One of the best things about living in Malaysia is the accessibility of travel around the continent, something that we plan to take full advantage of. Upon moving here, I promptly compiled a list of my top go-to places in Asia as a way to make sure that I make at least some of them a reality. Afterall, what a shame it would be to live in a place where there is such an enticing variety of beautiful countries within reach, and to not explore them? As a Canadian who is fed up with overpriced airline tickets just to travel within Canada, I am now a happy subscriber of Air Asia’s travel offers. The world’s best low-cost airline? Sweet.
Since I was kicking it by myself for a while here as my husband was busy working away, I decided to take a solo trip to both Kuala Lumpur and Singapore. I went to KL to reconnect with an old friend, get a bit of necessary shopping in, and just for the general change of scenery from sleepy, far-removed Kemaman. KL is always brimming with life, I guess that’s the hallmark of a big city, and while I’m not one to thrive in large, crowded metropolitan centers, Kemaman makes my inner “big city girl” scream for freedom, for life. So I gave it to her.
I walked buy a tour group from India fully immersed in a morning laughing yoga session and as I was hurrying by, I couldn’t help myself but stop for a minute to allow myself to absorb their laughter, and however forced, it brought a smile to my face. It was one of those moments where you realize what you’re witnessing is a product of pure, unadulterated joy.
3 days later, I boarded a plane and 1 hour later I was in Singapore. Unless you’re familiar with it, Singapore is one of those places that surprises you. It is insanely clean and organized, and the big shocker: people actually follow the rules of the road. This, my friends, is a rarity in 85% of Asian countries (totally made up stat). Unlike KL, there is absolutely little traffic congestion in Singapore and when you cross the road, you cross it with confidence. You know you’ll make it alright to the other side. And when I say clean, I mean to say that if I was forced to pick one city in the world where I’d have to eat off the ground, this would be it. The streets will make your clean dishes look filthy, and this is probably due to the fact that if caught littering or even spitting on the ground, you’ll be slammed with a hefty fine. Something else that sets it apart from much of Southeast Asia is how expensive it is, actually quite close to the Canadian dollar, so maybe not the ideal place for the budget-conscious backpacker who could probably get a lot further with their dough in let’s say, Thailand. Still, I was quite impressed by Singapore in general, and while travelling solo does get lonely, I was grateful for the opportunity to be there, and as English as the national language and an awesome public transportation system, I really couldn’t ask for an easier experience travelling alone. Singapore is also extremely modern and developed, with tall skyscrapers and shiny, ultra-cool looking buildings.
The core of the city was a bit too sterile for me, as I felt it lacked spirit or a sense of culture, but that can easily be found in Singapore’s many diverse, ethnically-rich neighborhoods where I really got a sense of the many populations that call Singapore home. This is where I spent most of my time exploring and of course eating. I can’t visit any city without scoping out its cultural hubs, I feel like that is where the soul of any city lives – it’s in the sights, sounds, and smells of the cultural neighborhoods where the real traveling starts.
Little India, Singapore
I want to share two food-related discoveries (or, lies) with you: 1. Singapore Noodles (drenched in curry goodness we all know and love in North America), don’t exist in Singapore! It is yet another Chinese invention, just like the Pad Thai (sorry to break it to you). 2. Singapore Carrot Cake is not a cake in the sense that we know, and it has no carrots. This unfitting name really refers to a popular dish that is made out of fried rice cake, daikon, and egg. Bizarre, but still good!
Singapore “Carrot Cake”
Back home now.. with the lizards, who now *might* be more fearful of me than I am of them, or we might just have leveled out on the fear scale. Small victory, but I’ll take it.