The roads leading to the Causeway to cross over to the island country of Singapore were quite busy with many slip roads to negotiate but the border crossing was easy. The man at immigration was rather astounded by our plans when we gave him our address in Singapore: “You’re going to cycle all the way to Sunset Way? That’s really far!” It was no more than 15km…
We had arranged to stay with Chuen and his mum through Warmshowers. As Chuen was still at work, his mum let us into the lofty house. We couldn’t believe our luck, we had our own room, space for cleaning and packing the bikes and wonderful hosts that helped us out with everything we could possibly need. ||
We spent the following day sourcing bike boxes. None were available in the large size we usually need for our touring bikes, but we eventually found some shorter, wider boxes which worked fine if we took both wheels off and the racks.
Chuen is an engineer who had studied in California and then cycled across the US. He is a sweet and generous guy who took us out for dinner (BBQ’d stingray!) and showed us the area around Marina Bay in the city centre. We admired the futuristic buildings, including one that had a ship set atop three high-rise buildings, and one that looked like a giant Durian fruit. He also took us out for a drive one morning to take us to the city’s tranquil reservoirs, set in parklands in the heart of the city. Amazingly, despite it being a Sunday morning, there was almost nobody there. Apparently most Singaporeans prefer to spend their time in air conditioned shopping malls and food courts.
One evening we met up with Tze-Ern and Ben. They had become friendly with Guy’s parents when they stayed in their B&B in Australia and picked us up from Chuen’s house to take us out to their favourite dinner spot. The restaurant specialised in Chicken Rice, a dish Singaporeans take quite seriously as it must be prepared in a very precise manner. It was delicious, and with the side dishes of oyster omelette, silky bean curd and fried vegetables, we had an amazing meal with this lovely fun couple. As Tze-Ern is a psychiatrist she sometimes comes to Melbourne for conferences, so we might see her again soon, though it is not always easy for Ben, a GP, to get the time off to come along.
On our second-last day, we arranged to meet up with Thomas, a Danish cyclist who had been cycling on a similar route as us since Bangkok. We went for dinner and bike talk at a food court near Marina Bay. It was great to meet Thomas and we are looking forward to reading his stories about his upcoming travels in Indonesia and Australia.
Following our dinner, we then headed across town to go to the famous Singapore Night Safari. This was very cool, with a walk and tram ride through the animal park. The Singapore Zoo is an open concept zoo, which means the animals are mainly kept in their enclosures through natural barriers such as motes. Most of the animals were very close to the tram, about 10m away, so we felt we could almost touch them. We spotted elephants, giraffes, lions, tigers, leopards, hippos, rhinos, buffaloes, deer and many other animals. A walk in the bat enclosure was quite an experience, with fruit bats the size of cats whizzing around our heads and bombarding us with excretion! The night safari was an early birthday treat for Freddie as we would be busy on her actual birthday with packing and getting to the airport.
On our last morning we saw Chuen off on his way to work, finished packing, had one last ice cream at the local parlour and awaited our airport taxi. It was hard to believe that our time in Asia was finally coming to an end, but at the same time we were really looking forward to getting to know better the country we will call home: Australia.