07/03: Day 37 – First day in Singapore
Arrived at 10 am at the airport of Singapore. 10.45, still no luggage… Ho nooo, is that really happening to me…? 11.15, after giving the info of my hostel, I’m on my way to town. Transportation is really easy and I’m glad I had read about the “unusual” rules of Singapore, otherwise I could have been shocked when reading in the metro: 450$ fine for looking suspicious… How on earth can you objectively define “being suspicious”…?
Arrived at my hostel in Chinatown, the footway.inn Project Chinatown 2, which is a convenient location, but not the best actually one. Singapore is renowned to have cheap electronics, so my first goal as I arrived, was to replace all my stolen equipment. I had a new computer, but I was still missing a camera and a GoPro. I headed to the Funan Digitallife Mall, which was for sure full of electronic, but not thaaaat much cheaper, although I did get quite a few accessories for free.
I came back walking to the hostel and wondered around Chinatown. Chinatown is nice, but just another very touristy area, where you can buy your souvenirs.
I hated my night at footway.inn Project Chinatown 2. The rooms where not nice and I had two people in my room who thought they were alone, talking on the phone all night, going in and out. The common areas were not that nice. Anyway, weird place.
08/03: Day 38 – Singapore
Still no luggage at this stage… and I kind of needed to look decent because I was going to meet up in the afternoon with some Schneider people, so shopping it had to be! But not too early…. I was still recovering from going, in a few days, from the far West to the far East, so couldn’t get up before at least 10.30.
Anyway, I had stopped out a couple of shops the day before around the Digital mall so I walked back to that area. By the time I found a nice dress, half way working style, half way okay to travel with (although I did realise as I walked out the shop wearing the dress, that it was slightly too short), it was really time for me to get on my way for having lunch with this girl I had studied with, who lived in Singapore.
We met and had lunch on Boat Quay, which is full of restaurants, of all sorts of price granges, along the Singapore river. Very very busy at all times, with workers in suits or tourists from everywhere. It was fun catching up with her and getting all her advice on Singapore or even South East Asia, since she had been living here for 2 years.
Before heading to the Schneider offices, I swung by the hostel to leave some stuff and check out and just at that moment my luggage finally arrived! So I put my ballerines on and wizzed to the bus to be on time for my meetings!
The idea I had before I left, was that I wanted to meet HR people in the different countries, cities I was going to, from different backgrounds and organisations, to see how HR is done and handled over the world… that project didn’t really go further than Kuala Lumpur though… I quickly realised that it wouldn’t really work out with my backpacker travel mind set… and it could also be an excuse for being lazy…
Anyway, I had organised to meet up with 3 different people, I had gotten in contact before I left Schneider, so met up with 2 of them in that afternoon and it was really interesting to chat with them not only about HR, but about Singapore and expat life in general. Super cool people.
Went back to my hostel, picked up my stuff and moved to a new hostel. Really didn’t want to spend another night in that place. So I went to The Inncrowd. Pretty cool place, in Little India. It’s funny how areas really change from one to the other. Indian food, music and shops everywhere. I walked around a bit and as I got back to the hostel, I met this English girl. We went out to get some diner and then headed to the Clarke Quai area, which is famous for its outdoor bar / club court. Soaked up the bubbling atmosphere of a Tuesday night out in Singapore, but 16$ cocktails and this group of guys following us everywhere because they really wanted to go out, didn’t convince us to stick around… so we headed to the Bay sands area, were we were hoping to see a sound & light show on the bay. We had heard of something kind of famous in Singapore happening in that area, so wanted to check it out. We were told by an information check point where we needed to be and at what time, so we had time to walk around Bay Sands and make the most of that mix of futuristic architectures by night, amongst which you have a hotel / restaurant / bar / resort in the shape of a boat sitting on top of 3 of the Marina Bay Sands towers. It has a crazy view and you can have a drink in the bar, obviously very expensive; there’s a pool up there. Crazy cool looking! Anyway. On the promenade around the bay, there are a loads of little “activities” if I may say. For example, one was all this set up, where you get on a fixed bike, you peddle and it activates this string system which makes bubbles… it’s a bit complicated to explain, but anyway the Bayfront avenue is full of these. It’s fun. As we crossed the Helix Bridge, this man was selling Ice cream sandwich. I had tried it the first time I went to Thailand and it tastes much better that it sounds and looks! So went for it again!
It was time already for the show, so we went in front of the ArtScience Museum, where we thought THE big show was happening. After 20 min of a little slow motion fountain show, we were a bit sceptical on why it was so famous… but alright… (I was going to understand the next day, that we were not at all in the right place!). We then headed back to the hostel.
The Inncrowd is a cool place, located in Little India, so, fun and vibrant and not too too far from the main activities. Common area, staff, people are nice. Rooms are fine.
09/03: Day 39 – Singapore
I had a meeting in the morning with someone else from Schneider, so got up earlyish and before heading there, went to the Arab street area and the Masjid Sultan (Masjid means Mosque in Malay I guess…?). It’s a cool area, it actually has quite a few small streets full of street art.
After that, I headed to the offices. I had lunch with the Schneider guys I had met the day before. We went to have sushi in a mall close by. It was fun, go to know a bit more of Singapore life! We all went back to the office and met again with another HR. All these “professional” conversations were actually very interesting, it enabled me to understand more and better HR roles and function.
Anyway, once all of that was done, I went back to the very impressive and futuristic Bay area, by day this time! So much happens around there. I started with the very famous Merlion statue / fountain, walked in front of the CBD (Central Business District), through the Bay Sands shopping centre, around the flower looking ArtScience Museum, crossed the Helix Bridge, glanced at the Singapore Flyer (the big wheel) and went to the amazing Gardens by the Bay. It is a garden with kind of huge metal trees, called the Supertrees and there are hanging bridges between each one of them. It’s beautiful and looks really cool !! All the garden is very nice, especially considering it is in the heart of a city like Singapore. Then went back to the bay walk and passed the outdoor football pitch / stadium (which is a floating pitch, surrounded by nets so not too many ball get lost to the water), walked some more and crossed back on Anderson Bridge.
I had agreed with the Schneider people that we would meet up in the Gardens by the bay, to see the Actual night sound & light show and then go for some food. It was a bit complicated to meet up, since I didn’t have any internet data on my phone, but somehow we found each other watched the show. It’s incredible! The game of lights, to the music is great. A really beautiful show. Especially as it goes on every night and the theme changes every month or so. When we went, the theme was Chicago the musical.
After which we went to Satay by the Bay, just behind the gardens. It’s an outdoor street food court. It has food from everywhere, Malaysia, Thailand, India, China, with fish, barbeques, fruit shakes, coconut ice cream, loads of good things. The food was great! We actually met up with more Schneider people, amongst which a girl that had worked in the same open space as I did, when I first started with the company, which was kind of funny.
I couldn’t leave too late, as I had to go back to the hostel, collect my stuff and head to my friends’ place, the one I had had lunch with the day before. She had invited me to stay over at her place, which was really nice of her.
10/03: Day 40 – Bye bye Singapore, let’s head to Malaysia!
My bus was in in the early afternoon, so didn’t really have time to do much, although I wanted to visit some more of the city! I did spend a lot of time having meetings, lunch and diners with people living there, but I definitely didn’t see half of what there was to do!
Went for lunch and hoped on the bus. That was a long ride for that distance. Do you know how many check points there are between Singapore and Malaysia and how long it takes??? Well… how long it takes when you have buses of Chinese that arrive at the same time as you! The line was nicely organised until they came along. Hundreds of them. These tiny Chinese ladies, would just push their way through the line, pushing you with there elbows and when you would say something, they would just look at you smiling and continued pushing their way through. I couldn’t believe it! I had to battle to stay in the line. Some people who were in the bus with me and seemed to have the habit of the Malaysian boarder organisation, told me I really needed to stick with them and push away any person who wanted to pass in front. It was crazy! Both boarders took ages, definitely over an hour each time.
I arrived late in Melaka, around 10pm. Obviously, the bus station was way out of the city, so I needed to take a taxi to get there and, obviously, it was very expensive. At some point, this guy, late 30s, comes up to me, asks me what I am looking for and tells me he is a guide, in the station to collect some tickets for some clients and if I waited 15 min, he could give me a lift back into town. Saying Yes was 1 of the 2 most stupid things I did during my trip (and actually both most stupid things I did happened to me in Malaysia. On top of that, considering the most “uncomfortable” stories I heard later in my trip were related to Men, in Malaysia, it was even more stupid; but I didn’t know back then). I mean, again, it’s 10 at night, in a bus station, out of a city you know nothing about, in a country you know nothing about, you’re a solo girl backpacker, this random guy comes up to you and sais he’s going to bring you back to the city for free and that you just need to wait 15 min… There’s trusting and trusting… that was STUPID trusting!
After saying “yes why not”, I went to get some food while I was waiting for him and then started to think that, yeah, maybe it wasn’t the best idea I had had… (stupid, stupid, stupid), anyway. When he had finished with his business, he joined me and we started chatting and he was telling me that he had lived in England, as a doctor, blablabla… telling me about his company… It’s always difficult to decide whether people like that are telling the truth and then their life is pretty cool, or if they’re just big liars who invent themselves a cool life to gains people trust or interest. After I had gulped up my rice and chicken off we were. We started walking outside, to the parking lot, then through the parking lot and his car was parked outside of the bus station parking lot, in some dark place (stupid, stupid, stupid). I was expecting a nice-ish car, cause he had a pretty good English, British English actually, but no… it was a shitty old car and as I looked at it, I was really thinking by then, what excuse could I use to get out of this situation… Honestly, at that point, I wasn’t really thinking of how stupid I was, but I was more getting kind of uncomfortably nervous… unfortunately, my brain didn’t go fast enough and by the time all of that went through my head, he had already taken my backpack and shoved it into the boot. So I got on the car… the whole 20 min trip to the city seemed like ages. I literally grabbed the knife I had in my small backpack and was holding on to it the entire way, ready to… do whatever if ever something went wrong. Especially as, as he was a guide, not only did he bring me back, but he also started to tour me around the city, explaining me what everything was and the history of it… I was like yeah, yeah, yeah, great, can we just go to my hostel. I remember him at some point slowing down in front of a church so he could show it to me and me thinking that someone was going to open the door and kid me… big time drama… He actually made a comment about me seeming nervous and that I needed to relax because nothing was going to happen to me… Ha ha…
In the end, nothing happened, the guy dropped me off at the hostel and left. Lesson learnt right?? Hum… not so sure…
Anyway, as I though drama was over and that I could finally relax, I arrived at the Fernloft Melaka hostel I had booked… this weird looking fat guy opened, checked me in and brought me to my dorm… to my 16 bed empty dorm!! Great. Thought #1: apparently it’s not in Melaka that I’m going to meet many people. Thought #2: I don’t really like the idea of being alone in a hostel, with that guy at the reception all night… By then it was too late to change anyway, so I left my stuff and went for a walk. Reassuring thing he advised was not to stay out too long and to stay on the main roads… Melaka can be a bit dangerous… “Wonderful” I thought!
So I walked along the Sungai Melaka (the Melaka river I guess) and stopped at the Parrot Café. It was playing Reggeaton, which I love, and the staff was really sweet, so chilled there for a bit. It was already late, so I went back to bed and made sure to lock the dorm door and sleep with my dear knife under my pillow…
Fernloft Melaka hostel: I can’t really recommend it… okay it was well located, but the whole set up was dodgy, even if there actually had been people…