Last minute decision to hit Singapore then venture up thru Malaysia via public transportation.
08.07.2010 - 10.07.2010 80 °F
After much debate and flight searching, I am off to Singapore. Plans are to be there for a day or two then head up into Malaysia via local bus. Oh yes, this is going to be another test of my public transportation skills and just how far I can go trying to transport like a local. I arrived into the Singapore airport with no accommodation, no map and no real direction as to where to go. Wait! I sort of did as I met girls from Singapore in Vietnam (remember the ones that spotting me on the street with one flip flop on as I got kicked out of the tattoo place?). They face booked me and said to stay in little India as it was where many backpackers stayed and it was less expensive. That was the only lead that I had and thanks to free internet in the airport and searched on a few places before settling on taking the subway to Bugis where I would then wander the streets and ask people for directions. No map required. Because I took so long my bag was no where to be found. That was the first time I got a bit scared and realized my life of a year is in that pack. I don’t have much in their but put all my electronics in it and would hate to lose all my picture. Next time, that will go in my carry on for sure. The woman in the lost and found office saw the fear in my face and after one attempt to find it, I walked with her and was never so happy to see that darn pack.
I got on the subway and asked for a few directions as I searched for a reasonably priced accommodation. It is such a culture shock from Cambodia already that I fear going back to the US at this point. I came from my own awesome hotel room for $12 to now searching for a single room in a hostel under $60. It took a while and a bunch of sweat before I settled in at a $35 single prison-size room with no ceiling but no roomies either. I had to take a nap and then it was out to find these food places I hear so much about. It sure wasn’t cheap like I was told because ½ a cob of corn was $1.50 (3 times the price of Cambodia and so gross in taste). I wanted to hit the movies but nothing intrigued me so I passed and just roamed some shopping malls. It sure gave me a feel for the US in that it wasn’t a third world country.
After checking out the shops I decided to go to this 24hr shopping center known as Mustafa. I think it should have been called “Walmart” as in the one in Panorama City outside of LA. Poor kids were in their strollers at 1130pm trying to sleep but their parents wanted to get some bulk food for the month. I will admit the streets are very clean and no one is allowed gum to keep the streets even more clean. A very tired Trish headed back to my amazingly tiny room at 3D Harmony and made use of my free wifi in the room. I also tattled on the boys in the room next to me. Remember when I said there were no ceilings? Well the smoke came right into my room at they got busted at 3am because of me. Maybe their lungs will thank me someday.
I sure didn’t need to set my alarm as I was next to some damn construction yet AGAIN. My ear plugs couldn’t hide that noise one bit. Guess no sleeping in for me, or sleeping for that matter as it was around 730am when it all started and I just shut my eyes at 330am. Might as well get up and get the day going. The bad thing of sharing 2 toilets with 60 people is sometimes you really have to practice your holding skills. Once I had my go at the showers it was checkout time and I just stored my backpack with Faith at the reception. I decided to get out of Little India and check out the “rich” areas of the city. I got directions from a local and I was on my way to the famous Raffles Hotel, the home of the Singapore Sling. As much as I wanted one I had to pass on it due to the price of $25. Wow! I love Singapore. It is totally different than my experience yesterday. This is a great place to visit but just not budget travel. If I had a job I would live here no problem. There is no shortage of shopping and it is very central to travel to other surrounding countries in Asia. Seeing the Raffles Hotel reminded me of The Breakers in Palm Beach and how my parents would love it. Awe, I am getting homesick for Florida now. After my taste of the rich life I would love to win the lottery. I know I say I don’t need all those material things but sometimes it would be damn nice to experience the finer things in life. Right now I have the best of both worlds as I pretend to be rich but go back to the backpackers. Hey, I DID move to California to act remember? Just playing around with you all.
The sightseeing continued but first I made a pit stop at the grocery shops for some sushi to go and a chat with a demo lady who gave me heaps of cereal samples. I ran into 2 guys from the Philippines that were staying at the Conrad. It was hard but I refrained from using anymore of my dad’s points to stay and live it up at the Conrad also. I think meeting the guys from the Philippines was a sign that I too needed to go there soon. I walked with them through some shopping complex and they directed me to the new Sands Hotel and Casino. Can we say VEGAS?? It was just like that except the hotel had 3 towers and a ship on top connecting them with a huge amusement area. I took some touristy photos along the way, mingled with fellow walkers and did a casino walk through with putting just $2 in the slots. Maybe I won millions but I will never tell.
It’s exhausting to roam the city and take in the views and the shops. The day was passing so quickly so I continued on the shopping route. I got the race bug again as I noticed a runner’s expo for a 10km race in the next coming weeks. If it were tomorrow I was going to stay and wait on Malaysia. I did get my foot all taped up good and it did help until it started falling off again. Flip flops for a year are not the best for a short flat-footed person. Hey, but neither are heels. I tried on a few and felt so tall though. I can’t wait to wear them again and be a whopping 5 foot 4 inches.
The show must go on as the daylight soon turned to darkness. All I know is that the buses run every 15 minutes to Malaysia. Maybe I should have researched the last bus out of Johor Bahru though instead of listening to the very nice lady at the reception of the backpackers. She was so helpful and gave me her email to keep in touch. She even said if I had trouble to just come back and she would put a mattress in the computer room for me as the rooms were all filled for the night. By the time I left Singapore it was roughly 10pm because I was chatting for so long and just had to get some corn in the cup for the bus ride. In route to the bus stop someone asked me where I was going and I replied “let’s see which way the wind blows and the bus schedule goes!”
Little did I know that this night would possible go down in history as being my worst night ever of this traveling journey. The big factor in all this was the so-called “budget hotel” accommodation, which ran $25 (absurd), that I had to take after walking uphill over 2kms with my heavy backpacks at 2am. There was no way that I could lay in the bed of the first two due to the lack of cleanliness to put it nicely. It was out of the range for the housekeeping to clean, if they even had them at all. I debated on staying at the bus station or going back to Singapore. No more buses there made my mind up that I was stuck in this town until morning. I won’t go too much into detail but I stayed at the 3rd spot that I saw. Sleep wasn’t really an option and due to the lack of sleep the evening before and many other factors, well, I just wasn’t having the best night. I wish I had magical powers to transport me back to Siem Reap where I had great accommodation and could be having cocktails with my friends.
Let’s just leave it as it was pretty bad and I couldn’t wait for day light to fall. So much that I was checked out by 6am and on the internet seeing where I should go next. Daylight couldn’t even make this place appear any better. The positive spin on it all was things could only get better from here and I sure as heck can’t wait for that. It’s back to the bus station for me. What goes up must go down, right? I am stoked that I get to walk downhill with my backpack on now. I bought a ticket for Melaka because some people told me it was nice, at the last minute I traded it for Mersing in route to Tioman Islands. Everyone was so friendly as I needed that after my insane, sleepless night. ! am off to some islands that here highly spoken of by a ticket seller at the Johor Bahru bus station in Malaysia. I was ready for a 2 hour bus ride and then an hour or so ferry ride to Tioman Islands. Word is if I go near the ABC resort then I can find some good accommodation.
Please, oh please, let this be a good decision on my part.
The dish is out