Bye bye Singapore!
Trip Start May 06, 2006
81Trip End Mar 23, 2009
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I'm sure in a few weeks I'll be craving 'normality' again but for now I need something new! Singapore is another shoppers paradise but in a much more user-friendly way than Dubai was... so much so that it's been extremely hard to fight the temptation to go for all the amazing deals and unique clothing stores they have here. Even keeping the ridiculous size of my backpack after two and half months at the back of my mind wasn't doing much to help! However, I resisted and I leave Singapore with nothing new (but with the full intention of coming back someday and buying the place out when I'm loaded!).
Before I forget again, I didn't include an important bit of information that I think everyone should know! The BBC came to the elephant place on Wednesday and I did an interview for them so I might be on tv soon-ish! They're doing some documentaries on how people are helping Sri Lanka (at least I think it's just there) and they picked there as one of them. I'm not sure if they'll use it 'cos I'm crap on camera but either way I'll prob be in the background of a bunch of shots (extra work again!) so you can all see where I was and what I did! Am trying to get the staff to keep me updated so I can tell everyone to watch it (and tape this one for me!).
Back to Singers! On Friday I headed down to Little India. It's a pretty little place and if I'd had the chance to miss Sri Lanka it probably would've comforted me a little! It kind of reminded me of a clean Rusholme (Manchester for those who don't know!) only painted in pretty colours!
Saturday I took what I thought would be a brief stroll to the Botanic Gardens. I clearly mis-read the map 'cos 3 hours later I was a ball of sweat (attractive?!) when I finally arrived at my destination!
The walk there took me down Orchard Road which is so full of shops it's unbelieveable (this one reminded me of a HUGE Newbury St. in Boston)! It's a fairly nice walk though and the downpour at midday did cool things down a little. It was quite a treat when I finally got there too. I didn't walk around the whole thing 'cos I was knackered and it was massive but it was very peaceful considering how bang in the city it is and it's full of amazing trees and plants. I think my favourite were the Bonsai Trees. For some reason they fascinate me and also make me laugh! After a few hours of reading my LP I headed back - this time to get the MRT (their underground) back rather than walking! On the way back I finally managed to change my SL Rupees (NOWHERE would accept them!) at a very poor rate into Malaysian Ringett for the next part of the adventure!
Today I headed to the train station to buy my ticket to Kuala Lumpur. A little pointer for anyone planning to take this train (or infact pretty much any train in the world!) is to go to www.seat61.com. It's packed with really useful info! On the way there I had to note how envious the world should be of Singapore's bus system! It uses the same cards as the MRT so it's all integrated, they're so regular all over that you're never waiting much more than 5 minutes and the majority of them have tv's on them! How mad is that?! I'll be expecting a similar system to be in place when I go home so get First Provincial to start preparing now!
The only thing I didn't get to do while here and really quite wanted to was go and have a Singapore Sling at The Raffles hotel. Because it's such a posh place they don't let you in with flip flops so my reefs weren't up to standad... the only other option, being as Connie the dog ate my nicer shoes, was grubby trainers or hiking boots - neither of which I thought would be accepted either so it'll just have to wait!
Something Singapore does lack in is veggie food which is a real shame. I think it's one of the few times I've wished I wasn't a veggie 'cos all the food looks so good! Had I not been on a 6 week curry diet then Little India would've catered for veggies without a problem but curry was the last thing I wanted - especially with the smell of amazing Oriental food flying around everywhere! I managed to get some veggie options at the food courts but they're not the best South East Asia has to offer that's for sure! On a plus note, there are a few good smoothie bars around so I've been stocking up on those and also a fantastic bakery where I'll be buying more food for my journey later!
On a more random note, it does seem to be huge on weddings and there are shops and stands in the mall dedicated to every aspect you could imagine so those of my friends who have decided to go ahead with the big day (Gemma, Matt (congratulations! Yey!) and Anna - not all marrying eachother btw!) you should consider a trip over here to prepare!!
So, tonight I'm off to Kuala Lumpur on the sleeper train. I've got a ticket for a cheap bed for the 9 hour journey but I don't know how much sleep I'll actually get! It'll be a shame to miss the views with it being dark but it's a good way to save on a nights accommodation and I get in at a reasonable time of day so it shouldn't be such a hassle to get to my next bed! I have to come back down this way to get my flight anyway so maybe I'll do the staring out of the window thing then!
I tried to change my flight today but everywhere's closed so it's gonna have to wait until tomorrow. I have no idea when to change it to is my only issue. I've been offered an amazing opportunity in Thailand which I'll explain if I decide to go through with it and it all goes to plan, which could potentially last as long as I want it to and I've also discovered there's a lot more of Malaysia's east coast that I'd like to investigate... I just hope the Australian visa people don't mind me getting there over a month later than I originally planned! At the moment I'm gonna try to change it to the beginning of September - provided there's no cost involved, I can always change it again!
I realised I didn't do an overview of Sri Lanka in my last one so here it is; Sri Lanka is a very interesting place to visit. It's almost like stepping back in time for the majority of it which can be nice at times but also very frustrating if you spend any length of time there. Men wear skirts (well, sarongs) which you just get used to and feels weird not to see the same when you move on. It's not a clean place by any means and I'd advise taking old clothes (nothing white AT ALL!!) and lots of wet wipes if you plan to do any real exploring (the posh hotels are just like everywhere else!). It's lack of commercialism and advertising makes it a very cheap place to be and it's individualism from anywhere else I've ever visited gives it a lot of character. Prepare to be hassled by shopkeepers, tuk tuk drivers and men in general (for women that is!) anywhere you are and to be stared at A LOT - but more with an intrigue than a hatred or anything like that! You will see a lot of stray dogs and cats which tugs on the heart strings if you're an animal lover like me but until someone makes a plan and does something it's gonna stay that way. There are no rubbish bins around which doesn't help with the huge litter problem they have but I don't think they have an allocated dumping area even if there were!
On the whole it's a beautiful country with lots of amazing sites (come away from the beaches if you go!) but it took me a while to love it so give it a chance if you're planning on visiting! I'm not sure I'd go back for any other reason than to volunteer somewhere again and it's definitely not somewhere I'd choose to live - the culture is too (pleasingly) different for me to call it a home.
And that's Sri Lanka! I won't do an overview of Singapore 'cos there isn't really much else to say other than what's in this entry! I hope all is well with you all and am looking forward to updates from you all soon - hopefully internet access won't be quite as rare as Sri Lanka! Take care!