Day 306. 96km. Ayer Baloi – Singapore

Posted: February 6, 2016 in Cycling, Malaysia, Singapore
Tags: , , ,

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.

  1. Eliza Waters says:

    An amazing contrast!

  2. Susanne says:

    I completly understand how you feel. It was always the same for me, feeling totally displaced. We used to have to go to Singapure to refresh our visa for Indonesia when we actually lived among a Dayak community in the rainforest … All the best for the rest of your travel!

  3. koenjoosse says:

    Hey Matthew, congratulations on another milestone. Following your posts with pleasure. And for inspiration and learning. A year later than first planned, we’re going on our long trip this year, probably leaving from home early April and more or less following your route. Can’t wait!! All the best, Koen.

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