Sydney - Brisbane - Singapore

Trip Start Dec 29, 2005
Trip End Apr 28, 2006

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Thursday, March 23, 2006

Since I last made an entry I have moved thousands of miles, not in one go I hasten to add, but in a few steps. Firstly from Sydney to Brisbane by plane, then from Brisbane to Singapore and finally from Singapore by train to Kuala Lumpar in Malasia. Quite an experience for me. I would add that from Sydney on I am travelling alone. So from this point on, this is my blog. Gordon had very little input in it anyway, perhaps a couple of lines. Perhaps Gordon will set up his own, we will see.

My last couple of nights in Sydney were great, with a night out on St. Patricks day with Dana, my wee Scottish pal from Livingston, and after, I went on to Ark to see what was going on, and ended up with a pull, and got lucky. The details of that are not for publication, so will leave it to your imagination.

The last night I had intended to make an early one, but my friends were not for that really, and we headed of to a bar in Bondi where Maryon's cousin was playing sax, with a band. Mar yon said that her brother plays with a number of bands, so we had no idea what to expect. As it turned out, and in keeping with my experience of Oz, the band were fantastic, and for the first hour or so played a variety of music, all of which was good. Each of the musicians were top notch and each had a turn of doing solos, and blew us away. I even phoned Mary to let her hear coz I knew she would appreciate it. I obviously could not talk to her , or her me, because the music was too loud, but after a listen, she text' me to say it sounded cool, it sure was. The keyboard player reminded me of Animal, from the Muppets, the way he played, and his fingers were a blur at times, simple awesome. I could not help but stamp my feet and tap my fingers. The place filled up over the first couple of hours and I commented that there were a lot of Brazilians, coincidently we had two in our company. Very cute ones too. A singer then came on and started singing Brazilian songs, as we were reliably informed by our Brazilian friends. The music was very upbeat, and the place just went off, to use an Austalian coloqialism. Everyone was shaken there la la's, and having a great time. Another first for me, and another pleasant surprise from Bondi. That place just throws it at you when you are least expecting it.

Anyway, while that was going on I was getting texts from Anita, from the previous night, wanting to see me before I left. She was in company though so couldn't get away till later, so at 12.30 ish, I left to go and get her from the city. We had a couple of drinks in the town, a nice walk, and then went back to my digs. I had no sleep, before meeting my shuttle bus to the airport. What a brilliant night to end my stay in Sydney.

I only had 12 hours in Brisbane between flights, and expected to leave my luggage in the airport, and go for an explore through the city. Alas, after the terrorist attacks of recent times, there is no Left Luggage in airport, at least not in Australia. So, I had to go and book in to a back packers in Brisbane, The Bunk, because I simply could not carry it all day, and I really needed a sleep. The Buk\nk only cost $18, so not the end of the world, and it allowed me to have a wander round China town, which was pretty good. Being a Sunday afternoon, there was a band playing in the local cafe district, so I enjoyed that for a bit, then sloped of to bed for a couple of hours. I could not have stayed awake all day. I did not find the people in the bunk very friendly, and did not manage to get more than a nod from anyone, but it served a purpose.

I did get a good conversation going with a Canadian trucker at the airport, who gave me a run down on the trucking and cattle industry in Queensland. He was a real character, with the cowboy hat and boots and everything. With my lack of sleep over the previous days I did manage to sleep for most of the 71/2 hour flight to Singapore, which was great.

I landed in Singapore at 3.00am in the morning, so got a taxi to a guest house that I had been referred to, by one of my fellow travelers. The Mackenzie guest house was a bit of a dump and cost $35 per night, but it include breakfast, was clean, and the bed was the best I have had since I left Glasgow. I had little to go on about Singapore, and new only that it was expensive, compared to the ret of Asia, but I have to say I was pleasantly surprised. The other guest at the guest house were pretty dull and hard to get conversation from, with the exception of the American, who did not give pause to his chatter about how he had travelled for the last year and a half, and that everything was a let down after New Zealand. I chose not to listen to him for long, although I did have an urge to let him know that for some the Australian experience was great, and I knew many who have loved it. I saw little point, he knew best.

I did a lot of walking round the city, and was stopped, and had conversation with, a number of people. I had a few beers with David from Norway, a Mason, and scuba diver, which was a good laugh. He was wearing a Drunken Monkey tee-shirt, so I asked when he was in Koh Samui. We travellers know all these places. I spent a couple of hours, and had a good chat with him. I also met a French Canadian, who was lovely, at the digs and she gave me some pointers for Malasia. I also had a couple of guys just introduce themselves to me, when they heard my accent. An Indian , a Bangladeshi, and a Turk, looking for directions, and Dominic from Nigeria, who insisted on giving me his mobile number. He was a pro footballer. Altogether Singapore was a pretty strange experience, but good, the city is worth a look round, but apart from the Chinese, the people are friendly. I spent some time in Little India, which was cool, if a bit hectic. It did have a couple of beautiful Hindu temples, with carving and decoration like I have never seen before. The craftsmanship was incredible. I will upload some pics when I get the chance. I also visited Arab street, which was filled with fabric shops and craft shops, and I found a shop with the most spectacular laquerwork items and pictures, stunning. I wanted to buy quite a few things there.

I also had an afternoon out on a boat to visit the islands. It was what I would think was a traditional looking Chinese boat, which I had spotted the previous day while walking round the city. At the time I thought that if I was going to see the islands it might as well be on a big funny looking boat, so I got the times and planned to return on time fro the afternoon trip. The boat itself I found quaint and liked the dragon on the front and the paintings around the boat. It was not the most interesting trip though. In fact it was just too long. I would have been happy to have seen the islands, most of which looked industrial, and others were just deserted and not much to look at. We then visited an island which had quite simply been manufactured for these day trips. It had, it was explained over the tannoy, been reclaimed from the sea, having originally being 0.7 2km, and had been increased to 2.75 2km or something, it looked pretty, but there was nothing on the island but some disused facilities like food stalls and picnic areas. We actually only got 20 minutes on the island, so that was lucky. There was some story about how legend has it that some fisherman, or men, had been saved by a giant turtle, which was maybe god himself, and since then the island had been a site for giving worship to giant turtles. I just could not get over how they had manufactured this island, and then there was no one on it. It was a bit surreal. We then took over an hour to go back the way we came, pretty much. So, i'd have to say it was a bit dull, but i did get some good photos of the skyline through the docks, which are huge, and the largest in Asia, apparently.

Singapore is a beautiful city though, and it is very clean, there are probably too many places to eat, everywhere. There are no drinking places other than road side eateries that are not expensive. I did like little India and Arab Street, the vibe there was pretty good, with friendly people, and people just surprised to see Europeans, staring sometimes. Just as expensive as Sydney, but different. The modern architecture was not dissimilar, but the surrounding architecture was very different in part, with heavy eastern influences, and very colonial, in others. The small stall type eating places, some with a number of different vendors, were new to me at this point, but were to become a common experience.

Since I had found it very easy to get lost to the point where I had no idea what direction I pionted, I left very early to catch the sleeper, well to find the station, to catch the overnight sleeper to Kuala Lumpar. I had left my luggage at the station earlier, so I had plenty of time walk from the harbour, after my boat trip, and to get something to eat, and to do some more sight seeing before dark. After a walk where I found lots of beautiful places, some lovely quaint streets in China town, and a couple of lovely temples, and something to eat, I left 11/2 hours to get to what I thought was ten minutes away. I also had to allow the half hour for customs check before boarding. It took me about an hour, asking for directions several times, including once with a policeman, when I luaghed when he tod me it was in that direction. I had to say "there's no way it's up that way, I've just come from there, and I've been all round about it", but he was right. Thankfully.

I got to the station with a bit of time to play with, so asked if they had a shower, and to my astonishment, he said yes. He then took a small amount of money from me and directs me to the shower. It was a length of rubber hose attached to a wall tap. Cold of course. The heat in Singapore was constant, even in the evening, so I was happy for that. I would at least feel clean and fresh for boarding aven if it was going to be too hot later. As it happened I was plesantly surprised by the train, it was very nice, and although I only had a low class ticket, the sleeping bunks were very clean and tidy. Knowing that the refreshments car wasn't open till ten, I got my head down, and surprisingly, fell fast asleep, only to be woken by the customs police insisting that I get of the train to go to customs. I immediately rubbed my eyes and said "and where's that then?", the man loved my sence of humour, and almost wet his pants. Okay, I made that bit up. The customs office was a ten minute walk, and back, at half one in the morning? Outrageous, how dare they. I looked good doing it though.
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