Singapore and Malaysia (Melaka)
04.01.2012 - 07.01.2012 30 °C
Sorry for a long time since the last update, we have had a bit of a nightmare in the jungle, but that will be saved for a future post!!
Singapore Day 1
It took around 13 hours + to get from Cairns to Singapore. We left at 6am from Port Douglas in a mini bus we had booked to take us to Cairns Airport. It was then a 2 hour flight to Brisbane to get our connecting flight to Singapore which was a 7 hour flight. When we arrived we again had no idea how to get to our chosen pad for the night so decided on the metro as it looked like the easiest to work out where we needed to head. I can't believe that this is now routine for us to land in a foreign country with no idea where we are going and then just head of in the general direction we think we need! It seems to get easier the more we do it and I think it will definitely change us for the better. We already feel we are far more open to exploring new places without the need for hours of researching and planning, it's much more fun! After all, if you have no set plans then you can't get them wrong!?
First impressions of Singapore are it is a very clean and safe city. The Metro is un-grafittied and spotless and everyone seems very polite and willing to help.
The Hostel (G4) seemed very clean but the room was possibly the smallest we have had so far. Space is at a premium in Singapore so it was to be expected but at least we had a double bed wedged into it and working aircon which is a bonus.
Very tired from the long day travelling we went to bed ready for a big day of exploring the wonders of Singapore tomorrow.
Up early and planned the next few days so as to see as many of the sights of Singapore as we could in the next couple of days.
The first place to see was Orchard road, which is famous for having too many shopping malls to even count. We spent hours in and out of the busy malls, each one seemingly endless and at least 6 or 7 stories high.
Needing the loo I went in and was suprised to see that there was an electronic control on the wall for every functon you could think of (and a few that you wouldnt have!).
Jayne felt like she had missed out so tried the next 2 ladies toilets to find an 'electronic' one but to no avail and all she did end up doing was leaving our new camera behind. Luckily I asked to take a picture a few minutes later and she rushed back in to find it still on the side. Phew!
Hungry after all the shop perusing we decided to find a food court which is where the locals eat and it is a very cheap and varied way to find some grub. The choices were endless and I've never been quite so thankful of menu's with pictures of the food. I went for an Indian looking affair served to me on a giant banana leaf and Jayne went for a fishy selection served in a porcelain boat.
Both were incredibly tasty and indeed unbelievably spicy but we munched our way thorough the lot before looking for a dessert. I left Jayne in charge of this as she loves desserts so thought it would be a safe bet - how wrong I was. Her need to always experiment and choose something different left us with the most unbelievably horrendous dessert I have ever tasted and ever would want to again. It looked promising with its bright coloured ice and custard on top
but tasted absolutely rank.
The 'custard' was made from Durian fruit which has the taste of something like strong gone off onions. The ice while looking like nice flavours were un-fathomable. As we dug deeper into this concoction of madness we found sweetcorn (yes just normal sweetcorn) and beetroot jelly junks along with red beans and other things I cant even comprehend. It was hands down THE most horrendous thing I have EVER tasted and now just the smell of Durian (which is everywhere) makes me sick in my mouth. Oh well, kudos to Jayne for experimenting but dear god what a bad experiment. Desperate to get the taste out of my mouth I ate some sesame anchovies which actually werent as bad as they sound. We then found a guy serving ice cream sandwiches from a stall so tried one of those to relieve the offensive taste in our mouths. SUCCESS these were lovely and my taste buds felt nearly normal again.
Now with the taste subdued we jumped on the train to Marina Bay as recommended by a guy we met called Earfont. It is an amazingly futuristic complex about the size of Swindon town centre with massive casino's, every expensive shop imaginable, and even a river in the shopping centre with gondolas!
There were many strange and wonderful things on sale like giant solid gold pig necklaces and £10,000 lambourghini cell phones !?
The buildings themelves were also amazing.
We could have spent days just wondering around this area but knackered and annoyed that we couldn't actually buy anything we got the tube back to find a ticket office for the famous night safari and Dolphin zoo.
The nice and very helpful young girl at the ticket office gave us a discount on the tickets and told us if we ran we would catch the transfer bus to the zoo. It was just a matter of going left then right then right out of her office. 20 minutes later and completely lost in the underground system we decided to ignore her directions and find it ourselves. Eventually we got there and as luck would have it the bus was late so we made it just in time (for reference it was actually left, left, left from her office!!)
Arriving at the night safari it looked amazing. It was really dark now (about 8;30pm) and there were fire torches and wooden buildings looking like we were going on a real safari.
We started by jumping on the tram tour, which meandered through the whole safari park in the dark with enthusiastic commentary from a lady who sounded like an asian Bridget Jones. We saw deer, lions, elephants, tigers, cheetahs and numerous other bewildered looking animals staring back at us. To be fair they had fantastic enclosures, no cages, just large areas of jungle with only a trench separating them from us! After 40mins of Bridget, we decided to take on the jungle by foot and headed off into the night on the walking route. Trotting over a little wooden bridge, we peered over the edge into a muddy pond and had the shock of our lives when a 3m long Japanese Crocodile appeared on the surface, along with 3 others he slivered through the water and stared up at us. Huum, this would have been fine if he was more then a couple of meters below us and didn't suddenly snap his mouth loudly twice - eack!
We stopped for a quick chat with 3 noisy but cute otter pups and then found ourselves in the flying fox enclosure which turned out to be the highlight of the night safari as we watched the giant squirrels with wings swoop just inches from our heads - twice! We then walked through the bat enclosure - fast! There where quite a lot of them in there, and an awful lot of stinky bat poo. We headed out of the park to catch the last bus, to the sound of lions mating. Great day out, finished of siting of outside the hostel with a beer and something beige off an Indian food stall.
Didn't leave our room until nearly 2pm as we having problems booking transport to make our way into Malaysia. Once it was finally booked (we think) off we went to Underwater World and a dolphin show on an island called Santosa. Santosa is a huge island that they have turned into a kind of giant theme park with about 12 different sections (each one bigger than the whole of Alton Towers.Unfortunately we got lost in our hurry to see the last dolphin show and took a pointless long bus ride to the wrong area only to have to catch the monorail back to almost where we had started! We made it just in time to see the dolphin and sea lion show which was ok but no where near as good as the Sydney Zoo one. The rest of Underwater world was quite cool though including the stroke a manta ray section and the underwater 80metre tunnel with a travelator in it!
The funniest thing had to be when Jayne was stroking a shark and a naughty fish came up to the surface and squirted a jet of water right into my face hitting me in the eye! Little bugger!
Wandering back to the monorail with a fishy eye we were tempted by some of the big Clubs on the man made beach front like Cafe Del Mar and another huge one called Naughty which looked and sounded amazing!
Our enthusiasm was soon dampened by the price of drinks being virtually more than our entirely daily budget for just one and instead decided to watch 'The Sounds of the sea' show. Unsure of what to expect we bought the tickets and headed into the arena.
There were rows and rows of seats looking out onto the sea with a built up floating wooden village facing us. The show started and several badly acting teenagers sang songs which sounded like they should be in a bad remake of little Mermaid as they pranced around in front of us. Just when we thought it was getting boring a massive spray of water shot up from the buildings on the water and a huge projector and lasers started to project onto the wall of water. The show got much better from here with everyone gasping at the sight of huge images projected onto the watery screens thirty or more feet into the air.
Lots of Pyrotechnics ended the show to a round of applause and a song of 'You did it, he did it, I did it, who did it, you did it, he did it, you did WHAT?' then a scramble to get out first to catch the monorail back home, via a stop in China Town. After our noses where rudely assulted by the stink of bloomin durian fruit - again, we headed to a bar for a couple of HUGE Tiger beers and watch the crowds go by. We realised we were starving but couldn't afford to eat in the bar so indulged in a spot of free eating or 'freating' as we now refer to it, along the markets selling sacks of nuts, mushrooms, jelly nibbles and little sweet pastries.
Just made the last tube and arriving at the hostel still peckish we ventured into the Indian corner eatery with its fine plastic tables and heaps of locals chowing down on fish heads to eat a supper of the tastiest but hottest beef noodles and chicken rice EVER! (Can't wait till tomorrow's first visit to the toilet - if indeed we make it till morning!- lol )
Day 4 - SIngapore to Malaysia
Packed and decided to head off early to find the coach pick up which would take us to Malaysia as it was a going to take a good hour or more and would involve several long walks and a tube ride.
Thankful that we had started to acclimatise to the weather we trudged our way in the blazing sun of midday with our full backpacks on to find the first tube station. This is the hottest and furthest walk so far with our full backpacks on so we were very glad to find the air conditioned subway entrance awaiting us. A couple of stops on the tube to City Plaza and another hot walk led us to the office to check in to the bus. I say office, it was basically a woman sat at a desk in a corridor in a very run down and crowded shopping centre.
All checked in we headed for a bite to eat at a local street hawker. I ordered plain chicken and rice (worried about taking on board spicy food with a long coach journey ahead) and Jayne went for the cheesy chicken option, which to be fair looked way better than mine!
Fed and watered we waited in the corridor for our coach to arrive.
The border crossing from Singapore to Malaysia is a bit strange. You have to get off the coach, visit Singapore passport control where they will stamp you out of the country. You then get back on the coach and cross a bridge into Malaysia. Here you get back off the coach again and go through Malaysia passport control where they stamp you into Malaysia and check your bags (I was surprised that one of the illegal things to take into the country was chewing gum?). Then its back on the coach and welcome to Malaysia! First stop was going to be Melaka.
Arrived in Melaka and hopped off the coach again with not a clue where to go. This was going to prove more difficult as we head through SE Asia because already we were finding that not a lot of people actually speak English. Several broken English conversations later and with a great deal of luck we found a bus to take us into town. We were staying in China Town which on the map looked quite close to the main town so it seemed like a good idea to get the town bus. We thought we knew where we were until the bus seemed to head out of the busy streets and then realised we must have missed our stop so pinged the bell and got off. Not sure where we were we headed back to the busy streets hoping to pick up our bearings and figure out where China Town was. The bright coloured Trishaws with their 80's music blasting out from large speakers were tempting, but as you could only hire them by the half hour we continued to hunt out the elusive Chinese district.
It didn't take too long to find China Town with all its bright coloured lanterns and pagodas and a very noisy night market in full swing. As its nearly Chinese New Year everything is brightly coloured in red and gold (their lucky colours) and it is like one huge big party for two months!
We stopped for a slight distraction as we watched some coconut Kung-Fu where a guy stabbed his finger through a coconut before heading to find a massage parlour. We had both been dreaming of a massage since Australia with all the long coach journeys playing havoc with our necks and backs. It was a reputable looking establishment with a couple of ugly looking Chinese guys and a dumpy Chinese girl greeting us at the door that we finally chose. They didn't seem to speak a word of English so we pointed at the picture of a full body massage and were pointed in the direction of the stairs covered by a curtain. Going up the stairs into the dark room was a little daunting but I thought what the heck. They led us to a couple of beds separated only by red curtains and gestured we make ourselves comfy. They disappeared so Jayne and I both stripped down to our undies - hoping this is what they expected when they returned! They did indeed return and gesture that we lay face down on the beds. A towel was put across my back and then the pummeling began. It was kind of nice at first as he worked on my shoulders, neck and head. His fingers did at times feel like they might actually go through my skull and it did leave me hoping I hadn't been given a coconut kung-fu trainee.
It was going well until he started on my legs, digging into my thighs and backs of my knees like he was kneading a tough dough and then punching the bottom of my feet repeatedly for god knows what reason. He did at one point actually lightly graze my balls and when I flinched he said something which sounded like the word 'tenner'. I laid there shaking my head hoping this was the Chinese word for sorry and not a request for funds or an offer of a 'happy end'.
When they had finished with us we paid up and walked out into the street with a rather dishevelad and bewildered look on both our faces.... staring at each other as if to ask what just happened? But I have to say my back and neck felt way better and at the princely sum of 50 Ringitt for an hours pummeling (about £10) it was well worth the trip inside.
Starving hungry we chose a bar on a busy street corner to have a cheap evening meal and a few Tiger beers while we watched the world go by to the sound of nasty karaoke and a drunken lady having a fight with a stall owner.