Singapore to Samui

We finished out our time in Singapore by visiting Kampur Glam, the Malay quarter, and Sentosa – an island off the Southern shore. Sentosa is – as Lonely Planet describes it – “plastic fantastic,” a whole island dedicated to leisure and pleasure. It’s got imported sand beaches, 5* resorts, Disney-esque water features and a giant merlion statue. We went up the Carlsberg skytower for some awesome rotating views of Singapore, Indonesia and Malaysia.

I ate chili crab, a traditional Singapore dish, and we went to see “Songs of the Sea” – a lights, laser and water show. It involved a cast representing a cross-section of Singapore’s diverse cultures lip synching to some truly awful music. The water show was cool and well-synchronized… it was an amusing way to pass an evening but nothing like MGM’s “Fantasmic!”

Koh Samui – The Last Leg Begins

I can hardly believe that our final leg is here already. Thailand is the last destination on our RTW ticket; the end is nigh! Even sooner for Sarah, who is leaving a couple of weeks before I do. It means these next two weeks are going to be jampacked with activity – and they’re going to disappear before we know it.

Koh Samui is an awesome place to begin our Thai adventure. There’s nothing remotely challenging about it – there’s 2 Starbucks and a McD’s! But Chaweng Beach is buzzing with energy and the beach is stunning. We booked into cheap fan bungalows right on the beach and went out to relax…

And there’s no better way to relax than with a Thai massage! Also know as “passive yoga,” a Thai massage involves being walked on by little Thai women who are incredibly strong for their size! Ours was performed right on the beach, with the cool sea breeze lulling us into the ultimate relaxed state for an hour… bliss! It was also on Chaweng Beach that we met up with our friends Adam and Dave. It was quite random as Sarah happened to spot them out of our taxi window as we were driving down the main strip! We all went out and hit up Samui’s biggest club, “Green Mango.” A good night in all.


Singapore Madness

Singapore is shopper’s paradise – and a twisted form of torture for two young travellers who are sick of absolutely every item of clothing in their backpacks. There is a shopping mall on every street corner, and even in the budget backpacker location of our hostel, retail opportunities abound. We’re exercising extreme restraint; any shopping we’re gonna do, we’re saving for Thailand. Still, I do have a pair of sunglasses to replace…

5th Ave? Oxford Street? Bloor Street?

Welcome to all-of-the-above combined, it’s Orchard Street! Our excuse for going shopping instead of being tourists? The rain! We stepped out of our hostel and into a monsoon. With borrowed umbrellas in hand, we ran into the plethora of shopping malls on Orchard, eventually straying from the Louis Vuitton and Gucci circles to the more affordable but still uber trendy shopping centres. It was here that I found a new pair of sunnies. Shopping done for the day, we set off to check out the sights of Singapore.

Chinatown & Colonial District

Now that we’ve left Australaisa and entered Asia proper, I am in culinary heaven. Cheap Asian food stalls are on every corner, and in Chinatown there is a dedicated “Food Street” where hawkers sell dim sum and fried rice and bbq pork for ridiculously cheap prices. Chinatown itself is pretty and clean, with pink paper lanterns strung across the main road and down the side streets. The rain seems to have stripped Chinatown of its normal hustle and bustle (at least according to the Rough Guide we borrowed from the hostel!) but it is still nice to walk around. Again, we have to resist the souvenirs – we can get trinkets for cheap cheap at the Bangkok markets.

We found our way into the Colonial District by happy accident of just walking and talking and ending up where our feet took us. This area epitomizes Singapore: sparkling clean streets and buildings, a jostle of cultures and languages and a mixture of people in business attire and traditional wear. The buildings here are ultra modern; we looked out over the new Arts centre which, with its similarity to the notorious (and smelly) durian fruit, is a paragon of modern architecture. Somehow in a bid to get up the famous Swissotel tower we ended up in yet another shopping mall. We both felt transported back to the UK: Top Shop, River Island and Marks & Spencer, oh my!

The rain finally stopped in the evening. We had dinner in the Little India arcade and strolled around the hundreds of jewelry stores and sari tailors. Little India is the world in technicolour overdrive. Eventually jet lag set in and we headed back to “the Inn Crowd” for some r&r… tomorrow is another day, and another mall awaits, I’m sure.