I finally decided it was time to leave Kuching and continue with my travel plans. Despite hearing the city would eat my money in a hurry I thought I'd better make a stop in Singapore while I was so close. The flight was smooth and I was soon on the MRT en route to the next place I would call home for two days. Singapore was definitely a place I wanted to take advantage of Couchsurfing, considering the cost of everything in that city is double if not triple that in Malaysia. Thankfully I found a host close to the MRT and not far from downtown, then again the entire country is only so big
Meet my second Couchsurfing host Aks, a 28 year old, originally from India but now living and working in Singapore, avid traveler and really friendly guy. I was visiting during the week so we didn't see much of each other but that was fine by me, I had plenty of alone time to explore the city and do as I pleased. There wasn't much on my must see list of Singapore so I started with the obvious, Marina Bay sands hotel - and yeah, it's as awesome as it looks. Too bad I don't have the $400+ to stay there... or rather the mindset to blow that much money on one night.
After a morning of wandering the CBD (central business district) and a delicious hawker lunch I made my way first North and then West, eventually ending at the Botanical gardens, all 74-hectares of them. Always a great option for killing time, taking some good pictures and not spending a dime (unless the ice cream man gets you at the entrance).
The next day I had a bit of a slow start - again no itinerary and the whole day at my disposal so I was in no rush. My guidebook had talks about delicious muffins at one of the halker stalks in Chinatown and seeing as muffins are few and far between in Korea I decided to find this place. Before making it though I was distracted by a book store - rows upon rows upon rows of books - and all in English, you better believe I stopped.
Thankfully I have my dads walking gene and am completely content with wandering the city by foot, for hours on end. Eventually I found myself in the heart of China town which provided me with a few awesome temples to check out. Oh and I also took a stroll down what appeared to be "Little Korea" and had a few nostalgic moments thinking of home. As I strolled the streets I couldn't help but to think back to my time in Sydney, I think a combination of the weather, being on a bay, diversity in people and food (and probably high costs of a beer) made me think of that city. I really enjoyed Singapore and now longed for Sydney - I think a repeat visit to one or both will have to happen.
After wandering Chinatown and the surrounding area all morning I decided to head north, eventually making my way to Little India. Along the way I had to dodge a few showers but found shelter in one of the multitude of malls dotting the city - in another bookstore of course. There really wasn't much I wanted to see in Little India, really my main intent was eating, and that I did.
That night I decided to give myself an adventure and booked an overnight bus from Johor Bahru to Penang, destination #3 on my trip. My bus was scheduled to depart JB at 10:30 but I decided to leave Singapore around 7 to make sure I had enough time to go through the fun of the border crossing. It was an interesting experience to say the least; I had to catch a bus from the city which dropped me at the border, go through customs get my passport stamped, get back on another city bus which dropped me at the Malaysian border, go through customs and get my passport stamped, then finally on a third bus which would take me to the JB bus terminal.
I guess I forgot where I was traveling for a minute because I was expecting a bus terminal similar to those in Korea or Japan, but this one was a bit different. No main ticket counter, just rows upon rows of companies trying to get you to buy their tickets - thankfully I had pre-booked and was ushered in the correct direction. Despite the fact that they spoke English I was really wishing I were back in Korea where I knew what the hell was going on. Eventually though my bus came and I was safely aboard, settled in and on my way for a freezing (blast the A/C much?) 10 hour bus ride....see you soon Penang.