Singapore is a fantastic, whimsical place. Unlike most destinations with exemplary reputations, this tiny city-state exceeds all expectations. The urban center is spotless compliments of a national littering policy that can land perpetrators a heafty fine if caught. Stalwart planning efforts have given Singapore a beautiful design, and a transportation system that is second to none. The people of Singapore–primarily a mixture of Malay, Chinese, Indian, and expats–are happy and friendly, perhaps thanks to one of the world’s highest standards of living. Not surprisingly, walking the streets at night is no problem either, although cabs are surprisingly affordable.
Following a miserable 27 hour flight and a sleepless night at a loud but friendly hostel in the Lavender area, I met up with Luke Doherty–a 30 something Australian who has been living and working in Singapore for the last two years.
Luke and I were introduced several weeks earlier via an email I sent to a freight forwarder in Singapore when I was looking for a way to get the bike to SE Asia. The forwarder randomly passed my info along, knowing that Luke is an avid adventure rider with extensive solo experience throughout much of my intended route.
Luck of the draw. Turns out Luke had the line on nearly every strategic, geographic, safety and procedural question I could think of. How and where to cross over into Thailand? No problem. Where to stay in Malacca? No problem. Best food in northern Malaysia? No problem.
After hearing my sleepless plight Luke was kind enough to offer me a mattress in his spare room, and elected to ride north with me the next day. That night, we hit the City for my first proper taste of SE Asian cuisine. At a local hawker market we powered through a smorgasbord of delicious dumplings, curry, rice, chicken wings, and frog leg pudding, washing it all down with Tiger beer–the local cheap beverage of choice.
From there, we wandered down to one of Singapore’s five government sanctioned red light districts for a taste of Durian–a staple desert fruit in SE Asia. The nasty smelling spiked fruit is a mysterious little beast. Its unwelcoming spines and thick exterior give way to soft innards when skillfully hacked apart by the hawker’s blade. Four compartments hold large, fleshy croppings of a pasty, edible mush that is popular among locals. Oddly enough, this nutrient rich center tastes like garlic mixed with peanut butter. It takes a little getting used to.
Lukes condo–a clean, upscale high rise set between Lavender and Little India–proved a restful place for the night.
Up early and on to the port to pick up the bike. We ride into Malaysia today.