Asia has such a unique atmosphere that best way to adapt is to embrace the crowd, the smell and dive into the chaos without looking back.
We landed in Singapore under pouring rain, after a whole day of traveling and two crazy last days in Sydney.
On Saturday, we drove from Canberra to Sydney as we had a lot to do there before leaving for South East Asia. First, we wanted to return the car we had rented, but Hertz closed at 4 p.m. on Saturday and we arrived at 4:15 p.m. It wasn’t a huge deal because it was only due back on Sunday but being stuck with a car in Sydney is a pain—we had to pay $25 for overnight parking.
Our regular hostel in Sydney was booked solid so we had to pick another one. Most places were way too expensive (can you believe the YHA charges $50 for a dorm bed?!) so we ended up at Maze, a huge hostel in Chinatown. Traveler reviews were bad and I can see why. First, it took almost an hour to check-in. We had to leave two $20 key deposits and declined the “free towel-only $5 deposit” offer. The room was smaller than a prison cell, with a bunk bed and a small chair. We noticed the lock was busted and the fan didn’t work, so we asked to switch room and ended up in another cell, with a working fan this time, but it did little to get rid of the rancid smell. There were no power jack and the kitchen didn’t have a fridge (but cockroaches happily crawled everywhere). The bathrooms were dirty and there was barely any water in the shower. To top it all, it was about 40C inside the room and we had nowhere to sit since both of us could barely fit in unless we were on our respective beds.
Needless to say, the state of the hostel was a great incentive to go out and get things done. Feng got a haircut, we quickly checked our mail and sneaked into the YHA to use their washing-machine (I was afraid the ones at our hostel would come with cockroaches!).
On Monday night, we checked-out at 4:30 a.m. and got to the airport to catch the 6 a.m. flight to Melbourne. Don’t ask me why but Australians apparently love to fly in the middle of the night—the airport was packed.
We waited for 4 hours in Melbourne and boarded another plane to Singapore. Singapore is the best hub for us since we are right in the midst of the busy season and most flights to Thailand or to other parts of Asia were booked. The 8-hour flight was pretty boring since nothing was free: movies were $15, headsets $10, drinks $3, food $12… Budget airlines are cheap! I guess they are best for shorter domestic flights, not for international.
The immigration check was pretty straightforward in Singapore, even though it was quite slow, mostly because we were behind a large family of Ukrainian who had to show a lot of papers to get in. We eventually checked-in in a budget hotel located in the heart of the red light district.
Bare feet in the rain, we walked along Geylong Road and grabbed some late dinner and bought a couple of umbrellas. Asia, here we come! We have no plans as usual but the next month should be interesting.
Nobody guessed Singapore (although Cynthia was pretty close with Indonesia!), but here another chance: guess where we are going after Singapore to win one of the pictures in the Shop! This one is a no-brainer, really. No trick, I promise.