Hello Singapore

(written by Dave)

Darwin to Sydney to Singapore – wow what a flight.  Rather than flying Darwin direct to Singapore we flew via Sydney.  We did this because we could get Qantas point flights in business class on this route using frequent flyer points.  We are more than happy flying economy (sort of!) but business class meant that we would have a much higher luggage allowance and we had a lot of luggage.  We got through with no excess baggage charges so it worked out as we’d hoped.

The Darwin-Sydney flight left at 1:45 AM and was only 4 hours long so we got very little sleep Monday night.  The Sydney-Singapore flight was preceded by a 10 hour layover in Sydney– this worked out great as we got to see our friend Ross at the airport and met up with our friend (and Nancy’s former colleague) Prajakti in the city before we headed to our storage unit to swap some gear.  And best of all, we got to go in the first class lounge in Sydney.  What a treat, ordering food off a real menu, showers, massage and pedicure for Nancy and all the snacks we could hide in our carry-on luggage (I don’t think you are supposed to do this in the first class lounge but you see, we have limited practice in this area).

By the time we arrived in Singapore, we were completely knackered.  I negotiated a fast run through immigration using my APAC travel card and we found a mini-van to haul all the gear.  My friend Michael and his wife Sue Lee were both still up when we landed on their doorstep.   We are so lucky to again have such welcoming hosts.  They set us up in their spare bedroom and mercifully let us crash.

In much better shape this morning, we joined them for breakfast at a prata restaurant.  What a great restaurant it was.  Sort of India dosi/roti/curry based and everything was darn tasty, including the coffee.  Michael informed us that we would see these shops all over Malaysia and indeed now knowing what to look for, we spotted them all about town today.  Before we left the restaurant I nabbed one of the menus (with the owner’s consent) so that we could use it for our Malay language practice.

Michael helped us get subway travel cards, a local phone SIM and took us by the Thailand embassy, as we would like to get a 60-day tourist visa rather than the standard 30-day visa available upon entry.  The later proved less successful because we had not done our homework very well.  We needed to be there in the AM for visa application drop off – and afternoon for pick-up.  We did not arrive until afternoon.  At least we were able to discuss with someone how we work around the requirement for return plane tickets (need to show them a bank account statement that has a $1,000 sgd balance).  We’ll go there again tomorrow to lodge the applications and hope it wont take too long to process.

For dinner tonight Michael took us to “chicken rice” restaurant.  Another local speciality that was again fantastic.  If this keeps up, we’ll have no trouble finding food here in SE Asia.  We managed to find a book today – called the “Wordless Travel Book” – which you can use to point at pictures of different types of food to communicate what you want even if you do not know the name of the food in the relevant language.  Given that English is widely spoken in Malaysia I expect we won’t really need it but it is a good safety net in case we run into communication problems.

We also managed to find some maps today so we will have some ability to figure out generally where we are going.  We have heard that it is a bit difficult to get good maps so figured it was best to get them here in Singapore where there is a greater selection to choose from.  We also picked up some phrase books for Malay, Thai and Lao – a bit of tortured language coming up, I am sure!

We will tackle the rebuilding of the bikes tomorrow and start to get things organised to get back on the bikes.  The date of departure depends on the Thai visa – perhaps over the weekend or if the visas are delayed, maybe Monday or Tuesday.  We ‘ll update again when we know more, and/or if we discover any further culinary master pieces.

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17 thoughts on “Hello Singapore

  1. Yeah, a new continent and more wonderful hosts! Have a great time! It looks like you are off to a wonderful start in Asia.

  2. I didn’t know you had any fancy clothes on this trip! must say, they don’t look any more comfortable than your bike clothes. Where’s the cotton?

    • I wouldn’t call them fancy….! Thank goodness we don’t stay in one place too long as people would see us in the same clothes every day. May have to get some very light loose clothing for this area of the world – to combat the heat and to avoid offending the locals by showing too much skin. Not too excited about riding a bike in the heat in long sleeves/long pants but will have to see what is acceptable.

  3. What fantastic breakfast & dinner pictures! Hope you post lots of photos of all the sights. Did the “Wordless Travel Book” have a picture of an egg and bacon roll?

  4. Wow, you’re making me hungry. I have a feeling the next stretch of the blog is going to necessitate frequent Thai take-out!

    • Yes, all went well… sitting in seat number 1 was quite a treat. So far bike look like they made it through unscathed so that is good. And with no extra baggage charges, can’t beat that. You must have put a good word in for us…

    • I’m think no shirt may be an option! Either that or 3 to 4 showers per day! Neither of us have turned on any hot water in the shower since the first day – cold showers are a real treat when it is 30+ degrees outside.

      Dave Ertel

  5. Dave,
    First class tickets? Even using miles, I’m amazed. I would have guessed you for more of a tramp steamer smuggling Nancy inside your trunk!

    Obviously Nancy had some say with this decision.

    • Some points worth clarification so that are not kicked out of the cheep-scape club: 1. We flew business, not first class – that would be too decadent 2. The only reason we sat in the very fist row of a 747 was that it was a 3 class plane – with the classes being economy, economy plus and business – business on this plane was row 1 3. We really only flew business on points so that we could save $500 in excess baggage fees for our bikes and gear – so we were really saving money 4. While it was fun being in the first row, I did not stretch my legs out beyond an economy seat position – in show of solidarity with my usual travelling companions in the back of the plane

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