What's that skip?! Getting me in the mood for Australia
Wednesday 19th April
This morning I bid farewell to Zab and John and arrived at Bangkok airport with acres of time to kill. I checked my bags in and then went to get the 500 Baht out of the ATM for airport tax (another delightful perk for tourism in Bangkok). I keyed in the usual info a the ATM and to my horror, neither my card or cash appeared. I checked my wallet to ensure that I hadn't just dreamed what had jsut happened before letting out a whaling scream in the direction of the ceiling. I quickly summoned a dim-witted bank clerk, who opened up the ATM and helpfully found no card, before passing on his comiserations 'Sowee, sowee, sowee'. I asked to speak to the manager, the police, the home guard, the foreign minister, the British Ambassador and also the Prime Minister if all else failed.
A very cheeky monkey at Singapore zoo
He gave me a look like he was calculating a large equation before explaining that it was a public holiday and my chances of getting so much as the janitor's attention would be slim-to-nil. I hovered away, half in shock, half in despair at the prospect of being stranded at Bangkok airport. After contacting the transport police and explaining the situation several dozen times, I got through to Nationwide and cancelled the card and ordering a new one immediately. I was therefore left with the option to stay in Bangkok with Zab and John and reschedule my flights or beg my way through customs and hope to God that a miracle would happen when I arrived in Singapore. After weighing these options up, I decided to do the completely irrational thing of begging my way through customs and hoping for a miracle.
Enjoying the delightful Singapore
.. I explained the situation to one American and he gave me the 500 Baht necessary to proceed through customs (God Bless America)! I then legged it to gate 47 (a la Home Alone), which was about 12 miles from customs. After stopping for breath on numerous occasions, I eventually arrived and boarded the flight, leaving Bangkok quite literally on a wing and a prayer! Upon arrival in Bangkok, I traded in all of my loose change in various currencies that I had amalgamated over the seven weeks and had to my possession 14 Singapore Dollars (5 GBP). I went to a McDonalds cafe and made use of the free internet, sending distress calls throughout the world, before getting the MRT to my hostel. I arrived at the very pleasant hostel and straight away called Tock Keng (a Singaporean lady I met in South Africa whilst on the Cape Penninsula tour, who recommended the hostel and who I was planning to meet up with that afternoon).
Sipping on the infamous Singapore Sling in the Raffles Hotel
She was immediately sympathetic with the situation, explaining the uselessness of Asian ATMs and offered to borrow me some money which would cover me to Australia (when I would be meeting Laura and Katy). I almost cried with the generosity and met up with soon after, looking around the beach and eating some delicious food and local desserts. I returned to the hostel and tried to sort out my spending needs for the following few days! All in all, a rather eventful day, which turned out amazingly well.
Thursday 20th April
Determined not to dwell too much on yesterday, I decided to make the most of my very limited time in Singapore and went off to the zoo. I got a couple of buses there, which was a bit of an adventure in itself.
My hotel in Singapore... only joking, the incredibly expensive Raffles Hotel
I was initially very impressed with the sheer size of the attraction. I saw countless animals and many shows, which were very well organised and executed. Highlights included giraffes, kangaroos, rhinos and snakes. The weather was a little disappointing, but during one of the storms, I got chatting to a couple from Tasmania (Jeff and Karen) and after the zoo closed, we got a taxi into town and had dinner, which was again delicious, before heading back to the Night Safari for another show featuring nocturnal animals. It was a great day and I had a good laugh with the Tasmanian's before returning to my hostel shortly before midnight. After such an exhausting day, I was relieved beyond words to find that the managers had left me the last piece of chocolate fudge cake and gave me a load of ice cream to go with it! Another miraculous day!
Friday 21st April
Today was my last day in Singapore and with my usual naivity, I decided to attempt to fit what most people do in a week into a day, and considering I didn't get to bed until 2am the night before, probably wasn't the best idea I've ever had.
The spacious and very pleasant Botanical Gardens in Singapore
Nevertheless I caught the bus into town and walked along the waterfront, through the commercial district and then towards the Opera houses. I then went to Raffles
hotel (the most famous hotel in Singapore, if not Asia) and ordered a Singapore Sling, depsite it being 1pm! It was a touristy thing to do, but since it was invented in that very bar, I thought why not?! It was also the Queen's 80th birthday, so I though it was patriotic duty to toast the occasion. After the most delicious cocktail I am ever likely to have (even better than Blu Bambu's!!) I staggered to the city centre and walked through the shops (note the word 'walked', not 'bought'). I then caught another bus to the botanical gardens, which were fantastic and very big indeed. Time was getting on and my flight was looming, so I got the very long ride back to the hostel. This wasn't helped by the fact that I missed my stop and enjoyed a leisurely jog back in the 70% humidity! I collected my bags and got a taxi to the airport (I was dropped off at the wrong terminal, but still wasn't a patch on my previous visit to an airport) and chilled around in the fantastic aiport before boarding my final Sinapore Airlines flight of the trip... this time to Australia!