When we stepped out of the ferry from Pulau Bintan it felt like we had returned to Australia. The port of Singapore reminded us of an airport and we marvelled at the concept of an actual bicycle lane. We cycled towards the spacious and luxurious apartment of our fabulous hosts Ivy and Martin and were welcomed with beers and very tasty food.
We spent almost a week in Singapore and it passed in a blur. Like sitting in a swing there were some Ups and also a few Downs.
We had great conversations with our hosts, lots of tasty coffee, we cooked and baked and worked and relaxed.
We cycled into the city, went to the Marina Bay Gardens and strolled around in Chinatown and the Financial district.
We were stuck in traffic with busses and a car, we used the MRT and cycled some more. Sometimes we found interesting (and a bit confusing) things by the side of the road:
Meeting SK who runs the Tree In Lodge, a bicycle friendly hostel in Singapore, was one of the best experiences: He is a well of information regarding cycling in the area, route options and visa applications. But most importantly he is just an awesome and very friendly guy! SK connected us with two Italian cyclists (Alessandro and Stefania from Godimundi) staying in the hostel and we had fun talking about our routes and cycling and further plans.
Together with our hosts Martin and Ivy we went to dinner with Stefania and Alessandro and their cyclist friends (Simona and Daniele from BeCycling) and we met a few more times for eating and walking in the city. I loved finally meeting more touring cyclists, exchanging experiences and understanding about the fascination of this mode of travel.
We also met up with Banghui again, a very good friend we’ve known from New Zealand. She is Malaysian and works in Singapore now. It was interesting to hear her perspective on working in the city and just to reconnect.
Singapore as a city on the other hand was rather overwhelming sometimes. I just couldn’t wrap my head around all the tall shiny buildings and the well dressed people in the financial district. This was quite the difference to the areas we had been cycling through in the past months. Things like chain oil and gear cables were crazy expensive coming from Indonesia and we had to look a long time to find affordable alternatives. For eating out on the other hand you had the whole range of cheap hawker stalls and fancy expensive restaurants.
I liked the green areas and the free camp sites on the shore but overall it seemed to big of a city with too much traffic (for me) to feel comfortable.
Our host’s place was like a safe quiet haven to relax during that time and I’m very grateful for that! We got to chill out, eat Western food again (of which I never thought that I would enjoy that much) and meet a lot of interesting people. After almost a week it was time to move on though.
Deciding on our route in Malaysia went smoothly: As we had enough of big cities for a while we planned on skipping Kuala Lumpur and cycle along the east coast. Off to quieter places!