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Tonight’s the Night for Singapore

Aboard AirAsia flight QZ 8496 to Singapore, we were starving. The morning’s wheel in Legian coupled with the savage ride to the Denpasar Airport had set our metabolisms into over-drive. Furthermore, through some error in the booking system, it seemed that had we ordered only one meal for the two of us. We were able to purchase more food at exorbitant prices from the beautiful but somewhat cold stewardesses, and landed in Singapore quite hungry and badly in need of a drink.

Singapore was clean as a whistle, easy to deal with, well organized, and completely in English. We waited in a long but swiftly moving line for passport control, and chatted with a charming, but quite obviously exhausted woman behind us who was moving to Singapore to work with International Bridges to Justice, an organization that aids in South East Asian legal and humanitarian strife. A noble mission… we tip our hats to you.

We had read horror stories about Singaporean customs, mostly having to do with the gargantuan size of fines in this country, but we made our way through with no issues and in record time. We collected our baggage from the strangely shaped baggage counter, where the fellow sternly reprimanded Scott for improperly packing the cycles. We could hear some pieces jangling around in the bags, and small stones appeared in each of our stomachs. We decided we should make our way to the hotel, and deal with it from there. If there was damage, we were at least in a place where repairs to folding bicycles are as simple as a swipe of the MasterCard.

The luggage scanners did ask me to play the ukulele pitch pipe (perhaps to prove its function was benign), so it might have been that same intoxicating note that lubricated our traversal. We also may be particularly non-threatening, in our Panama hats and with folding cycles and the ukulele. Whatever the reason, we quickly found our way into a gargantuan, but frighteningly fast moving taxi-cab line. Before we could even get through even 50% of the Wikipedia article on Singapore, we were at the front of the line, stowing the WikiReader, and loading the cycles into a truly crackerjack cab, piloted by a crackerjack fellow, ready and willing to attach bungee cables to a trunk that would not close, all our luggage loaded therein.

He gave us a tour of the city as he drove, and we marveled at the quality of the roads and the lack of rubbish in this place. Outside the Rucksack Inn, Scott leaned over to the cab driver and quietly articulated, “I hate to ask this, but… should I tip you?”

“Not required!” the cabby flashed back, and promptly unloaded our stuff, and, with a slight bow and a grin, was on his way.

The Rucksack proved to be a pleasant and comfortable place. Our room, though windowless, was sweet smelling, startlingly clean, and very comfortable. 24 hours of free coffee, tea, and toast were a pleasant find as well. And the Internet was… luxuriously fast. We set hundreds of megabytes uploading, and grabbed the cycles to go find some grub.

Wheeling in Singapore was certainly different. The speed of the traffic was three or four times what we had experienced in Indonesia, and the signaling of one’s intent was vital to survival.  Conscious of corporal punishment that might have ensued in case we violated any of the traffic laws, we kept vigilant of signs and posted directives.  We wheeled toward Chinatown, and as we got closer, the smell of food and concentration of cyclists on the gleaming night streets increased.  For you see, dear reader, we were approaching one of the many sacraments of  AsiaWheeling held close to our hearts:  The Eating of Chinese Food.

Eventually, we parked the bikes and struck out into Singapore’s sprawling Chinatown. It was all refreshingly new and refreshingly Chinese. Scott was able read the characters, and I was able to pick out familiar words like the telltale shriek of “Fuwuyuan!” (waiter).

We settled on a seafood noodle joint, which proved delightful. Soon two bowls of noodles, accompanied by boiling broth filled with various types of seafood arrived. We feasted hungrily, amidst Chinese businessmen just leaving work and cooling off with a beer.

Rather than return to the hotel, we decided to delve deeper into the neighborhood, finding our way into a gigantic night market, already heavily festooned with decorations for the upcoming Chinese New Year.

By this point, we were both becoming quite exhausted, but the spectacle was such that we could not stop walking.

You, dear reader, might best understand by simply looking at the photos.


  1. Angela | February 10th, 2010 | 9:30 pm

    Were those bouquets of pencils? The pictures are wonderful.

  2. Woody | February 11th, 2010 | 6:12 pm

    @ Angela

    No, actually those are chopsticks. That’s a chopstick store. You would not believe the selection…

  3. Mark/Dad | February 14th, 2010 | 3:09 am

    Apparently no serious bike damage?

  4. Woody | February 15th, 2010 | 8:11 pm

    @ Mark/Dad

    No problems with the bikes. Just total annihilation of those red plastic bowls that we bought. Though we knew that we would be able to get anything repaired by the folks in Singapore, so we were less worried about it.

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