There are only 3 places that you can fly to/from Dili; Darwin, Jakarta and Singapore. Since the airport was dead when we landed we were surprised to rock up to catch our flight to Singapore and find it busy. Even the departure lounge was packed, then as our plane landed the Jakarta flight boarded and suddenly the departure lounge was almost empty. Our 757 plane was only a third full if that.
We left 15 minutes early and it took just under 3 hours, meaning we got in 35 minutes ahead of schedule! We hopped on the MRT (underground) to get into the city and followed the map to our accommodation. It was early evening and while the humidity was noticeable and it was still hot, after a 10 minute stomp with the rucksacks on we arrived not too sweaty, the pre-trip training is paying off.
We were staying in Little India and in stark contrast to East Timor it was buzzing as we arrived, in fact we discovered that it only really comes alive at night. Singapore is expensive so we had booked a private room in a hostel to reduce costs, but we’re
too old for the backpacker scene and when we turned up to find the bar out the front heaving with youngsters, we were really chuffed to discover that they had a second small building round the corner, and that was where our room was. There was only us downstairs and one dorm upstairs. It was a nice place, clean, bright, modern and had art on the walls, there was a security system and the showers were fantastic, but unfortunately our room stunk like mouldy cheese. We looked for the cause, but there was no sign of damp or anything being spilt. We stopped noticing it after we’d been in there for a few minutes, but to walk into it each time was rank. We weren’t sorry to only be staying 2 nights (we spoke to 3 Americans on the bus to KL who stayed at the same hostel but in the main building and they said their room smelt like that too and was so bad that 2 of them didn’t think that they could sleep in it – they did they just got drunk first).
We’d been fed on the plane so only nipped out to the 7eleven to get some snacks to tide us over to breakfast, then we spotted an internet cafe just over the road from our accommodation so hopped in there. It smelt of curry and wee and the keyboards were kinda slimy, but it did the job. We ended the evening by planning our only full day in the city.
We started our day in Singapore by scoring tickets to Kuala Lumpur. We had been intending to take the train since we’ll be doing lots of bus trips and there are few opportunities for train trips (which we prefer) but buying the tickets turned out to be a hassle and the train station was over an hour’s journey away, which meant we’d have to be leaving our accommodation in the dark. The hostel sold bus tickets for the same price and the bus departed from a place only a 10 minute walk away, so we took that as the least hassle option.
As we were staying in Little India we spent the morning exploring the area and visiting some of the temples. We also sussed out where the bus left from (just as well as we got lost trying to find it) and posted Dave our disgustingly filthy East Timor guidebook and Emma’s free souvenir scarf. We don’t so much have a weight issue, though with our rucksacks weighing 14kg each they’re not as light as we would like, but we do have a bulk issue in that we can’t fit a single other thing in either rucksack, they’re full to bursting. It’s the result of carrying mozzie nets and enough insect repellant to protect a herd of elephants for the tropics and sleeping bags, warm jacket and a set of thermals for Mongolia, Ladakh and Bhutan. Oh and 6 guidebooks between us. We don’t have any luxury items, except maybe our travel pillows, but they are the difference sometimes between getting a good nights sleep or not and have already paid off in many places in East Timor as the pillows were as big and hard as a bag of concrete. As soon as we can jettison more stuff Dave will be getting more parcels.
At 32 degrees Singapore was no hotter that East Timor, but the humidity during the day made it tough going, so we sough refuge in our air conditioned room during the heat of midday. For the afternoon we’d prioritised seeing the two things that Singapore is famous for; it’s financial district and the main shopping area. We hopped on the MRT to the CBD and got utterly lost leaving the station, we ended up in some immaculate underground maze. There were even shops down there. We loved seeing the sleek high rise buildings. We hopped back on the MRT to the shopping area and had a walk down Orchard Road, the main shopping street. We were too tight to buy anything and only had limited funds anyway without making an ATM withdrawal and with leaving the next day we didn’t want to do that. Plus of course we can’t carry anything else! We did stop and buy coffee when we spotted a lush green fan/humidified outdoor cafe. It wasn’t the best coffee but we were happy to have scored our first proper coffee in 2 weeks.
We returned to our digs, went out and ate at a nice vegetarian (Hindu) restaurant, then packed up ready for leaving for Kuala Lumpur in the morning.
- Everything here is so regulated; do this, don’t do that – totally the opposite from where we’ve come from
- Singaporeans really can shop, their ability is impressive.
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