Scouting Report – Singapore
A few weeks back we heard from Miles when he was in Thailand, making his way south along the route of our new tour – the Bamboo Road. Miles is now airborne, returning to Canada from Singapore, and before his flight he sent us this wrap up of his scouting trip.
Singapore! The scouting is pretty much complete for this year’s Bamboo Road. The last leg of the journey was one of the most interesting. There are only a few ways to get into Singapore, probably the most common is through the airport, the next most common would be along the Causeway which allows car traffic to pass into the country from Malaysia, and the third way would be by ferry. Of course just to make it that much more unusual, we won’t be taking a large ferry packed full of cars and passengers, rather we’ll be on what the locals call “bum boats” that take about 10 people (and 10 bicycles) each. The great pleasure in this is both the short sea journey but also the chance to exit Malaysia and enter Singapore at two of the smallest, most relaxed border posts I’ve ever come across.
Singapore is also a pleasant surprise. The fact that it is sitting almost directly on the equator can tell you something about the temperature here. The tour will be arriving just before Christmas but no need to bring your long underwear; the temperatures in this part of the world take a little time to get used to but after a while it just feels like being in a warm bath.
After being in Singapore a couple days I think the city gets an unfair rap at times, I actually read that the hawker stalls (food stalls) were “too sanitized” Now from someone who worked a few years in restaurants I have a hard time understanding how anyone could criticize a chef for being too clean. The hawker stalls here lack a bit of the ambiance of the equivalent in Malaysia in terms of feeling more like being in a mall compared to a street setting but the food taste and quality is just as high or higher. No complaints!
Speaking of food, if you have any interest in Asian cuisine then this trip is going to blow your mind. Many people have experience with Thai cuisine, but I think Malaysia will be a big surprise for many people. The diversity of people in the region allows for amazing food options from South India, both North and South China, and Malay. In Melaka there is even a small Portuguese community and their influence upon the local cuisine is prevalent as well.
So after finishing scouting from Bangkok to Singapore, what would I say the highlights are? Well, to each there own of course but for me I’d say…
- Penang. Feels like the world’s largest Chinatown.
- Quiet beaches in Thailand. A couple spots where we’ll be the only foreigners around, great swimming and a chance to chill out.
- Ethnic diversity of Malaysia.
- Border crossings. An unusual one but the borders where we enter Malaysia and Singapore are the most laid back ever.
- Endless Palm plantations in Malaysia. Makes you wonder what it must have been like before the jungle was turned into Palm trees, but the sure size of these plantations will astound you.
- Krabi Province, Thailand. From our rest day in Ao Nang you can take a small boat to one of a number of little island beaches nearby. The scenery is stunning.
- Humor of Thai People. They like to talk and have a great sense of humor. Truly hospitable people.
- Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur. 2 of the most bustling cities in the world. Get a glimpse of the urbanization of Asia.
- Singapore. What a great way to end an arduous 3-month journey across Asia. A comfortable place… with sidewalks and people commuting by bike!
- Monkeys, Monitor lizards, Raptors and the occasional Elephant walking down the street.