Ok guys, so admittedly still about two weeks behind, but I'm working hard to catch up... honest. Just so busy!
So where were we up to? Ah yes, well I didn't actually end up getting any sleep on the last night of my borneo trip, as I was so worried about missing my alarm. So off I went to the airport, tired and grumpy, and endured a very long day of travelling. Instead of flying to Singapore (very expensive) I flew to Johor Baru, right on the Malaysian border. I then had to take two buses to the Singapore border, go through Malaysian customs and then Singaporean customs, at the starts of Sinapore bank holiday weekend, then take another bus to the MRT station, then take two different trains, and then walk to my hostel. Naturally I was very sweaty and tired by the time I arrived in the hostel, but I was struck by the kindness of the Singaporeans immediately.
A random woman introduced herself to me on one of the MRT trains. She explained how the whole tranposrt system in Singapore worked, she told me what sights to see and how to get there, and she even gave me her mobile number in case I ran into trouble. Then, the man in Starbucks told me I looked tired - I confessed that i had had a sleepless night, and he gave me my coffee for free! How lovely!
I actually got very little done that day as I was trying to sort out some amendments to my flights home, but I was able to meet my friend Lisa, who I met in India, for a nice cup of coffee that evening - lovely to catch up.
The following day was my sightseeing day. I was up nice and early for a trip to Chinatown, which was beautiful, and unsurprisingly very Chinese! I had a look round the Chinese musem, which was very interesting - Singapore is relatively young country and very multicultural. I learnt about all the Chinese immigrants and what life was like for them when they first immigrated. After a little look round Chinatown, and lunch at a chinese hawker stall, I decided to go and explore the business district. I think there's something very relaxing about business districts on a weekend, and I sat in a big green space at speakers' corner and read my book for a while, before a walk along the river and an ice cream (a mistake as it melted in under ten seconds). I then went for a walk around the Singapore Botanical Gardens, which were extremely peaceful, and like the rest of Sinapore, pristine. It was full of beautiful families walking with their beautiful children round the park on a sunny Sunday afternoon, and made me feel very wholesome. Then, after a long walk down the shopping street of Orchard Road, it was back to the hostel for a well earned sleep.
I loved Singapore loads but it probably wouldn't be for some people. It's incredibly sterile - no litter, no graffiti, and no free press. The transport system works like a dream, the different cultures seem well integrated and the people are friendly. Not the kind of place you can get lost in an ancient and confusing culture but a lovely city to visit - I wish I'd had longer.
But never mind, for the following day it was off to meet Carly. Having marvelled anew at the delights of Singapore Changi airport, I flew to Bangkok, where I met my Carly, looking for all the world as if she had just slept in a bed and showered, not like she'd got off an eleven hour flight, and putting my greasy, sweaty self to shame. We jumped into a taxi to the heart of Bangkok - the Khao San Road, and picked ourselves a hotel (with a pool, air conditioning and cale tv for a mere 7 pounds per night each - woohoo). Thank you again Carly for the books, clothes, magazines, mosquito repellant, earplugs, sleeping tablets etc. etc. that you brought me. I knew I allowed you to be my friend for a reason.
After mistrustingly leacing my passport with a local travel agent to acquire me a Vietnamese visa, we booked ourselves an educational trip around the locality the next day. This involved a trip to the floating markets where hawkers sell their souvenirs from long boats on the canal, the haphazard Bridge over the River Kwai museum (which seemed to also contain museums for every other possible thing in the world). We also had a short stop at a war cemetery on the way back to Bangkok which was very moving - all these boys who died in the most horrific conditions when they were just my age or even younger - not very nice.
The next day was the start of our relaxing beach holiday down to Ko Samet, which is the closest island to Bangkok, and also benefits from being the driest. After a three hour bus ride, a one hour minibus ride, and a half hour bota ride, we were on the beautiful island. Ko Samet is actually very small, and was pretty empty as well because it was the wet season (although this involved very little rain). It is largely populated by Thia people, and middle aged dirty old men with mullets with girlfriends who they have clearly paid for and look that they have had a hard life that has left them devoid of all emotion.
The few days I had with my Wilkinson was mostly spent lying on beaches, reading books and eating. There was a fair amount of moving beach huts, mainly as a reaction to various incidences of gekko and frog and grasshopper infestation, as well as unreasonably loud nearby clubs with tin roofs that turned their music up even louder in response to rain storms.
We also spent a very amusing night watching the Chelsea v Manchester mathc which dragged on untiul nearly 5am, with the biggest bunch of social misfits we are every likely to meet. And on Carly's final night we made the mistake of going out for a few sociable drinks - without remembering how very strong the drinks are over here. Cue dancing in the sea at 5am and me still being deeply drunk the next morning, while Carly puked pretty much constantly until she got her boat home paler than me.
The last couple of days on the island were spent chilling out and relaxing, and once again managing to get myself painfully sunburnt. I then came back to Bangkok to spend a couple of days sorting my life out until my next trip started on Wednesday.
Sorry this is a really short one but I'm now desperately behind and want to try and bring myself completely up to date by tomorrow. Hope you're all ok! xxx