Posts Tagged ‘Singapore’

Kuala Lumpur

Monday, October 5th, 2009

On Wednesday, my first morning in Singapore, I went sightseeing with a dutch girl I met in my hostel. We went to see the biggest fountain in the world, and were a bit disappointed… What was cooler was to actually see the tracks from the F1race the weekend before, and some of the huge stands for the audience that had been rigged up around the place. In the evening I went to Singapore zoo for the famous night safari. It was nice to see a zoo where the animals seemed to have a decent life!

The next day I had the most expensive cup of coffee of my life, in the City Space bar on the 71st floor of the Swissotel Stamford. The next point on my agenda was to have a Singapore Sling in the Raffles Hotel Long Bar, where the drink was first invented. I got there though, and it was filthy. You get free peanuts with your drinks, and there were peanut shells EVERYWHERE. It was crunching under my flipflops when I walked in, it crunched under my bum when I sat down, and the tables were so full of peanut shells that there was barely room for glasses and when the waiters were clearing the tables, they just shuffled it all down on the floor… It was not very nice, and the service was extremely slow, so I flung the whole idea of a Sling out the window.

In the evening, I went to dinner and drinks in Little India with a bunch of couchsurfers. After a late night at the Singapore couchsurfers’ usual hang out, I was talked into staying another day, and go clubbing with Nikki from Singapore, and we asked Glenn from Norway to join us. Hence, on Friday, instead of going to Kuala Lumpur, I went out and bought a pair of dress shoes for 10 S$, and was then ready for the clubs. The rest of the daylight hours I pent walking around Fort Canning Park, and learning about Singaporean history from the information boards along the historical paths.

In the afternoon I met Simin, a schoolmate from my Italian days, for dinner, and she came along clubbing as well. We went to a fancy club called “Attica” on Clarke’s Quay, where we (to Nikki’s disappointment, I think) dropped the dancing, and sat talking into the small hours of the morning, and shared a bottle of Moet, courtesy of Glenn. I had a great time!

The next morning it was time head out to Kuala Lumpur. After about three hours of sleep, I got up around nine, and took the subway to the border, and a bus across. The border crossing was intensely crowded and took forever, but I finally arrived at Larkin bus station in Johor Bahru on the Malaysian side, and immediately got on a bus for KL. I’d been texting Seth with regular intervals since that morning, but since I didn’t get any reply, I assumed I’d written down the wrong number. When I arrived in KL around 6pm, I sat down somewhere that had WiFi, and looked up the number, and it turned out Seth had given me wrong instructions as to what to do with the area code when adding the country code. When I got it sorted out, he gave me directions to his place, and I got in a cab and went over. The evening was relaxed but fun. We went over to Ali’s place, another diver I met in the Perhentians, and who lives in the same apartment complex as Seth, and played Rock Band on his PS3. To round up a good evening, we went around the block to one of the best night spots in KL for a couple of beers before bed.

Yesterday I bought some clothes, cuz the ones I had made in Nepal are getting worn out, and today I’ve had lunch in KL Tower. It was a bit costly, but worth it for the view, just like the coffee in Singapore. (and it was only about twice the price of the cup of coffee anyway, for an eat-till-you-drop buffet…) Today I’m hoping to meet with another friend from the Sunlight Divers for tea, but I don’t have his phone number, so it’s looking bleak…

Taman Negara, Pulau Tioman and Singapore

Tuesday, September 29th, 2009

It’s been an eventful time since my last post, with no access to internet, so this’ll be a short update on lots of things. šŸ˜‰

I left the Perhentians on my 29th birthday, September 18. The trip to Taman Negara national park turned out to be a long one, due to Hari Raya, the festival marking the end of Ramadan. The most memorable was probably when our bus was driving around the small streets of Jerantut city, looking for an ATM where we could get cash to bring into the chemically ATM-free Taman Negara. I had 69 Ringgit with me, so going without more cash was hardly an option, and I was not the only one in that position. The first ATM was out of cash, since everybody had been stocking up for the Hari Raya bank holiday. The second one wouldn’t accept foreign credit cards. The third one was also empty, but luckily at the forth ATM (the last one in town…) we got our cash.

Several guest houses in Taman Negara were closed because of Hari Raya, but eventually I got myself checked in. The next morning I slept long, before going into the National park itself. I asked about doing the nine day trek to Mount Tahan, the highest mountain in peninsular Malaysia, but all the guides were off for … you guessed it: Hari Raya. šŸ˜‰ Instead I headed out alone on a short trek, that turned into a long trek, and nearly an involuntary overnight trek… I went on the Canopy Walkway, long bridges high up in the trees, and then I continued on to scale at least a small mountain, Bukit Indah. When I came back down, I was five kilometers from the village I came from, Kuala Tahan, and six from Kuala Terrenggan. I decided to go up to Terrenggan instead of going back the same way I’d come. It was a pretty hard trek, up and down small canyons with a creek to be forded in the bottom of each, and fallen trees across the path every few meters, to be climbed over, crawled under or walked around. A wild boar got as surprised as I did, when we were suddenly staring each other in the face a few meters apart, and I don’t know who jumped higher, me or it… Luckily the startled hog decided to head the other direction, because I barely had time to remember how aggressive these tusked animals can be, and look for a tree to climb to get out of the reach of those sharp things before he was gone in the undergrowth.

In the middle of nowhere I walked into a camp of Orang Asli, the aboriginal nomads inhabiting the national park, and they could tell me I was not too far away from Terrenggan. With lifted spirits I pressed on, anxious for a meal and a boat back down the river to Tahan. Imagine my disappointment when Terrengan turned out to be nothing more than a long-abandoned resort, in the process of being reclaimed by the jungle… I was sitting on the old ramshackle pier by the ghost town resort contemplating what to do if no boats came by. I figured I’d have to head back to the Orang Asli, and ask if I could stay the night with them, and head back in the morning. I had a bit of money with me, so at least I could pay them… When I was about to give up, a group of overnight trekkers came down the path, and met with their pre-arranged transport on the very same pier I was sitting! I managed to get a ride down the river, to a shower and a hot meal. The trek that started out as a 45 minute easy walk, turned out to be a gruelling seven-hour adventure that saw me back in my guest house after dark… šŸ˜€

I met a nice German girl called Katharina in the dorm I was staying, and we travelled together from Taman Negara furher down the east coast of Malaysia to Pulau Tioman. She left there a few days ago, and I left this morning. Tioman was like a bigger version of the Perhentians, with more monitor lizards, more monkeys, and more people. šŸ™‚ I dove with Fisherman Divers there, had five dives on three different days. I was only planning to stay there a few days, but it turned into a whole week. šŸ˜›

This morning saw me leaving on the 7:30 boat to Mersing, and then get the bus at noon to Singapore. When I arrived, I spent almost an hour making my way by the subway to Little India, and it turned out I could have walked here in less than half that time… I then strolled around Little India, which is supposed to be the backpacker area, looking for a guest house and asking people, but nobody seemed to think there were anything else than more or less expensive hotels!Ā  Eventually I sat down at an artsy fairtrade restaurant, had an expensive (but organic and fair) meal, and used Singapore’s fantastic free WiFi to find out that there were in fact lots of guesthouses nearby. I chose one that I’d heard of from another traveller on the ferry to Tioman, Ali’s Nest, and so far I am happy about the choice. It’s basically a Chinese family in the middle of the Indian quarter who’ve made a couple of the rooms in their apartment into dorms… The family also lives here, and grandma (looks like she’s at least a hundred years old) is looking over my shoulder as I write this. šŸ™‚