And with Singapore being our usual last stop before flying home after visiting countries in Southeast Asia…we always leave time to seek out our long-time Singapore favourites!
It has to be Toast Box for our first lunch – a mouth-watering slab of thick toasted bread smothered in a generous layer of melted peanut butter – cut into squares and eaten with a wooden skewer, between sips of “kopi c” (sweet creamy rich coffee).
And it has to be Zam Zam’s for supper. Chicken Biryani, a succulent thigh and leg baked with rice, tomato puree, yogurt, garlic, chili and spices. This time, at the server’s suggestion, we add Murtabak Beef. This huge roti packed with seasoned ground beef with fiery curry dip and cooling sliced cucumber will forever more be included in our Zam Zam order.
Oh… okay, Singapore is more than our feeding frenzies. Each day it is off to a different area, which is like another city within a city. Little India is first with its Technicolor shops. We scratch our heads wondering why the streets are near empty, then glean this may be due to a Hindu holiday. Sri Veeramakaliamman Temple is jam-packed with swami, worshippers and a few of us visitors.
Another day we wile-away the afternoon at “Riverwalk” with dozens of canopied restaurants along the Singapore River. After picking one and filling to the brim on a noodle dish, we followed the river over North Bridge Road to Boat Quay until sunset.
While walking the streets or sitting on park benches or over lunches/suppers our minds ebb and flow to what we have seen and done since leaving home 9 months ago.
From our pre-plan of countries to visit, we did digress slightly missing out Liechtenstein, Bulgaria and Montenegro due to cost/or difficulty to get to these countries from where we were at… but… we added Greece and Cyprus.
Our actual journey in chronological order was: Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Denmark, Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, Czech Republic, Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Serbia, Kosovo, Macedonia, Albania, Greece, Cyprus, India, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Singapore. Not bad for seniors!
We went with carry-on luggage all the way! Pros and cons? The cons being that all liquids/gels must be in no more than 100ml-bottles, and many airlines have lessened their carry-on allowable weight to 7kg (some less). The pros are whizzing past those waiting by the luggage carousel, being first in the taxi line, no lost luggage, and never being burdened lugging around weighty baggage.
So – we started out with 7kg (the carry-on itself should be feather weight; my spinner carry-on is 1.8kg and Rick’s duffle-bag is a mere 3/4kg). To keep this weight fairly constant en route, we follow the “one-in-one-out” policy. For example for every new shirt I buy, I have to discard one (and I only added and discarded six during the whole journey). Rick never bought even so much as a new pair of “gitch” and raves about this and how his two-pairs of Superstore brand “Joe”’ underwear are indestructible. Along the way the increasing pile of receipts collected, and my obsession for handcrafted jewelry do add some weight to be reckoned with – I solve this by passing the receipts onto Rick (smile) and at a point when my jewellery purchases threaten to put me over the 7kg, I sacrifice re-filling my 100ml bottles with my favourite shampoo/conditioner/body lotion and use those available in hotels.
Habitually, while in the final country before our flight back onto Canadian soil we give away everything we won’t use again or are just plain tired of – this time reducing our fly-home luggage weight to 5kg each!
And here are a few “trip tips” you may find beneficial:
Duct Tape – Never leave home without it! On this trip alone this versatile item came in handy to ensure my luggage did not completely split apart down the back, after it was damaged by a careless shuttle driver placing a ton of heavy suitcases on top of my puny carry-on. This was about 3-months into our journey and the duct tape is holding to this day!
Even top quality hikers can succumb to wear after several months. Rick’s gave out on the inside heel….Yup – duct-tape-patches to the rescue bringing his feet and shoes home in good stead.
No stopper for the sink in the hotel? No problem. Dry the sink and cover the drain opening with duct tape – an instant sink-stopper.
On previous trips we have mended mosquito nets, hemmed a skirt, mended ripped pants, fixed a broken eyeglass frame, and even sutured a cut until a doctor could be seen – duct tape for an “in-a-pinch” remedy.
Water – We drink tap-water in all countries complying with universal standards for safety, with no ill effects. Before arriving in each country we do a quick Google search for info on the quality of drinking water (and think of the mass of plastic we save from going into landfill). BUT – when in doubt, we do buy bottled water.
Health – Other than having the sniffles once each during the 9-months, we were never ill – always making sure we had sufficient sleep, rest days, popping a multi-vitamin daily, choosing our restaurants/cafes carefully, and picking street food vendors where line-ups indicated to us that ingredients were fresh.
Minding the mind – Our rotten mood days were next to nil…how can you be in a bad mood when off seeing the world? Having said that…we learned long ago (the hard way) “not to sweat the small stuff”, as there is nothing worse than ill feelings when in each other’s face 24/7. Another practice for us is to go with the flow – being open to options when our first plan goes for a $#%*. Our interests luckily are similar – but not identical – tolerance being the key. For instance Rick will wait outside museums for me (claiming pottery and such would excite him too much), and I will patiently wait while he takes photos of such things as building cranes (I’ll never figure that one out).
We each have our own area of travel-work; after I find out what is “not to be missed” in each city/country, Rick figures out the best way to get there for cost and travel time (bus/taxi/train/plane/boat). I spend money (love this job) and Rick records expenses and reports totals after each country. We both agree our choices in travel/accommodations must be in our comfort zone – keeping with our old motto “we are not here to suffer”.
We always go on an emotional rollercoaster a few days before flying back home – and this time is no different – a sadness for this journey ending, yet excitement of reuniting with family and friends. The downside of having to face jet-lag, dealing with the huge catch-up of business matters, dental/doctor appointments, and such– versus – the upside of looking forward to our own bed and familiar stuff, which from being away so long has newness to it.
Oh…and must not forget my finance minister Rick’s Singapore report on costs. “Our bus ride with Nice Bus Company Coaches from Malaysia, and our meals, accommodations and site seeing – came to $175.77 CDN per day.”
Thanks to all who kept track of us through our blogs! Farewell until our next adventure….as of yet we have no idea as to where in the world this will be….but rest assured it will be somewhere!
Irene & Rick