53. Singapore

Singapore: Officially the third country on our trip, the five-day Singapore stop was over in an instant. It’s a city and a country and no, it isn’t part of China, although the population is 70% Chinese and the countless Chinese food hawkers (above) are evidence of that. It poured warm, heavy rain for the majority of our visit, so our sightseeing opportunities were limited mainly to malls, movie theatres, the fantastic subway system and the occasional lavish Hokkien temple. Singapore is fancy and modern, but it’s also clean to the point of sterility, which honestly, is a little boring. Chinatown has been neatly organized and labeled, so that it no longer resembles the jumbled, vibrant alleyways of its namesake. Little India is headed in the same direction. Signs are posted everywhere telling you what you’re not allowed to do. I suppose we’ve come to like a little grit and grime in our cities.

But not in our beds.

We had our first stay with a traditional hostel on this trip in Singapore , mostly because lodging in the city is incredibly expensive. This meant lots of bunk beds in a big room and a frenzy in the bathroom and kitchen every morning. We could have done without that experience, although there was some value in learning (a) what really large bed bugs look like and how to avoid them and (b) that saving a few dollars on your bed isn’t worth the foul mood you’ll get from said bed bug bites and lack of sleep. File this one under “Differences Between Travelers Who Are 31 And 21,” because no matter how nice a hostel is, it’s still crowded, noisy, and probably making you feel like you’ve just woken up in an episode of The Real World. There’s also something depressing about climbing a little ladder to go to sleep every night. On the other hand, you come away with loads of great background characters for your stories, including:

1) Girl who stores all of her belongings in noisy paper bags that she searches thoroughly each morning, between the hours of 2 and 3am
2) Friendly but out-of-place older gentleman (60s?) who naps frequently in a mummy pose, causing Amy to wonder aloud if he’s passed away
3) Guy who screams in his sleep, starting about an hour after he falls asleep every night
4) Drunken, sleep-deprived Australian kid found shampooing his hair in the rain outside

It wasn’t all bad of course, there’s always some fun to be had in hostels, but we met a 30-something English couple in Malaysia who summed it this way – “It’s much harder to do budget travel now because we’re already locked into a certain lifestyle, a certain comfort level. We want a big coffee and a newspaper with breakfast, a glass of wine with dinner and clothes that don’t smell like they’ve been washed in the sink for the last two months.” Fair enough, but is it also possible we’re just being unreasonable babies?


  1. The Chez says:

    Nah, not babies, just “refined”.
    By the way, I wonder if the guy in the picture knows that his roots are showing through.

  2. rja72 says:

    no motel 6?

    welcome to your 30′s.