We made it, the journey of a lifetime!
Leaving Melaka we headed for the Malaysian Singapore border. We had slowly been arriving at more organised borders as we travelled down towards Australia. This massive construction with air-conditioning and escalators was a world away from the tin shack filled with edgy men and guns we had grown accustomed to, only a few months before. After waiting in orderly lines, and passing your passport to a person who knew exactly what to do with it, we were all soon in Singapore. We were staying in Little India, right near the heart of things to see and do in Singapore. Our accommodation was a very nicely appointed lodge offering large aircon rooms and a great breakfast.
As it is an expensive city, the cheapest way to eat is in the food halls, similar to the ones we had enjoyed in Malaysia, but indoors, and a lot more organised. Filled with locals it got the stamp of approval from the group, with many eating both lunch and dinner there. After the stiff drink prices of Malaysia, the good value beer and great service provided by the Tiger Beer Lady, proved too hard to refuse for some, with the evening ending in a local jazz bar. Other more wizened travellers headed off early so as not to waste a moment in the city the following day.
Wondering what to see and do in town is a no brainer, simply walk up to the brochure stand and take your pick; a world class zoo, the world’s largest Ferris wheel, a Formula One track, free outdoor music and theatre and even the Fountain of Wealth, where all you need do is poke your hand in it and your financial worries are over. With an extensive underground rail system, whizzing around Singapore is a piece of cake, and a pleasant experience. There is so much on offer it’s hard to know where to make a start.
Raffles is a famous chain of luxury hotels and no visit to Singapore would be complete without the wallet taxing signature drink of the city, a Singapore Sling. Some folks even went so far as to enjoy an afternoon tea at this prestigious venue, gulging themselves on finger food and cakes to die for. After so many months of travel, others found it the perfect excuse to spend the afternoon in the shopping malls of Orchard Street, trying on some insanely high heels and purchasing a small black dress before all meeting up at the Raffles Long Bar, for a cocktail or two. After cracking open peanuts and tossing the shells on the floor, having enjoyed the novelty of the bar, we headed to a world class eatery across the road, set in a sunken courtyard, shadowed by a church lit up under the clear night sky. It was great night only marred by the thought of even more farewell’s in the morning.
The next day there were sad goodbyes to be had. Simon would be staying on in Singapore before flying back to the UK, Ann, who was off on overland adventure part two, a trip across South America, was due to leave from Singapore in a few days too, Mike H and Maura were flying to Perth to find a job in the sun. C was heading back up to Kuala Lumpur, before heading off to the States to visit her sister; Chris was off home to the UK too. This only left Mike T, Edel, Andrew, Cheryl and Tim to do the final leg to Darwin. As to the rest they are still exploring exotic Borneo!
Odyssey Overland chooses Darwin as their endpoint, as it provides the perfect staging platform for an Australian adventure. We caught the late flight to Darwin that evening, arriving at Frogs Hollow Backpackers in the wee hours of the morning. Backpackers mostly offer dorm accommodation, but private rooms are available, and the swimming pool and BBQ area made us feel right at home.
Darwin is a great base from which to explore the northern territory. Mike, Edel, Andrew, and another Irish friend they had met along the way, were heading off at the crack of dawn to explore Kakadu National Park. They chose to rent a car to explore the park, but they could just as easily have joined a guided 4×4 tour, offering one to four nights camping under the Aussie stars.
That is the great thing about Darwin, the amount of information that is readily available makes taking a trip to explore the Aboriginal culture and amazing scenery easy, whether individually or with new found friends. Many excursions are on offer, or if you wish to take it overland alone, car and campervan hire is also abundant, and over more than a few days is very competitively priced. Darwin and Australia offers something for everybody in an easily accessible package.
Three cheers to a great adventure!