Yo, yo yo! It's Joe the ho from Singapo'
We've now been in Singapore for about a day, after a week in Darwin.
Upon arrival in Darwin, the most immediately noticeable difference from our time in Sydney was the heat. It was like walking into a wall as soon as you left the air conditioned false sense of security that the airport had provided.
I think the heat had an effect on the way of life in Darwin too.
Much unlike Sydney, everyone was strolling about in no rush to go anywhere. Even the rude boys only drove at about 20kph in their souped up Toyotas and Subarus. At one point me and Andy had to stop to let a bird walk across our path, probably because it was too lazy to fly out of the way when we approached.
We spent 6 days taking advantage of the weather and laid back attitude it promoted to lounge about and slightly desperately attempt to tan. Chilli's Backpackers, the hostel we were staying in, had two rooftop Jacuzzi's, and their guests were allowed access to the swimming pools and spas of a snazzy little 4 star number up the road called the Mirambeena.
On my first day in the pool I tried out the swimming shorts I'd bought to replace the ones I'd lost to the Pacific when cruising the whitsundays ( don't get excited, the wind took them off the side, I wasn't left naked from the waist down).
It soon became noticeable that when wet they were more than a little seethrough, particularly when clinging to me. I had recently confided this to Andy, and was just climbing out of the pool when Andy says, in an unneccessarily loud voice, 'YOU'RE RIGHT JOE, THEY ARE SEETHROUGH, AREN"T THEY?', ensuring anyone that hadn't noticed was now taking a good look.
I look round whilst clawing my shorts away from my cheeks, trying in vain to salvage the negligible amounts of both dignity and modesty I had left, to see that right next to Andy in the pool, unbeknownst to him, barely 3 metres from me, was a girl watching my progress with a poorly suppressed smile on her face. Nearby on the sun loungers an old couple frowned disapprovingly. Thanks Andy.
The next few days we spent swimming, lounging and reading. It was almost like being on holiday! It got to our penultimate day in Australia and we'd literally done nothing eventful in Darwin at all. I'd slept in until quite late that day, as I've developed a cold which makes me sound like Frank Butcher (sympathy would be appreciated).
Whilst I was still lazing about in bed feeling sorry for myself Andy had struck up a conversation with a girl in the kitchen of our hostel, who'd been living in Darwin a while. She suggested to him that we meet up with her at 5.30 and go to Mindil Sunset Market. She'd apparently been before and said it was a really good craft market, with music, firedancing, exotic foods, and you could sit on the beach and watch the sunset.
Andy relayed this information to me after I'd dragged myself out of bed, and I thought it sounded like a good idea. He said 'She already knows who you are by the way' This confused me a bit, so I enquired as to how. Apparently she'd said to Andy when he was talking about me 'Oh, is he the one with the seethrough shorts?' It was only the same girl who'd been swimming next to him in the pool a few days earlier.
I swallowed my pride and agreed to go to the market. It turned out to be a really interesting affair, with the highlights being the firedancing, but in particular the band.
The band, emDee
) consisted of three men, four didgeridoos, a drum kit and a bass guitar. They played a sort of fast, dancey bunch of tunes that I can't really describe. Although it was probably sacriligeous to the sacred instrument, the local aborigines didn't seem to mind. In fact, they were all crowded round, dancing like Beyonce in her 'Crazy in Love' video except about 3 times as fast. It was awesome to watch. There were women of about 75 dancing around just the same. Me and Andy bought a CD between us.
The next day we flew to Singapore. The flight was one of the best I've been on, with braised beef for dinner, a mile and a half or so of leg room, and the quality film Sin City
on our little personal video screens. The only problem was on the descent, where my left ear canal decided to swell up with the air pressure, and hasn't gone back to normal yet. I've been wandering around for the last day, shaking my head like an epileptic under strobe lights in an attempt to sort it out, but to no avail.
The hostel we're staying at is called the Inncrowd. Recommended to me by my dear brother, passing on recommendations he's been given in the past. It's a really nice little place. They give you free breakfasts (tea, coffee, cereal, toast, eggs), free guided tours, half an hour of free internet a day and they've got Family Guy
and Eddie Murphy Raw
on DVD (two of my personal favourites).
It's situated in a place called Little India (so named because of the almost entirely Indian community/shops/restaurants etc), and after we'd checked in we went out for a wander to get a feel for the city and maybe a bite to eat. We spent about two hours walking round in the sweltering heat, and didn't get out of Little India. We ended up stopping at a strange little Indian Fast food place for some food, very much like the Indian version of Wimpy, and ordered a meal combo. We didn't have a clue what it was, but ended up munching it down with both hands. After I'd finished I read the advert sheet you get on the tray (just like in Maccy D's) and realised I'd eaten my dessert by dipping it in curry sauce, and done so with my left hand. Anyone more familiar with the culture than I was will realise that eating with your left hand is a tremendous faux pas. You're supposed to reserve your left hand entirely for Andrex duties, hence using it to put food in your mouth is considered a little dirty. My bad.
This afternoon we went for a guided tour round a Buddhist temple in the middle of Singapore. Today is an important day on the Buddhist calender, when everyone traditionally exchanges moon cakes, and there is a lantern festival in Singapore over the next two days too. The tour was really interesting and informative. Some of the statues were incredibly ornate as well. It was a little odd to find a temple hidden in the middle of this Urban Metropolis though, but at the same time quite refreshing.
Later on we got a cab down to Chinatown and had a wander. Andy bought himself a drink called 'Grass Power', and we sat down at a little restaurant that only served Chicken breast, noodles and Wanton soup. We got it all for about a quid though, so I'm enjoying the prices of Asia so far, particularly as Singapore is supposed to be the most expensive!
We're probably going to stay in Singapore until Tuesday, maybe going on a night safari tonight, and then getting the train or bus up to Malaysia.
It's quite strange to realise that most of the time we've spent in Singapore so far has been experiencing either Chinese or Indian culture. I don't know what to expect from Singapore culture, other than they're strict. You get fined $1000 for importing (or 'smuggling' as they call it) chewing gum, $500 for spitting and $50 for jaywalking, if you cross the road within 500 metres of an official crossing point, whether or not there are any cars in the way. Crazy stuff!
That's all so far. apart from a couple of pictures to keep you entertained.
Andy shows what he thinks of Grass Power:
Singaporean buddhist lighting incense to symbolise purity.