The last leg...

Trip Start Feb 17, 2005
Trip End Feb 27, 2006

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Flag of United Kingdom  ,
Monday, February 27, 2006

With just two days left before flying home, I could have been forgiven for feeling a little sad that this long journey was nearing its conclusion. However, I genuinely didn't feel this way as I was just looking forward to seeing everyone again, and consequently finding a job that would provide funds for the next jaunt. A year is a long time to be away from home, but I was feeling good because I'd seen some amazing sights, experienced some hairraising activities, and made friends from all over the globe. Everything had surpassed expectations...

Unfortunately, the same cannot be said about my trip to the cinema on Saturday morning to see the underwhelming Final Destination 3. When purchasing my ticket, the girl asked me where I wanted to sit, and showed me the seating plan on the screen. I didn't expect a full house at this time of the day, so after choosing a seat at random, I proceeded to touch the screen to confirm my choice. A few seconds of silence passed as I pressed a bit harder, until the girl helpfully said "Erm, it isn't a touchscreen." I'd overestimated the technological advances of Singapore!

Once the movie had finished, I emerged onto a packed Orchard Road in the sweltering heat, and had a wander around a few more shopping plazas. I actually spent a good half an hour in Borders looking at travel guides, as even though I was looking forward to going home, I knew that it was crucial to have something to work towards. In fact, as I now write this I can confirm that a 5 week excursion to Scandinavia is on the horizon, with a flight to Norway booked for 13th June (so stay tuned for the next Travelpod installment later in the year...).

Regular readers of my journal will not be surprised in the slightest by the fact that I went to the zoo on the Saturday afternoon, a necessity when visiting any major city. One taxi driver repeatedly hailed it as "world class" and recommended that I go at around 3pm so that I could attend the 'night safari' afterwards. I'd heard mixed reports of this from fellow backpackers, but I was eager to make my own mind up about it...

It took about 25 minutes to get to the zoo, and I'd have acquired a monumental taxi fare if it had been in England, but as it was I merely had to fork out the equivalent of 4. I was getting used to being chauffeur driven around!

All the usual suspects were in the zoo, including elephants, giraffes and tigers. It was indeed "world class," and a highlight was seeing a particular chimpanzee gesturing to the passers by as if to say "throw me some food." They are so human-like in their mannerisms, and it was great to watch one of the little scamps trying to hitch a ride on the back of one of the older generation.

I had a close encounter with a bat towards the end of my visit whilst strolling through an enclosed area. There were colourful birds and butterflies all around, but seeing this bat up close was my favourite experience, especially as I'd just seen so many from afar in Sydney. The guy next to me was feeding it a piece of banana, which attracted the attention of a nearby bear-like creature, and seeing them both fight over the food was a bizarre sight!

After leaving the zoo, I had a bite to eat before venturing over to the adjoining night safari area. The place was buzzing with people as it was a Saturday night, and I watched an amazing performance by a group of fire-eating 'warriors' - it really was stunning. There was also a bird of prey presentation and an exhibition by some young Malaysians, displaying their martial arts skills - all this before I'd actually gone through the main entrance!

Just before 8pm, I made my way to the main auditorium, ready for the 'Creatures of the Night' show. This turned out to be something of an anti-climax, although it was entertaining enough. Before the show, the main presenter reminded us (numerous times) not to use flash photography and/or move around as it obviously disturbs the animals. When a gormless looking local insisted on standing up half way through, the presenter became quite aggressive towards him, and I was a bit embarrassed to be honest. However, the only 'gormless' person amongst the 1000+ crowd was yours truely, who was completely taken in by the set up!

After the show, I walked briskly to the start of the night safari, and queued up for the train that took you around the grounds. A commical scene occurred when an Indian guy behind me tried to beat me to our allotted section of the train - a blatant attempt to push in to get what he perceived as the best seat. I wasn't having it though, and after going shoulder to shoulder, I won out and got there first! Disappointed, he stepped off with his wife to look for a 'better' seat, and the train promptly set off without him! I couldn't resist a cheeky smile in his direction...

It was fun looking out for the animals in the dim light, but apart from the rhinos, I'd already seen most of them during the day at one time or another. Still, the novelty factor made it an enjoyable ride, as did the over enthusiastic commentary from the driver. Even spotting a couple of deers was a momentous occasion for him, but I imagine the children on board were genuinely excited at the sight of any animal, so I had no complaints as I made my way back to the hotel via taxi (of course!).

I'd love to say that my final day was an action packed, rollercoaster ride of a day, but in reality it was a tranquil one with very little to report. I had one last trip down Orchard Road and bought a couple of books, but I soon returned to pack my bags and watch back to back football matches on TV. I had nothing left to do, and I needed an early night as my alarm was set for 4am...

I requested an aisle seat at the airport the next morning as I wanted the extra legroom, but there were no more spaces and I ended up in the middle seat. It wasn't that bad though, and the in flight entertainment was superb, beginning with a two hour highlights package from last years Ashes series. I also watched a couple of episodes of The Office, and got addicted to a tetris-like puzzle game, so the time flew by and before I knew it, I was back in good old Blighty again...a year and 10 days after I'd left.

Without any shadow of doubt, it had been the best year and 10 days of my life, but it was still nice to see Mum and Stu as I walked through the Arrivals gate. Thankfully they'd brought my coat with them as it was bloody freezing, but I soon warmed up and the journey north didn't seem to take long at all.

On arrival at our house, I couldn't get inside quick enough to see Amber (our dog) who was her usual fussy self, and I think she recognised me. The surprise came moments later when my two brothers and sister-in-law jumped out from nowhere, with Andrew holding my 8 month old nephew in his arms. I'd seen lots of photographs already, but to see him in the flesh for the first time was something was good to be back!
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PF He on

Very good. Thank you.

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