Getting out of Bali=one of the best parts of the trip. Don’t get me wrong, Indonesia has its great qualities. But it’s turned into such a tourist attraction that it’s full of hawkers gearing toward westerners, while trying to rip you off. Balinese people seem to keep to themselves, so if you want to see their genuine and awesome culture, seek it out and not through a tour. It’s all a bunch of scams.
Devyn and I did go white water rafting on our last day in Bali, which was solid. Not the most extreme, but a solid time nonetheless. We took photos with our other cameras, being the iPad is too large.
The following day, November 13, we finally headed towards Singapore through Jetstar. It’s basically like Southwest, but without the free soda and checked in bag. Their staff is hilariously unpleasant too. Getting into Singapore was a breath of fresh air. No one was trying to rip us off or get us to buy useless trinkets, and it was westernized. It’s a trivial thought, but after being in a place like Indonesia, it’s nice being somewhere that feels like home.
In the airport, we got profiled pretty badly. We’re white with huge backpacks. We certainly stuck out. The guy at customs kept re-checking my passport and every 5 minutes, and we were asked to have our bags put in scanners.
My initial description of Singapore was an Asian San Francisco. They have a Muni and Bart type modes of transportation, everyone is on their phones, there’s a lot of solid eateries, it’s expensive and it’s obviously filled with an Asian culture. It’s way cleaner than San Francisco and doesn’t smell like crusties. Also, every single Asian stereotype you can think of, Singapore has. It’s awesome. If it wasn’t so expensive, we would have spent a greater deal of time there.
To save money on our two day venture in Singapore, we tried finding the cheapest accommodation so we could have fun during the day. At $18 per person, Backpackers Cozy Corner hostel offered that. Don’t be fooled by the title; it’s not cozy. It’s run down, there was no window in our room and it has some of the most interesting characters you will ever meet. We’re convinced some people live there. It wasn’t predominantly backpackers like most hostels.
There were loads of frail senior citizens and a South African woman no taller than my leg, who was off her rocker. I had a beer infused conversation with her our last night which included topics of eating anacondas, feeding tribunal cultures with the anaconda, swimming with great whites, marrying a guy 5 times due to different religious ceremonies and a whole lot more. Did the discomfort of our hostel ruin our time? Hell no! It’s hilarious. Everything about this trip, good or bad, results in a fond memory.
First night in Singapore had us eating our weight in ramen, while pounding back sake and solid beer. Our first time not having Bali’s Bintang! We loved it. We were seeing Dumb and Dumber To that night, so we needed a lot of beer. Quick note, the movie gets a 6/10.
After a sleepless night in paradise hostel, we woke up and booked it out of there to try spending our whole day outside. We visited Little India, which is the closest thing I’ll get to India without actually visiting it.
Being in Singapore for only two days, we couldn’t fully immerse ourselves in the culture. From the brief descriptions we heard, Singapore’s older generation were hard working trying to pave the way for a better society. The current generation are pampered kids reaping the benefits from the older generation. It’s pretty clear too. There’s a serious technology obsession and you get the vibe that most of these kids never worked a day in their life, regardless of how inaccurate it may be. Hey, sounds familiar! ;). Joe Hill and old Wobblies would be disappointed.
Our dinner was spent at this pretty neat Italian restaurant. Having wine that is remotely decent was awesome. I certainly will appreciate a good Cabernet even more so. Wine in Indonesia was overly priced because of difficult importation. It was our first glass since NZ. Read my review on Trattoria Lafiandra on Trip Advisor, if you wish, to hear about our pushy waiter lacking wine knowledge, while fancying himself a wine guy because he knows what “full body” means.
The following day, the 15th, we hopped on a plane to Phnom Penh, Cambodia. I was nervous because I read about some “safety concerns” in Cambodia, primarily PP. There were stories about tuk tuk drivers threatening violence for a higher rate, sexual assault, pick pockets, being jumped and much more. My old film teacher even said “get the fuck out of Phnom Penh. Nothing but people trying to rip you off.” Despite reassurance from Lonely Planet, saying that just like any other city you need to keep,your head up, I was still nervous.
Lonely Planet has yet to steer us wrong. Yes, tuk tuk drivers are a little overwhelming, but compared to hawkers in Kuta, they’re angels. Once you give an affirmative “no” to their service with a smile, they back down. Hell, if you’re friendly enough with one, you can hire them for most of your transportation in you’re around long enough. It cost a little more, but if you have a good gut intuition, you can tell who is shady. We got a tuk tuk from the airport to our hotel no problem. If you have your wits about you and aren’t stupid, Cambodia isn’t a problem. I felt more overwhelmed by Bali.
Our first night in PP, Cambodia consisted of eating a fried spider along with a great meal. Like the true Balinese, Khmer people are amazing. Even with more of a language barrier, they never fail offer help and a smile. Genuine people like that really humble you.
For more about the people, our trip to The Killing Fields, and our time in Kampot (which is where we are currently) I want to do two different posts. It’s topics I don’t want bogged down by a long post.