Flanked by taxis we cycled away from the Indonesian port into the night.
‘Taxi, taxi, taxi!!’ cried with such determination, ignoring the fact that we had another mode of transport.
‘Where you go?’ asked the police with sirens whirring and blue lights pulsing.
‘Hello mister!’ cried everyone – motorcyclists, shop owners, people sitting on the side of the road. ‘Hello mister!’ screamed out from all directions with such passion. Welcome to Indonesia!

Slick mall in Singapore

Slick mall in Singapore

Compare that with our entrance to the ferry, walking our bikes through the slick mall. We were treated like royalty at the ferry terminal. Guided through the process by our own special officer, our bikes and luggage were screened and tenderly transported to the quay. Our letter of permission to transport the bikes on the ferry in hand, we proceded through customs where I had a coffee chat to the woman that stamped my passport. All very pleasant.

My time in Singapore had come to a end. Thanks my friends Penelope, Steve, Kiera and Seth for the great time, and thanks SK for all the amazing help and advice!

SK and friends

SK and friends


Almost a week in Singapore visiting a friend and waiting for my Indonesian visa gives me time to make my next video. The trip from Bangkok to Singapore was beautiful – cycling in tropical paradise. I hope you like the video! :-)


Today we crossed the border into Singapore and were transported into another world. After sleeping under an open gazebo amongst the coconut trees in Malaysia, the slick malls, the orderly streets and the astronomical prices of Singapore make me feel I have entered another planet – another planet removed from the mother nature that supports us.

100 euro flowers

100 euro flowers

Travelling with Clement, my daily expenditure has descreased by a factor of 3. At the same time, I feel like my experiences have increased by a factor of 3. Less chocolate milk and ice-creams from 7-eleven and more local food from the tiny street stalls. No more hotels and more camping wherever the universe provides. Our camping spots are infinitely nicer that a sterile hotel room, and looking for a camp leads to more contact with the locals, and a closer feeling to mother nature that supports us, and every living creature and plant on the planet.

Eating the coconut

Eating the coconut

We pick coconuts (also from ant-infested trees – that was quite an exciting experience), we find drinking water that is not in plastic bottles – reversing the bad habit I have got into since entering Laos. We eat more fruit – also over-ripe fruit that people wanted to throw away. My last days in Malaysia I was spending about USD7 per day – and Clement even much less.

In Singapore we spent 2 day’s budget on passport photos. Clement lived off the cost of the Indonesian visa fees for one whole month in Burma. In the slick, shiny shopping mall in Singapore, we saw the most expensive flowers I have seen in my whole life. I think the very modest 100 (actually 87) euro bunch of flowers is about a factor 15 more than in Germany, and would have cost even less in the Netherlands. This place breathes money and wealth which feels so foreign now. Expensive cars, designer clothes, an air-conditioned universe. This world is no longer mine. Return me to the high mountain pass in China with just me, the mountains, the rocks and the wind. I feel closer to nature there – the nature that supports us all.

Singapore also means meeting up with Penelope – a very good friend from my university days in Australia. In horror, we realised it was exactly 27 years ago that we first met. Most of the people I have been cycling with in the last year were not born then. Singapore means amazing talks, reminiscing about the past, passionately discussing the present, and thinking about the future – including my future life and job in Australia.

In Singapore, I also talked to kids at Penelope’s children’s school. I love talking to kids, hearing their ideas, and feeling their passion. And its fascinating talking with kids living in such different places about their thoughts on sustainability. Comparing to the kids I spoke to in India, I am reminded that Singapore is, indeed, a very different place.

Oh. By the way, I passed 27000km in Singapore.

We will be in Singapore for quite a while during the Chinese New Year celebrations, waiting for our Indonesian visa. I am looking forward to relaxing and talking.


With the Chinese New Year holiday coming up, we realised we needed to be in Singapore as early as possible to arrange things while everything is open. This meant head down, along the straight main road. A perfect time to start my Indonesian language course. Nama saya Matthew. Saya oran Australia – or German – or Dutch. I’m not sure. ☺

Our lovely host Acid and his friends

Our lovely host Acid and his friends

We had a lovely farewell breakfast with Acid and two other cycling friends before heading on towards Singapore. Our final resting place is in amongst the banana and coconut palms in a little gazebo in front of a house. It comes complete with electricity and shower.. ☺

Shower

Shower

Near our house

Near our house


Since Savannakhet in Laos, except for short breaks of a few days with others, I have been cycling alone. Early to rise, stop when I like, eat when I like. Sleep. The last few days cycling with Clement we have slept in and talked, eaten and talked, experienced and talked. That different cycling experience once more – and I like it.

Clement cycling through the palm trees

Clement cycling through the palm trees

We sit up to our chest in the tranquil bath-warm water, the rocks poking out of the sea to the side, the sandy beach lined with palm trees in front of us, and behind us, one of the most important stretches of water in the world – the straights of Malacca. All night from our sleeping vantage-point on the little verandah looking out over the sea, we saw the horizon lit with huge vessels plying this critical shipping corridor. Now, in the morning, we sat and agreed how lucky we both were to be able to be here in this beautiful place, and be on this amazing bike trip – Clement Europe to here via India, and me via China.

Today we met Acid – an active member of cycling Facebook groups that I have been in contact with for a long time. He showed us little side paths away from the highway right up to his house. It was beautiful cycling down Dutch-style cycling paths, but this time not through Dutch forests and polders with cows, but amongst coconut palms. This is the type of road I came here to cycle. Coconut palms remain exotic and exciting for me, and being immersed amongst them I feel I have come such a long way.

Acid, Clement and me.

Acid, Clement and me.

Through the palm trees

Through the palm trees

Melaka

Melaka

The broad planning for the way forward to Australia is now being planned. Each with a few different activities planned en route, we are both going the same direction down to East Timor and then Australia. How to arrange that, how long will each option take, and how to sort out the limited two-month Indonesian visas? I will be cycling to Australia for a lot of the way with Clement and Will. Now is the time to work out how to puzzle the grand plan together. A day off in Muar to do this, with the knowledge and experience of Acid.


Clement came to a screeching halt. I did too in response. His back wheel was stuck, blocked by his stand that was twisted through 360 degrees by a solitary spoke.
‘They said these spokes were strong,’ said Clement.
I guess ‘they’ meant it.

Twisted stand

Twisted stand

Today we cycled along the coast from a beautiful camping spot to a spectacular camping spot. My first experience in my new hammock was good, once I got the balance worked out (I tumbled out once). It was lovely to wake up suspended above the sand on a tropical beach.

Good morning

Good morning

Check out our camping spot for tonight!

Our camping spot

Our camping spot

Our camping spot

Our camping spot

Our camping spot

Our camping spot


Sitting in the warm water as the last light fades to black, we look at the two bikes, silhouetted, standing side by side on the exposed sand bar. This is brilliant. And then Clement’s bike tips over. The tide is rising! We sprint across the shin-deep water to rescue the bikes from the salt. Back on the ocean in Malaysia.

The bikes on the beach

The bikes on the beach

Back on the road again, this time with Clement. We met in Dubrovnik in Croatia in 2014 at the start of our trips. Since then he has crossed India, and I have crossed China. We have both covered about 27000km. So many stories to tell. Clement, my inspiration to try dumpster diving in Adelaide, lives on almost no money each day. I am going to try to follow along. When all is quiet, Clement will set up his tent, and I will put up my brand new hammock – directly on the beach. It will be amazing!

I had a nice break in Kuala Lumpur, meeting some lovely new cycling people, sharing lots of stories. And my bike got the most thorough cleaning and check-over for ages. Thanks Akmal for your help!

Leaving the hostel in Kuala Lumpur

Leaving the hostel in Kuala Lumpur

Bike maintenance

Bike maintenance

The Petronas Towers

The Petronas Towers