Well…our three week binge in Malaysia sadly had to come to a close (thank goodness because our bellies and wallets would never be able to stretch as far as we could expand them in that country), so with our sweat rags in tow and our bags strapped on our backs we were en route to Singapore. Ahhhh…the excitement of a new city to explore – it never gets old. Fortunately for us, we had Andy’s friend to stay with which definitely saved us from the city swallowing us whole. Singapore is a tiny island, really just a blip on the map but it is packed so tightly that you would never believe that this ‘country’ is as a small as it really is. Not to mention, fairly new – only about 50 years old. This ultra-modern epicenter is chalk full of futuristic buildings, clean as a whistle and operates like a well oiled machine…almost too much so. There are no homeless wandering the streets, garbage actually goes into the garbage cans, the streets are so clean you could literally eat off them and if by chance you do see a rat, it is most likely exiting an air-conditioned mall and carrying a Gucci bag while sipping a Starbucks iced mocha. You get the point, it’s clean. Did I mention its also illegal to eat or drink on the trains or even chew gum? This was a total 180 from what we’d encountered thus far. I never thought I’d say this but I was actually missing the grime and rawness that we’d grown accustomed to over the past few months. It’s funny how that changes….
After clearing immigration, we boarded a bus to meet Andy’s friend Johnny who was picking us up. By picking us up, I mean meeting up with us. Cars aren’t exactly cheap to own in Singapore so most people use public transport. To own a simple car such as a mazd it would cost you upwards of $100,000 – more for the permit on the car than the actual car itself. This is to eliminate traffic and the amount of parking space needed to accommodate massive amounts of vehicles. Even though this seems somewhat outrageous, it does make sense. Most people either bike or use public transport which is good for the people and one of the main reasons Singapore holds the reputation of extreme cleanliness. It is expensive to live and visit, so we were beyond lucky to have Andy’s friend to show us around and give us a place to rest our heads at night. We were off to a good ol’ start when Johnny showed up with a delicious IPA and three plastic cups. What a treat! Johnny owns one of three craft beer shops in Singapore which was a wonderful change after choking down cheap pilsners for the past few months. We graduated to the big leagues and it felt like Christmas morning. There is no way we could have afforded that beer or the others we procured over that weekend had we not had a friend who owned the shop. A beer that would cost $3-5 in the states was around $30 in Singapore. Most of the people who drink the stuff, excuse me, this ‘delicacy’ are the expats who have trickled in, usually for a job transfer. After chugging down our tasty brew we headed to Johnny’s shop to sample a few more beers before heading back to the homestead to meet Johnny’s wife, Christina. We were greeted with open arms and a lovely home-cooked meal which was a nice change of pace after endless nights of street eats. We laughed and ate the night away before crawling into bed for a much needed rest.
The next few days exploring Singapore were a whirlwind of adventure. We spent a day on foot exploring the harbor which was surrounded by massive buildings and tiny neighborhoods tucked between. Ever-so-often we had to duck into a shopping mall to cool off. It was just as hot as Malaysia, if not hotter, but the cool air from the shopping centers did the trick. I had to walk into these malls blindfolded to avoid the temptation of maxing out our credit card but like a kid, Andy just had to bribe me with some ice cream and all was well in my world. One of the most massive buildings was the Marnia Bay Sands. From a distance, it looks somewhat like a cruise ship that is balanced on top of three skyscrapers. It is so awkward looking but quite fasinating at the same time. You cant help but stare at the futuristic-like structure in complete awe. The three skyscrapers hold a boutique hotel, movie theater, museum, and chic shopping center. You can go up to the rooftop of the building which holds a bar and infinity pool, if you want to drop $30 for a beer. We did end up going up there on our second day with Johnny and Christina just to take a peek. That’s pretty much all we could afford to do. But what a view!! Unreal views from the top that spanned over the whole city and a definite treat for the eyes to see. Our last day in Singapore was spent tying up loose ends and preparing for our two months in Indonesia. We were sent off with one of the most delicious dim sum meals in a shopping mall of all places. It was definetly a wonderful close to our short three days witth our friends in a new city. Unfortnatly, the morning we were leaving to catch our flight to Indonesia, we got an email about my Grandma’s passing. I was somewhat aware this was coming but it happened sooner than I had thought. It was hard to pick up and move on knowing that so much greif and sadness was taking place back home but my Grandma wanted nothing more than for me to be on this journey with Andy and I felt that she would have wanted me to continue on. Looking back, I definitely made the right decision. Being away has given me the chance to heal in a whole new way and celebrate her life by doing something she always loved to do, travel. She also loved Andy so her passing, knowing that I am as happy as I am, must have been all she needed. She will be missed but Andy and I have been carrying on her mmemory with each step. Thats all you can do. Oh, then I chipped my tooth on a piece of candy while at the Singapore airport. Yes, when it rains it pours…..