chinatown and in-between. I stopped in the famed Raffles Hotel and went to the Long Bar where I was going to sip on a cocktail (the Singapore Sling was invented in this very bar), but at the absolutely ridiculous price of drinks, I left (a water was $11 Singapore dollars, which is just shy of $10 USD), even though the band was just starting to play what I consider the theme song for 2009 of South East Asia: I’m Yours by Jason Mraz. Sidenote: Everywhere I’ve been, this song is played. I can’t even begin to tell you how incredibly popular this song is – you hear it on guitars on every street corner, in clubs in Bali, on the radio in cabs, in the mall, literally everywhere.
While in Singapore, I met up with two friends who live there – Des, a guy I met at a conference, HPAIR that I attended in 2002 in Sydney and Ashraf, who I lived next to in college one year. Des took me to a great restaurant where we dined on chicken rice and barley juice, which was delicious. I hung out with Ash right before Halloween, so we went to one of his friend’s Halloween parties, which was good fun. I had to wear a costume – so I borrowed an idea from my friend Erica Trittschuh, although my costume was a lamer version of hers. I went as a “Blue Jean”. I wore blue jeans, a blue shirt and a nametag that said “Hello! My name is: JEAN” I think the blue wig and jean jacket are a critical component on this costume, because no one got it. Ha, ah well. I was credited for trying given that I was backpacking. When I was out with my friend Des, we went for a drink after dinner and walked through the bar area, Clark Quay, where we passed a bar called “Clinic” where everyone sits on hospital beds. Then we went to a bar called “Heliport” which was just off the carpark, and you guessed it – looked just like a heliport. Ha – it made me chuckle.
Singapore and all it’s modern conveniences where definitely spared at my hostel, which felt like it belonged more in Malaysia than Singapore. My room was literally on the roof. When it rained one morning, a few beds got wet, as the overhang didn’t cover everything. But, the price was right, so that’s ok.
The other interesting thing is that there was this middle aged Middle Eastern man staying in my roof/dorm and he seemed like he had something serious going through his head – as anytime I was in the hostel, he was there, pacing back and forth, back and forth, smoking cigarette after cigarette after cigarette. At one point I was home for 45 minutes and I think I counted that he smoked about 15 cigarettes – no joke. So, to myself, I joked/worried that he was a terrorist plotting his next move (typical white person stereotype, I know). Well, as it turns out, he did have something on his mind. I ended up getting the story from an Italian guy who I traveled from Singapore to KL with, but basically the story goes like this: The Jordanian man was working in Singapore, teaching and apparently he got in an altercation with a student. This student reported him to the police. After 2 days in prison, they released him to wait for his trial, but kept his passport, so he can’t leave the country. He went to the Jordan embassy to ask for their help and they basically told him that they were powerless; that he’d have to wait it out – and it’s now been over two months.
So, get this, they told him to escape if he can and then just get a new passport at the Jordan embassy in Malaysia. So, he tried escaping twice already and is currently plotting his third attempt (hence his nervous jitters I suppose). If he gets caught, he gets a minimum of 20 years in prison. So, he wants to swim from Singapore to Malaysia. Problem is, he doesn’t know how to swim. So, he’s currently looking into getting a job as a fisherman off the shore of Singapore, and I guess he’ll learn how to swim and hopefully make it to Malaysia. I only heard his side of the story, but I’d be scared sh*tless of escaping from any country, but especially Singapore, where they fine you $500 just for jay-walking. But yeah, I did jay-walk, so who am I to talk – breaking Singapore laws left and right. ;-P
I left Singapore, spent a quick night in Kuala Lumpur and met a girl, Bridget, who I’d been introduced to on facebook by a girl I met at my hostel in Kota Kinabalu. We’d been emailing back and forth as she was trying to join me in Nepal, but had visa issues. Well, it’s a really small world when you’re backpacking, because guess who I ran into when I walked into my dorm last night? It’s funny that we almost traveled together without having met and then randomly meet in KL – unbeknownst to both of us that the other would be there. And now I’m en route to Delhi, where Niki is waiting for me. She and I will travel onward overland to Kathmandu over the next couple of days.