Asia: Day 1
New Zealand was stunning and Australia great, but they had both devoured a huge chunk from our budget- in a way I was relieved to get to Asia; but more than this I was excited. Excited to be in a completely different culture and experience something far from the Western comforts of home. We were also on our own again, alienated from any friends and not bound to any pre-planned tours or guidance in a crazy, wild continent- I found the thought of this particularly exhilarating- it was why I had left home to travel. Our first stop was Singapore- a well balanced starting point between comforts of the West and discovery of the East. As an architecture student, Singapore has long been on the bucket list as places to visit- It didn’t disappoint. We landed in the evening, with little jet-lag coming from Brisbane-which follows a similar time zone. From the airport we took a ridiculously overly air-conditioned train to our hostel- Green Kiwi Lavender Backpackers ($24). The hostel was a great little retreat with perhaps the friendliest owners that we came across throughout our entire trip- it was small, quaint and quiet, but it was everything we needed and is definitely recommended!
It was also situated directly opposite one of Singapore’s many Hawker Street Food Markets and this was our first point of call. By now it was late evening and the place was mad- full of workers in suits, grabbing their dinners after a daily grind in the city. We spent about 10 minutes surveying each of the equally absurd market stalls, avoiding the chickens feet and brains in favour of noodles and seafood. Despite our best efforts to embrace the local food, it was clear that we stood out like a sore thumb and before long 2 local business men plonked themselves on our table, insisting on buying us some of their favourite local dishes. Not even 5 hours into Asia and I was already taken aback at this gesture. Its a weird feeling, being idolized almost; These two men told of their dreams of coming to England and having the money and time to go on holidays. Not that they were struggling or anything, they were 2 pretty smartly dressed business men in an economically rich city. Perhaps, partly, they just wanted to practice their English, or like almost everyone else in the market -who had their eyes firmly fixed on us- they were just curious as to why we were here- either way it was fricking cool! It was also pretty reassuring, particularly as I was initially hesitant at taking photos around the market, as when I was in Ghana, sometimes people would get upset by this. These two blokes encouraged us to take pictures and enjoy everything. It was great!
They helped us map out a plan, so that we would cover everything in the short time we had in the city and before we retreated back to the hostel, they ordered that we try the much revered Durian- a marmite-split-opinionated fruit, which has one of the most formidable odors imaginable. Even though it was cooked in a pancake it was rank- but at least we tried it! From first impressions, I know Asia is going to be a blast! Green Kiwi Hostel ($24 p/n): ***