Singapore feels like a long time ago now -- especially after 36 hours of traveling and two countries later -- but I'll recollect as best I can.
We crossed from Indonesia to Singapore in rather uneventful fashion, with the crossing of the Malacca Straits quick and painless. Immigration was the easiest I have experienced -- a customs boat came up along side us and we dropped our passport and papers in their fishing net to be stamped and processed. After a few minutes the documents were returned and we continued on to the Republic of Singapore Yacht Club.
Oh the joys of being back in a marina! The last marina Rutea was docked at was in Darwin, and it felt extremely luxurious to be able to get to and from the boat without getting wet and salty, never mind the air conditioned gym, infinity pool and wifi.
Kyle and I ventured into town the first afternoon we arrived. My first impression of Singapore was, "wow, this would be a really fun city if I had a lot of money." As we walked down Orchard Rd we noticed store after designer store. Somebody should tell them that when there is Prada on every street corner it isn't impressive anymore -- not to mention Gucci, Versace, Rolex, LV, Armani to name a few -- all of which were packed with shoppers.
Fortunately shopping really isn't my thing, but I love eating so the next night the four of us headed to Little India for dinner. Nobody told us that Sunday nights every Indian man in Singapore converges on Little India to walk the streets and meet up with friends, and we were baffled and amazed at the amount of people on the streets -- but only men.
We had a delicious and reasonably priced dinner at Lagnaa, and then walked the streets around the neighbourhood. I've never been to India but I can only imagine the people-packed streets lined with shops selling everything from clothes to cellphones to spices must be something like the real thing. People seemed to be in a festive mood because it was the start of Deepawali, the Hindu celebration of the triumph of light over darkness, and the streets were lit up like Christmas. (Is that a PC comparison?) Regardless, it was refreshing to see a part of Singapore that wasn't totally polished.
Because we had so much fun in Little India, Kyle and I decided to check out the Arab quarter the next night. While it was not as convincing as Little India, we had a nice time smoking a hookah on the sidewalk and watching the street scenes. As for food, I refused to dish out $10 for a plate of hummus, and the cheap food we got was unremarkable. I heard from other (wealthier) people that the food was great. You get what you pay for.
Chinatown was another highlight of Singapore. It rivals that of San Francisco or any other in the world. It was really the Chinese who established Singapore as a trading outpost in the eighteenth century, and those influences can be seen throughout the city. In fact, due to the international history of Singapore, there are four national languages: English, Mandarin, Malay and Tamil.
Right then. We spent a week in Singapore. In that time I decided that I would get off the boat with Kyle, and spend my last few weeks in Asia backpacking around with him. Whereas I wanted the closure of sailing all the way to where the boat will be berthed for the next few months in Malaysia, it is a 300 mile slog through the Straits and frankly, I'd rather go play in Thailand.
Which is exactly what I am doing now. On Sunday Kyle and I took a taxi to the Singapore MRT, took two light rail trains to the Malay border, hopped on a train to Kuala Lumpur, from there took an overnight sleeper train to Hat Yai, Thailand, and from there took a six hour bus ride to Krabi. Sure, we could have hopped on a two hour flight, but even 36 hours of land travel is much faster than sailing. And it was actually pretty fun.
From what I've seen so far, Thailand is awesome. The food is amazing and cheap, accommodations and backpackers plentiful and the alcohol runs freely. I already had my first (and last) encounter with Chang beer -- the bottle with the cool elephants on it -- and urge you to avoid it at all costs.
And so, for the next few weeks I will be enjoying my last bit of traveling for a while (maybe?). If you have any suggestions or helpful advice (like not to drink Chang beer), please let me know