– The adventures of a solo round the world cyclist –

Day 425 (Singapore Day 8)

I have come to the saddening conclusion that I am not yet ready to ride. I am reminded of this fact every time I sit down and automatically wince with pain. The pain is only slight, but its presence nonetheless tells me there is still some healing to go yet. I have started researching cheap hotels, which means checking out the red light district. I also started exploring route options for Malaysia and have pretty much made a firm decision to ride up the east coast. I returned to the Thai embassy in the afternoon and picked up my newly stickered passport. To while away the afternoon – and being sick of the big city – I retreated to the quiet of a cinema and watched Bad Neighbours 2. It was either that or Equals and I was in the mood for some cheap laughs rather than existential thought. On my return to the hostel I got chatting to some other travellers (American guy, two Swiss girls and a German girl) and ended up joining them in the city to see the lazer/light show outside Marina Sands, followed by a drink in Chinatown.

Day 425 (pic)

Back to the Marina

Accommodation $ Hostel
Distance ridden today 0km
Total distance ridden 10,698km
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Day 424 (Singapore Day 7)

I am sure you must be dying to know how my bum is going. Well, I’m starting to freak out a bit as it’s still not healed. The antibiotics have done their job but the skin just isn’t healing over. I’m hoping like I’ve never hoped before that it will be fine. I hardly slept last night. Sharing a hot room with four other guys is not the most suitable environment in which to sleep. A slamming window invaded my dreams and after getting up to fix the problem (broken window latch) I hardly slept again before my alarm told me to get up and visit the Thai embassy. The visa application process was incredibly efficient and my visa’d passport will be ready for pickup tomorrow.

The Thai Embassy opens at 9.15am but it is good to be early so you are one of the first to grab a ticket as you enter. It is the ticket that determines your place in line, not your place in line or the timing of your arrival. Passports are ready for pickup from 2pm the next day.

My next task was to send a package home. I have made a final decision that I don’t need my big camera as I’m simply not using it very much. I also sent home a pair of binoculars that has similarly barely been used. I was going to send my old bike seat home too, but I had accidentally left it at Jamie’s house, so I am not sure what I will do with it now. By the time I finished at the post office (and owing to a poor night’s sleep at the hostel) I was dead on my feet, so I ventured to Fort Canning Park and napped on a park bench. Opposite the park was the National Museum, which I explored once I’d recovered some energy. If I don’t get a good rest tonight I will think about treating myself to a night in a hotel, as I don’t want to be completed exhausted when it’s time to get back on the bike again.

Day 424 (pic)

Museum display

Accommodation $ Hostel
Distance ridden today 0km
Total distance ridden 10,698km
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Day 423 (Singapore Day 6)

I missed the free breakfast because I enjoyed lying in bed instead. Oh well. I bought some breakfast stuff (bananas, baked beans and yoghurt) from a supermarket opposite the northern entrance to Singapore’s Botanical Garden, where I spent much of the day. It might just be the best botanical garden I have seen. Like almost everything in Singapore, the level of creative design that has gone into it is exceptional. Especially impressive was the Evolution Walk, which takes you on a journey from life’s origins on earth right through to the present day. I didn’t pay to see the Orchid Garden, but I’m sure that would have been spectacular too. It rained a bit and at one point I found cover under the protective foliage of a large tree. A few other people decided to take cover under a nearby tree, but were encouraged to find shelter elsewhere when a snake dropped out of the tree centimetres from one guy’s face. The snake slithered away and took refuge under some leaf litter. After the Garden, I explored the markets of Chinatown until my tired legs thought it was time to call it a day and carry me home.

Day 423 (pic)

Getting botanical

Accommodation $ Hostel
Distance ridden today 0km
Total distance ridden 10,698km
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Day 422 (Singapore Day 5)

I struck out on my own as a tourist, leaving Jamie’s about midday and making my way downtown to a hostel just off Lavender Street. After checking in, I perused a map of Singapore for a while to find the various spots Jamie recommended I check out. Then I put on my walking shoes (thongs) and ventured out into the big city. Through Little India and along Arab Street I wandered, before riding the MRT to Bayview and exploring Marina Sands and the impressive Garden by the Bay. I had a nap on a park bench under three of the Super Trees before deciding to walk over to the other cluster of trees. By this time is was just on dark. I was surprised to find the place packed with people sitting down and looking in the same direction. I was there for just a minute when the public announcement sounded, “The show is about to begin…” I had no idea there was a show. WOW! What a spectacle. The light extravaganza was stunning. Returning home, my thoughts somehow turned to Taiwan and I wondered whether I might teach English there when I run out of money.

Day 422 (pic)

Spectacular!

Accommodation $ Hostel
Distance ridden today 0km
Total distance ridden 10,698km
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Day 421 (Singapore Day 4)

Today’s adventure was a train journey out to Ponggol, as much for something to do as anything else, but I did come away with a new shirt. I wore it as Jamie and I ventured into downtown Singapore for a night out, joined by a couple of his friends. We feasted at an outdoor food market before cruising around the city in his friend’s fancy BMW. It took a while for us to settle on a place to have drinks. In the end we spent most of the night at a bar in Clarke Quay, demolishing a beer tower as we discussed all matters of life.

Day 421 (pic)

View from home

Accommodation Friend’s house
Distance ridden today 0km
Total distance ridden 10,698km
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Day 420 (Singapore Day 3)

I followed Jamie’s directions and went for a walk to a shopping centre several kilometres away from home. It was really nice to observe people going about their lives in a place that was new to me. The area that I’m in is largely residential, with many huge apartment towers. At the shops I found some paint to treat and cover the rust that is developing on my bike stand and I also bought some food stuff to make dinner. Back at home I did a bunch of washing before chilling out in the afternoon watching Netflix.

Day 420 (pic)

The ‘burbs

Accommodation Friend’s house
Distance ridden today 0km
Total distance ridden 10,698km
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Day 419 (Singapore Day 2)

I got straight into bike duties and tentatively opened my bike box. I had prepared myself to find something broken, just in case, but everything was intact. The only damage I found was a bend in the metal bracket for my front brake, but this was easily fixed. My bike is now back together, with the addition of a brand new seat. I will wait for my bum to improve a bit more before giving it a test run. It was mid-afternoon by the time I finished and I was hungry. I ducked down to the local shops for food. At home I chilled out by watching a movie on Netflix about Lauren Dekker, the youngest person to sail solo around the world. She seems like a beautifully-minded person and I share many of the sentiments her young mind expressed during her journey.

Day 419 (pic)

Rebuild

Accommodation Friend’s house
Distance ridden today 0km
Total distance ridden 10,698km
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Day 418 (Indonesia – Java Day 24 / Singapore Day 1)

How quickly the world can change and with it my outlook on life. The day went amazingly smoothly. I woke up at 4am and spent about ten minutes carrying all of my gear to the end of the gangway in which my losmen is located. Lucas, the taxi driver I had arranged two days earlier, was waiting down the street at Gang 1, so I had to find him and get him to drive over to Gang 2, where my gear was waiting. Lucas dropped me off at the wrong terminal (domestic not international), but I managed to load my stuff into the back of a golf cart thing and get a free ride over to the right terminal. I built a teetering tower out of my belongings on a little trolley and wheeled it about ten metres into the terminal building, where I had to unload it all and put it through an x-ray machine. I rebuilt my tower for a second time before wheeling the trolley about thirty metres to the check-in desk. Having prepaid for 70kg worth of gear, I was delighted to discover the total came to 69kg. This is the first time I have got an accurate idea of how much stuff I have been riding with (excluding the weight of food and water).

The flight to Singapore was very pleasant. I was incredibly impressed by the efficiency of Singapore’s airport. I joined a queue of just one person to get through immigration. When I arrived at baggage, all of my items, including the bike in its box, were already on the carousel. I got through customs without declaring anything and proceeded to the taxi rank, where there was no line. A suitably sized taxi pulled up just as I arrived and so I walked straight into my ride across town to my friend Jamie’s apartment building. It had taken no more than twenty minutes between walking off the plane and stepping into a taxi.

I had stupidly neglected to write down the number of apartment, but the driver let me log into his phone’s internet hotspot and check the email that contained the address. I wrestled my gear up ten floors and into the apartment, letting myself in with a hidden key as no one was going to be home until the evening. I dumped my stuff then left the building to complete my next task: find a doctor. Fortuitously, there is a medical clinic located across the park at the bottom of the apartment building. I walked in and was seen to by a doctor within five minutes. Talk about efficiency. I won’t describe the gory details of what happened behind the curtain, except to say it is now officially confirmed I have a serious bacterial infection that has created several deep abscesses in my bum. I came away with two types of antibiotic tablets, antibiotic cream and antiseptic wash.

I had lunch at the food court, visited a supermarket for probiotic goodies (and a Cadbury boost bar), then chilled at the apartment. It wasn’t long before Jamie came home from work. We chilled out chatting then went to dinner. The rest of the night has been spent watching Marco Polo. All in all a very successful and productive first day in a new country!

Day 418 (pic)

One-man show

Accommodation Friend’s house
Distance ridden today 0km
Total distance ridden 10,698km
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Day 417 (Indonesia – Java Day 23)

The trouble with having a ready supply of great-tasting street food is that when you choose to eat at a ‘nicer’ place, you inevitably feel like you are being ripped off. At my favourite warung, I can walk in, grab a plate, pile it up with food, then pay somewhere between AU$0.50 and $1. The whole process from walking in to walking out can take as little as ten minutes. Tonight I thought it would be nice to spend my last night in Yogya eating out, so K and I went to Lucifer’s. When I ordered a pizza off the menu, I was told that pizza was unavailable, as was ¾ of the remaining menu items. I settled on a beef burger. It took half an hour for a waitress to inform us that beef burgers were not available. I was told they could make a club sandwich and it would come with fries. Great, I thought, I’ll have that. Half an hour later, we checked on the progress of our meals. Finally, nearly two hours after walking in the door, our meals arrived. Only then did we discover the promised fries are not available. I left hungry, letting myself feel extremely annoyed about the time and money wasted. What I spent on the one club sandwich could have kept me well fed for two whole days at my favourite warung. Oh the injustice!

Day 417 (pic)

Bye for now

Accommodation $ Guesthouse
Distance ridden today 0km
Total distance ridden 10,698km
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Day 416 (Indonesia – Java Day 22)

BEFORE. After umming and ahhing about whether to satisfy my desire to have a pizza rather than yet another cheap local meal, I made the decision to keep being a tight-arse and revisit my favourite warung. I was disappointed to discover they had run out of cooked rice. I returned to my original idea of treating myself. Right this second, I’m fretting over the AU$5 I spent on a vegetarian pizza, suspicious it won’t live up to its price tag. I am waiting for it now.

AFTER. I am pleased to say the pizza turned out okay. It wasn’t truly a pizza though, more like a salad on top of bread, but nice enough nonetheless.

I am feeling depressed because a new sore has developed on my left bum cheek. I don’t know what’s going on! It’s time to realise it’s not going to heal itself and I need outside help. I will go and see a doctor in Singapore as soon as I land.

Day 416 (pic)

Just chillin’

Accommodation $ Guesthouse
Distance ridden today 0km
Total distance ridden 10,698km
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