SE ASIA

Introduction

Are we really on our way again? As we start this next phase of our travels we really do not feel as well organised as we were for our last trip which was 2 years in the planning. A last minute decision to go now has meant we must rely on our intuition and run with any challenges as they occur. Traveling is about experiences and an experience can be both good and bad!

It occurred to me though how lucky we have been to live our dream and that we should add up how many countries we've already visited. BC (before children) we toured Europe, the USA and Canada = 12. On our last trip of North, Central and South America = 14 plus travel in Zambia, Rhodesia, South Africa and Australia = 4. That's 30 so far and with this trip encompassing Singapore, Vietnam, Malaysia, Thailand, Cambodia and Laos, we should have around 36. What a privilege to have been so fortunate to experience so many different cultures and wonders of the world and to have experienced them together on a motorcycle.
I suppose this trip starts with shipping the bike via Perkins Shipping from Darwin to Singapore. Haydn rode the bike up to Darwin on his own as I still had a few loose ends to tidy up. It was a long ride, 3500 km and he only had 5 days as the ship left a day earlier than scheduled.

SINGAPORE CITY OF CONTRASTS.

SO MANY DIFFERENT RELIGIONS...

SO MANY DIFFERENT RACES...

SO MANY DIFFERENT CUISINES...

THE BEST INDIAN MEAL WE HAVE EVER HAD
(SORRY NAT)

 

 

The advantage of shipping to Singapore is that it's cheaper, the bike doesn't need to be crated and we get to see one of the most spectacular cities in the world. Singaporean red tape though is a bit of a pain in the neck, as we expected, and before the bike can be released from the docks we need to show our Carnét, buy insurance ($130.00), get an International Circulation Pass ($10.00) and go to the Road Transport Authority to get a Toll card before we can even ride. All up the freight costs were $430.00 in Darwin plus handling costs of $130 in Singapore. We're pretty happy with that and we pick the bike up tomorrow after it's 10 day voyage and head into (cheaper) Malaysia.
I took a cheap flight to Darwin to meet Haydn and we then flew Tiger Airways to Singapore. (Tiger is a budget line of Singapore Airways and offers really cheap flights throughout most of S.E Asia). We decided that we would only spend a couple of days in Singapore (because it's an expensive city) and then take advantage of the opportunity to visit Vietnam and again fly Tiger Airways to Hanoi while we wait for the bike to arrive in Singapore
.

Singapore

We'd heard lots about this city and it is all true. The streets are spotless, the people polite, the skyscrapers amazing and it has to be the place to go if you are into shopping. Oh and of course the food is varied and plentiful. We stayed in a budget hotel ($50.00 per night) in Little India and were surrounded with small and large local eating places and restaurants. Perhaps later we'll worry about our diet. Memorable meals though are at the Banana Leaf and particularly the Gayatri on Race Course Road where authentic curry dishes are served on banana leaves and you are expected to eat, like the locals, with your right hand. What a buzz. I haven't been able to eat in public with my hands since I was a child. As usual food is a high priority for us and Chinese noodles and vegetables (Chinese porridge) or Indian dosas (rice and lentil crepes served with curried accompaniments) are an unusual breakfast but a good way to start the day if you are brave.
The Christmas lights had just been turned on in Orchard Street and they certainly make a huge effort to get that Christmas spirit going. This is a city of excess and Singaporean's go out of their way to make their most famous of streets a spectacular extravaganza. Did I mention the shopping? Everywhere you go there are 'bargains' from hand made silk suits (made overnight), and gold jewellery to electrical and electronic goods we haven't even thought existed and and... and... But beware of these so called bargains, Singapore is expensive for the unsuspecting tourist. Bargain prices can still be found though in the more local places in Little India.

◊ Eat and be entertained at the local markets in both China town and Little India on race Course Road and a take Bum boat trip up the river for an overview of attractions.
For me though, what I find most fascinating is that here we have a population of 4.25 million people of varying backgrounds, nationalities and religious beliefs all living together in high density high rise apartments - and all getting along with each other. There is so much tolerance especially on the roads and in the crowded shopping centers. The people are polite, well mannered and courteous to others. A city of contrasts that reflects all these cultural differences.

GO TO VIETNAM

Return to Singapore from Vietnam

Singapore again and today was Monday and another biggy. We were expecting to be able to pick the bike up but unfortunately the ship had been delayed a day so we won't be able to be 'on the road again' 'till Wednesday. Never mind as there is lots to arrange with the AA Singapore before we can ride the bike on Singaporean roads anyway. Angie, from the shipping agents suggested we contact Rosie at the AA and she would arrange insurance, but $130.00 seemed a bit steep and Rosie suggested we take the train to J B on the Malaysian border and arrange Malaysian insurance which would cover us in Singapore. It was an experience to take the underground metro system and again pass through customs and immigration but unfortunately we couldn't arrange insurance. It seems only Malaysian registered vehicles can get this insurance so after a wasted trip we returned to Rosie and completed the paperwork. I can sort of understand the insurance thing, but to also have to get an International Circulation Pass and then have to go to the other side of town to the Road Transport Authority to get a toll card before we can ride the 15 odd kilometers to the Malaysian border just seems like overkill. An option other riders may be interested in is to ask Rosier to arrange for a truck to transport the bike from the docks to the Malaysian border. ($150.00) Cost wise it's about the same but you wouldn't need a Carnét, a saving of about $800.00. We got the Carnét because after exhaustive investigations we were strongly advised that we also needed one for Malaysia, but after showing our passports we simply rode through the border post. Just hope we don't have any problems when we leave Malaysia for Thailand.

Next page will take you on to Vietnam


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