Homeward Bound

After 3 nights, 3 hotel rooms, a bunch of smelly clothes I just don’t want to wash anymore (except for the absolute necessity of clean undies), & constant hot & humid weather, I’m really ready to return home.

Because of all the problems I’ve had with the odorous Hotel (Studio M), I convince them the least they could do is give me a late check out – I ask for 4pm & stick to my guns till they finally say “yes”. Instead of heading out again for the day (Thursday), it’s raining, which gives me a great excuse to have a long late breaky, then stay in my room & take my time packing & interneting. I was going to go up to the Islamic quarter, but figure by the time I get there & back, I’d be cutting it pretty thin. So, after pottering about for the whole day, I checked out at 4pm, had a very late (& questionable) lunch, then hopped in a taxi at 5:30 for the airport.

I was overjoyed to find out that my flight home at 8:10 with Sinagpore Airlines (which I’ve come to love) would be a spacious one – 3 full seats to myself! But even then, after watching 2 movies & settling myself down across the seats for a snooze, I was unable to get any sleep & was instead awoken at 2am (Syd 4am) for breakfast as we were due to land at 5:20am. Crap!

With no sleep whatsoever, & the intake of something or other that contained a bug, I ended up with a severe case of jetlag on my return & a constant queeziness in my gut. But I am tickled pink that I’m back home, with my own bed & fav food & friends. It’s always good to come home again.

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Singapore Chinatown

Hungry Ghost Festival Altar

Monks (?) at the Festival

Statue on Hindu Temple roof

Inside Hindu Temple Entrance

Hindu Temple Detail

 

Lion at Chinatown entrance

Colourful buildings around Chinatown

Keen for another long walk to burn off some extra calories & convince myself I’m getting fitter, I headed off from my hotel on Weds just after lunch in search of Chinatown. It wasn’t too far to walk (took about 30 mins), but boy was it hot & humid.

After grabbing a quick meal, I hooked up with a free walking tour & we trotted off to the Singapore (non-touristy) side of Chinatown. There was a Hungry Ghosts festival happening today, so we got to take a few pics of the goings on & offerings. I asked the guide whether it was a Buddhist festival – being that Hungry Ghosts is a realm in Buddhism – & she said it was more of a Taoist festival. But then I saw some Buddha images centre stage & wondered whether it may have been some Chinese fusion of Buddhism & Taoism.

Anyway, shortly afterwards the tour was cancelled as it started raining. Okay. The guide said that when it rains on the tour they stop because of the possibility there may be lightning – Singapore is 2nd (to Australia) in the number of lightning strikes it has. And we don’t want to be struck down by lightning, do we? Okay. Anyway, I walked off to the Chinatown Heritage Centre & had a wander through there for over an hour (conveniently until it stopped raining) browsing through the history of Chinese coming to Singapore & their lives there in the early days. Quite interesting, but wouldn’t win any toursim awards.

What more can I say…..it was a Chinatown & there were lots of Chinese things to buy & see everywhere.

Singapore By Night

Over the harbour

The Fullerton Hotel

Clarke Quay

 

The Delicious Chilli Crab I Devoured

After my exotic fish therapy & massage session, I wandered outside to find darkness had settled on this beautiful city. The exquisite buildings were alight with colour & laser beams. I decided to walk all the way back knowing it would probably take me well over 1 1/2 hours. But, I was feeling fine & in the mood for walking. This is perhaps my fav thing to do here in Singapore – walk the riverside at night.

People were out & about everywhere, scattered along the riverfront watching the world go by. Unfortunately, I didn’t have my tripod with me (back in the hotel), so had to arrange myself in some fairly unusual positions to take some steady night shots at slow shutter speeds. I walked merrily, taking pics here & there, until I finally came to Jumbos Restaurant where I was hankering after some of their famous Chilli Crab. But I was then told I needed to walk back (approx 10 mins) to their other restaurant as they were full to the brim. By the time I sat down at a shared table at the other Jumbos, it was around 8:45. It probably looked a bit weird me sitting on my own devouring a big crab, but I didn’t care. It was all hands on deck as I pulled every morsel out of that crab, the bib they gave me capturing the bits I didn’t quite manage to catch. It took me nearly 1 1/4 hours to get through it all, & I left being hugely satisfied by my meal.

Clarke Quay, near to my hotel, is quiet through the day, but comes alive at night. People everywhere out eating & enjoying themselves. I could imagine it would be quite lovely to live here in Singapore for 6 months or so – in the not-so-stinking-hot season. It really is a beautiful, clean, cosmopolitan city with an international flavour. Kind of like the beauty of Brisbane along the river at night, but with so much more pizazz. Very nice indeed!

A Tickly Fish Feet Nibble

Garra Rufa fish – master exfoliaters

Feet nibbling – note: these are NOT my feet – I haven’t turned Indian on my trip.

After the Singapore Flyer ride, it was pouring outside – too wet to walk anywhere. So, what to do? A massage place called Kenko was right near the exit from the Flyer. They had a special deal – a 60 min foot/hand/back massage + 30 mins of fish therapy for $53. I was overwhelmed with excitement!!

I’d had fish therapy in Mt Emei in China & I was hooked. Unfortunately, in Singapore you only get to immerse your legs in the water. In China, I was in my swimmers & immersed my whole body. These little fish called garra rufa that have suckers come & nibble on whatever body part is in the water. The small fish (@2-3 cms) are delightful, nibbling away at all the dead skin cells, they exfoliate & make your skin feel so fresh. Seemingly it’s great for psoriasis, eczema & blood circulation too. They had a pond with some of the bigger fish (7-8 cms) too. I switched over but couldn’t keep my legs immersed in that pool cause they just latched onto you far too intensely.

The massage was also fabulous & completely relieved my leftover headache. I left there feeling completely relaxed & quite blissful.

Singapore Flyer

Singapore Cityscape From the Top of the Flyer

Me – and I’m not holding on for life!

The lucky 13 on the Conrad Building – How Auspicious!!

Singapore Flyer by Night

On the Tuesday afternoon, after changing rooms, I headed out for a walk to Clarke Quay which was only a 15 min walk away following the Singapore River. After indulging in a $10 ice cream (food & drinks are so expensive here), I jumped on a ferry & headed up to Esplanade Park.

I’d heard the Sinagpore Flyer was a nice way to see over the city – it’s the tallest ferris wheel in the world. And luckily when I got on board, I shared a car with only two other people (instead of 30 or more that can usually fit in). It was a pleasant was to spend 30 mins looking out over the city & the harbour (so many cargo ships offshore, it was amazing). The couple I was in the car with were quite obsessed in locating the special feng shui point on the ride which highlighted the number 13 on the Conrad Hotel. I wasn’t so intrigued. As we headed back down, the rain started to pour, making it near impossible to get any good shots of the views.

Overall, a nice tourist ride…

Welcome To Singapore!

A 5 hour fight on a smallish A320 airbus without audible TV isn’t that exciting. They had silent TV & I laughed my head off at the candid camera pranks – don’t know why that always cracks me up. Thank goodness for my ipod onec that 30 min episode had finished! Somewhere along the way I must’ve been the dancing in my seat – I guess I put my neck out cause I had one throbbing headache or migraine when I landed at 8:30pm in Singapore. If Singapore doesn’t have the most beautiful airport in the world, I don’t know who does.

After getting to Studio M my hotel, I was happy to hear I’d got an upgrade to a premium room – yay! But after a while in the room, I released I was sensitive to the air freshener they used. So they brought in an ioniser & it solved that issue. The next morning, I was abruptly awoken by some building work going in in the next room. With my head still aching, it was the last thing I wanted to hear. That was just the beginning of the problems…..

Thankfully, after enjoying a very late breakfast at the Book Cafe across the road, I was able to change rooms before heading out to explore Singapore.

Reflections on Kathmandu

It was incredible to come back to Nepal after not having visited here for 27 years.

Here are some observances & tips from my time here:

* The changes in Nepal are dramatic – so many more people in the Kathmandu Valley. And a much stronger focus on materialism & commercialism. It”s also one of the most (2nd I think) corrupt countries in the world – an interestng stat.

* Kopan Monastery is a gloriously serene retreat tucked away on a hill away from all the chaos in the valley – will definitely come back!

* Whatever you do, unless you’re a complete party animal who requires no sleep, DO NOT stay in Thamel!!

* Be prepared to inhabit your room with a variety of animals & insects – & remember, it’s bad karma to kill them, even if they do crawl on or bite you.

* As with India, best to avoid raw salads & unpeelable fruits – I was even a bit unwell after a meal in Boudha.

* Try to get amongst the more authentic village life – much more down-to-earth & real than in the more touristy areas.

* Check if your banana lassi is being made with green bananas – if it is, order a water, tea or soft drink instead.

* Unless you believe you’ll look good almost bald, never ask a monk to cut (read: clip) your hair. Michael did & oh my dear was it short (#3). Although desperate for a haircut after 3 months of unobstructed growth, I resisted asking for a haircut/shave at Kopan – lots of work for my hairdresser at home.

* If you don’t like driving without a seatbelt in traffic pandemonium, bring your own harness system with you to Nepal & strap yourself in. Not only do the taxis not have seatbelts, they are hardly able to get around many of the streets which are more suited to a 4WD vehicle. Best to walk instead.

* Carry hand sanitiser wth you everywhere & use it – the money is filthy & you could pick up anything from it.

* Don’t attempt to convince a monk that Hugging Meditation is a real practice – they will think you’re a bit more than odd.

I’m sure there are many more useful tips, but I can’t think of anything right now…..