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Published: November 7th 2016
Getting into Singapore should not have been as difficult as it was. After getting fleeced one last time in Australia to the tune of $15 AUD for the 10 minute ride to the airport (no public transport available) I showed up to the ticket counter and heard the dreaded words “Can you show me your onward travel ticket?”. Um, no I can’t because I do not have one. The agent insisted it is Singapore government policy to not let anyone board the craft without a onward or return ticket. Out of options I agreed to buy a “fully refundable” ticket on the spot for $250AUD so I could board the craft. After a two hour flight from Cairns to Darwin my connecting flight to Singapore was promptly canceled for a reason I never could get a straight answer about. I was assured that I could board the next flight which was five hours later. No problem as I have nothing but time. But unbeknownst to me I would be put in a holding quarantine area with no access to the airport or town of Darwin as I was an International transit passenger. Long story short, I was basically sat in a
windowless room for five hours until my flight to Singapore the destination of which I finally made it to. No customs official even asked or raised a question of my onward travel. Big surprise and my “refundable” ticket was only refunded after paying a $50 AUD service fee. What a crock and a scam. Jet Star sucks.
Getting into the city was a breeze. I hopped on the super fast, super efficient, super clean, and best of all super cheap ($S1.50) MRT train system bound for the neighborhood Little India. I had no place to stay but I chose to come to this side of town because I like India and it seemed like a good plan as any. Getting off the train I was immediately immersed in what I love about India – sights, sounds, and chaos. I had officially arrived in Asia. Walking the streets I found an alright place for the night and called it good as I was exhausted by the travel day.
My first day I headed to the Indonesian Embassy to try and secure the much prized 60 Day Visa for entering the country. I failed due to no onward ticket. Twice
now this has bitten me but no longer. I now found a PDF to Word converter so I can alter an old E-Ticket I have with any date and location to present to the officials from here on out. I then spent the rest of the day wandering around Orchard Road which is a famous shopping district full of massive shopping malls and good eateries. Singapore’s two major pastimes are shopping and eating. I don’t shop much so I chose to eat. A lot. Food here is amazing and dirt cheap. A hawker meal costs about $S3 ($2.50USD).
I also went to the famous Raffles Hotel. Here at the Long Bar you can order the world renowned Singapore Sling. If you ask any traveler that has been in Singapore if they have done this ritual they will answer yes and then say don’t do it. Well I came I did it and now that I have done it I would tell anyone who asks me not to do it. I’m not even really sure why people do it, they just do whilst in Singapore. For a ridiculous $S30 ($25USD) you too can do it (I’m glad I did it).
I spent quite a bit of time in the Chinatown district eating and people watching at the hawker centre. If I ever needed some company I could just go there and pull up a chair and within a minute someone would bring me to their table. Being a tall white American male in a centre full of Asians I was like some sort of celebrity, one guy would not believe me that I was not in the NBA. I was always dragged around meeting new people while sharing food and drink. Good times indeed. Also in Chinatown there was a large museum that supposedly held a tooth from Buddha. The shrine was very ornate (no photo allowed) and it was as good as any segue to prepare me for the numerous temples to come whilst in Asia.
Feeling a little retail overloaded I headed on the MRT and transferred on a local bus bound for Changi Village where I would board a ferry to Pulau Ubin. This little island north of the city still retains the native rainforest that once covered this land. Here you can rent a bike for $S4 for the day and enjoy the scenery
- which was splendid - cruising around. It was great have a feeling of being away from it all when in reality I was only about 15Km from the city centre. All in all a really enjoyable afternoon.
While in town I also read in the paper that the annual Red Bull Flutag was to take place while I was here. I headed for the beach and watched as dozens of amateur engineers steered their homemade crafts into the abyss below. If you've ever seen the Flutag on TV or YouTube you know it is pretty hilarious watching the people crash into the water and even more so in person. I love it when quirky events and random encounters work their way into my travels.
I had to come to a decision whilst here as well. Do I head North to Malaysia, or South to Indonesia? I chose the latter and booked a cheap flight ($80) into the wild jungle clad island of Sumatra in Indonesia. My last day in Singapore before my flight I awoke feeling awful. I lay in my bed for 30+ hours not able to get up or do much of anything. I was
running a 102 fever. Not good. Fears of Dengue and Malaria ran rife in my head. Certainly not what I wanted before leaving the modern and first world Singapore for uncharted and who knows Sumatra. I rolled the dice and boarded my flight to Sumatra where I currently reside. I’m feeling better and man do I have an adventure to write about next. Good call hopping the flight.
This is my friend Batu I met at the hostal. He is from Sierra Leone in Western Africa. The stories of his survival from the civil war there and the horrors and atrocities he lived through and witnessed certainly make me thankful for the life I have and live. His faith and strength are unshakable. Hands down the most interesting person I have met to date.
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