The final stop on our epic adventure ended in Singapore and what an interesting ending it was. After months of travelling through some of the world’s poorest countries I couldn’t help but find it ironic that we would end our journey in one of the world’s richest!
As we stepped off the underground train that took us from the airport to the city, I felt a little uncomfortable in my surroundings. I guess we had gotten used wearing our baggy hippy pants, tank tops and flip flops for so long that we forgot we were entering a fashion Mecca. To say we stuck out like a pair of sore thumbs with our huge backpacks on would be an understatement!
Isn’t it funny how things can change? I remember the first day we landed in Bangkok, we both felt uncomfortable in an unfamiliar place. We felt like we stuck out from what we were wearing, to our personalities and the way we acted. Now five months on and we couldn’t feel more relaxed with who we are. Asia started to feel like home. Now at the end of our journey it was as if we had been thrown back in time, back to the modern world of materialism, greed and judgment.
I couldn’t help but laugh at my embarrassment trying to tame my frizzy hair and make myself look half presentable. You can try all you want Jess but until you get to a hostel, have a shower and take those blue floral genie trousers off, you’re a goner! We did however; enjoy playing ‘spot the traveller’. You could see them from a mile off and I bet they all had the same thing on their minds as us. “This doesn’t feel like the Asia we know”.
We were not surprised to find that Singapore was one of the most expensive places we had visited so far. We found a hostel that cost $50.00 a night (about £25) and believe me, compared to other countries we had been to that was expensive! But for Singapore it was cheap, enough to get us a private room with air-conditioning in a pretty strange hostel but it was in a good location and money was as tight as ever!
The first thing we had set our eyes on was a Starbucks just down the road but before we treated ourselves to a nice coffee, we were both in need of a shower and a change of clothes. I decided to go all out and do my hair and make-up for the first time in a few months. It was nice until we walked outside into the sweltering heat. It promptly reminded me why I hadn’t bothered for so long. Humidity and beauty do not mix but the Singaporeans didn’t let that stop them!
We must have looked like proper tourists taking a picture of ourselves with our mugs of coffee but it was a novelty these days for us! Later on we took a walk to ‘Little India’ but were disappointed to find it was a strange place with no atmosphere, much like China town in Kuala Lumpur. We stopped at an Indian restaurant for dinner and decided to order a mini platter of everything on the menu. I couldn’t tell you what any of it was but neither of us were too keen. I think we were expecting the kind of Indian we have in England!
There was a lot to see in Singapore structure wise but not a great deal to do if you didn’t like shopping. We did decide to treat ourselves the next day and went on a bit of a shopping spree. In the evening we took a walk down a street known as ‘the rich street’. It had all the famous fashion labels like Gucci, Prada and Louis Vinton. We couldn’t help but gawp at the beautiful faces holding handfuls of bags containing thousands of dollars strutting down the high street in their Jimmy-Chews!
We only had two days in Singapore so we woke up early to make the most out of our second day. The city was a pleasant place to walk around. The streets were clean, the people were attractive and the architecture was magnificent. There was an abundance of shopping malls each with their own unique style. One even had a canal running through it that took you on a boat trip through the mall!
Later we went to see a famous building called the Marina Bay sands. The bottom of the building is a huge shopping mall that is connected underground. Above it is three towers that are a hotel and casino. At the very top, covering all three buildings is a bizarre ship-shaped structure holding a restaurant, nightclub and an infinity pool. As usual you had to pay to go to the top of it. You were only able to access the lift but buying a ticket or if you were rich enough to be staying at the hotel.
Pete had the genius idea of sneaking into the lift in the hope that someone would come along and just so happen to be going to the top floor. I looked at him with disbelief as we waited. This could either be really embarrassing or we could be going aimlessly up and down for hours waiting for someone. To our luck just as we entered the lift a couple holding a room key card joined us. They slotted their card in and pressed the top floor button. Bingo, Cleaver boy! We also somehow managed to sneak past security without a ticket with a group of tourists. The view was great but unfortunately the weather had turned awful. We thought they were on to us so quickly dashed back into the lift after a few minutes but forgot to take a photo, but here’s the view from the bottom.
We spent the second half of our day at a garden called the Marina south gardens. Similar to the Eden project, it is an eco friendly conservation project that educates the public on the effects of climate change. Outside the building were enormous, solar super tees that had plants growing up them and a walkway from tree to tree.
Inside, there was a tropical flower house which had plants from all over the world and in another dome there was a second big structure with plants growing all through it. You could walk inside and out all the way to the top. The walk ended with an interactive studio and a short film on the effects of climate change over ten years and finally what we could do to resolve it. We spent a good three hours exploring the domes and it was a good thing to do on a rainy day!
In the evening we went to Singapore’s version of China town. It was a step up from kuala Lumpur but still nothing to shout about. There were a few quirky little shops but to my dismay I didn’t fit very well into the tiny sizes catered for little Asian girls!
On our way home we noticed a group of old men on the street playing a game. I recognised it but I didn’t know where from. Then it clicked. I remembered when one of the boat crew on the Halong Bay trip in Vietnam was trying to teach me it. I couldn’t quite remember the rules, as when he taught me I was pretty intoxicated paired with the fact that he spoke not one word of English and attempted to teach me through sign language! It looked like the men were betting what little money they had left. It would seem not everyone in Singapore was rich.
We had come to the end of our journey through Southeast Asia. Although it felt like we had seen it all, in reality it barely scraps the surface of the huge list of things I want to do and see. However, we had done, felt, met, saw things that most people could only dream about. It was everything that I had expected and more.
Each place we visited will hold a deep meaning in our hearts but our journey wouldn’t have been half as great if it wasn’t for the extraordinary people we have met along the way. We have been overwhelmed with the kindness and generosity of locals who have such little in their own lives but always have the willingness to help you. We have met travellers from all walks of life and from all over the globe, each with an interesting story to tell about their own life.
This had been something I had dreamt about doing since I was a teenager and it feels so good to say I’ve finally done it! One journey is over for sure but I assure you that this my friends, is only the beginning!
This concludes ‘A pair of nomads world adventure – Southeast Asia part one’. Thank you to those who have joined me on my adventure through reading my blog. I am currently sat on a beach in Australia two months later finishing my last post but already thinking about where I want to go next! I’ll keep you posted but for now goodbye and keep dreaming!