So, having bid a fond farewell to my fellow cyclist Pete, I spent a week in Darwin organising various bits and bobs for my onwards travels, staying with our good friend Eammon.
A skyward adventure
I really valued my time off the bike in Darwin to get on and prepare for the Asian leg of my trip, however its amazing how one soon settles back into routine life again all of a sudden and immediately I'm reminded of why I have chosen dedicate this part of my life to riding a bike across the globe; I already miss cycling everyday, I miss waking up at a savage time in the morning to catch those cool hours, that unrivalled sunrise, that peaceful dawn. But above all I miss that element of ‘unknown’, that daily surge of adventure, not knowing where you’ll end up, who you’ll meet, what events are likely to unveil themselves on the road ahead. It seemed life was beginning to lose its colour, things had taken a beige turn, or so I thought…..Thats until I boarded my MH144 flight to Singapore, with……..Malaysia Airlines! Hell yeh! The adventure was right back on track! That element of risk? That element of unknown? This airline had it all in abundance (and with those knock down prices, you’d be a fool not join the fun). This was the airline for me, and as for my fellow travellers, well these were the exact thrill seeking companions I wished to share my journey with. Together we boldly boarded the flight, proudly saluting those untamed wings to our journey. This was an adventure of a different sort. Destination; Unknown.
(Its probably worth pointing out at this point that we did indeed arrive safely into our required city. Both the pilot and crew provided us with a first class service and all round satisfying experience. Thank you Malaysia Airlines…I say this realising that your road ahead is looking even less stable than mine- you could do with the pick me up. #ForJustOnePassengerADay #AdoptAnAirline)
Life in Singapore
So this week I have had the pleasure of staying with a family friend in Singapore. I can reassure you that the transition from tent to bay-view apartment, from sleeping bag to duvet and from medium-hard ground to a mattress has been seemingly easy. Not once have i found myself pining for some pouch fronted company or the melodic sounds of a stray mosquito during the nocturnal hours. No, life has been just wonderful. Aside from self guiding myself around Singapore's attractions whilst munching my way from one ‘Hawker’ (a typical Singaporean market place) to the next, I also took up the opportunity to join my host and her cycling team on a mornings ride up the ship trading waters of the island. Now, this was slightly more than just a ‘casual ride’, this was a ‘cycling in a pack with purpose’ state of affairs. Upon agreeing to join the team for a lazy ride around the island, I had in fact inadvertently signed up for the Tour de Singapore. Worst of all, Id forgotten the wrap around sunnies. Nonetheless, I had a very enjoyable morning in the privilege of some delightful company!
Over the past week I also had the pleasure of catching up with my cousin who happened to be passing through Singapore at the same time (as you do!). Ordinarily our annual meetings centre around a Turkey, a couple of christmas crackers and some thorough Shropshire farming chat (cows, wellies, the texture of grass….that sort of thing), but not on this occasion. We couldn't have been further removed from our usual traditional, festive environment. Instead we had found ourselves in the midst of an oriental high rise jungle, slurping noodles, wrapped in sweltering evening heat at a slight loss as to who would be organising the ‘after dinner games’…
Singapore appears to have detached itself from the rest of South East Asia, it stands amongst the likes of Hong Kong, Shanghai, London, Tokyo as a huge, modern financial centre. From the once natural jungle turned concrete jungle, the city has seen huge growth and development. Walking around the place, its unsurprising that it is regularly recognised as the leading business hub of Asia; The city is dominated by high rise, modern buildings filled with corporate offices. The whole place feels like it has been built to serve a purpose. Everything feels man made. Everything works. Everything appears so organised. Everything feels so reliable.
In terms of culture, unlike other countries which welcome in a host of different cultures, ethnic groups, nationalities whilst still maintaining a clear stamp of their own, in my opinion Singapore appears to lack such a national identity. This city encompasses a hybrid of malay, indian, chinese and western ways without a clear Singaporean backbone running throughout the State. I would be hard pushed to draw together a Singaporean stereotype.
Not long to go…
So, having had the tent patched up after our viscous outback Wallaby encounter (fortunately I haven't come across any of the bouncy beige wildlife during my time in downtown Singapore- it seems this continent has had a lucky escape), made a few adjustments to the bike, eased off the severity of my head-turningingly horrendous cycling tan lines (Children no longer give me a wide berth in the street) and saturated my extensive music library with the good stuff
- Despite ruthlessly abandoning Norah and her entire life story through the medium of lyrical sound, part of me wonders whether I might well have just gone and carelessly replaced her with the likes of Annie Lennox- what can I say, I was on a roll on the downloading, she’d clearly made good ground on the album charts……one thing led to another and before I knew it she was on the ‘pod’. Not far behind Buble (yes, the all singing, all dancing christmas edition). On reflection, I’m not entirely sure these pair are quite the right sound to to echo the ambience of a typical Malay street scene, but I’ll be sure to keep you posted.-
Im now just one wingman short of beginning my ride up through Asia.
Tomorrow, I shall be joined by an old school friend who has agreed to spend the next 2 weeks cycling Singapore to Bangkok along side me. Providing I remember how to ride a bike and Harriet isn't feeling too jet lagged from her distant (though in comparison, relatively brisk) journey from England, we shall begin our ride over the next few days.