Goodbye Malaysia, Hello F1


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October 11th 2010
Published: October 11th 2010
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Photos by reuben brown
Welcome to part 12 of the blog.

We left Tioman on Monday 20th Sept and caught a bus to Johor Bharu, the city on the border with Singapore. We knew we would have to spend a few days there as we were not expected in Singapore until the 23rd, so we checked into a cheapish hotel not too far from the train station. It was around 6pm by the time we dropped our bags off and went to for a look around. It quickly became apparent that we weren't in for the most interesting few days, JB is mainly a transport hub for businessmen crossing between Malaysia and Singapore, it was very seedy and there were no other backpackers/westerners. We stuck out like a sore thumb and it was the only place I have felt slightly unsafe so far. In the end all we did for the 3 days we were in JB was watch a few movies at a cinema in one of the malls and eat in a little Indian restaurant across from the hotel.

By Thursday morning we were anxious to leave and after spending the last of our ringgit on a big breakfast we did
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Photos by reuben brown
just that, catching a bus over the causeway border crossing into Singapore. We had very kindly been invited back to stay by Mike and Jane, however when we arrived neither of the were home so we went and had some lunch in Vivo mall while we waited for Jane to get back. After a while we got a text from Jane and walked to the condo to meet her. We didn't get up to much that night except eating another delicious shepherds pie that Jane cooked for us and catching up on what had been going on in the last few weeks.

The real reason we had come back to Singapore that weekend was the Formula 1 nightrace, we had 3 day tickets which included all practices session, qualifying, the race itself and many other concerts and attractions. We woke up Friday morning eager to get our first taste of the event, however before we could we had to get a bus to the Vietnam Embassy just out of town to arrange our visas. After a quick breakfast we caught the bus back to the condo and later caught the MRT towards the track. We arrived at what felt
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Photos by reuben brown
more like a festival than a race, a huge area of Singapore’s central business district is closed to the public, you have to shuffle through a lot of security with metal detectors and people checking your bags. Once we got through we found all sorts of tents and stalls selling beer, food and merchandise. As well as these there were many different attractions such as classic car exhibitions and street arts etc, not to mention the stages set up for a number of concerts and performances over the weekend.

We grabbed a few beers, walked around the arena for a while, then headed to our seats in the grandstand to catch the first practice session. It was my first experience of live F1, our seats were towards the end of the track (T17/T18) and we watched the start on a big screen opposite our stand, as soon as we saw the cars head out we could here them from far behind us, a noise something like several Jet engines starting up at the same time, this built and built as they got closer to us and around a minute and a half after the start the cars reached us.
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Photos by reuben brown
Even though our seats were at a slower part of the track the noise level was intense and the cars were incredibly fast, watching on the TV just doesn't do F1 justice!

After 1st practice we headed to Boat Quay and met Mike and Jane at a pub called The Penny Black. They were there with a few of their British friends who also live in Singapore, we all had a few beers then went for dinner at a fantastic Indian restaurant further along Boat Quay. We would never of found the place without Mike and Jane’s local knowledge as it's just a doorway on the side of the road, you step through and get into a small lift which takes you up to a lovely rooftop terrace with views across the river towards the track. After dinner and a few more beers Me, Reuben, Mike and Jane headed back to the track to catch some of 2nd practice. Instead of heading for our seats we took advantage of our walk around passes and Jane suggested a good place to stand on watch near the esplanade theatre. It's one of the fastest stretches on the course and if you
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Photos by reuben brown
blink you really will miss the cars, even if you don’t all you can see is a blur of colour.

Second practice finished around 23:00 after which Mike and Jane headed home, me and Reuben decided to see what bands were playing and were lucky enough to stumble upon a Bob Marley Tribute act called Legend. They were excellent and the whole crowd was having a great time dancing and singing along to Bob's greatest hits. They finished sometime after midnight and we were going to head home when we bumped into a couple of Spanish guys who wanted to know a good place to have a drink, we decided to walk to Clarke Quay with them for a few drinks. It was a nightmare getting there, what should of been a 10 minute walk took about an hour as one of the Spanish guys was really drunk and could barely stand. When we finally got there we stopped at the Crazy Elephant bar and had a few beers, unfortunatly they only had Stella Artois which always makes me feel bad and we didn't stay long before heading home.

On Saturday we woke late, which was ok as
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we didn't have any plans during the day except for helping Jane pack some stuff as they were moving house the following week. In the evening we headed to the track for about 18:00, Jane wanted to watch a band at the Padang stage, Me and Reuben didn't really fancy it so we arranged to meet up afterwards. We headed for the esplanade stage to see 'Brazil, Brazil' a group of performers who showcased Capoeira fighting, traditional dancing, singing and freestyle football tricks. After this we met up with Mike and Jane who took us for dinner at the excellent Brewerks, a bar/restaurant that brew all their own beers. After dinner and some very good beer we all headed to the track, grabbed a few Tigers then got to our seats early to wait for F1 Qualifying.

The stands were packed and there was an exited atmosphere as everyone waited for Q1 to begin. It was the 1st time we had seen the cars at full pace and it was fantastic, the crowd were cheering their favourite drivers, they was drama with a few small accidents and Felipe Massa breaking down just past our seats. Qualifying ended with Alonso
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on pole, much to the delight of all the Ferrari fans whilst everyone else tried to leave at the same time. To avoid the crush of people on the paths we stopped in the paddock bar underneath the grandstand and had a couple more beers while we waited for the crowd to thin out. By this point Jane was very tired and we all caught the last MRT back to the condo.

All of us slept in on Sunday, the morning of the race. Once we were all up and about we went for breakfast at Kepple bay marina. It was another place we would never have gone to without Mike and Jane, it's a popular place and I can see why, set in a beautiful location overlooking the marina with views across to huge skyscrapers on one side and Sentosa island on the other, the food was great too! Mike and Jane went to meet some friends during the day and Me and Reuben just chilled out at the condo. After a few beers we left around 18:00 to give us time to get some dinner and make it to our seats before the start of the race
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Photos by reuben brown
at 20:00. We caught the MRT to the arena and had some dinner at one of the restaurants inside the esplanade theatre, then we loaded up with us much beer as we could fit in our cardboard holders and shuffled along with the rest of the crowd to reach our seats.

Before the race started there was an exhibition of freestyle motorbike stunts set up on a floating stage in the bay opposite our grandstand. It was good fun with the riders pilling off huge back flips and other tricks, although it was slightly ruined by the annoying and biased Australian presenter. Mike and Jane were supposed to meet us in the stand to watch the bike show but they got stuck in the crowd and only made it to their seats 5 minutes before the start of the race. Finally at 20:00 the race started, everyone in our stand watched the start on the big screens and started cheering, getting more and more worked up until the cars came flying past us. It's impressive watching them in qualifying, it's a different thing altogether watching them race past inches away from each other at incredible speeds. The whole race
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Photos by reuben brown
was brilliant but the last 10 laps were the most dramatic, first Lewis Hamilton was crashed out of the race (unfairly if u ask me) by Mark Webber to the disappointment of all the MacLaren fans, then with just a few laps to go one of the Lotus cars burst into flames right in front of our stand, producing a burning smell I will never forget. The raced finished with Alonso in 1st and even though I was unhappy about the result for MacLaren I clapped Alonso on his victory lap and joined in the celebrations.

Mike and Jane left to go home once the race was over but Reuben and I were in party mode and decided to head back to Boat Quay. Before we could even leave the arena we found a Jaegermiester stand, selling ice cold shots, needless to say we had a few before leaving and stumbling up the river in the direction of Boat Quay. After a fairly slow walk we were looking for a table outside the Crazy Elephant when a group of Malaysian guys invited us to sit with them, they then proceeded to keep filling our glasses with Whiskey whilst Reuben
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drunk shot after shot of Jagermiester. Reuben had mentioned to me before that Jaeger is the one drink than he shouldn't drink but I didn't take him too seriously, I will next time! I decided it was time to leave around 05:00 after Reuben had thrown 2 cocktails over me (they didn't belong to him) and after waiting for him to be sick in a bin I managed to get him into a taxi and we went back to the condo, trying as much as possible not to make a lot of noise and wake up Mike and Jane.

To be continued ...



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