Monday, July 18, 2011

Singapore, Malaysia, Cambodia. 3 countries, one week.

17 July, 2011

Singapore & Malaysia were like a blur. 4 Nights Sg, 2 nights KL. Cambodia, TBD.

Singapore: I went to meet up with May, a friend who is living there teaching yoga, and Julian, her bf, who came out to visit for her birthday. When I got there they had just gotten back from an amazing weekend in Indonesia, including posh accommodations at the Banyan Tree Bintan (check it out, honeymooners and romantics, it’s unbelievable!) and a jungle trek.

Singapore is a nice city. Clean. Lots of packaged sightseeing tours. I could list them all but you could also find them in a guidebook, complete with shiny pictures. The unexpected highlight of this trip was the Night Safari… and watching Julian find his holy grail, a Seiko watch that, in his own words, bumped him up to the next level in his watch collecting hobby…

Southern ridges walk. A nice hike through the jungle in the middle of the island. There were soaring views of the city from various lookout points, and fun exercise equipment.

It was warm and humid, and poor May still had to teach a couple of yoga classes at the end of the day.

See how we glow?

In the evenings we checked out various neighborhoods- Circular Quay, the club-hopping district. No party for us that night though, we were tired. Arab Street, where we found some Belgian beer.
The next day we went to the botanical gardens. There was a lake, and some wildlife. Pretty.
Orchard Road is the shopping district, and I stocked up on some shorts and sandals, as I was still coming out of the cold cold winter in Australia.

And best of all, the Night Safari! It’s like a zoo, but open only at night.

There’s an Indiana Jones feel to it, and for those of you who know me, I love Indiana Jones!

The animals live in open air enclosures, but kind of small. It ensures that tourists can get a good look, but rather sad for the lack of open space for the animals to enjoy.

Best of the night safari, the Mangrove walk, an enclosure where you can get up close and personal with bats! They hang from the trees nibbling fruit, and swoop around under a (rather low) canopy.

Fear, it always makes an experience memorable.

It’s a big city. We arrive by bus, 6 hours from Singapore. Our hotel is called Etica Inn, it’s in Chinatown, a convenient location next to a night market and hawker stalls. It’s like a run down version of Singapore. The first night we walked around the market, had some Chinese food, and went out late, around the corner from the hotel at the Reggae Bar. No reggae there, but packed like sardines with a ragged jumble of European backpackers, seasoned locals, and young kids. Either that or I’m getting older! I swear some of them were like 10! Ok well 15. We started with drinks, and stood around, and I started to get nervous about my upcoming trip- South East Asia… I guess it always comes to that when I start something, and the demons of uncertainty, fear and anxiety come up. I started to second-guess myself, and come up with reasons for how it’s not going to work out. It’s a processing experience I guess, to know your demons, and then exorcise them.

The next day we got up and ventured out to the Batu Cave, an enormous cave and Hindu religious site.

272 stairs.

Monkeys wreaking havoc.

(Dubious) highlight: A little boy was teasing the monkeys, and one of them, fed up when the boy swiped at him one last time, screamed out and grabbed the boys arm and started biting his head. Wow! It was horrifying and shocking, and I was really hoping the monkey wasn’t serious about hurting the kid, that would have been a buzz kill. And the parents? Ha! The kid’s dad was just kind of laughing at him, as if to say, “See what you get?” I think they were Russian. Imagine that happening in the states?! Horror! That’s why it was so funny, just the contrast and shock value of the way the scene played out. Later we saw the kid throwing rocks at the pigeons. Dumb kid.

Then we went to the absolute highlight of our trip in Malaysia- The Bird Park!

I love birds!

We saw so many birds.

The peacock shook his tail feathers.

I love birds.

Then that evening we went to a second highlight, to the Sky Bar at Traders Hotel to admire the Petronas Towers at night. They were lit up like diamond jewels, beautiful!

Second tallest buildings in the world. Kuala Lumpor. The first tallest building is in Taipei. Go Asia!

Later that night we went to meet some friends May and Julian had met on their jungle trek the previous week, and had a nice chat with them in another district known for nightlife, Bintang.
And then we went to the airport. At 4am.

Cambodia: Arrival 8:35am in Phnom Penh airport. Matching flannel pajamas are all the rage amongst local women. I have to stop going to the bathroom before getting my luggage off the baggage claim because I’m always the last one to get my bag. I got my visa on arrival no problem at the airport, $25 US. Cambodia surprised me by giving me US dollars out of the ATM. I was also surprised by being greeted at the airport by a little girl, all in pink, complete with a Dora the Explorer bag, a sign with my name on it, and a cell phone, which she hands to me. It was the hostel owner, explaining for me to follow the little girl and she will take me to the hostel! Awesome Indiana Jones moment. She’s the cutest thing EVER! She’s about 7 or 8. The tuk tuk driver is there as well, and he’s really nice, and I end up at Nomads Guesthouse. It feels like it’s 3 in the afternoon, but really it’s only 9. It feels like the longest day ever. I have been up for the past 24 hours, with a small nap in between 3 & 4 am when we got home from our last (and second) night out in Malaysia and when we had to be up to meet the taxi to get to the airport for a 6:45am flight. My room isn’t ready yet. I sit there trying to figure out what I’m going to do next, and meet some nice girls who are also staying there. They give me some info about Southern Cambodia, and it sounds so nice, I think I’m going to change my plans and give it a go. Then I take a walk with one of the girls and we book tickets for a sunset mekong cruise… Here I go…

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