Hiking in the Cinque Terre

Thursday, February 5, 2009


view of Boat Quay

Hindu temple in Little India

I took this from a cable car.  Busiest port in the world, I believe.

This is the seedier area of Singapore: a street with transvestite hookers. Some were quite pretty!

$8 per night hostel.  Swedish gals behind me.  Roughed it this trip.  In the bunk above was a Russian guy.  He and talked quite a bit.  And there was a Japanese guy down a bit.

Raffles Hotel

drinking Singapore Slings in Raffles bar with new friends

Next to me, Tibius, then Emma, Karin and Jenna.  They were from Sweden.

From what I had heard and from what little I had gleaned from watching travel shows in the US, Singapore was going to be piece of cake. I knew it was one of the cleanest, most high-tech and most efficient places on earth. Singapore is actually a city and state (country). Sure enough, when I arrived, and eventually got settled into my hostel, I found out just how marvelous Singapore is. It is a financial giant, for starters. It is a first-world, top-of-the-line city with any amenity that we have in the US. Things work in Singapore. You buy you a multi-purpose pre-paid card and you can use to take the subway, use buses, make a phone call, etc. I mean, Singapore is a great place, especially when you are needing a break from the wilds and turmoil of other concrete jungles (e.g. Bangkok, New Delhi and Kuala Lumpur). The downside of Singapore, if you stay too long, is that it’s too stale and there are a bit too many rules (e.g. no chewing gum). It does not compare to Bangkok, for example, on the charisma scale of cities. Bangkok is wild and unruly with an ample amount of the sophistication and modernity of the 21st Century. Singapore has gobs of modernity and much less of the untamed parts. I stayed only a week or so in Singapore and enjoyed it immensely. Singapore is multi-cultural (Indian, Chinese, Malay), and their food is phenomenal. One of my favorite spots was Little India, where I ate the most scrumptious food by hand off of banana leaves. To make it go down easier, I would follow it up with a mango lassi - a yogurt drink that is perfect in balmy weather. The three best things I did in Singapore were visit the world famous Raffles Hotel, tour the Singapore History Museum and go to the Night Safari Zoo. In my hostel were lovely ladies from Sweden, New Zealand, and really from all over.. One night, as I was lying in my bunk, it occurred to me that, right around me were travelers from Russia, Japan, and Sweden. That awareness intrigued me as much as anything. I did meet an American family – a man, his wife and their two young children – that was in the midst of summer trip. The couple were teachers from Cincinnati who enjoyed backpacking (economical traveling) with their kids when summer break arrived. They preferred extensive educational trips over one week package tours. Their kids, at the ages of 8 and 12, had more confidence than I did at 29! This trip they had been to Northern Africa and India. And, after Singapore, they were going to Indonesia. This family from Ohio were the ones who motivated me – I was a bit unsure and frightened – to fly to Bali, Indonesia. I was very grateful to have met them.

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