Arriving in Singapore after the bustle of Kuala Lumpur and Yogyakarta felt like something out of a sci fi movie. People were heading to work and no one said a word. The cars moved but seemed to be all moving silently on electric power. The underground was a model of efficiency, everyone standing patiently in line single file whilst the air conditioned trains gently glided to a halt. The roads looked like they'd been hoovered. All that could be heard was a gentle background hum like you get on the bridge on the starship enterprise. This is place where chewing gum is banned, there's no drinking or eating on the underground, no dropping litter, and strictly no crossing the road except on a crossing. No exemptions for foreigners i was worried!
I was of course in the central business district, as i later found out, all high class and low life free. Moving to my chic Hawaii Hostel in one of the seedier parts of town changed my initial impressions. For what can only be said was a complete dump of a place where you were fighting for floor space with cockroaches, there seemed to be a lot of oriental looking females around i thought. It was only on leaving the hotel for breakfast when they were getting out of taxis coming back to the Hotel (looking a bit tired and not from dancing) did i realise this wasn't just a cheap place where only travellers stay...
But, what an amazing city! This is also a place where they've got an entire off shore mini island as a theme park; man made white sand beaches the lot! (although the effect of paradise is a bit tainted when you look out to sea on one of the busiest shipping lanes in the world). Normally never one to visit a Zoo, the Singapore Zoo is something else. How can they have penguins and polar bears at the equator!? But they do and they looked happy enough. Rather than have all the animals in cages, everyone and everything is free to roam around on land; only moats separating all the humans from certain death at the hands of white tigers and the like. Singapore also has the most amazing collection of malls i have ever seen on Orchard Road. This is like Regent Street stretched out over about 3 miles. You can get every western luxury you want at exactly the same price you pay in england bizarely! Most annoying! Oh, and a mention must go the Raffles Hotel which i took a look at. It was Mr Raffles who came over from england and set up all the trade stuff and all that in the 1800's. The reason i only took a look at it is that the door staff to the hotel told me my shorts and sleeveless vest would not be welcome in the lobby :-). Anyway, at least the outside the place looked amazing; all colonial style architecture, ceiling fans, mood lighting and butlers. Apparently if you can actually get into the place, you can sip your Singapore Sling and one of the traditions you are encouraged to do is to eat monkey nuts and throw your shells on the floor. I'd have been good at that bit...
After manic Singapore, back to Malaysia on the overnight sleeper train (of which i'm growing very fond of, the best way to travel has to be when you're asleep!) Headed straight to the Perhentian Islands off the top right of Malaysia; two text book tropical paradise islands nestled together, all palm trees, clear water, beach huts, and fires on the beach at bar time. Time for some relaxation and some in room Satellite TV! Woo hoo TV! Maybe i'm not a hippy after all :-)