Ever since I learned about the sanitized, beautiful, urban jungle that is Singapore I’ve been intrigued and excited to add it as one of my destinations in Southeast Asia. The lonely planet gives you three rough guide options: one, two or three day trips. I decided to play it safe and go for two full days, which conveniently fell on the weekend. This was extra convenient because my plan was to hang out and chill with the locals, eat food and explore.
Singapore is in a category of its own when it comes to Southeast Asia, and possibly the world. Now, I am from the heartland of the United States and am no stranger to well kept, natural beauty, but Singapore is a world of its own and seemingly comes off as a pristine, modern day Pleasantville. There are trash bins everywhere and they even recycle! If you have been anywhere in Asia, you’d be as excited as I am that they recycle and options for trash. There are laws against eating or drinking on the train system, there is no spitting on the sidewalk and people are generally more well behaved and refined than some of their neighbors (in my experience) when it comes to table manners.
After using couchsurfing only twice in the Philippines, I was excited to utilize it and capitalize on my time in Singapore. In retrospect, couchsurfing was the perfect way to explore Singapore and was all that’d I’d hoped and more. I mean honestly, how often do you travel to a new city and fall in step with what feels like old friends? Couchsurfing makes that a reality. Most host even squeezed me in between two others he was hosting so I was able to meet more people, venture around the city with a photographer and yoga student as they put their practices into action, poses going on all over the city. I was able to eat my way through the hawker stalls of little India, enjoy my fair share of tea gingers and a pink drink of pure deliciousness called Bandung (named after the city I was just in, in Indonesia… But I never saw it there). Eventually we made our way over to Chinatown where we battled a full fledged rain storm and eventually cozied up at someone’s house for homemade fantastic Greek food.
The food and adventure filled day was just what I needed to prepare for an all night cycling trip around Singapore; that’s right, I actually biked all the way through Singapore between the hours of 9 pm and 8 am. After not sleeping for several days before (at least not more than two broken hours at a time) the ride did pose a few challenges, all of which were overcome with great conversations and exciting new sites and scenes along the way.
The next day was a slightly slower pace, but no lack of adventure- dont you worry! I explored a few more hawker stalls for that delicious and reasonably priced food, wandered around the neighborhood and then met up with another couchsurfer who introduced me to more of the Chinese influenced cuisine. Topping the menu (I’m scars to say it) was stingray. Also included were many chicken satay dishes with an amazing peanut sauce, egg noodles and oysters. All were unique flavors and if its possible, entirely too much food! In true Singaporean style, I rounded to trip off with a bank breaking beer that cost about $12 USD. I’ll justify this because it was at a brewery called Breworkz (to my knowledge the only local brewery in Singapore) and the wheat beer was delightfully refreshing after a hot, long day. But if you know what my budget looks like, then you’d understand that this was a special ‘when in Singapore’ moment, so ill let it be. 🙂
A few hours of shut eye later, I was out the door and on the road again. I had a weird mix of just indecisiveness about Indonesia. I was excited to be going but felt scattered in my planning. Knowing my flight time would be better utilized if I spent it researching rather than sleeping, I took my trusty Lonely Planet out, planning to read about Java and Bali one more time. Lucky for me (seriously, so lucky!) I was sitting next to a woman who radiated positive energy, returned my smile and … Well, the rest can be explained another time. But I will say that Dea helped calm my nerves, Renew my travelers spirit, remind me why Indonesia is so beautiful, exciting and fabulous and left a lasting mark of friendship. It’s amazing what kind of real relationships can form over a flight, some checked bags and walking to the bus terminal. Not to mention, she’d just backpacked Vietnam for ten days! That trip of hers will definitely inspire mine :).