The Wedding Singapore

Trip Start Feb 02, 2009
Trip End Dec 24, 2009

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Thursday, August 6, 2009

Hello again!

Boy, this is going to be thin! You're going to see the stretch marks all over this entry I won't lie to you. I didn't really get up to a lot between the Philippines and heading off to Australia but I feel duty-bound to submit an entry regardless so you're just going to have to live with it. Weak as it may be.... I'm kidding! Would I do that to you? It's magic every time. Seriously, it's going to be all thriller and no filler as per usual. Quality, quality, quality. Seriously.

Before I got to scoot across to Singapore for my flight to Melbourne I had a couple of days in my old fave, KL, to relax and spend some quality time with Millington, my Net Book computer. Seeing as how I had free wifi at my hotel I gorged myself on the internet like a fat man recently rescued from a desert island at an all-you-can-eat buffet. Having been six months without the magnificent World Wide Web I went a little crazy at the re-introduction. By the end of the second day I was looking up sites I had no interest in whatsoever just because I could. I was catching up with my favourite TV shows, radio stations, news (Michael Jackson's what now?!), watching films, reading magazines - oh yes, you can get PDFs of magazines on the internet technology fans - looking at QPR message blogs that ran all the way back to January and talked nothing but rubbish, devouring pretty much anything on youtube, putting my pictures on the web, researching the next country I was visiting, chatting to friends on Facebook. You get the idea. Once again, not strictly the actions of a culture vulture but I had been a long time without a metaphorical internet sandwich. And that bell was the sound of the free buffet opening.

As if to confound my traveller status that little bit more on my first day back in KL I had a KFC. I'm nothing if not consistent with my acronyms. Now for some reason the good people of Malaysia have really gone for the Colonels delicious chicken. Far more so than their cousins
in the rest of South East Asia from what I've seen. This means that the queues here are quite ridiculous. And, after waiting there for fifteen minutes and moving not one inch forward in the line I couldn't for the life of me work out why it is that this traditionally fast food should be so inexorably slow here. After a quarter of an hour I turned heel and walked out of the shop. And anyone who knows me will know that that takes some real determination to do. I just couldn't bear to see the Colonel's good name going so bad. However I would never let anyone
label me a quitter so the very next day I walked right back in there to try and find out what was wrong. Some times a lack of fries will lead to a large back-log but they were fully furnished with all thenecessary ingredients. It took me the first ten minutes of queuing there for the second day running to figure out what it was. The staffwere just taking their sweet ass time about everything. Chatting and laughing, picking fries out individually with tweezers and all the time with only two of them on the till and a waiting line nearly out the door. It's a good job the chicken tasted so darned sweet or I would have complained.

After a couple of relaxed days in KL I made my way to Singapore by coach. Just before arriving I noticed that my combination lock on my bag had decided to change number all by itself again. This is frustrating stuff and for the second time on my trip between locking my bag and unlocking the lock decided it knew best and changed the combination. Luckily after some time I found the new number and opened the bag. I was much relieved. Access to my dirty underwear had been granted. I had booked myself into Sleepy Sam's hostel in central Singapore and I'd heard lots of good things about it. Upon my arrival the lady in reception took fifteen minutes to tell me that I didn't, in fact, have a room but they'd reserved me a bed in the dorm instead. I said that wasn't really what I was after so would have to look elsewhere. I thought this over and realising the late hour decided to stay for the one night in the dorm to save me wandering round a dark city trying to find accommodation.

"Oh, I'm sorry" the receptionist told me. "You'll have to stay for two nights."

"How's that?" I asked.

"Well, you did book for two nights."

"Yeah, I booked a room for two nights which you haven't got."

"Well we thought you'd be annoyed if you turned up and there wasn't a room."

"I have turned up and there isn't a room."

"We really should charge you for the two nights even if you don't stay here at all. Lots of people wanted that dorm bed."

"You're going to charge me for something I didn't ask for? That's an interesting customer service technique."

"Well you certainly can't have it for just one night."

"O.K. let me get this straight; if anyone else in the world arrived now they could have the dorm bed for one night but because I booked ahead and you didn't keep my reservation I have to stay for two nights?"

"You should think yourself very lucky I don't charge you for the two nights regardless."

I must have looked near dumbstruck after this last line but I did manage a hugely sarcastic "Thanks for all your help" as I picked my bags up and walked off, and not in the best of moods. The customer is clearly not always right in Sleepy Sam's.

My being turned away by Sam actually turned out to be rather beneficial. I ended up staying at a hostel in the Indian district of Singapore called Fragrance. I arrived and the dormitory was empty. Three bunk beds with varied bits and bobs left on them so I could do a little Columbo style deduction on whom may be staying there. Judging by the toiletries and language of newspapers left lying around I managed to get a completely inaccurate idea of who was staying there. Poirot I am not. Later on I met Andy and Mike, two of my dorm buddies, and we went out for a cheeky beer together. Andy is a German chap and Mike hails from Plymouth. We initially intended to only have a couple of drinks but a group of really nice Singaporeans invited us to join them, plied us with drinks and helped me regain faith in Singapore and it's inhabitants. These were really cool people and very keen to show off their fine country. Singapore itself is quite a green place compared to KL, although almost everywhere is, and even though it's its own country it retains a small town sort of feel about it and the bustling markets and wonderful restaurants in the Indian district took me right back to the heady days of travelling through India itself. All was going well until someone suggested someone else finish off what was left of the six litre beer tower; which was quite a lot. Fearing for my countries reputation I stood up. Sadly it proved far more difficult than it looked - see video for proof of this - and my country's reputation stayed beautifully, accidentally, intact as much for my attempt as my failure.

The next day I moved into another hostel dorm - Footprints - and that wasn't quite so much fun or indeed fragrant as Fragrance. Twelve people per room guaranteed that you would have at least one snorer and a couple of drunkards wandering in late at night, turning the light on and waking everybody up. Needless to say we had all this at Footprints. This is the dorm life I had avoided up until now but I'm going to have to get used to for the next few months because you have no choice in Australia and New Zealand because of the cost of individual rooms. It's all pros and cons though. For every loud person waking up at five in the morning and making lots of noise getting ready you get a really cool person who wants to have a chat and who you can learn a great deal from. Pros and cons.

The next day I got talking to a girl in my hotel reception. She was very nice. Dutch. She was going home the next day so... then I found a shop that kept it's snickers in the fridge which is the way I like them... then I gave this guy my Asia Lonely planet. It's too heavy to be carrying around and he appreciated it. And I gave away my padlock because it's unpredictable and I found a new one in the dorm which was lucky. I gave it to the Dutch girl actually. She really appreciated it as she'd lost hers a few days ago. Then I saw a cat outside the hostel... I'm kidding! I'm pretend-padding the story! Zing! Got you didn't I? I'll bet you were all like "Boy, has he ever run out of interesting stuff to write about?" Your face was priceless! Ah, I do like to play tricks. I am the travelling prankster. I'll stop now.

And then onto Australia and a reunion with Scott, Ruth and Becks from back East. Well, West really from Australia but you get the idea. As I'm stopping in Melbourne first what will the title of the entry be? Melbourne Supremacy? Melbourne Free? Well you're just going to have to wait for our next exciting edition off Round the World in Eighty Hats to find out. And guaranteed no more padding!*

Love, Dan. x.

*all guarantees of a cessation of further padding cannot be guaranteed.

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