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Published: November 9th 2007
What a Feeling !
When one reaches a goal after so much struggle the feeling is so utterly amazing and so utterly un-describable. FACT: Stoke on Trent to Singapore is 13,661.82 Miles (not as the crow flies)!
Day 300, 27th March
Johor Bahru - SINGAPORE
This was it - our 300th day - 13,700 miles cycling - Singapore in our sights. We woke up at the crack of dawn, all excited oand anxious about our last day’s cycling together. Mr Chow cooked breakfast for us at the hostel and then we left at ten. John, a guy from the Singapore Sports Council had arranged to meet us at the Caltex petrol station just north of the Johor railway station at half-past.
When we arrived there, there were some excited cyclists from the Singapore Cycling Assosiation waiting to accompany us in the city state. John gave us all white T-shirts to wear with logos on, I just stuffed mine into my pannier, my faded ‘Genesis’ T-shirt was fine by me. I’d washed it last night and it wasn’t reeking anymore.
At 11am we were given the go-ahead to set off through Malaysian immigration along a roadside bike-path. Exit procedures were cursory, and on the other side was the causeway stretching ahead into Singapore…. I hardly noticed another bedraggled cyclist waiting at the roadside barrier….was it?....yes…..it was, Stephane! How the hell had he got here? Stephane!
With my passport stamped, there was nothing to stop me now as I entered the causeway. The guys let me take the lead...
He was alive and well and joining us into Singapore!!!! We were one group again, five of us…. They guys agreed and granted me the privilige of leading the way across the causeway into Singapore, reasoning that it was my crazy idea in the first place that got them here. We re-grouped in a formation and rode across, me grinning like a Cheshire cat…
Halfway across the causeway the road texture changes marking the actual boundary. It was 11.15am as I entered Singapore, my heart skipped a beat - I’d done it! Just beyond this point was a Singapore TV crew in vehicles that rode ahead of us filming. We had all got huge smiles on our faces, everyone was pleased, so very pleased, that we’d actually bloody made it. Now I know how an Olympic medallist, Lottery Winner, a brand new Prime Minister, a number-one pop artist feels when they make it - what a feeling, really, I can’t explain it. The only thing that has ever topped this in my lifetime was seeing the birth of my son - Christopher. Here’s to him!
The Singapore customs seemed to be drawn into this feeling and just happily
Riding the Causeway
Straight ahead for Singapore...
stamped our passports and cheered us through! More cyclists from Singapore waited beyond and joined us into the city. Wow! What was happening her - it was becoming too much for me, I was shaking, my face began to ache with smiling, my eyes became damp.
The roads were quieter than expected, a better quality, smooth, perfect. The TV crew filmed our every move, the cyclist cheered us along, the air was cool, the temperature was pleasant - just a perfect day to be doing the last 20 miles home-run. We passed through the leafy suburbs of Woodlands and then joined Bukit Timah Road. WWWithin an hour we were on Napier Road and in front of The British Council who gave us a raptuous applause as we pulled up there. Les Dangerfield, the manager, turned out to meet us and to shake our hands. We were brought inside for a reception with people from all walks of life. Words cannot express the feelings that were going through me - mainly a deep sense of achievement for actually doing this mammoth trip! I was really overwhelmed and began to feel guilty, that I was just a guy on a bicycle,
Malay / Singapore border
Right on the exact border... SINGAPORE!
that I didn’t deserve all this. Surely, it was for somebody else, not me?
It just got more and more crazy. There was a TV interview later, and then we set off for the Raffles Hotel for complimentary Singapore Slings. The well-dressed Indian porters on the doors of Raffles tried to shoo us off until the management saw us and welcomed us into the famous bar. The Slings were served up and we drank one after another, getting quite tipsy, I needed it! Then I saw three familiar figures across the other side of the bar: my friends from New Zealand; Steve, his wife Fleur, and her friend Nadine! I knew they would be in Singapore around this time but never expected to see them here! It was another crazy re-union which was unexpected and added to one of the most unusual days of my life.
It was just too much excitement - overload! We had had enough for today and headed off to D’Simple Hostel where we’d booked rooms online. There’s more later and a full day of stuff tomorrow, so we just needed to chill a bit. At the hostel we got ice-cold cokes while we
First stop after customs was to give a talk and fill our faces at the BC.
were waiting for the rooms to be ready. I freshened up and put some clean rags on for the evening.
Later on, John Edwards picked us up by taxi. We were off to an unexpected party. A t party in celebration of our arrival in Singapore up at The British High Commissioners Residence. Acting British High Comissioner, Mr Paul Madden, welcomed us to his home with canapés and Boddington’s Beer. There were lots of interesting people present, it was just a totally different life that what I was used to. A big old colonial mansion with swimming pool set in rolling wooded hills. Later, we were given a taxi ride back to our humble hostel, retired to our rooms, there was nothing more we could possibly say or do, closed our eyes - and flaked out….
Total Miles: 13629.87 Todays Miles: 23.42 Average speed: 11.7 Time on bike: 1:59
Day 301, 28th March
Singapore Hostel - National Stadium - Raffles Hotel - Sentosa - The Most Southern Point of Mainland Asia: THE FINISH LINE.
Our last day should have been yesterday, but, we still haven’t made it to the southernmost point yet - our
Me and Stephane
Catching up on the news since we split company in Ko Lanta - Thailand.
finish line. After breakfast we went to the Padang, the area in front of the Supreme Court, for a photo shoot and a play on some local rickshaws trying not to repeat the event that happened in Hanoi! We were then required to cycle off to the National Stadium to meet the sports minister for Singapore. We did more interviews then a so-called ‘Lap of Honour’ around the stadium. The minister gave us some pretty neat key rings as souveniers before waving us off on our final symbolic last leg to the Finish Line on Sentosa Island.
We rode along the waterfront that was traffic-free, then over the Esplanade Bridge with the famous Merlion Fountain to our right. The we passed the old Post Office and the well-know Change Alley on Fullerton Road and Collier Quay. The skyscrapers of the business district loomed over and dwarfed us as we proceeded down Shenton Way and on to the Railway Station. A few miles later we were having lunch in hawkers stalls near to the Sentosa causeway.
At half past two it was time for the final miles. We headed across the causeway as a film crew filmed our procession.
The Minister of Sport for Singapore invited us to the stadium to do a so-called "Lap of Honour" - which of kinda fun!
At the opposite end, Mrs Yew from the state TV company, hopped in a golf cart with a cameraman, and we followed the small track around Sentosa. Sentosa is such a tacky resort in reality. Must different than the Sentosa I visited in 1986 on my was to NZ. Then it was just a few colonial houses and a military museum, now - it’t metamorphosized into a touristic monster! We rode past the “Lost Civilisation”, past “Fort Siloso”, and the beaches - all made with imported Indonesian sand. It was funny really, that our trip ends in this crazy fantasy land. Still, if we want to actually get to the southernmost point, then we need to tow the line - and to have fun in the process…
It was actually fun, a surreal kind of fun. And finally we ended up at the end of the paved track. In front of us was a rope bridge that crossed over to a small island that was officially the end of the trip. I lifted my good bike up the three steps onto the bridge, the other guys followed behind and we proceeded across the clanking planks. As I approached the
Outside the famous hotel for a photo opportunity...
far end I could see people, a TV crew were filming, and..what was that…a banner strung between two palm trees. It read - FINISH LINE.
I reached the end of the bridge, lifted my bike down the few steps onto the small island, a sign proclaimed “SOUTHERNMOST POINT OF ASIA CONTINENT”. Reporters asked me how I felt - I think I said in confusion “Fucking Great, Fucking Marvellous”!!! Then we were welcomed by a hail of Party-Popper streamers (Forward Fireworks no less! - from the factory we had visited in China!) and a big cheer from a crowd of waiting people. Cameras were flashing and the experience was truly overwhelming now, my eyes were filling….
A small boardwalk style platform lay just beyond the Finish Line banner where we were all received by Paul Madden from the High Comission and Les Dangerfield from The British Council. I lifted my bike up onto the platform and rested it next to the railings as the others did - except Rory. Rory wanted to do one better in front of the cameras. He tried a so-called Bunny-Hop onto the platform, and failed, landing clean on his head and shoulder, much to
Our Singapore Slings - On the House! Thank You for your hospitality Raffles!
the amazement of all of us! Concussed, and 10 feet from his goal, Rory was led off for medical treatment!
Bemused a little, Paul Madden then shook all of our hands and gave us each a trophy in the shape of a Merlion, on which we all had a personalised plaque congratulating us on our “Epic Bicycle Journey”. What Paul said next touched a sensitive nerve in me - “As acting British High Comissioner, I can say that what you have accomplished makes me proud to be British, and I’m honoured to be here to welcome you to Singapore today”. We didn’t dare tell him Scott was a Yank and Stephane a Canuck!
After 13,660 miles and 10 months, my dream had come true in a way that I would never have dreamed of 10 months ago when setting out from my parents house on this trip. I can honestly say to myself now that this trip has definitely been the trip of a lifetime, a trip that far surpasees all other trips I’ve done, because - because of these guys I’ve travelled with. I know these guys better than any person I’ve ever known before, because of
Us lot looking a bit confused before heading off to Sentosa.
what we’ve been through. In a normal relationship, the combined times together, and combined experiences, would be hard put to rival the time us guys have spent together and the things we’ve seen and done. This trip can never be repeated. To try and do so and to try and re-live it, would be futile. In a few days, we shall part, and go our own way, taking our experiences with us. What we end up doing with them is anyones guess. Will we stay in touch? Will we cycle together as a group again - I doubt it. We will have these memories, though. Memories, that will stay with us until our death…and may that be a very long way off….
The Sentosa Development Corporation had put a buffet on for us at a nearby tent and made us a cake welcoming the cyclists. A few more interviews ensued, many interesting chats with folks. Then it was all over. People packed up and drifted off. Our small contribution to history had made its small mark on this speck of land. Rory turned up with a ‘real’ Singapore sling - not the drink! Apparently, he’d hurt his arm in
Riding on Sentosa
Once on Sentosa we had to follow a golf cart with a local TV camera team nearly to the Finish Line.
the fall, we had to laugh, including Rory. He was still concussed and John had to take him off back to the hospital - poor guy. Stephane didn’t waste time getting girls phone numbers, whilst the rest of us wandered off to a beach bar to have a quiet beer with David, a Singapore cyclist who’d took a shining to us all.
We arrived back at the hostel at 6pm with just enough time to get a shower before being picked up in a taxi again by John to goo to our final reception at Carnegies Bar in Far East Square. It was a posh Ex-Pats bar with 60s and 70s pop-poster adorning the walls. We were given a free barrel of Boddingtons Beer and T-shirts. Steve, Fleur, and Nadine turned up and we celebrated till the wee hours. Toby and I caught a taxi back at some early hour of the morning, we don’t know when, and dozed off….
Life Changes - There was no surprise with Kathryn. I was kind of hoping that she would secretly turn up today. The next few days will be full of decisions, decisions for all of us, decisions that could
The Last Bridge
As I led the group over this last rope bridge to the FINISH line tears welled up in my eyes...
decide our futures…… What Now?
Total Miles: 13661.82 Todays Miles: 31.94 Average speed: 10.8 Time on bike: 2:57
Tot: 3.468s; Tpl: 0.062s; cc: 22; qc: 119; dbt: 0.0704s; 3; m:saturn w:www (18.104.22.168); sld: 1;
; mem: 1.7mb