Dec 22 – Melbourne to Singapore
Bye bye Australia! After almost a year as an Australian resident, I said goodbye to Bendigo and Melbourne early in the morning. Doug, a former exchangee, picked us up bright and early to drive us to the airport for our noon flight. It was a beautiful sunny day, just perfect for our last drive. Then things started to slow down from there. Our flight left 4 hours late due to mechanical issues, an employee finishing his shift in the waiting time, luggage reshuffling to balance the load and the little car that pushes the planes back being delayed while it went to attend another plane. The flight was about 8 hours with a 3 hour time change (backwards) along the way. Leon and I watched several movies, read, and I tried unsuccessfully to sleep.
The plan was to arrive in Singapore early enough for us to take a bit of a tour with our base being the restaurant sector in Chinatown. Of course, it was dark when we arrived and dark when we left the hotel this morning, so we didn’t get much of a view of the city. What we did see was a large waterfront city with high rises, lots of shops that seem to stay open quite late, beautiful tree-lined boulevards and highways and a generally very clean city.
We managed to walk around our hotel for about 4 square blocks and picked an outdoor table for a nice cold beer and a plate of dumplings as an evening snack. The weather was clear, humid and about 26C. Somehow this was more what I had expected when we arrived in Melbourne the previous January. Of course, Melbourne is not humid and the ocean winds blow quite cold, even in January, which is like our July.
By the way, Singapore is in the northern hemisphere, although quite near the equator. You can understand my body’s confusion at not only crossing the equator so that winter months are actually Dec, Jan and Feb, but also switching my watch back 3 hours.
Our room was in a quaint hotel, newly renovated, second floor, overlooking the street. A bit noisy but clean. And they had sent their best guest greeter – a large cockroach, to welcome us. He sat on the bed patiently, waiting to surprise us as we turned on the lights. I wanted to get a picture of him but he retreated under the bed, not to be seen again. Alas…
After a fitful sleep where Leon insisted it was time to get up and I pointed out it was only 3am, we took a taxi to the airport and had a light breakfast of tea and kaya toast. That is some sort of peanut/honey spread they add to toasted bread. Along with a poached egg, it made for a satisfying breakfast. As for me, I was suffering from all the rich food I ate in the past week during the end of year work parties. So I opted for a green tea with a baguette filled with lettuce, tomato and a bit of egg salad. I commented to Leon that I am about to quit drinking and turn vegetarian if my stomach can’t handle most of the food served at this time of year. Let’s hope Vietnam will be gentler on my gall bladder.
The plane is about to board, off to Hanoi we go!