Friday, November 18, 2011

Asia Fantasia! Part 3 - Yeehaw Singapore.

Exchanging bodily fluids with The Merlion at Marina Bay, Singapore.

Singapore is a revelation. There’s nothing like it anywhere else in South-East Asia I’m sure and possibly even the world! Seamlessly efficient in every aspect. We passed through the airport with ease, changed some money, and purchased an electronic ticket for public transport system in no time at all. The only slight hitch came when I realised I’d left my copy of Lonely Planet at the Bureau de Change and had to march back to find it. Fortunately, with this being saccharine-sweet Singapore, the lady at the counter had put it to one side for me. It’s a city taken over by the Stepford Wives! :D
We took the MRT train to the Tanah Merah interchange and then another on the North East Line to Chinatown.
Chinatown rocks again! I love the Chinatown districts of Asia (I may have mentioned that previously). We followed the map to the first hostel from Lonely Planet and discovered it was closed down so we headed north to the next one; The Backpackers Cozy Corner at Bugis Junction. We got ourselves a twin room with aircon for S$50 (£25) per night. We then headed back into Chinatown for a meal at the People’s Park Complex food court. Very nice food at a couple of quid each and cheap Tiger Beer in big bottles for S$5.00. We caught the metro around town and had a look around Little India; which was pretty impressive with all the lights up in preparation for the Deepavali Festival.

Little India preparing for Deepavali

Asia Fantasia! Part 2 - Sumatra, Indonesia.

Even Winnie The Pooh likes Indonesia!

Our flight from KL to Padang, Indonesia was short and simple; in just less than an hour and we touched down in another new country.
Unfortunately the same cannot be said of Indonesia's immigration service which was slow and boring! We filled out the obligatory entry card and parted with $25.00 each for the stamp on our passports before queuing patiently at passport control.
It seemed odd, in a good way, to be the only westerners in the airport, but I did wonder why. I exchanged a few Dollars for Indonesian Rupiah in the terminal and inquired as to the simplest way into town before running the gauntlet outside the airport doors; where we were met with the usual throng of taxi and minibus drivers, not as manic or insistent as some parts of Asia though which was nice. And as we had already taken the advice of the nice lady inside it was just a matter of locating which bus to board for Padang  Town Centre (40,000IR each, about £3.30). They don't like travelling with a half full bus though and we waited a little over an hour for another incoming flight before getting underway. It's no big deal though, you get used to the easier pace of life in Asia and just go with the flow. A few minutes after sitting on the bus we were approached by a couple of giggling girls and fielded all the usual questions about where we were from, where we were going and where we had been, before they asked if we would mind having our photographs taken with them. "Sure, why not!" we laughed; and posed away while they snapped away! I wondered if they thought we were footballers or something? Or perhaps they had been reading my blog! Hahaha.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Asia Fantasia! Part 1 - Kuala Lumpur and beyond.

Glug, Glug, Glug.

Dan (my son) and I had enjoyed a really amazing trip to South East Asia at the beginning of the year taking in Thailand, Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia over a six week period. We experienced some amazing stuff (and not just culturally I can assure you! The partying was pretty outstanding, very much helped by some of the great friends we made along the way) including Halong Bay, The Cu Chi Tunnels, The Golden Standing Buddha, Toul Sleng Museum and The Killing Fields, The Temples of Angkor Wat; the list goes on and on really. Not to mention the Khao San Road (backpacker hub of the universe); The Songkran festival (and the partying that goes with it) in Sihanoukville, Cambodia and Koh Chang, Thailand, oh and the Scuba Diving too; along with attending the traditional Thai wedding of my dear friends Stumpy & Kitty which was truly a beautiful celebration and a memory I will cherish forever. I doubt I will ever top that trip; as much for what we experienced, but also the fact that I got to do it with Dan; that was very special for me. After getting home it took us both a while to get back to reality and we both moped around for a good few weeks until we gradually resumed normality.
I still had some annual holiday outstanding that would allow me to take another trip for twenty days and I decided to book a flight to Singapore or Kuala Lumpur (KL) and take it from there. As it turned out the best flights where to and from KL so I booked myself a seat with Emirates for the 27th of September flying out of Birmingham and returning on the 16th of October.