Week 8 - Joburg, Singapore and Kuala Lumpur

Trip Start Aug 26, 2003
Trip End Aug 24, 2004

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Tuesday, October 14, 2003

Day 50 - Tuesday 14 October

After a nice breakfast booked trip to Joburg and Soweto departing 1.00pm. Picked up by Isaac Zwane who drove us to downtown Joburg first. Rather depressing place with tall buildings either full of squatters or to let. Only active businesses were stalls on the footpaths and the courts. Then on to Soweto. Population 4.5 million which equals that of Ireland. Surprisingly nice place full of happy people. Taken first to the church, Regina Mundhi, where we were given a tour and filled in on the significance of this centrally located Catholic church. Clinton and Mandela amongst other dignitaries are former visitors to the congregation. During the Apartheid riots police opened fire from within and outside the church. All a bit underwhelming. Then on to Winnies House, then Desmonds and finally Nelsons place. The only street in the world which housed two winners of the Nobel Prize. The house was full of honorary doctorates from the worlds universities but the most interesting exhibit, for Peter, was the World Championship Belt donated by Sugar Ray Leonard. Nelsons bedroom contained three pairs of boots. 1 x Hi Tec. Next stop Hector Pietterson Museum which details the history of the 1970s riots. This was the most informative part of the tour. On the way back to our hotel we discovered that Isaac, our tour guide, is a professional caddy. He caddied a long time for David Frost and has caddied for Vijay Singh in South African tournaments. He also claims to be a close friend of David Feherty whose wife is originally from Joburg. Dinner again at Steers then into adjoining Magintys Irish bar for drinks. Whilst sitting in bar were approached by a man who claimed to be deaf and tried to sell alphabet cards. When Nicola started signing to him he beat a hasty retreat.

Day 51 - Wednesday 15 October

Up late (8.30am), had breakfast which we werent charged for and then caught 10am shuttle to Joburg International. Checked in, quick internet and then boarded Singapore Airlines for 10 hour flight to Singapore. Flight full of Springbok supporters but bigger seats with greater leg room compensated. Also footrests, headrests, pillows and rewindable videos raised it above the Virgin flight from Heathrow. Great service, choice of menu and up to date films including Bruce Almighty. Bumpy flight, no sleep, arrive 6.15am local time.

Day 52 - Thursday 16 October

Checked into Fort Canning Lodge YWCA. Nice large air conditioned room on 14th floor. Slept for four hours then up and out into heat. Stopped at Brewerkz for jug of micro brewerys Golden Ale brew. Got hairs cut in training salon, Peters $5 from trainee, Nicolas $16.50 from intermediate trainee. Down to Raffles for Singapore Sling $16.50 (7.50 GBP) each. Dinner in Patara (Thai restaurant) in City Hall Mall, nice but expensive. Got SD camera memory card burnt to three CDs for posting home. Later learnt that they had wiped my memory card. Hope not lost. Bed for 11pm.

Day 53 - Friday 17 October

Not up until 2pm. Jet lagged. Down to hotel launderette to get caught up. Lunch in YWCA then walked for ages trying to find internet cafe, none to be found in worlds most hi tech city. Used MRT (Mass Rapid Transport) trains to get about. Far and away the best public transport system ever experienced, clean, quick and regular. At one ticket machine asked girl for change of $10 note, machines only take up to $5 notes. She didnt have change but offered us the required fares. Typical of Singapore people, very nice. Had to go down to train station to get tickets for Kuala Lumpur, wouldnt take bookings over the phone. First class leaving this Sunday at 9.30am, duration 6 hours, cost 30 GBP each. Nicolas feet sore, spend hours looking for shoes, finally got them. Get MRT to Marina Bay and Waterfront for cruise but in wrong areas, head back to China Town and eat in another expensive, but nice, restaurant Indochine. Down to Clarke Quay to Iguanas then Hooters where we met two Irish girls Maria and Martine, from Galway, heading to Oz on rugby tour.

Day 54 - Saturday 18 October

Up very late again (1.30pm) and head to Harbour Front for cable car to Sentosa. Sentosa is a small island connected to the main island by a causeway. Its a weird place. A holiday island for the locals to get away from the hussle and bussle of the main land. It has beaches, volleyball, aquariums, camping sites, monorail and a fort. Surreal. Cable car 60m high. Peter unable to look out of car or take photographs so Nicola steps in. Peter apologises for quality of shots. Back to Singapore just in time to catch last half of last bus tour of city. Got off on Orchard Road posted cards, and photo CDs then across to Dubliner bar just in time for the England v South Africa rugby match. England cruise it. Met Irish girls from last night where we all gave off about the cost of drink in Singapore, 10 GBP for a pint and glass of wine. Walk home wishing that we had stayed an extra couple of days in Singapore but may return on our way from Hong Kong to Perth.

Day 55 - Sunday 19 October

Taxi to train. Comfy reclining seats, air con, green lush countryside like travelling through a massive garden centre. Bar of Cadburys fruit and nut tastes like chocolate flavoured lard. South African Cadburys much better. TV on train watched the Time Machine starring Samantha Mumba. That girl needs a nostril reduction if she wants to make it big. Toilets of the squat variety. Nicola holds on. Taxi to Anuja backpackers with scariest taxi driver ever. Put belongings in safe not sure if we will see them again and head to Finegans Irish Bar, in the Bangsar Baru area of the town. Quite a trip to get there on the, not as nice as MRT, LRT trains. KL bit of a culture shock from Singapore people appear less friendly, town dirtier, smellier and altogether more hectic pace of life. Watch Irish rugby victory in Finegans with load of Irish people and decide after a few beers to move from our very basic hostel to somewhere nicer. First have gorgeous dinner in Thai restaurant nearby called Planter Jims, crispy duck pancakes followed by noodles. Get taxi back into centre to get some hotel prices. Second 5* hotel (Capitol Hotel) has a room for 30 GBP per night so we book in, get a taxi, check out of hostel, pick up bags and return to hotel. Room gorgeous with views over city to Petronas Towers. We decide that worth the extra splurge to stay in nice place in KL as opposed to slumming it. What a relief. Have couple of drinks and watch Everton match on big screen. Watch scrawny wild cat chasing cockroach. Tiny would have passed out.

Day 56 - Monday 20 October

Lie in up for 12 noon, go to IT mall for spot of shopping. Noodles for lunch in local restaurant with fish soup. Nicola eats all. Spend several hours updating travelpod, finance and emails. Walk down main tourist street and have dinner in Crispy Noodle Chopstick, delicious fried noodles, prawn dim sum and horrible bottle of overpriced French white wine. Nicola has decided to stop drinking wine until Oz.
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